Learn Norwegian For Free: 7 Resources for Getting Started

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Understanding and speaking Norwegian is a challenge, but there are free tools and resources out there to get you going. Here's how to start learning Norwegian on a budget.

Whether you're planning a scenic trip to the fjords, considering a new life in the vibrant cities of Oslo or Bergen, or just fascinated by the allure of Scandinavian culture, learning Norwegian can open doors to a richer experience.

Norwegian language icons.

Speaking even a little of Norway’s language not only enhances interactions but also deepens your appreciation of its unique heritage and traditions.

But are you wondering how to learn Norwegian? You're not alone. Yet, in today's connected world, diving into a new language has never been more accessible.

Free online resources and innovative tools can help you start understanding and speaking Norwegian from the comfort of your home, regardless of your prior language learning experiences.

This guide aims not only to prepare travellers for their Norwegian adventures but also to offer insights for those contemplating a longer stay or simply wishing to connect more deeply with Norwegian culture.

Introducing the Norwegian Language

Norwegian, a North Germanic language, is primarily spoken in Norway where it has two official written forms: Bokmål and Nynorsk.

Bokmål is the more prevalent, used by the majority of the population, while Nynorsk is embraced in various regions, particularly the rural fjords region.

Spoken Norwegian also varies widely across the country, with numerous regional dialects. As such, learning Norwegian offers insights into Norway's rich linguistic landscape and the cultural nuances that define different regions.

Do You Need to Learn Norwegian?

Norwegians are ranked fourth globally for their English skills according to the EF English Proficiency Index. English is widely spoken, especially in big cities like Oslo and Bergen.

Norwegian language learning tools.
Online tools can speed your language learning.

In rural areas, most people still speak English well enough to assist travellers. This widespread English fluency comes from years of education and exposure to English through media, sports, and travel.

Even if it's not necessary, speaking a bit of Norwegian can greatly please the locals during your stay. Learning Norwegian isn't essential for short visits, but if you're considering moving to Norway, it becomes much more important.

Best Free Resources

If you are serious about learning Norwegian, it's wise to invest in a good online course. We recommend NorwegianClass101 and The Mystery of Nils to get you going.

However, if budget is an issue, there are a lot of free resources out there. There are free courses for absolute beginners to start, and there are free resources to help more advanced learners on their way. Let's take a look.

1. Online Course from NTNU

While many online Norwegian courses require payment, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) provides an excellent free option for beginners.

Their course, “Norwegian on the Web,” is a 12-part series that helps newcomers quickly pick up basic language skills. It uses stories, audio, and flashcards, following the experiences of new families in Norway.

Learners can access a 139-page textbook, grammar tables, and audio tracks. Though primarily designed for new residents, the first two lessons are perfect for travellers, covering introductions and essential travel phrases.

2. Online Course from UiO

Additionally, the University of Oslo offers a free introductory Norwegian course on the Future Learn platform, available at no cost for a limited period.

The aim of the free four-week course is for participants to learn to speak, write, and understand basic Norwegian. More than 100,000 people have registered for the course, and a waiting list is now in operation.

3. Duolingo App

One of the most popular language learning apps is Duolingo. It's free to download and use on your smartphone or computer. There is also a paid version, but the free version is very effective for daily practice.

Norwegian language tutor and flag.
You can start learning Norwegian before coming to Norway.

Duolingo uses games to make learning a new language enjoyable and to help you establish a routine of daily practice.

4. Memrise App

Flashcards are a simple yet effective learning tool that help you memorize new words through repeated exposure and practice. They are especially useful in language learning because they allow you to quickly recall and reinforce vocabulary.

Another great app is Memrise, which specifically uses the flashcard method to enhance memory retention.

It introduces you to essential Norwegian phrases, helping you learn how to introduce yourself, navigate new places, and use friendly expressions that are sure to bring a smile to locals.

5. Listen to Norwegian Music

Exploring Norwegian music offers an effective method for immersing yourself in the language and culture.

By listening to songs performed in Norwegian, particularly those within the folk and children's music genres, you can significantly enhance your language learning journey.

These genres are not only rich in melody but also in simple, clear language, making them ideal for beginners. Following along with the lyrics while listening can improve your vocabulary, pronunciation, and understanding of grammatical structures.

To get you started, try the contemporary folk songs on “Tusenfryd” by Siri Nilsen, or the clear lyrics on “Haba Haba” by Lillebjørn Nilsen. Want more? Check out these Norwegian language albums to get you started.

6. Klar Tale Podcast

Mastering pronunciation can be challenging when learning a new language. Fortunately, a variety of Norwegian music and podcasts are readily available to aid your pronunciation skills.

Regularly listening to Norwegian—whether or not you understand every word—helps you become familiar with the language's rhythm and unique sounds.

This practice can significantly improve your ability to comprehend responses during actual conversations.

For reading practice, the weekly print newspaper and website, Klar Tale, publishes news in straightforward Norwegian and offers a free podcast that reads articles aloud, ideal for auditory learning.

7. Listen to Slow Norwegian

Getting to grips with oral comprehension is a challenge no matter the language. Simply put, native speakers talk quickly. In addition to Klar Tale, there is another podcast you may find useful.

Although Relax with Slow Norwegian is no longer producing new episodes, its existing episodes remain accessible online. These feature a licensed hypnotherapist reading bedtime stories slowly in Norwegian. It's perfect for beginners.

Other Tools & Resources

Modern artificial intelligence (AI) tools offers a versatile approach to learning Norwegian, from correcting sentence structure to explaining grammatical rules in real time.

For beginners, it can simplify learning by focusing on conversational skills and basic word order, adjusting the complexity of responses based on the learner's proficiency.

Advanced learners can benefit from nuanced explanations of dialectal variations and idiomatic expressions, enhancing both understanding and usage of the language across various contexts of Norwegian​.

AI language tools are a valuable resource for anyone looking to master Norwegian efficiently​. Free tools are available, but there are more powerful tools available for a fee. Learn more about using AI tools to help you learn Norwegian.

Finally, if you can’t take an in-person course, consider a paid online course to help provide you with structure and pacing. We recommend NorwegianClass101 and The Mystery of Nils to get you going.

How did you get started learning Norwegian? Feel free to share your favourite tips, tools and resources down in the comments.

About David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a professional writer on all things Scandinavia.

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