Should Norway’s cafe and restaurant staff speak more Norwegian?

The Language Council of Norway (Språkrådet) has expressed concern about the number of cafes at which the working language is English.

Should Norway’s cafe and restaurant staff speak more Norwegian?
Cafes in Stavanger. Photo: Kisa_Markiza/Depositphotos

According to a recent study, one in two people in Norway has experienced being served in English by a non-Norwegian speaker during the last year, NRK reports.

The language council says it is concerned by the apparent trend of increased use of English as a primary workplace language by café and restaurant staff.

The analysis, carried out by Opinion on behalf of the Language Council of Norway, also found that 80 percent of guests prefer their server to speak Norwegian.

“These figures are very clear and striking and send a clear signal to the sales and service sectors that most people want to speak and be spoken to in Norwegian at restaurants, stores and in taxis,” the council’s director Åse Wetås told NRK.

Companies should offer all staff language courses, Wetås suggested.

“This is a cause for concern. Not just for the Norwegian language as a common tongue and cultural entity, but for the lack of good language training at Norwegian businesses,” she said.

A clearly-defined strategy for learning Norwegian for staff who have customer contact would be a positive step towards improvement, the language council director said.

“I think most of us have a high tolerance for Norwegian that isn't perfect, but the workplace is an excellent arena for learning good Norwegian, and language courses would make that learning process much easier,” she said.

But the council should take a broader view of the use of other languages in the hospitality industry, the head of a major Norwegian trade federation said to NRK.

“This is about getting as many people as possible into jobs in Norway. This is a sector that takes a lot of responsibility for recruiting people whose Norwegian is not so good,” Helga Bull Rostrup, director of Virke, told the broadcaster.

“It’s also more than just language that counts when ensuring a good experience for the customer,” Rostrup continued.

“I think that there could be more [people working in the café and restaurant sector] who speak Norwegian. And those who are working could maybe be better at challenging themselves, practising Norwegian and improving, she added.

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BankID users in Norway to face disruption

Norway’s 4.3 million BankID users face disruption from Thursday and into next week as the identification service switches operating provider.

Pictured is a women having computer troubles
BankID users in Norway may face some disruption from tomorrow. Pictured is a women having computer troubles.Photo by Elisa Ventur on Unsplash

On Thursday, BankID will begin the process of moving from its current operating service provider, Nets, to its new one, DXC. The company has said that users can expect some disruption to its services due to the switch.

“We have good control at all stages, and we have practised well on the relocation process together with the banks and suppliers. Although we do not expect complications, we have chosen to notify all BankID users that there may be some reduced availability in the next few days,” Ole Petter Aasen, product manager for BankID, said in a statement.

The relocation process is expected to last until Tuesday next week, but some times and days will be particularly prone to problems, according to the electronic identification company.

On Thursday, BankID and BankID on mobile will be unavailable to all customers from 12:01am–08.00 am. On Saturday, BankID with a code chip and code app may be unstable when used for online banking. However, BankID on mobile will work as usual.

From Thursday until Tuesday, it will also not be possible to activate or reactivate BankID and BankID on mobile. Users are therefore advised to check that BankID is up and running before the move starts on Thursday.

The company added that unforeseen technical issues could also occur, given the nature of the changes.

BankID is one of many electronic IDs used for everything from logging into the country’s digital health portal, Helsenorge, or checking your tax return. 

READ MORE: Everything foreigners in Norway need to know about electronic IDs

The identification service also warned users of fraudsters looking to exploit the potential disruptions caused by the change in providers. The ID service reminded users that it would never ask for login details over the phone, text, or email.