https://www.duolingo.com/profile/leighforbes

Putting it all into practice – just home from Norway

Last Thursday, I got back from a three-week, 5,000-mile, camping/road-trip to Norway with my three kids, ending up in Bodø, in Nord Norge. It was fabulous! (And has made our top-three favourite holidays of all time!)

I've been learning Norwegian (almost exclusively with Duolingo) since the summer of 2016, but have only taken it seriously since September 2017 (at the age of 47) – ten months before the trip. Doing about 100XP a day, I finished the course five or six months ago, and at that point reckoned to be at level A2/B1. I had to cut down a lot in the spring (we moved house), and I forgot a lot of vocab, but despite that, I got on okay.

Contrary to popular belief, only two or three few people replied to me in English; most replied in full-speed Norwegian! (Even in Oslo.) I usually had to ask them to slow down and/or repeat what they'd said, but I could understand (or at least get the gist) of what was being said nine times out of ten. On one occasion – when encountering the most impenetrable accent I heard all trip, from a ferryman in the north – I could still understand he was overcharging me (for two adults instead of one), and I was able to explain, without having to think for the words, "Nei, nei. Sønnen min er en gutt. Han er bare femten år!" Not everyone I met spoke English, and of those who did, few were fluent (or admitted to fluency*). In some cases, my Norwegian was better.

*We met one lovely woman at a campsite, who chatted away to me in Norwegian, quite happy to repeat stuff and slow down when asked. I could understand her quite well, and enjoyed the several exchanges we had. Then, later, when I queried a word (it turned out to be a place name), she said, "I'm going shopping there in the morning, leaving at 6.30," in faultless English. :-D (I took it as a compliment.)

In general, I found I had enough language to make myself understood, including being able to explain around words I didn't know. I could also read the signs, not only in Norway, but in Denmark too (and Swedish ones too, with a bit of concentration). I often had to call ahead to check a campsite had space for us, and although I loathe the phone (even in English) I found I wasn't stressing about having to phone in Norwegian. (This will be partly down to repetition, and to knowing what kind of questions I was likely to be asked.) As a bonus, when my daughter lost her phone in Denmark and we called it and someone picked up, I was able to explain what had happened and understand where to go to pick it up.

So here's a massive THANK YOU to the Norsk team. You've done an excellent job with me. I needed the language to work on a truly practical level and you provided me with the means to achieve that. Thank you!! x

August 21, 2018

44 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Luke_5.1991

This is exactly what we love to hear! Thank you for your hard work! It seems to have paid off :D

August 21, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/leighforbes

I couldn't have done it without the solid grounding and structure provided by you lot (not to mention the patient answering of all my questions). Free for us to use, sure, but I'm aware that's only because you folk put in so much work at the other end. I am truly grateful.

Also, having struggled to build on my French in recent years, I was beginning to fear that (at my age) developing new foreign-language skills was beyond me. So I'm super grateful to have been able to prove that theory wrong.

August 21, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Deliciae
Mod
  • 261

Så flott å lese om opplevelsene dine! Også er vi så klart glade for at kurset har tjent deg godt.

Plukket du opp noen nye ord mens du var i Norge? "Plukket" er forresten et nytt ord i Tre 4.0. :)

August 21, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Whizbang

Å nei! Jeg håper at ingen plukker fjærene av statsministeren!

August 21, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Deliciae
Mod
  • 261

Haha, ikke gi oss idéer!

Much to my amusement, I had this video pop up in my Youtube sidebar the other day. Google knows what we're up to.

August 21, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/leighforbes

Plukket er et flott ord! Enkel å huske (though I'm going to stick with the phonetic translation) :-D. Ja, jeg lært mange nye ord (om camping, mat, ferger, kjøre, etc.), men også jeg findet mange jeg kunne regne ut.

August 21, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Deliciae
Mod
  • 261

Ja, jeg skal straks ut og plukke rips og solbær i hagen. Fuglene har forsynt seg godt, men det er nok til alle.

Jeg var på ferie i Italia i sommer, og lærte mange nye ord for pasta; hvis det var et ord jeg ikke forstod i menyen, så viste det seg alltid å være en pastasort. :D

*enkelt å huske
*har lært
*har også funnet

August 21, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/leighforbes

Hahaha! We were in Italy last year (it was my frustration with Italian that inspired me to really knuckle down to Norwegian), but we didn't eat out, so I missed the pasta varieties!

Thanks for the corrections. Always helpful!!

August 21, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Whizbang

You left out the most important part. How was the brunost?

