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Not-So-Weekly Norwegian #18: Brainstorming Tips & Notes

Hei, og god søndag! :)

As many of you already know, we have Tips & Notes for the course to help explain some of the stickier grammar points and peculiarities of Bokmål. If you use the web version of Duolingo, you can access them through the light bulb that appears when you click a skill with notes. If you're using the app, they're unfortunately (and inexplicably) not made available.

picture of skill pop-up with light bulb icon

It's also possible to access and print the Tips & Notes in their entirety from the site duome.eu. Pretty neat, right?


Since we're waiting for some Duo-wide changes to go through before releasing Tree 4, I thought I might as well get started on Tips & Notes for some of the new skills. The final touches, if you will.

Most of the new skills aren't grammar skills, as we already have those covered in Tree 3, and so I'm reaching out to you to help me brainstorm what kind of Tips & Notes you would like to see to complement the new thematic skills.

New thematic skills in Tree 4:

  • Body Parts
  • The Cafe
  • Children
  • Community
  • Crime
  • Days
  • Exercise
  • The Farm
  • Feelings
  • The Garden
  • Government
  • Greetings
  • Hope
  • Identity
  • Industry
  • Leisure
  • Measurements
  • The Museum
  • The News
  • Nightlife
  • Online
  • Pharmacy
  • Reactions
  • Requests
  • Restaurant
  • Schedule
  • School
  • Shopping
  • Small Talk
  • The Store
  • Theater
  • Traffic
  • Vacation

It could be something related to vocabulary, important phrases, customs and culture, etc. The important thing is that it should be information that feels relevant to the average Norwegian learner going through the course.

Weekly Norwegian Archive

February 24, 2019



Really amazing and indispensable work, as always. I shock native Norwegians with my level of proficiency, especially they learn I've lived here for less than a year. Could not have done it without Duolingo and the creators of this course.

Unsure where this input fits into what you're asking or whether it fits at all, but with any revision, if there is any way to incorporate more (and more comprehensive) information about prepositions, I for one would welcome it. It is my number one sticking point on the path towards fluency.

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That makes me happy to read, eeeeeezy. We measure our work in the value it provides to our learners.

Yes, I could definitely try to work information on prepositions into the T&N for some of these skills. There's only so much we can add to the actual Prepositions skill without it becoming too overwhelming, but since most verbs take specific prepositions, the skills where they are introduced could be candidates for some further explanation. Good idea!


Not sure if this is helpful, but I just love all the sentences which are about Norwegian culture. I love anything where I feel like I'm learning two things at once - from trivial everyday things such as Norwegians like eating sour cream on their waffles, to important cultural dates. I would especially like cultural references that expand my own Norwegian cultural knowledge beyond the obvious people (Munch, Ibsen, Greig, etc). Basically things maybe only people in Norway know!

On a separate note, I would just like to second all the thank-yous and appreciations on here - having a woeful language education in England has made me somewhat wary of learning languages and I'm now in a situation where I basically must learn Norwegian, and you guys have made it so much easier and fun than I thought it ever would be! It's slow going (my fault entirely) but I look forward to putting the hours in everyday because this course is just filled with humour - it's a real treat! So MASSIVE THANK YOU to all of you wonderful moderators xxx

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Thank you for your lovely comment, Jude!

Yes, I love those sentences as well, and there are definitely some new ones to look forward to in Tree 4. One issue that we run into, is that people will, for obvious reasons, much more readily pick up on the cultural references referencing British or American culture, or even French and Spanish, than they will the references to Norwegian culture. Adding names like "Munch" and "Grieg" to make it more obvious comes with its own set of problems. For example, it's no fun to get a sentence wrong for misspelling a name that doesn't even follow standard Norwegian orthography. The names also end up showing up as "distractors" in tile exercises, which isn't optimal from a learning perspective.

We'll keep adding the references though, as long as you promise to keep looking for them!


