Threatened by English, Cherished by International Students

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You may be surprised to learn this, but Benoît David from France is one of many international students in Norway who study the Norwegian language.

– I don’t have precise plans for my professional life, and I don’t think that learning Norwegian will come in handy for work. But I don’t learn a language for it to be useful, I learn it because I want to get to know the culture and that’s all, is how Benoît explains it.

Is English a threat to the Norwegian language?

The international students’ interest in learning Norwegian comes as a result of their curiosity. They don’t need to learn Norwegian as they have the option to do their courses in English, something which they choose to do.

English often appears as a threat to Norwegian as it does to other languages. Currently, with 372 million people speaking it, English is the second most important mother tongue after Mandarin Chinese. Among sources the Internet contributes to its spread and to the domination of the English lanuage. Indeed, 80 percent of the content available online is in English.

Also foreigners in Norway are conscious of this trend of the English language’s domination, and they struggle with it. Those who speak English as their first language, are also interested in mastering foreign languages. The Norwegian language is a privilege and a way to get access to a culture where not everything is translated.

Benoît David shares his experience:

– I try watching films. NRK has a broadcasting website where there are some TV-series in Norwegian. But other than that it is quite hard to talk with real people, he says.

Economic success

Contary to Benoît, some foreign students decide to learn Norwegian because they bet on academic research and future job opportunities. Figures are enough to illustrate the potential of Norway: 3.4 percent of the Norwegian population is unemployed, whereas the average is 10.9 in the European Union.

Moreover, Norway reaches more than 3 percent of economic growth while the rest of Europe struggles against a zero growth. How about using economic success to promote cultural interests?

Let us speak Norwegian

To urge the international students along, you should as a Norwegian not hesitate to whisper a few Norwegian words when you’re talking with foreigners. The immersion makes the learning easier because each day has its challenges, and improvement is done step by step.

Lucio Queiroz, a Brazilian student, is enthusiastic.

– I enjoy learning Norwegian, I think it is an interesting language. For me it is really different from the Latin bases but Norwegian is quite straightfoward. (…) At least, the written part of Norwegian is quite easy to learn.

Hear international students talk about learning Norwegian:
[audio:http://srib.no/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Norwegian-language.mp3]

Being able to catch a few words could be very useful in everyday life, among other things it can prevent you from buying the disgusting tuna in aspic. While it is handy to know parts of the language, the final goal is of course to be able to talk with the Norwegians in their own langauge.

It is always appreciated when foreigners show an interest in the culture they are visiting. Their status changes; it is an excellent way to become part of the Norwegian society and not to remain a tourist.

Learning a language is always the story of meeting a country and their inhabitants. A language comes in useful to communicate. To create an emotional link with Norway is an unequaled motivation.

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