Norwegian is an Indo-European Nor-Germanic language that is closely related to Danish and Swedish. This language has two types of writing, Nynorsk ("New Norwegian") and Bokmål (literally "book language") and several spoken dialects can also be found. Both types of writing use the Latin alphabet but include three letters that do not exist in Spanish: "æ", "ø" and "å". Norwegian has more than 5 million speakers in Norway alone and more than 63,000 around the world. When learning Norwegian, it is a good idea to focus on a single dialect first and to master the spelling and grammar of the Bokmål script before moving on to the other dialects and the Nynorsk script.
Part 1 of 3: Learn the Basics
Step 1. Learn basic pronunciation
Norwegian has not only three letters that do not exist in our alphabet but also several consonant sounds, vowels and diphthongs that we do not use. In Norwegian, pronunciation is phonetic, which means that words are pronounced exactly as they are written, but there are also exceptions that are not easy for Spanish speakers to grasp.
If you want to learn the language because you are going to travel to Norway, research what is the dialect spoken in the place where you are going to go, since the pronunciation will vary slightly according to the dialect and the region and you should only practice the pronunciation relevant to the place that you are going to visit
Step 2. Learn how to say hello in Norwegian
The first thing you should learn are common phrases to greet people you meet. Here are some useful phrases to start with (the Spanish word or phrase is on the left and its Norwegian counterpart and pronunciation are on the right):
- "Hello": "Hello". It is pronounced "jolou".
- "Hello" (alternative version): "Hei". It is pronounced "jai".
- "My name is …": "Heg heter". It is pronounced "yey jiter".
- "How are you?": "Hvordan har du det". It is pronounced "jvorden jar du dei".
- "Goodbye": "Ha det bra". It is pronounced "jaad bra". You can also say "Ha det", which is a shorter and more colloquial way of saying goodbye and is pronounced "jeid" (that is, both words are pronounced as if they were one).
Step 3. Learn important words and phrases in Norwegian
You may not have time to learn the language very well before having to speak it, especially if you want to learn it to travel to Norway. So, focus on learning specific words and phrases that help you communicate on a daily basis about your basic needs. These are some examples:
- "I'm from …": "Jeg kommer fra". It is pronounced "yag eat cold".
- "I'm sorry": "Beklager". It is pronounced "bak-log-et".
- "Excuse me": "Unnskyld mei". It is pronounced "an-shiel mai".
- "I love you": "Jeg elsker deg". It is pronounced "iej elsker deij".
Step 4. Learn to ask simple questions
When you have learned how to say hello in Norwegian and engage in basic conversations, you can learn a few questions. You may find it helpful to have a list of questions related to the reason for your trip to Norway (i.e. related to business, tourism, studies, etc.).
- "Where are you from?": "Hvor kommer du fra?". It is pronounced "vor comer du fra".
- "Do you speak English?": "Snakker du engelsk?". Pronounced "snaker du ing-isk."
- "I speak English": "Jeg snakker Engelsk". Pronounced "yag snaker ing-isk".
- "What did you say?": "Hva sa du?" It is pronounced "va so du".
- "Can you speak slower?": "Kan du snakke saktere?" It is pronounced "con du snak-ke sok-tera".
- "Where is the bathroom?": "Hvor er toalettet?". It is pronounced "jvor er toalet".
Part 2 of 3: Mastering Grammar, Speaking, and Reading
Step 1. Get a Norwegian grammar book for beginners
You must study hard to learn pronunciation, sentence structure, verb conjugations, and vocabulary. If you're really serious about it, you should also get a dictionary and a dictionary of terms.
- You can find these types of materials in a store that specializes in languages.
- If you prefer to focus on learning to speak Norwegian, you should learn more vocabulary and the correct pronunciation of words.
- If you prefer to focus on learning to read, write and translate Norwegian, you must master regular and irregular verbs and noun cases, as well as other more complex grammar rules. Fortunately, these are relatively simple compared to those of the other Germanic languages.
