If you have always wanted to learn Norwegian, you’re nowhere near alone; tens of thousands of people study the language every day around the world. And it’s no wonder! Norwegian is a language that captures a rich culture and history. The Norwegian language can be found not only in Norway, but also in pockets all over the world, including in Europe, Canada and the United States.
But you might have a lot of questions about why you should learn Norwegian or what it takes to get started — or why it’s even worthwhile at all. The good news is you can rest assured that learning the Norwegian language is an effort worth undertaking. With the right tools and technology to guide you in your journey, you’ll see your efforts pay off in so many ways.
Why Learn Norwegian?
Learning any new tongue is a challenge that can open up your mind to new perspectives and help you connect with all types of people across boundaries of land and language. When it comes to learning Norwegian, these reasons are especially true.
To start, if you know the Norwegian language, you open yourself up to a whole world of Norwegian speakers. There are roughly 5 million people who speak Norwegian as a first language, and millions, too, who speak it as a second or third language, scattered around the globe!
One of the coolest parts about learning Norwegian is that it’ll help you understand languages that are closely related to it, like Swedish and Danish, which also come from the same language family — the North Germanic languages, which are also often called the Scandinavian languages. That means these three languages share a whole lot of similar-sounding vocabulary and grammar patterns that give them a lot of linguistic overlap, since they all derived from the same ancestor. Some language scholars say they can even be considered dialects of the same language!
So if you know Norwegian, you can technically talk to and understand the roughly 20 million people in the world who also speak Norwegian or who speak Swedish or Danish. Norwegian is often considered the best of these three to start learning if you’re undecided on which is the best choice for you on your Scandinavian language journey; it is written almost identically to Danish but sounds a whole lot like Swedish, so it sits somewhere in the middle of the two!
Native speakers of English will be relieved to learn that because Norwegian and English come from closely related branches of the same language family, Norwegian is considered one of the easiest languages for English speakers to learn! The two languages are very similar in their sentence structures and vocabulary; there are a lot of words in Norwegian that resemble their English counterparts. (Just take the seasons vinter and sommer, for example.) That means it can sometimes be quite easy to read a Norwegian sentence and get the gist of it in English.
Whether it helps you master other North Germanic languages faster and more easily or it gives you a new understanding of the English you already speak, there’s no doubt that if you learn Norwegian, you’ll have a learning advantage right from the start!
Benefits Of Learning Norwegian
Picking up a new skill can help you express your creativity, stimulate your mind, and discover new sides of yourself along the way. Learning a new language like Norwegian is no exception! Here are just a few of the many ways you can make a positive impact on your life if you learn Norwegian.
- Learn Norwegian For Travel — When the spirit of adventure strikes, don’t let language barriers hold you back. When you have Norwegian in your back pocket, you have a passport to many new corners of the world. Learning Norwegian not only means you’ll be able to navigate new cities by reading road signs, menus, and train tickets; it also lets you connect with the new people you meet there. It’s often said that the best way to explore a new place is through the eyes of a local, and learning Norwegian lets you branch out of tourist hotspots and into the real world as the native speakers see it. Whether it’s the country’s famous fjords, the streets of Oslo or the rocky beaches of Bergen, you’ll be more equipped to venture off the beaten path and explore all the Norwegian-speaking world has to offer when you have Norwegian in your linguistic repertoire.
- Live The Norwegian Language Abroad — Whether you’re looking to enroll at a foreign university and have a more alternative college experience, find a job at a hostel that lets you hit the tourist hotspots by day and work at night, live with a host family or retire in a place with a slower pace of life, living abroad is hands down the best hands-on approach to getting the most immersive language experience possible. By placing yourself in an environment where you’re obligated to speak Norwegian, you’ll fast-track your journey to fluency. Your life can take on new twists and turns when you move to an unfamiliar place, and there’s so much of the Norwegian-speaking world to explore. When you learn Norwegian, you open up a gateway to a robust, colorful, and novel life adventure!
- Build Your Business Norwegian Skills — Today the world is more connected economically than ever before. The sweeping tides of globalization mean that companies and organizations today are operating across international borders and boundaries. If you’re a professional looking for ways to stay competitive and current in the global market, learning Norwegian is a no-brainer for success. The European continent is an emerging market full of opportunity for businesses. Learning the Norwegian language is a fantastic way to connect with colleagues in Norway and other countries, score new clients, build strong relationships with Norwegian-speaking partners and investors, and to show off the multicultural, international, and inclusive nature of your brand.
