The importance of learning Norwegian

It is possible to live comfortably in Oslo if you speak English, but you will find life easier if you learn Norwegian. If you are planning on living here more than three years, you might be obliged to learn Norwegian.

Why should you learn Norwegian?

Integration and social settings

Learning Norwegian gives you a more detailed perspective on the culture and makes it easier to establish connections and start friendships.

Good reasons to learn Norwegian:

  • You will be able to understand what is being said around you and engange in conversations. You will also be able to eavesdrop on the bus.
  • You will be able to follow popular TV-shows and movies, and you can discuss them with others.
  • You will be better able to pick up on nuances, connect deeper with the people around you and understand the Norwegian cultural oddities.

Can you get by with only English?

Most Norwegians have a reasonable level of English. You will find that you can speak English in most shops and restaurants, as well as in public offices and with service providers. If you are not comfortable holding a conversation in English, it is even more important to learn Norwegian.

Living independently

It is easier to establish an independent life if you can understand public information, chat in a social setting and read road signs. Many web sites are not fully translated, and Google Translate has no quality check to make sure their translation is correct.

Finding a job

There is a big chance you will find language a barrier if you don't speak Norwegian, and want to apply for a job in a Norwegian speaking company or organization. Showing the motivation to learn the local language sends a powerful signal.

For international students, it can be hard learning Norwegian in addition to a full study programme, but if there is a chance you want to stay in Norway after your degree, learning Norwegian will make it easier for you to find a job and get a work visa. It may well be worth the effort!

Permanent residence

If you should apply for permanent residence in Norway, you will most likely need to document your Norwegian skills.

Go to The Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) to see what might apply for you

How long does it take to learn Norwegian?

The answer depends on many things:

  • How much tuition are you getting? Is it every day or a couple of evening classes?
  • How much are you practicing your language skills?
  • Have you learned other languages previously?
  • How similar to Norwegian is your mother tongue/birth language? If you speak German, for example, there are similarirites in both grammar and vocabulary.

When you reach level B1, you will have a good all-round understanding of Norwegian. At this point, it can be a good idea to invest a period of time in practicing you language skills in your everyday life. This will help your language to mature and become more intuitive before you start level B2.

If you put in the effort and work with dedication, a general estimation is that it will take around a year to get to level B2.

Go to Language tests and skill levels for more information about the levels