- Ta Ordet by CappelenDamm is a series of books specifically aimed at foreigners who want to learn Norwegian.
Step 2. Supplement your learning with online resources
Look for websites that teach Norwegian and include pronunciation guidelines and tests to measure your progress. These types of resources are especially valuable because they most likely contain audio clips to help you learn the correct pronunciation of words.
Some websites you can check out are Learn Norwegian Naturally, My Little Norway, and Babbel
Step 3. Make flashcards
This is a very effective method when it comes to learning a language. If you have difficulties with any aspect (for example, with irregular verbs), you can write the verb on a file card and then write all its conjugations on the back. Use this card to test yourself by reciting as many conjugations as you can without looking. You can use a large number of flashcards to test yourself on various aspects of the language. For example, you can create flashcards about the following:
- Vocabulary words
- verb conjugations
- articles and pronouns
Step 4. Post phrases in Norwegian throughout your house
This method is similar to flashcards in that it helps you remember more of the Norwegian vocabulary and grammar by looking at these phrases daily as you move around your house.
You can place different types of words or phrases in different parts of the house. For example, in the kitchen, you can paste vocabulary words related to food and, at your work desk, you can paste verb conjugations
Part 3 of 3: Immerse yourself in the language
Step 1. Get people with whom you can converse in Norwegian
One way to do this is by searching for a tutor in your area or by searching online for Norwegian people to chat with. This will give you a safe space to make mistakes and ask any questions you have about pronunciation and grammar.
Similarly, if you know any Norwegian people who want to learn Spanish (or English, if you speak this language), they can help each other
Step 2. Consider visiting Norway
Traveling to Norway will allow you to test your level of performance in the language and is the best way to fully immerse yourself in it, since you will be surrounded by the culture and the language and you will be able to experience it in a more everyday context instead of just for through basic exercises.
- If you have Norwegian-speaking friends, you can plan the trip together so that they can act as translators, if necessary.
- If you go to Norway and speak English, you should make a conscious effort to constantly speak Norwegian, as most of the people of Norway also speak English.
Step 3. Subscribe to a magazine in Norwegian
Another way to practice Norwegian is by subscribing to a magazine that is published in Norwegian. The subject of the magazine is not as important (it can be fashion, politics, news, gossip, etc.) as the fact that it is written in Norwegian.
- Reading magazines will not help you with pronunciation, but it will allow you to learn to recognize and read written Norwegian.
- Some of the most widely distributed Norwegian magazines are Vi Menn (a fashion and lifestyle magazine for men), Allers (a fashion and lifestyle magazine for women) and Hytteliv (a magazine aimed at people who live in cabins).
Step 4. Watch movies in Norwegian
This is another fun way to immerse yourself in the language and learn more about pronunciation and culture. In addition, you will be able to hear how Norwegian is spoken in more natural real-life contexts.
- While you're still getting started, it can help to turn on subtitles so you can follow the plot, but over time, you shouldn't rely on them so much until you don't need them.
- Some of the best known Norwegian films are The Troll Hunter (2010), The Island of the Forgotten (2010), The Man Who Could Not Laugh ("The man who could not laugh") (1968) and Kon-Tiki (2012).
- Speakers of Swedish and Danish can generally understand spoken and written Norwegian, although there are some differences. One way to distinguish them is that the Danish and Swedish alphabets contain the letters "ä" and "ö" instead of the letters "æ" and "ø" found in the Norwegian alphabet.
- In Norway, after a meal, you should say "Thank you for the meal" to whoever prepared it. This is said "takk for maten" and is pronounced as it sounds (although the "r" in "for" must be pronounced in a particular way).
- Norwegian pronunciations may change depending on the region.
- Remember that, in the words "jeg" and "det", the last letters are silent. That is, you must pronounce "jeg" as "yey" and "det" as "den."