What would you say if we told you that you could start speaking a new language in only 7 days? Pretty incredible right? Well, what if we told you that you can do so even if you’ve never spoken or heard that language before?
As part of a pretty ambitious language challenge, 6 people were asked to learn Norwegian, Swedish or Danish in just 7 days — using only the Babbel app. Then, to test how much progress the learners had made, we challenged each one to chat to a native speaker, completely in their new language.
For many of our learners this was the first time they had even heard these Scandinavian languages before, let alone trying to learn them! In the video above you’ll see how these absolute beginners conquered the highs and the lows of their learning week and became conversational in a new language after 7 days.
But how did they do it? To find out, we spoke to David — one of our plucky learners — to see how the Babbel app successfully got him speaking Norwegian in just one week.
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Why did you learn Norwegian?
I chose Norwegian because I was excited to learn a language that I had never “met” before in my life. I love a language challenge, and recently challenged myself to start speaking Italian in 3 weeks, but the differences between Norwegian and Italian couldn’t be bigger!
I was attracted to the great “unknown” of Norwegian. I hadn’t been to Norway, watched a Norwegian film, or even met a Norwegian person before, therefore I had no base to work from when setting out on my Norwegian adventure. At the start of the week I was as “beginner” as a beginner could be!
How much did you learn each day?
I didn’t need to give my entire life over to learning Norwegian in order to become conversational in 7 days. Each Babbel lesson takes only 15 minutes to complete, and I set myself the achievable goal of completing three Babbel lessons daily. This totalled only 45 minutes of active learning time each day.
I completed my lessons either in the morning after waking up (when my brain was at its most absorbent), or I took my mind off the boring commute by plowing through my lessons on the way to work.
“I didn’t need to give up my social life, or retreat to the library for 7 days, I simply slotted the Babbel lessons into my normal, daily routine.”
What was the most surprising thing about learning Norwegian?
I was really surprised to discover that Norwegian came relatively easy to me as an English native speaker.
The pronunciation was a little difficult to get the hang of at first, but a lot of the vocabulary was surprisingly familiar (book – bok, home – hjem) and the sentence structure of Norwegian closely mirrors English too. For example, if you want to say “I can speak Norwegian” (in Norwegian) then the word order is exactly the same as in English — “Jeg kan snakke norsk.” Easy peasy!
How did the Babbel app help you learn so quickly?
The Babbel app has a structured course plan for beginners that taught me the basic foundation of forming sentences in Norwegian within the first few days. Then, I was able to personalize my learning by selecting single-topic lessons on eating, drinking, music, culture, traveling — you name it. This allowed me to quickly expand my vocabulary on the kind of topics I like to talk about!
This balanced approach of foundational basics and learning freedom kept me highly motivated, and ensured I wasn’t bored to tears with the mind-numbing grammar drills we all remember from school!
“After 7 days I was able to introduce myself in Norwegian, talk about my hobbies and interests, and most importantly, engage in a real conversation with a genuine Norwegian person. Heck, I could even crack a (bad) joke or two!”
Would you recommend this challenge to others?
Absolutely! Babbel has 14 languages to choose from so if you’re thinking about brushing up on your German for a business trip, or dipping your toes into a bit of Portuguese for next year’s summer vacation, you’ll be happy to hear that you only need an app, 7 days of learning, and a keen sense of adventure to get you conversational. Trust me, if this simple Brit from the countryside can do it, so can you!