- Use Language To Train Your Brain — Building any new skill is a surefire way to expand your intellectual horizons. Learning Norwegian is an especially sound way to keep your brain flexible and nimble, especially as you grow older. Picking up a new language involves making connections between words and what they represent, taking apart and putting together grammatical structures, spontaneously speaking and thinking on your feet, sticking with a challenge when it’s frustrating and confusing, and a whole lot of active listening. There are few better ways to exercise your mental muscles than by learning Norwegian.
- Immerse Yourself In Norwegian Culture, Unfiltered — Learning Norwegian opens you up not only to a better understanding of the language itself but also of the arts and culture of the world that speaks it. To read the literature of decorated Norwegian-speaking writers like Henrik Ibsen, Gene Dalby and Knut Hamsun is to engage with the language in some of its most beautiful and colorful expressions. Through the lens of Norwegian you get a more active immersion in more contemporary Norwegian-language media like podcasts, radio shows, audiobooks, and TV shows. The stories and recipes of world-renowned culinary creations like fårikål, the dialogue of famous Norwegian films, and the lyrics of classic Norwegian songs all become accessible to you when you learn the Norwegian language. And if you’re from a family with Norwegian-speaking elders and ancestors but you don’t know the language yourself, learning Norwegian is an excellent way to connect with your heritage.
Learn Norwegian Basics: Norwegian Lesson For Beginners
Learning Norwegian Pronunciation, The Norwegian Alphabet And Norwegian Spelling
Norwegian pronunciation varies greatly among speakers because there’s not considered to be one spoken standard of the language. That means different pockets of Norwegian speakers have their own vastly different regional dialects and pronunciations. That might make it hard to understand them at times, sure, but it also means it’s harder for you to make a mistake when you’re trying to say something because there’s rarely only one way to pronounce many Norwegian words! The worst that can happen is you or someone needs to ask for clarification if there’s a misunderstanding.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t some tricky elements of Norwegian pronunciation, too. Though Norwegian uses the Latin alphabet as English does, not all of the letters sound the same as they do in English, there are three extra vowels that native English speakers likely won’t recognize — å in a word like nål (“needle”), ø in a word like søster (“sister”) and æ in a word like bær (“berry”). You’ll have to learn these vowel sounds and some unique consonant pronunciations as you learn Norwegian!
You might not know that Norwegian has two written standards, called Bokmål and Nynorsk, both of which Norwegians learn in school and both of which have legal recognition (though Bokmål is much more popular for writing). This means that there’s often more than one way to spell the same word, which should alleviate some of the pressure on you to get it exactly right!
Don’t worry if you can’t master the nuances of Norwegian’s sounds right away; it takes time and practice! The best way to remember these rules is just to practice over and over, especially by reading texts out loud or practicing with native speakers. Watching Norwegian TV and movies or listening to Norwegian-language podcasts, radio and film can certainly help you master Norwegian pronunciation and sound like a native Norwegian speaker.
Learning Norwegian vocabulary isn’t as hard as you might think. It takes time and practice, but you’ll find there are a lot of Norwegian words and phrases that are connected with English expressions you already know.
Norwegian and the other Scandinavian languages derived from the Old Norse spoken by the Vikings. There are plenty of words that made their way into English from Old Norse, so you’ll instantly recognize some Old Norse-derived Norwegian vocabulary right off the bat. And you can recognize other words, too, that are similar between English and Norwegian because of the fact that the two languages both belong to branches of the Germanic language family.
Plus, Norwegian borrows a lot of loanwords from other languages that also appear in English, like telefon (“telephone”) and tomat (“tomato”), so you shouldn’t have much trouble guessing what these words mean.
Of course, learning Norwegian vocabulary is a challenge that takes time, patience, and the right tools, even if you already have an advantage from the start.
Basics Of Norwegian Grammar
Verbs are key elements of any Norwegian sentence. Whenever you want to express that someone or something does some action or is something else, you need a Norwegian verb.