Ahh that actually makes sense when you put it like that! Well looking at all the upcoming plans and all the other suggestions it looks like we're all going to end up with some lovely new treats anyway :) p.s. I should thank you guys for being patient and answering the thousands of grammar questions we all post - you have more than likely saved us countless hours of work. It's a real shame we can't crowd-fund you all, you definitely deserve it!

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Bare hyggelig! We're excited to share the new tree with you. Hopefully, sooner rather than later. :)

You don't need to worry about paying us; just pay it forward. We all have knowledge to share and help to offer.


I would really like a section on Norwegian proverbs! Although I imagine it can be hard to implement (like, what answers should be considered correct/incorrect - is only a direct, literal translation correct, or also something a bit more metaphorical, and if so, which variants should be okay, that can be a lot of work to work out).

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We enjoy adding proverbs to the course, but due to how courses are structured around words, it's nigh impossible to centralize them to one skill. With bonus skills that was doable, as they aren't bound by the same rigid system, but bonus skills have been bugged since our first course went into beta some four years ago.

On the bright side, there are actually plenty of them in the course - they're just sprinkled all over. :)


I agree— perhaps also references to well-known (to Norwegians!) children’s songs or stories?


I like that too, but I doubt they can do that because songs are poems and they break the rules about word order. Stories require more than one sentence. A textbook I'm also using gives a saying at the end of each chapter but it's mind-warping to figure out how those words turned into the given meaning. The teacher's guide and workbook for the text gives poems, and rhymes and they're fun but again, don't have direct translations.


If I'm understanding correctly, you're just requesting advice on the "tips and notes" for these levels?

If so, I'll do a quick brainstorm or I'll later forget (for context, I'm about to reach "Law" in my tree):

  • Babies: Are there traditional things parents usually do with babies in Norway?

  • Body Parts: What are the differences when talking about animal body parts and human body parts?

  • The Cafe: What are typical things people order in cafés in Norway?

  • Community: Are there relevant associations or names of activities where one could collaborate on (Recycling programs, etc)?

  • Exercise: Make sure to include something about roller skiing

  • The Farm: What type of vegetables and fruit are often grown in Norway and what's imported? (Freshness and price should be tied to home-grown food)

  • Identity: Relevant names for documents for citizens? What do Norwegians often when voting or entering a nightclub as proof of age?

  • Measurements: Do Norwegians have specific terms and ways to measure? What about recipes? What about architectural dimensions?

  • The Museum/Theatre: Maybe feature interesting pieces to research?

  • Online: Particular idiosyncrasies for Norwegians online (retail in places like finn.no or social).

  • Requests: What would be rude? What would be direct, but polite? What would be annoying (like insisting)?

  • Schedule: Do time tables have a particular form that could benefit from an explanation?

  • School: Is there any interesting tidbit of information about how school is set up?

  • Traffic: Do Norwegians use monthly 'abonnements' for public transport? What terms relate to those? Are buses on time? (I know they are but it's cool to show it and to feature things like that (and words like 'presis', I guess)

  • Vacation: Difference between "being in vacation" and having "paid-vacations not yet taken" and "planning to go on vacation".

In general, I think that anything that provides an interesting background of the common usage of the words in the level can be a great starting point. Some things you can learn with apps like wikivoyage but might still be interesting to see here, in context.

I share your disappointment that the light bulb is not featured in the app, I have an open tab in Firefox mobile just to read that info when it comes to it.

Extra advice not directly related:

  • I'd love to have basic phrases to be able to communicate with others or a teach in a Norwegian course" like "I don't know", "what does it mean", "can you repeat", etc.

  • Stuff that relates culturally to the country is always interesting, like matpakke, glogg, etc. Maybe you can get inspiration as to what things could be talked about in the "Life in Norway" blog?

Thanks for the wonderful tree! It's helped me a lot.

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Thank you! That's exactly the kind of input I was looking for.

We do have those basic phrases in the course, we just can't force them to show up. There's a pool of sentences available for each lesson, of which most users will only end up seeing a select few. I'll see if I can work some of those into the Tips & Notes as well.

