Hvordan Går Det? Part I

Mexicans in Norway

I am a Mexican living in Norway for less than three years. Though I have not yet taken any *real* course in the language, I find myself getting closer and closer to speaking fluently something so different from my mother tongue now.

So this is how it goes: before coming to live here for (initially) two years, I had the privilege of making a one-month research leave while a grad student. By then, I was already familiar with the Pimsleur method for language learning, having become more or less (emphasis on the “less”) proficient in French with it. It is an audio-mostly course which stresses repetition, anticipation, and natural context learning.

Well, before visiting, I got ahold of the first few lessons in Pimsleur's Norwegian, but it was hardly useful at all!!! While I think the courses are great (just did 25 minutes of Italian lesson 88 this morning), there was just too little Norwegian in the first ten half-hours to get me by. I did learn something about pronunciation, and the typical greetings, thank yous and so on.

So I wasn't completely disarmed when I first arrived right after May 17th, but it was an odd experience. After the quickly learnt expressions for “[do you want a] bag?” and “[do you need a] receipt?”, before my visit was over, my head had begun to hurt with all those Norwegian words coming out of the TV and being spoken in the streets. I decided Norwegian was just not worth the bother.

Boy, was I wrong.

Hardly a year passed when I found myself agreeing to my first job after graduating, a two-year postdoc contract with my then-host-now-boss at NTNU.

Well, two years isn't much. Would you make the effort to learn a language spoken so little instead of focusing in all the other activities Norway has to offer? I didn't. I decided, given my lack of faith on language courses (less than 10% of my knowledge of English, Italian and French, however small, was obtained outside of a classroom), I skipped the formal education and decided I would be satisfied with the words I could catch here and there, and maybe one or two textbooks of the ones you can get in libraries here.

How did it go? Well, it turns out I have been in Norway for more than two years now; a formal course would have been a more sensible decision had I known I was gonna stay this long. But the thing is, I didn't enrolled in anything for the last three years. I have some working knowledge of Norwegian now, thanks to my experiences with many resources.

I don't want to bore you, so I will stop here and relate my accidents with my host country's language for a second post.


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About the Author: Gerardo Perez

Gerardo made the unusual move from Mexico to Norway in April 2010. He works at the Norwegian University of Science & Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim and writes regularly about his experiences adapting to Norwegian life.

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