One of the most difficult elements for English speakers of learning many of the world’s languages is dealing with pesky verb conjugations in languages like Spanish and German. Luckily, in Norwegian, verbs aren’t conjugated according to who or what is doing the action, meaning they maintain the same form regardless of the subject. For example, a verb like å betale (“to pay”) starts in the infinitive form (before its ending is changed, and often seen with the marker å). In the present tense, with the pronoun jeg (“I”), it becomes jeg betaler. With the pronouns vi (“we”) or hun (“she”), for example, the verb phrase becomes vi betaler (“we pay”) and hun betaler (“she pays”), with the verb remaining in the same form and only the pronoun changing in the present tense. That makes learning Norwegian verbs that much easier!
Norwegian verbs are conjugated, however, according to their tense, or when the verb is taking place, like the present or the past, for example. You’ll have to learn separate verb endings and the rules that govern how to use them depending on the type of verb you’re dealing with and its tense. You’d say jeg betaler (“I pay”) in the present tense, as mentioned in the example above, but in the past tense, it would become jeg betalte (“I paid”).
Of course, there are many irregular Norwegian verbs, too, and they don’t always follow the same rules as regular verbs that act in accordance with certain grammar rules and patterns. So be prepared to practice these verbs and learn them separately!
Knowing how to use Norwegian verbs is essential to being able to express yourself in Norwegian, and you’ll likely spend a large part of your Norwegian learning journey focusing on the grammar of Norwegian verbs. Once you master them, you’ll be well on your way to speaking Norwegian with fluency.
Unlike in English, each Norwegian noun has a gender, meaning it’s classified as masculine or neuter. (There’s technically a feminine gender, too, but it’s often grouped with the masculine in the written standard of Norwegian.) This doesn’t mean that every person, place, object or idea is inherently male or non-gendered; it’s just a system of grammatical categorization that exists in Norwegian and many other world languages that affects how speakers use these languages.
Gender in Norwegian becomes important when considering which definite article (the equivalent of the English word “the”) or indefinite article (the English “a” or “an”) pairs with each noun. Masculine nouns take the indefinite article en, like in the words en hage (“a garden”). Neuter words take the article et, like the word et hus (“a house”).
Whether the article is definite or indefinite affects where the article is placed — as you can see above, the article comes before the noun if it’s indefinite. If the article is definite (“the”), it attaches to the end of the noun itself. So for the masculine noun fisk (“fish”), en fisk is “a fish,” whereas fisken is “the fish.” And for the neuter noun barn (“child”), et barn is “a child,” and barnet is “the child.” A major part of learning Norwegian nouns involves memorizing and knowing how to use their gender classifications, so it’s important to practice this concept!
Luckily, Norwegian, like English, for the most part did away with the pesky case marking system on nouns and their articles that stuck around in other Germanic languages. If you’ve ever learned or tried to learn German, you know that it can be a nightmare to try to figure out when to use the definite articles der, die or das—among several others. There are only a few remaining vestiges of case marking in Norwegian, meaning using definite and indefinite articles (“the” and “a”) is a much simpler process than in many other Germanic languages.
There are many other rules regarding how to treat plural nouns, demonstrative adjectives like “this” and “that,” and regular adjectives that describe nouns’ characteristics. And keep in mind that many Norwegian nouns, like many Norwegian verbs, are irregular, meaning they don’t follow an easily memorized set of rules and will have to be learned on their own.
As you learn Norwegian, you’ll get to know the rules governing how Norwegian nouns and adjectives behave in certain situations. It might be tricky at first, but it’s all part of the process of learning Norwegian grammar!
Basic Norwegian Phrases And Norwegian Greetings
To speak like a native Norwegian speaker, there are certain must-know Norwegian phrases and expressions that will help you navigate your way through a conversation.
The best place to start, of course, is with “hello”! There are many common greetings in Norwegian to choose from, the most popular of which is the ever-versatile and almost always appropriate Hei! (“Hi!”) or Hallo! (“Hello!”). You can also choose among god morgen (“good morning”) if it’s before noon, god dag (literally “good day”) during the afternoon hours, and if the sun has gone down, god kveld (“good evening”), though all these time-specific greetings are considered to be a bit more formal.