When it comes culturally significant vocabulary, you're definitely preaching to the choir, but it's also tricky, because it's difficult to learn the word for something you do not know what is to begin with. I don't have the stats, but I think it would be a safe assumption to make that most of our learners have never been to Norway. Not to worry, though, "matpakke" is already there, and Tree 4 will bring some new content on Norse mythology. "Gløgg", however, is just a touch too... Swedish. ;)


I’ve wondered how much of the sentences we actually see. I’ve heard people complain that every level is the same but that’s not my experience. (I’m working on finishing the fourth tree and nearly there, then will go back to do the last tree. After that it will be practice practice, practice).

I’ve been using the textbook Norsk, Nordmenn og Norge (1982, University of Wisconsin). I started it before i found Duolingo. The combination is good. They give a lot of practice on some phrases like å være redd for, å være sikker på, and word order for complex sentences. I’m near the end of the book but im still confused about when I can drop the indefinite article when in English it would be used. The guideline of leaving it out when the emphasis is on the verb rather than the noun is not helpful because I don’t see it. And there are still a lot of idiomatic phrasing using unexpected prepositions that I’d like to get more help with.

Another tip I’d find helpful is ways to use what you give us. I still have trouble hearing sentences more than three or four words long and being able to remember what I heard to write it down without replaying the sentence multiple times and/or on slow. How could I maximize this aspect of the lessons which is obviously crucial to having conversations in Norwegian (which I haven’t had much opportunity to do).

By the way, I love Duolingo. I love the humour you put into it and the detail. I like that I can listen to sentences over and over. I like how you group lessons. I like the crown levels even though I was annoyed at first because I had just finished everything and suddenly I wasn’t. I like that I keep learning new things and that there’s so much variety. My (grown) kids are using Duolingo for Danish, Mandarin, Spanish, Japanese and Klingon but the Norwegian course is the best.

LOL about your comment on gløgg being too Swedish!

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Thank you, Debbie!

There are in excess of 14,000 sentences in the current course, and the new version is pushing 18,000, so there's no lack of content. However, the algorithm does play favourites to some extent, filtering out the more difficult sentences - for lower crown levels in particular.

I can definitely look into adding some general study tips as well as Duo-specific guidance to the notes. That's a good idea.

Sometimes grammatical concepts that don't have an equivalent in English are just tricky to explain well. We wrestle with that a lot. If something doesn't click when explained, then it's often better to just keep on consuming Norwegian media until you get a feel for it. Exposure to a pattern will train your brain to recognize it, even if you don't understand it, and the end result is the same.

I love that your kids are all learning as well! I've had the fortune to pick up a new hobby in the past couple of years which I share with my mother and two of my brothers, and it's nice to have something like that to bond over and enjoy - even if it's not always together or at the same level.


Maybe Tree 4 could be renamed “Yggdrasil” ? Seriously though, whatever you call it, I’m sure it will be amazing. I love the Norwegian Duo: you have such a great sense of fun and the course is a delight. Please keep it coming!


Looks like some good things are coming. Thanks for all the work!

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Bare hyggelig, Ryan!


I would just like to take the time and express my appreciation and admiration towards the work you all have put into the course. I have talked to many people who use Duolingo over the years, and I've heard from others who learn other languages as well, that the Norwegian course is very high quality. All thanks to you guys. :) Great work.

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Tusen takk, Krisz! Det varmer. :)


Thank you. Loving the course and on my last trip to Tromso found it very easy to communicate, people complimented me on my accent. I am a writer and would find a lot of the list on Tree 4 very useful. Keep it up and mange takk!

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That's great, Mads! Bare hyggelig. :)


I've been thinking about this. I remember you saying that if you used quotes and sayings that are specifically Norwegian, most of us won't recognize them as such and that is true. But what if you included them in the notes? or, because each sentence in the course has a possible thread attached to it, what if the note about the quote was the first comment in such threads?

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