Learning Norwegian For Members

Six key things you need to know about learning Norwegian

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected]
Six key things you need to know about learning Norwegian
Before learning Norwegian, there are a few things you should know. Pictured is a Norwegian flag. Photo by Mark König on Unsplash

Quite a lot of work goes into mastering the Norwegian language. While it’s a rewarding experience that can open up new opportunities, there are a few things you should prepare yourself for. 


Learning a new language is rarely challenge-free. While the process might seem demanding initially, it’s well worth the work. 

Getting to grips with Norwegian can prove invaluable for many reasons, such as feeling more integrated and settled or boosting your career chances. 

It’s likely going to be expensive 

One of the most-assured ways to really get to grips with the language would be signing up for a Norwegian language school. 

The downside to having in-class lessons with qualified teachers is that tuition isn’t cheap. Getting to a level considered near fluent or good enough to pass a citizenship test may cost between 20,000 – 30,000 kroner easily. 

However, there are a lot of ways you can make this cheaper. One-on-one tuition may prove more cost-effective as you get more attention from the teacher. There are also numerous free-online resources which can help you get to grips with the basics. 

Meanwhile, you can supplement your language learning outside lessons with apps, language cafes and more. 

READ ALSO: What are the cheapest ways to learn Norwegian?

You’re going to make mistakes along the way 

To begin with, some of the most common mistakes you’ll likely make will be to do with the pronunciation of vowels. Learning to differentiate and properly pronounce æ, ø and å are among one the first things beginners will try and master. 

As users get more advanced, they may struggle with the verb coming in the second position in sentences or getting used to different verb tenses. As your vocabulary becomes more advanced, you may also mix up very similar words with each other.


If you make a mistake in Norwegian or your pronunciation isn’t entirely clear, locals may switch to English. Don’t let this discourage you, as they do this to try and be helpful rather than out of you not being good at Norwegian. 

Mistakes are a natural part of the learning process and, in the long term, help you improve your skills. 

Even after doing classes, you will struggle to understand (some) Norwegian 

The majority of people who learn Norwegian learn the Oslo dialect. This makes sense as this is the most widely spoken dialect in Norway, and most people moving to the country may end up in Oslo for work. 

However, many who have passed classes and obtained certificates may still need help understanding some locals. This is because Norway has many different and distinct dialects, some with unique words and pronunciations. 

Two of the most famous examples would be Bergenesk and Trøndersk, the dialects of Bergen and Trondheim. These can catch people off guard as they can sound completely different from the more common Oslo dialect. 


This is without considering Nynorsk. This written form of Norwegian was created to make the language more Norwegian and less Danish. Nynorsk has been adopted by municipalities across Norway as the official written language. However, you will unlikely need to be “fluent” in it for work. Many Norwegians can struggle with the spellings in Nynorsk. 

One thing which can minimise this is exposure to different dialects and Nynorsk. One of the best places to get more exposure is by watching the local news from public broadcaster NRK (Distriksnyheter), which is available free online and on demand.  

You will need it for citizenship and permanent residence 

Norway has language requirements in place for those looking to become permanent residents or Norwegian citizens. 

Applicants for citizenship will generally be required to have a language proficiency level of B1. According to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), this means speaking and writing on familiar topics. 

Non-EEA/EU nationals are also subject to language requirements when applying for permanent residence. They will need to have passed a language test at A2 or above. 

Foreigners living in Norway believe it is worth investing in 

We’ve asked our readers whether getting by in Norway with just English is possible. Many of those who responded said it would be possible to live in Norway just by speaking English. 

Although, many of those who responded to the survive expressed that while you might survive with just English, you are unlikely to thrive. 

Depending on the industry you work in (or wish to work in), it can be tough to progress your career without investing in the local language. 


Furthermore, not learning the language can make you feel excluded from society. This was expressed by several readers who said it is harder to make friends and feel settled in the country without learning the language.  

READ MORE: Can you get by in Norway with just English?

Learning Norwegian will act as a stepping stone to understanding three languages

Norwegian itself can sort of be seen as a bridge between Danish and Swedish. Norwegians and Swedes can often understand each other, as can Danes and Norwegians. However, Danes and Swedes can sometimes have greater difficulty understanding one another’s mother tongues

The best way to understand the written Norwegian, Swedish and Danish is to expose yourself to them and to learn the minor differences in spelling rules. Switching to Swedish or Danish subtitles or media in those languages will give you exposure to them. 

READ MORE: How to turn the one Scandinavian language you are learning into three


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