If you’re meeting someone for the first time, you’ll want to talk about who you are and perhaps where you’re from. To say your name, you can say Jeg heter X, or “My name is X.” To find out other people’s names, you can ask Hva heter du? (“What is your name?”). The way to say where you come from in Norwegian is Jeg er fra X (“I am from X”), and to ask where someone is from, you can say Hvor er du fra? (“Where are you from?”).
To say goodbye in Norwegian, Ha det! (literally “Have it!”) is classic go-to among people who know each other familiarly, and the slightly more formal and polite Ha det bra! is good for people who aren’t as close. There are also plenty of other great options like Vi ses! (“See you!”), Vi snakkes! (“Talk to you later!”) and the trendy Takk for nå!, which literally means “Thanks for now!” and can be translated as “Thanks for a good time!”
There are many other useful conversational Norwegian words, phrases and expressions you’ll get to know as you learn Norwegian, from ja (“yes”), nei (“no”) and *takk (“thank you”) to Hyggelig å møte deg! (“Nice to meet you!”), Hvor er X? (“Where is X?”) and Snakker du engelsk?, or “Do you speak English?”, among many others.
When you learn these Norwegian phrases and hundreds more like them, you’ll be better able to communicate with native Norwegian speakers with ease.
Ways To Learn Norwegian
There is no right answer when it comes to how to learn Norwegian — or any new language. With so many options for your language journey, it’s no surprise that choosing a learning style or method can be overwhelming!
Of the millions of people who speak and study Norwegian as a non-native language, you’ll find folks who have used all sorts of resources to learn the language, some free, some fairly cheap, and some more of a financial investment. There’s no right combination, and it’s up to you to decide which methods work best for you to learn Norwegian.
What's The Quickest And Easiest Way To Learn Norwegian?
You’ll find that the fastest and easiest way to learn Norwegian is the way that offers you the least amount of friction — so if you can’t stand shuffling through textbook pages or you get bored flipping Norwegian flashcards, you might want to stick to a method that’s more exciting or engaging. Knowing yourself is key to success. Here are just a few of the ways to learn Norwegian quickly:
- in a classroom setting or with one-on-one instruction from a Norwegian teacher or tutor
- with paid or free online Norwegian courses, classes, software or apps
- with Norwegian media resources like podcasts, playlists, books, movies and TV shows
Learning Norwegian In The Classroom
Norwegian is studied in many school systems and universities around the world. Norwegian classroom learning is the most popular option for learners in grade school or university settings. It allows more intensive, regular study with feedback from teachers who know the Norwegian language and can correct mistakes as they happen and teach content in an interactive way. Depending on how large a class is and how engaged the teacher is, learning in a classroom might be a less personalized experience, but having other students to talk to and practice with is a valuable resource for a learner of any language.
Though full-time students make up a large proportion of Norwegian classroom learners, plenty of adults enroll in Norwegian classes, too. Many cities and communities offer free or fairly cheap language classes, and you’ll likely find them in languages like Norwegian with just a little searching. Though a full-time job might limit your schedule, a commitment to a once- or twice-weekly Norwegian class after work or on the weekends can really improve your Norwegian language skills in a measurable way.
Learning Norwegian With A Norwegian Tutor
Private Norwegian tutoring offers a more tailored learning experience than traditional classroom learning with many of the advantages. Having a skilled Norwegian tutor at hand who can help you perfect your pronunciation and work with you closely on the aspects of Norwegian that cause you trouble is a great way to improve your skills fast — without a teacher needing to split time and attention among multiple students. And Norwegian tutoring doesn’t have to be inconvenient at all; many sessions can and do take place over video call instead of in person.
But the often steep costs of such individualized instruction can be a barrier to many learners. Well trained master Norwegian tutors often charge high hourly rates for their lessons, so finding a top-quality, budget-friendly option can be challenging.
Software and Online Norwegian Courses
There are many top-notch, expert-designed online Norwegian courses and programs that run from reasonably priced to very expensive. They allow you to learn Norwegian on your own time and are often more interactive and engaging than many free courses and resources. Plus, many of the best products out there are constantly updated with new, fresh material, so you can get the most relevant Norwegian learning experience available.
Can You Learn Norwegian For Free?
All of the above options have one thing in common: they cost money. For those learners who want to be more conscious of their budgets or are okay with spending more time finding and working with more cost-effective content, there are still plenty of options to learn Norwegian for free or for cheap!
