Online Scandinavian Language Classes

Have you resolved to learn a Scandinavian language or improve your current Scandinavian language skills in 2021? Of course there are mobile/web apps, like Duolingo and Babbel, and online and book-based options for independent study, but some of you may prefer regular, personal interaction with an instructor and other learners. Now that institutions have pivoted to offering virtual events and classes, there are many such options to consider. Winter session is open for registration at many Scandinavian centers around the country now.

Here are some options I’ve come across recently. Personally, we are familiar with and recommend Vesterheim’s Family Norwegian Language Adventures. We participated in the ones from October (friluftsliv), November (kos), and December (jul). It was a nice combination of language and culture with accompanying family activities and virtual interaction with other participants (read about our October adventure here).

Please share in the comments if you are familiar with or have experience with any other in-person programs that are now virtual.


Vesterheim, the National Norwegian-American Museum & Folk Art School (Decorah, IA)

Vesterheim’s Heritage and Language classes give students the tools to dive more deeply into their Norwegian roots and connect with cultural traditions. While most classes focus on the culture, language, and history of Norway, some are appropriate for anyone curious about heritage and identity. Some classes are specifically tailored for travelers while others help students travel in their imaginations. These classes sell out quickly (winter sessions are already full), so check back early for spring offerings. View upcoming classes.

A unique language learning option at Vesterheim is their Family Norwegian Language Adventures program. Each adventure promises family fun while learning some Norwegian language along the way.

Join Vesterheim in February for an adventure that will focus on eventyr, or fairy tales. Through short videos, hands-on activities, crafts, and light-hearted games, you and your family will learn and practice new Norwegian skills. In advance, a kit will be delivered right to your home containing supplies for these language activities, including a helpful reference sheet for all the new words and expressions you will be learning as well as a yummy treat. A scavenger-hunt-type activity using the GooseChase app will get you up and moving, exploring, embracing the adventure wherever you are and whenever you choose. Enrollment deadline for the February adventure is January 22, 2021. Register here.


Mindekirken Norwegian Language & Culture Program (Minneapolis, MN)

The Mindekirken Norwegian Language & Culture Program offers a range of classes for beginner to advanced students. View Language Classes for a list of classes for beginner and intermediate students. Conversation Classes help intermediate learners build confidence by engaging them to use the Norwegian they already know. Language and Literature Classes for more advanced students incorporate Norwegian literature. For the 2021 winter session, literature classes feature the authors Jørn Lier Horst, Anne B. Ragde, Vidar Sundstøl, and Unni Lindell, as well as Netflix’s Norwegian TV series Hjem til jul. See a list of all class offerings here.

Mindekirken also offers an online Norwegian language and culture group for kids ages 6 to 10 called Den Norske Klubben. The winter session starts on January 3 and meets every other Sunday until March 14. The theme for the year is Sanger og fortellinger (songs and stories). With an informal structure, activities may include games, songs, art projects, and dramatic play. Each week is independent from the others, so children can attend as they are able. It is free to attend but registration is required. Register here.


The Scandinavian School & Cultural Center (San Francisco, CA)

The Scandinavian School and Cultural Center currently offers language classes for adults in Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, as well as Finnish. All classes are taught by native speaking teachers with a focus on conversation and cultural literacy. See offerings here.


Scandinavian Language Institute (Seattle, WA)

The Scandinavian Language Institute offers language instruction classes to the general public in various levels of Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish. Class levels include Beginning, Know-A-Little (Continuing), Intermediate and Advanced plus some Specialty classes. Online classes are scheduled from 4- to 9-week segments throughout the school year depending on the language teacher. They offer live Zoom or pre-recorded classes. See schedules and descriptions here.


American Swedish Institute (Minneapolis, MN)

ASI offers both adult and youth Swedish and Finnish language opportunities. There are traditional classes for adults, Svenska Skolan for kids aged 6-12, and Swedish for Teenagers, a class for students aged 13-18 who are serious about learning Swedish. If you are just curious about Swedish or Finnish and not yet ready to commit to a multi-date class, they offer a virtual intro class for each language as well. See offerings here.