August 21, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/leighforbes

Fabulous! My son is a complete convert (I've been raving about this stuff for years!) I now have two packets of Geitost, and a Gudbransdalost, in my fridge ;-)

August 21, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KarenLynn11

Duolingo eller ikke; du har gjort en fantastisk og imponerende jobb med å lære deg norsk! Du har jobbet ganske intenst også, og kommet opp på et veldig bra nivå. Godt jobbet!

August 21, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/leighforbes

Takk!

August 21, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kmpgn980

This is very encouraging to hear! I also recently returned from Norway after studying Norwegian with Duolingo. My experience was different from yours, because everyone I met spoke perfect English. I was on a group tour. Thanks for sharing. You have motivated me to continue, because I still have a lot to learn.

August 21, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/leighforbes

I'm glad you want to continue – it's the most rewarding language I've worked on, and I hope it can bring the same satisfaction to others too. There are plenty of places where people don't (or don't automatically) speak English, so you will definitely get to use it if you persevere. Good luck!

August 21, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/volumniax

This is an amazing story! Well done you!! It sounds like an extraordinary trip, for all your family :)

August 22, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AKicsiMacska

That's pretty incredible! It's awesome to hear success stories of people learning languages!

August 21, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DracoLokiRen352

Wow, that sounds like such a cool experience, that inspires me, thanks for sharing

August 21, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Moongrovenly

Wonderful!! Good job! Thank you for the good report back too... it's encouraging. Sadly, I only found my way to Duolingo after my one trip (so far) to Norway. Now I'm learning as fast as I can, and I'm constantly thinking about going back.

August 25, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/leighforbes

Ah, the pull of Norway – I know that feeling. We had been wanting to go fo five years before this trip. I sincerely hope you get back there, and good luck with your learning. :-)

August 26, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Satyameva123

Congratulations. Thank you for sharing

August 21, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/FLchick

You post gave me chills - congrats!

August 21, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SamSutnovs

Pretty awesome. Hoping to do the same, wish I had more time before next my trip to Norway but at least I'll be able to read some signs this time around lol.

August 24, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kmpgn980

Like you, I didn't have enough time to study before my trip to Norway. Even so, it helped a lot with reading signs. I was pleased to note that it even helped me to read Swedish and Danish, which I had not studied at all. You can learn a language at many different levels, and even an introduction is better than nothing! I'm still working at it!

August 24, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/leighforbes

I found that too – I could read a Danish newspaper, and (with a bit of concentration) the Swedish campsite leaflets – all based on what I'd learned of Norwegian. So useful! Keep working!

August 26, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Adrian442793

I've heard this: "Det finnes bare ett skandinavisk sprak, men svenskene kan ikke skrive det, og danskene kan ikke snakke det."

January 12, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jason.fw1

This is very encouraging. Thank you for sharing. I went to Norway last winter during the Olympics. I knew what Norway is like in the summer. I wanted to see what winter in Norway was like. It was great! Norway does winter well! I have to say I was shy about using Norwegian with Norwegians. I had only dabbled some with Duolingo. Also, I spent a lot of time on the west coast and I think I was tripping up on the dialects. 30 years ago I spent a year in Denmark and leaned some Danish. So now I am an American who speaks Norwegian with a horrible Danish accent and am very self conscious about that! Regardless, I recently got back into my Duolingo program and am more driven to learn more Norwegian. Your story is is just what I needed to hear.

August 26, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/leighforbes

I honestly think you shouldn't worry about your accent. I got the strong impression that the Norwegians were happy to speak Norsk – and happy to work at mutual understanding – with someone who bothered to try. A few defaulted to English, or offered to speak English, but most didn't. Some folk commented on the fact I'd bothered to learn, and seemed pleased by that. My accent must be truly terrible (though, bizarrely, people tended to think I was Dutch, which happens in France too – I don't speak Dutch). So, I'd just go for it – even if you just start off with "kan du hjelpe meg?" or "snakker du engelsk?" and then switch to English – it would give you confidence to build on. Good luck! I'd love to see Norway in the winter too!

August 26, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RobsLassie

Thanks for sharing your great experience! I actually lived in Norway for a year in 1969-70, but without the opportunity to use Norwegian for the last 48 years, I have forgotten nearly everything. We are returning to Norway next summer, so I have just started relearning it on Duolingo. The basics are coming back very quickly, but I'm still struggling to read some of the Norwegian comments below. I'm going to perservere! Just wish I had a way to practice verbally here in California! I really want to be able to hold real conversations once I return to that beautiful country!

August 26, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/leighforbes

Make sure you have the listening/speaking exercises switched on for Duolingo; I found they really helped my confidence.

Then there are sites like Norwegian Simple Daily Stories where you can listen, and repeat if you want to. There's no feedback on your speaking, but I reckon it's better than nothing, and it gets the muscle-memory working!