Free Online Norwegian Courses And Apps For Learning Norwegian
There’s no shortage of free Norwegian courses, apps and content you can find on the web and on your phone. From Norwegian grammar wikis to online forums and Norwegian classes, you’re sure to find hundreds of options that might do the trick. Some of them are better than others in the ways they’re organized and how thoroughly they explain new concepts, so take them with a grain of salt.
Be aware that the tradeoff of a free product is that it usually sacrifices quality. Much of the content that’s in free apps or that’s scattered around the web comes from user-generated translations that are rarely verified and are often inconsistent or riddled with errors. These lessons often focus on writing and reading without much of a way to improve listening and speaking skills. And be wary that free interactive Norwegian lessons like these can often be basic, poorly designed, messy, rigid, and just downright boring — not to mention littered with ads.
That’s not to say these Norwegian resources can’t be helpful! But it’s important to know how and where to fill in the gaps in your language learning journey when certain content isn’t enough.
Learning Norwegian With Native Norwegian Speakers
Tandem learning is a technique where two people who speak different native languages meet up to help each other learn, swapping roles as teacher and student. For example, if you spend one hour teaching a friend who’s a native Norwegian speaker something about English, he or she would then spend the next hour teaching Norwegian to you. This is an effective method when both people are able to commit significant time and thought to the partnership, but keep in mind that not everyone is a good teacher. Explaining why your native language works the way it does is often easier said than done; you might understand English grammar subconsciously and use it flawlessly all the time but not be able to explain to a Norwegian person or Norwegian speaker the rules that govern how you’re supposed to use that grammar.
Immersion Norwegian Learning
Norwegian immersion programs or some form of immersive Norwegian language travel are definitely the most extreme and intensive ways to learn a new language, and they’re not for everyone. (They’re also not technically free if you count airfare to a new place and all the costs of living associated with wherever you go.) But without a doubt, immersing yourself in a new culture and a place that doesn’t speak your language and surrounding yourself with native Norwegian speakers will force you to make rapid progress in Norwegian or another target language as you struggle to communicate and understand those around you.
Of course, you’ll want to start with at least a little foundation in a new language before picking up your life and plunging yourself into a completely foreign locale. Using resources like Babbel, language textbooks and Norwegian classes, and practice with Norwegian native speakers can all help you prepare before you make a big transition through Norwegian immersion.
Useful Norwegian Media To Learn Norwegian For Free Or Cheap
When you don’t have access to Norwegian classes and teachers or even native Norwegian speakers, there are still plenty of Norwegian media resources to help you get on your way to fluency in Norwegian. Most of them can be accessed for free online or from a library or found for very cheap — or even through a subscription for a streaming service like Netflix or Spotify you’re likely already paying for!
Books To Learn Norwegian
If you like to read, you’ll find a whole range of literature written in Norwegian that can help you master the Norwegian language. There are thousands of Norwegian books that make great learning resources for beginner and intermediate Norwegian learners, from more humorous works of modern fiction like Erlend Loe’s Naiv. Super., great for beginners, to longer, more substantive reads like the international bestseller and philosophical novel Sofies verden, more suited for intermediate learners.
Using books to learn Norwegian is a great way to sharpen your reading skills and to understand how the Norwegian language is used in a whole wide range of contexts, from historical fiction to fairy tales to personal essays to collections of short stories to nonfiction and everything in between. Reading books in Norwegian helps you move at your own pace, and you can stop to consult a Norwegian dictionary if you need extra help along the way. Keeping a language journal of unfamiliar Norwegian words and expressions helps you build your vocabulary. Plus, you can get some extra speaking and Norwegian pronunciation practice by reading the book aloud.
Learning Norwegian With Audio Lessons, Norwegian Songs And Norwegian Podcasts
There are many online Norwegian audio lessons you can find that can teach you the basics of Norwegian vocabulary and grammar without needing to look at a page or a screen. Norwegian audio lessons are great for multitasking; you can listen to them in the car or in the background of another activity, like commuting to work, cooking dinner or taking a walk in your neighborhood.
