Saturday, April 23, 2011

My journey of learning Norwegian language so far

In Year 2006 I came to Norway for work purpose as a skilled IT worker. First two years I was not at all serious about learning Norsk. I used to communicate only in English in office as well as outside. Someone like me who spends big chunk of his own time in office, it gradually became important for me to start learning Norsk to avoid my office colleagues to conduct meetings in English for sake of me. As well I was getting a bad feeling that I was missing something in the social circle because I was not able to understand Norsk. As Norsk is business language in most of the offices in Norway it’s very important that you read, write and speak Norsk.
I am not claiming to be very best in Norsk but now days I take part in the meetings conducted in Norsk and if I want to make some point then I can create 2-3 sentences in Norsk and communicate what I want to say. As well I can write emails with 2-3 sentences in Norsk.
To be frank this journey was not a piece of cake. I need to go through lots of frustration and emotional ups and downs. I used to feel a lot of time that I can’t do this anymore. I assume during the process of learning Norsk some of you must be going through same kind of frustration I did. I had a very strong feeling that I am not good at learning language. My wife picked up Norsk very quickly but I was struggling with learning basics of the Norsk.
To be straight to the point I used the divide and rule strategy. The basic step to learn any language is its vocabulary and grammar. What I feel also is if someone wants to learn the language properly then first he needs to understand the culture of the language also. The core part of the language is Grammar. Each language has it’s own culture and it’s own special rules. In Norwegian daily life they make use of “være så god” in different context for ex. while serving, while offering etc based on the context the meaning of this word changes. Each language has its own special way of communicating which one need know if he wants to learn the language. It’s important to know the Norsk words in daily life along with Norsk vocabulary of IT branch. IT vocabulary was helpful for me to understand what’s going on in meetings as well reading business emails.
The various ways to learn Norsk language:
1. Best way is start attending Norsk language Course. Be serious during the course and don’t be a back bencher. Different organizations conduct language courses in Oslo. Based on affordability you can join course whatever you want. Most of the classes adhere to the European standard of learning languages. There are different levels of courses and based on your existing proficiency these organizations recommend you courses for different levels. You can take an online as well as in person test to check out which level of course you fit in. Please see this website for details
2. Just going to the course will not be sufficient but do try to pass language test for example Norsk Prøve II, Prøve III. Each exam tests your reading, listening and writing skills based on the exam level. This includes your grammar as well. I would highly recommend to appear for an exam. You can choose the exam level based on your competency level. It’s not mandatory to go norsk course for taking exam. You can study by yourself and take exam as well. My personal experience is after passing exam it gave me lots of confidence about my language skills.
3. Reading the Norwegian papers and website and watch Norwegian news, serials. There are lots of English serials coming on the NRK channels with subtexts in Norsk.
4. You can rent out DVDs from nearby libraries with subtitles in Norsk and re-watch the movies in English and try to understand and memorize Norwegian words.
5. Make a list of Norwegian words which you don’t know and try re-read the list when you find some free time. I used to read this word list while I was travelling to office, to home and during my leisure time. It’s all about making good use of your time and then funda of practice and practice and practice.
6. Use of Mindmaps and word splitting technique can also be useful to memorize Norwegian words. There are lots of techniques available on internet which could be used to memorize the Norwegian words.
7. Speak Norwegian whenever you get a chance for ex. in boutiques or stations or taxis or with your colleagues.
8. Whenever you find some new Norsk word then try to add it to your world list and read this wordlist frequently.
9.Usage of
10.Usage of Clue software

As I am working in IT branch the vocabulary which I gained while while studying in the lauguage course was limited. So I needed an extra effort to improve my vocabulary in the IT branch. I found following tricks very helpful.
1. Whenever I used to receive some business communication in Norsk I used to translate it in English with help of or Clue software and that way I prepared special wordlist for IT branch. Again I used read that list frequently when I used to get a free time in office.
2. Another trick is to read article related to IT industry. I am using and try to read at least one article everyday in Norsk by using Google translate. I see may benefits here like improve vocabulary, I was able to know what’s happening in IT industry in Norway also the trendy words and slang words used in Norsk IT industry.
3. Try to read as much as Norsk technical documents in your office.
4. You can record the meeting on your mobile which are conducted in Norsk and re listen them to catch the words you don’t understand.
5. I have English to Norwegian dictionary on my mobile so whenever I read a new Norsk word I try to translate in with help of the dictionary and add to my word list.

Learning language is ongoing and continuous process. It’s upon individual about his own proactiveness and commitment and his readiness to put in extra efforts and hours.
The benefits are enormous.
1. One will get more accepted in his colleagues in office and as well as socially
2. One will start contributing more to his office work
3. Boss will be very much impressed that you have acquired the language skill because ease of doing business with you.
4. One can take part in social interactions which will increase his knowledge about Norwegian society ,day to day events
The continuous improvement principle of Toyota is very useful while learning language. Try to work every day on the language improve yourself day by day. I feel that it takes approx. 2 years learning Norsk if your language parser in brain is of average capability as mine. One can learn language in shorter duration than 2 year if he is committed and ready to take more efforts. The tricks mentioned above are not the ultimate tricks there could other ways as well. Feel free discuss them in comments.


piyush-agrawal said...

Hey Ankur,
Thanks for this article, I also face same situation every days and now I have started taking it seriously. I will fallow mentioned point.


Kevin said...

Hi Ankur,

I've learnt some basics of Norsk.
Since I've also seen a bit of Japanese and Chinese, I think Norwegian is a much easier language to learn.

Grammar is tough but like you said only when you speak and listen to local people will it improve.

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Shilpa Teli ( Danve ) said...

Hi Ankur,

Nice to read about your hints,comments on norsk.I believe that I am also sailing in same boat as you mentioned here..I have also come across same things..I guess most important is to speak as much as you can even if you are wrong because thats the way to begin atleast..Your idea of using is excellent as me also have ing issues with technical vocabulary in norsk during meetings and end up speaking english than if not clarified..So I would definately try to follow the hint..I found speaking with children , neighbours, in library also boosts confidence to begin to communicate in norsk...Barnebøker can also be easy way to practise norsk i think

Sailesh said...

Hello Sir, I know you from 2007 , and Feb 2008. Its gr8 to hear from you , about learning Norsk language. We had experinced that language challenge when we visited OSLO. Congrats !! Keep it up.. Sailesh Parmar Baroda.

Ramakrishna Punjal said...

Thank u very much for your post Ankur!
This is truly inspiring and lays forth a roadmap for the new learner.
Indeed the best way to learn is to get involved ...
Your article is very informative..
once again thanks a lot !

RK Punjal