In this post we take a look at the best apps to help you learn Norwegian. With over five million native speakers in Norway and around the world, Norwegian is a popular language among travelers and those looking to connect and experience Norwegian history and culture.
Whatever your reason for learning the Norwegian language, there's likely an app that's right for you. But before we get into our list of the best apps, lets take a brief look at what makes an effective Norwegian learning app.
What makes a good language learning app?
To teaches practical words and phrases
A good Norwegian course or app will teach you words and phrases you're likely to use in a real life situation. More traditional courses tend to give you lists of sentences based on grammar rules. Thus you're left to repeat useless phrases like "the man sleeps", "the girl runs", "the ball is red". These sentences help drive home a grammar rule, but they aren't likely to come up in a conversation. It's better to learn words you can start using right away, even if all the grammar isn't clear yet.
It teaches pronunciation
Pronunciation is often overlooked when it comes to language learning. Apps and students alike treat it like a luxury in the learning process: if you learn pronunciation great, if not no big deal. However if you want to learn Norwegian and start speaking it in the real world, pronunciation is a huge deal. Developing a good Norwegian accent is crucial for helping you to understand native speakers when they talk. Not to mention it will also help them understand you as well.
When you develop a good Norwegian accent your brain and mouth understand how to physically form the sounds you hear, making them easier to pick out and remember, even when someone is speaking fast.
It gets you thinking in Norwegian
A good app for learning Norwegian should give you the opportunity to think in the language. This means at some point you will have to speak or write your own original sentences. If all a language learning app does is spoon feed you easy exercises it might seem fun or novel, but you're unlikely to learn anything. The best apps will push you to speak and write in Norwegian just enough so that you're uncomfortable. Remember that it's outside of your comfort zone that growth happens!
Top apps for learning Norwegian
Here's our list of the best apps to learn Norwegian.
The Pimsleur app is an audio course that teaches you how to speak and think in Norwegian in way that no other app comes close to doing. Pimsleur accomplishes this through it's trademarked prompt and answer method. Each lesson in the app teaches you a collection of Norwegian phrases in the context of a larger conversation. After that you're prompted to answer and ask questions in Norwegian using the material you've learned. You have a limited amount of time to answer before the right response is given. Vocabulary from past lessons is mixed in so you are never sure what prompt will be thrown at you. This unpredictability keeps your mind active and ready to respond in Norwegian (similar to the way your brain works when you practice with real people).
Pimsleur also pays close attention to pronunciation. You learn each phrase syllable by syllable, listening to and mimicking a native speaker the entire time. Gradually you string each syllable together until you're saying the whole phrase. Few apps or courses cover pronunciation as thorough and effectively as Pimsleur.
So what's the down side of Pimsleur? The course doesn't focus on writing. So if you're looking for an app on how to write Norwegian you should probably look elsewhere. Also Pimsleur Norwegian is only available in two course levels (Pimsleur courses for other languages have as many as five levels). Beginners will get the most out of the app, but more advanced students may not find as much value here (especially if they already have a good handle on pronunciation).
The Norwegianclass101 app features hundreds of lessons for learning Norwegian. The majority of lessons are audio lessons in the form of a podcast. Every episode (aka lesson) features a conversation between two native Norwegian speakers. Two podcast hosts act as your personal teachers and introduce each lesson. They also help explain and breakdown grammar and vocabulary. Each episode also comes with full transcripts in both English and Norwegian. The app also has a flashcard system that lets you easily create flashcards from the podcast vocabulary. Podcast episodes cover the gamut of language learning. Lessons are sorted by difficulty and range from beginner to advanced.
In addition to the podcast episodes Norwegianclass101 also offers some useful bonus resources like interactive audio phrase lists, a pronunciation guide, grammar sheets, and video lessons.
Babbel is an app that teaches languages using a quiz based approach. Each lesson on Babbel uses a collections of pictures, audio, and reading or writing to help you practice your new language. At first you're shown examples of new words and sentences. After this you work through series of interactive exercises using the new material. Babbel also provides in depth grammar explanations as you work through the course. Course content is aimed at beginners.
Duolingo is probably the most popular language learning app on this list. Their language courses teach bite sized lessons in the format of a game. The goal of Duolingo is to make the learning process as fun and engaging as possible. For the most part their Norwegian learning app accomplishes this. Duolingo courses are broken down into units. Each unit covers a specific grammar rule or vocabulary subject. Each lessons throws a series of exercises at you ranging from translation, listening comprehension, fill in the blank, matching, to multiple choice questions. For each lesson you have a limited amount of "life". Every time you answer incorrectly you lose some life. If you run out of life you fail the lesson and have to start over.
If you are learning a new language like Norwegian Duolingo is a great way to learn basic vocabulary and grammar. For the most part Duolingo is a free language app. But there are some premium features you will have to pay for to get full access.
Learn Norwegian with Master Ling
Master ling is an app for learning languages that is similar to Duolingo. Master Ling features a collection of interactive exercises and mini games along side grammar explanations. If you're learning Norwegian you will be able to practice with Master Ling using recorded dialogues, quizzes, writing exercises, and flashcards. There's even a Norwegian chatbot you can use to practice chatting in your target language. The first two units for the Norwegian language are free on Master Ling. After that you will have to sign up for a premium account to unlock the rest of the course.
Simply Learn Norwegian
Simply Learn Norwegian is essentially an interactive phrasebook for the Norwegian language. Lessons are sorted by the subjects such as weather, introductions, family, etc. All audio in the app is recorded by native speakers. Simply Learn Norwegian also offers quizzes and flashcards so that you won't forget the words you're learning.