Similarly, Norwegian podcasts and Norwegian audiobooks are a great way to learn passively while you do something else that requires your visual attention. Luckily, there are lots of audio resources to pick from, and many of them are free. Norwegian podcasts like One Minute Norwegian are great for beginners and offer bite-sized lessons, and others like Lær Norsk Nå! are more suitable for advanced learners who don’t need English mixed in to help them learn.
And listening to Norwegian songs can be a great learning method, too. With songs, a chorus or group of lyrics is often repeated more than once, giving you plenty of opportunities to hear lyrics over and over. You can find many playlists of Norwegian songs on Spotify that are often organized by proficiency level, too, from beginner playlists to more advanced ones.
It’s important to keep in mind that to really master a language, you’ve got to do more than just listening to it; you’ll probably want to supplement audio with ways to practice writing, reading, and speaking Norwegian, too.
Learning With Norwegian TV Shows And Norwegian Movies
Watching Norwegian movies and Norwegian TV shows is an excellent way to connect with the Norwegian language in a fun, engaging format. You can find a lot of good Norwegian-language content of all different genres and for all learning proficiency levels on streaming services like Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Prime.
When you’re watching, you can choose to display subtitles in Norwegian for some extra reading practice. Try to avoid watching media dubbed in your native language, as you won’t end up hearing any Norwegian! If the dialogue is too fast, you can pause what you’re watching to give yourself a chance to process what you’re hearing and look up and write down unfamiliar words. And when you use movies and TV series to learn Norwegian, don’t be afraid to break them up into chunks to give your brain some rest.
Learning Norwegian With Babbel
The goal of learning any language is to have real-life conversations with native speakers. So a language learning app should be designed to get you to that goal in the best way possible. It’s important to dedicate the time and effort to practicing with discipline, but outside of your own personal commitment, you’ve got to have technology that knows how to help you most effectively along the way.
Luckily, Babbel is designed by a team of language experts, educators, and designers who know all about what it takes to get the most out of learning a new language — so you are guaranteed a top-quality Norwegian learning journey that’s capable, engaging, and yes, even fun.
Here are the key ways Babbel Norwegian lessons are crafted to get you having real-life conversations in Norwegian with confidence, and all for less cost per month than your morning coffee.
The Full Spectrum Of Language Learning
Learning a foreign language is an endeavor of many dimensions. It takes a lot of skills and patience to learn how to start speaking on the spot, to write a text to a friend, or to translate dialogue you hear from a TV show in your target language.
We know how to make these elements work together to your advantage. Babbel’s lessons are interactive and cover all the aspects of learning Norwegian — reading, writing, listening, and speaking — with multimedia Norwegian content to train your ears and eyes. Our speech recognition feature even helps you hone your Norwegian pronunciation, too.
Norwegian Learning On Your Terms
One of the best parts of learning with Babbel is being able to fit lessons in seamlessly when you want them and where you want them. Our bite-sized lessons take roughly between 10 and 20 minutes to complete and can be squeezed into your already busy schedule, whether you’re on your commute or waiting for a pot of water to boil as you cook dinner.
With Babbel, you can pick and choose the topics and themes that are most relevant to you. Taking a trip soon? Brush up on the Norwegian you’ll need for travel and navigating new places. Need to sharpen your Norwegian for an upcoming business meeting? Our Norwegian language courses have you covered.
The iOS and Android apps are fully integrated with the web application. And your progress is saved in the cloud and synced across all devices — so you can learn Norwegian anytime, anywhere.
Learn Norwegian — And Make Sure It Sticks
What good is committing to learning a foreign language if you’ll forget it before you even have a chance to use it? That’s why your personalized Babbel Review feature is optimized to help you retain the information you’re learning.
It takes advantage of the concept of microlearning, or bringing back information in short bursts to help you hold on to it better. You can practice writing, listening to, and speaking the Norwegian phrases, terms and expressions you’ve learned in your earlier lessons to lock them into your brain.
For Norwegian Learning, Try Babbel
We’re committed to making sure you get the most out of learning Norwegian. We offer a free first lesson in every language so you can get a feel for if Babbel works for you. And if you don’t like it, we have a 20-day money-back guarantee — no questions asked.
Try a free Norwegian lesson with Babbel and see for yourself how quickly you’ll be on your way to speaking Norwegian with confidence — like you’ve always wanted to!