Wednesday, 10 July 2013

An honest evaluation of my progress in Norwegian

It's now been about 18 months since I started learning Norwegian. Some periods of that time have been quite intensive, others have been much more passive and slow (read: lazy). After this weekend's trip to Norway, I wanted to think through my progress and evaluate honestly - and I summarise my thoughts in Norwegian below.

My main weakness has always been in conversation, and specifically listening comprehension, something I've found particularly difficult in Norwegian compared to other languages due to the range of dialects and accents present. But even though I know I've improved, and often I can understand what's being said by others, I'm still not jumping in and having those conversations in Norwegian.

I really do still have a lack of confidence, and many conversations will switch or drift into English - sometimes that's my doing, while other times the Norwegian will change to English to make things easier.

And that's the right thing to be doing. While I want to learn Norwegian, and take advantage of the opportunities presented to me in a visit to Norway, my trips there are not language-learning expeditions - they're a holiday. And I'm there to have fun with friends old and new. And the problem is that me speaking Norwegian often isn't conducive to that kind of fun - it's difficult to keep up fun, sponteneous conversation and it also risks me getting stressed, confused and frustrated.

Whether it's dancing in a club, chatting about boys or throwing ice cubes down each other's clothes, these are all things that are best done in the language that most people speak best - and that's in English. The split second of waiting for me to form a witty comeback in Norwegian can be enough to shatter the mood, and I don't want that. I'd love to be doing these things in Norwegian, with Norwegians, but at the moment I just can't do that well enough.

I really hope that the people I met at the weekend didn't think I was lazy for reverting back to English so often. I want to have a good time, and I want you to have a good time with me. And I know I certainly did.

If you're Norwegian and reading this, please comment and let me know what you think (in Norwegian!). And do please keep helping me. If the opportunity presents itself, speak to me in Norwegian. Be helpful and clear. Tolerate me a little and help me along, especially if I actually seem to be doing well, forming real sentences and not getting nervous and stuttery about it. I love speaking Norwegian with you, and I want to do it more. But I want us all to have a fun time too.

På norsk:
Før meg, vanskeligste på norsk er å høre og forstå bra, og det er spesielt vanskelig på norsk. Mer og mer kan jeg forstå hva nordmenn sier, men jeg fremdeles ikke snakker med og tilbake. Jeg mangler selvtillit, og ofte snakker vi på engelsk.

Men kanskje det er bedre. Jeg vil lære norsk, men jeg er i Norge til å ha det gøy med vennene mine - det er ferie! Og noen ganger når jeg snakker norsk er det ikke egnet å ha det gøy, fordi jeg snakker ikke nok bra, og jeg vil ikke bli frustrert!

Og nå vi er ute, og danser på en bar eller prater om gutter eller kaste is i bukser, er det bedre å snakke engelsk sammen, og ikke norsk, fordi for alle er engelsk mer naturlig i denne situasjonen. Det går bedre for alle om vi snakker engelsk. Folk vil ikke vente på meg å tenke om noe på norsk, fordi det kan ødelegge kvelden for alle. Jeg vil at jeg kunne gjøre det på norsk, men for nå kan jeg ikke, så sikkert det er bedre at vi snakker engelsk sammen.

Jeg veldig liker å snakke norsk, og vil bli bedre. Så, nordmenn, hjelp meg! Snakk med meg og vær klart! Vent litt på meg, støtte meg, spesielt om det virker at jeg snakker bra uten mange feil eller uten å bli nervøs! Men på samme tid jeg vil at vi kan alle ha det gøy - og denne helgen helt sikkert hadde jeg det veldig gøy med dere!