Learning Norwegian: Help at hand / Entertainment / The Foreigner

Learning Norwegian: Help at hand. A reader wrote to The Foreigner in June asking for an article on ways tackling the challenge of learning Norwegian other than using CDs, books, and attending language courses. This article is the first of two. The Foreigner’s reader hardly is alone in suffering the inadequacies of conventional methods of teaching. The literature of education is now awash with reports of research calling for new learning approaches. Two books published in 2011 put forth refreshing new views on language, that in turn suggest failings regarding ways in which languages have long been taught. These publications are page-turners that may ease the view of the task of learning language.   Through the Language Glass, Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages is one. In it, Israeli author, linguist, and Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Manchester Guy Deutscher challenges received wisdom about languages. He playfully argues that a mother tongue shapes the way a people think, that language reflects the culture of a society, and that different languages lead to different thoughts. In short, he lends linguistic support to the common-sense observation that languages differ by more than their grammars, vocabularies and pronunciations, as traditionally taught by language schools.

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The Foreigner is an online publication for English speakers living or who have an interest in Norway. Whether it’s a glimpse of news or entertainment you’re after, there’s no need to leave your linguistic armchair. You don’t need to cry over the demise of the English pages of Aftenposten.no, The Foreigner is here!

Norske nyheter på engelsk fra Norge. The Foreigner er en engelskspråklig internett avis for de som bor eller som er interessert i Norge.

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Learning Norwegian: Help at hand

Published on Saturday, 20th July, 2013 at 12:40 under the entertainment category, by M. Michael Brady.
Last Updated on 24th July 2013 at 11:06.

A reader wrote to The Foreigner in June asking for an article on ways tackling the challenge of learning Norwegian other than using CDs, books, and attending language courses. This article is the first of two.

Norwegian-English dictionary
Norwegian-English dictionary
Photo: ©2011 Michael Sandelson/The Foreigner


Common issue

The Foreigner’s reader hardly is alone in suffering the inadequacies of conventional methods of teaching. The literature of education is now awash with reports of research calling for new learning approaches. Two books published in 2011 put forth refreshing new views on language, that in turn suggest failings regarding ways in which languages have long been taught.

These publications are page-turners that may ease the view of the task of learning language.  

Through the Language Glass, Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages is one. In it, Israeli author, linguist, and Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Manchester Guy Deutscher challenges received wisdom about languages. He playfully argues that a mother tongue shapes the way a people think, that language reflects the culture of a society, and that different languages lead to different thoughts.

In short, he lends linguistic support to the common-sense observation that languages differ by more than their grammars, vocabularies and pronunciations, as traditionally taught by language schools.

The second is Princeton University’s David Bellos’ Is That A Fish In Your Ear?  The Professor of French and Comparative Literature, and Director of the Programme in Translation and Intercultural Communication, looks at translation – the art of working between languages.

Professor Bellos took the title from Douglas Adams’ ‘The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’,  the enduring sci-fi benchmark in which the Babel Fish is a small animal stuck in the ear to instantly translate thoughts between any two species in the Universe.

No cultural islands

Alas, there is no real-life Babel Fish. As every adult learner of a new language instinctively feels, one of the barriers that slow if not halt learning is that you always start by translating into your mother tongue.

Much has been done within the past few decades to upgrade conventional language teaching – particularly across Europe where cross-cultural communication has long been on the agenda.

The Council of Europe’s Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEF) is the most comprehensive undertaking to date. It’s structured in levels of expected proficiencies and includes examinations that validate language capabilities.

CEF is a pragmatic teaching tool, with books, teaching methods and course structures tailored to meet the needs of average language learners. Moreover, across Europe, people now learn languages in the same way.

Further information

The first four CEF levels, in order of ascending proficiency are:

  1. A1: General familiarity, able to understand and express oneself on simple topics related to everyday situations.
  2. A2: Ideas and feelings, able to understand and express feelings, intentions, opinions and points of view.
  3. B1: Written comprehension, able to understand published texts on general topics and write about them.
  4. B2: Oral comprehension, able to understand and take part in spoken discussion.

In Norway, Folkeuniversitet (‘the Adult Education Association’) offers Norwegian courses based on CEF norms; click on the Union Jack on the website to bring up lists of them.

Linguists may be interested in the complete CEF guideline, available in print in English from Cambridge University Press (published February 2001, 276-page paperback, ISBN 0-521-00531-0). It also may be downloaded free from the Language Policy Unit of the Council of Europe at Strasbourg, selectable in all EU languages.




Published on Saturday, 20th July, 2013 at 12:40 under the entertainment category, by M. Michael Brady.
Last updated on 24th July 2013 at 11:06.

This post has the following tags: learningnorwegian, norwegianlanguagetuition.





  
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