I hope you have a great trip back!

August 26, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kmpgn980

Tusen takk for disse informasjonen om historier i norsk. Jeg har horte pa den forste historie, og jeg vil bruker disse nettsted som en andre metoder pa laerer meg norsk! Du er akkurat at det er viktige a snakker norsk og a horer det, ikke bare leser og skriver det.

The above is just an attempt to "put it into practice." I don't know how to make the correct punctuation marks with my American keyboard. Thanks for your comments, and for including this website!

August 26, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Moongrovenly

If by chance your computer runs on Windows 10, here is how to add different language keyboard layouts and switch between them.

It is really easy to set up, and you don't have to relearn any of the English alphabet keys for Norwegian, they're all in the same place. The three main additional letters are just to the right (you can learn them or help yourself remember, until you memorize them, by temporarily opening the Onscreen Keyboard app that's part of Windows too). Once you've added Norwegian as an input language, you can quickly switch between them with a hotkey combination -- it's all in the article.

I can't speak for Macs since I don't have one right now to try it out on. On phones it's easy -- you just hold the 'a' down for long enough and up pops the choices for æ or å. Or long-press o to see choices for ø and other similar letters.

August 27, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kmpgn980

Takk, I will look into this!

August 27, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kmpgn980

The keyboard works great! The key was knowing about the Onscreen Keyboard app. Without it, I didn't see where the special letters were located. Thanks again.

August 27, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Moongrovenly

Bare hyggelig :)

The one other key I have needed to memorize on the Norwegian layout over an EN-US keyboard in Windows is that the question mark is where the underscore would normally be. Shift-dash or shift-minus-sign.

August 27, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Austin211825

You can buy Norwegian key decals from eBay for your keyboard and you can install Norwegian keyboard settings in Windows and Apple. You can easily switch between them in one click.

August 28, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/boo913

I took the liberty of correcting the grammar of your post: "Tusen takk for DENNE informasjonen om historier PÅ norsk. Jeg har HØRT på den første HISTORIEN, og jeg vil BRUKE DETTE NETTSTEDET som en andre(*) METODE FOR Å LÆRE meg norsk! Du HAR RETT I at det er VIKTIG a SNAKKE norsk og a HØRE det, ikke bare LESE og SKRIVE det.

*I don't know if you meant that you would use this website as a different (annerledes) or as a secondary (sekundær) source of learning norwegian. Hope you got some use out of this.

September 9, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/fveldig
Mod
  • 320

a->å

September 10, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Austin211825

It's great to hear that you have seen the benefit of DuoLingo and your post provides me with a great deal of encouragement. I hope I will be at a reasonable level for my next visit to Sweden. My friends there might be surprised next time I see them since I only knew a few Swedish phrases before. Are you English, if you don't mind me asking?

August 25, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/leighforbes

Yes, I'm English, and have found Norwegian much, much easier to learn than the romance languages. My top tip is to practise speaking as much as you can before you go: I often found I knew the words, but they stumbled over each other to get out of my mouth – the muscle memory just wasn't there. By contrast, I've been speaking French for 35 years, and although my overall fluency is not much better than my Norwegian, I can speak much more smoothly, because my mouth knows how to do it!! I hope you enjoy your trip, and good luck with your Swedish!

August 26, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Austin211825

Thanks! It gives me a lot of encouragement! I'm the same, I find Swedish much easier than French. I try to practice speaking, but i would also like to improve my listening. It takes me too long to process so I cannot keep up. Now I can't wait to drive back up to Sweden again next summer.

August 28, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Maria540388

What does the A2/B1 level refer to? Takk!

August 28, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/VioletaVeer

It refers to the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for languages) which has 6 levels for any language, from A1 (beginner) to C2 (fluent), see this table: https://klazz.com/app/uploads/2017/12/english_level_graph.svg ( I hope the link works, I haven't tried posting an image before) So it's a standardized way to express language comprehension/proficiency (for your resume for instance) or to indicate the level of a language course. My norwegian course, working towards B1 level, had us reading and discussing articles and watching tv (with norwegian subtitles and spoken at a reasonable pace). It was an intense course, tho, so we were challenged ;)

August 28, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Moongrovenly

I think someone may have accidentally put the wrong text in the Writing/C1/C2 box, like maybe an accidental cut and paste. Otherwise, this is handy, thank you.

August 28, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Maria540388

Thank you! Does anyone know how the Duolingo course relates to those levels? What finishing this Norwegian course would be the equivalent of?

August 29, 2018
Learn Norwegian (Bokmål) in just 5 minutes a day. For free.