I wish you “lykke til” with any of your language learning endeavours in 2021!

Family Norwegian Language Adventures with Vesterheim

A highlight of this pandemic fall has been our Family Norwegian Language Adventures with Eddy. Early in September, I discovered Vesterheim, The National Norwegian-American Museum & Heritage Center, in Decorah, Iowa, while researching virtual Scandinavian events. Through their Folk Art School, they offered an impressive range of classes and events! What really caught my eye was the October Family Norwegian Language Adventure focused on friluftsliv (“free air living” or “embracing the outdoors”), a virtual experience we could participate in here in Los Angeles.

The organizers promised a family-fun outdoor adventure while learning some Norwegian language along the way. This sounded perfect for our family. I had been teaching my 14-year-old son Norwegian over the summer, and with this “adventure” we could maybe review some of that and involve my 16-year-old son and husband too. Also, with all the screen time taking place, we could all benefit from a new incentive to get outside and have more family time.

The $20 registration fee included a kit “containing supplies for these language activities, a helpful reference sheet for all the new words and expressions you will be learning, a fun craft, and a yummy snack.” The snack was what sealed the deal. If everything else was a bust, we would at least have a snack and the good feeling of supporting an institution promoting Norwegian culture. It was a quick and easy decision to register, even though I didn’t know exactly what I was signing us up for.

Our kit arrived at our doorstep towards the end of September. Per the instructions, we waited until October 1 to open it. The kit was such a treat to open. Prepared with great care and pride in a nice gift box, the kit went way above my expectations. The treat was a Kvikk Lunsj to enjoy on a hike. There was a journal to make notes and drawings of our language learning and nature observations along with bingo cards for a game of outdoor bingo. We also received cards highlighting objects from the Vesterheim collection connected to the theme of friluftsliv.

October 1 was also the day that the corresponding virtual game on the GooseChase app went live. The game included missions that would get our family outside and help us practice our new Norwegian vocabulary that we learned through the language videos created especially for this “adventure”.

We fell into a nice routine. One day each weekend we watched a video at dinner time and practiced the new content. Each video had a general language focus. The first video explored things you might see in nature. The next one covered weather. The third video discussed clothing. The final one delved into two sayings associated with friluftsliv (“Det finnes ikke dårlig vær, bare dårlige klær.” and “Ut på tur, aldri sur!”). I really appreciated how the adventure included some culture in addition to the vocabulary.

The videos were fantastic! Eddy, the instructor, was very engaging. She used movement, props, and humor to invigorate the videos. Music and special effects added to the fun. The content material and length were just right; each video was 5 to 7 minutes. Eddy ended each session with a suggested task to practice content covered and these corresponded to the missions in the GooseChase game.

  My teenage boys were not particularly thrilled about participating in all the GooseChase missions, but I thought the missions were a fabulous complement to the adventure. Our favorite was the family game of “natur bingo” to practice Norwegian words for things we saw in our backyard. Another highlight was “Ut på tur, aldri sur!” (a walk/hike), though sadly the whole family didn’t go, so I saved the Kvikk Lunsj for another tur. We earned points by submitting photo, video, or text evidence for the missions we completed. There was friendly competition with other teams to earn the most points.

When registration for November’s adventure with its focus on kos (coziness) opened up last month, I was quick to register our family. Once again, we were impressed by the kit. This month’s “yummy snack” was Swedish ginger thins and gløgg mulling spice. We have already watched the first two language videos and completed two of the missions (“What does kos mean to you?” and “Familie tre!”) and I see more points coming our way soon. Registration for the December jul-themed adventure just opened up and I’m already looking forward to it even though we haven’t finished November’s adventure yet!

Here’s Eddy introducing the December Family Norwegian Language Adventure

Norwegian Language Opportunities in Los Angeles

norwegian-alphabet-jana-johnson-schnoor

Norwegian Alphabet by Jana Johnson Schnoor

Norwegian is not in high demand so opportunities to learn and use the language here in Los Angeles are very limited. There are, however, two establishments that stand out as centers for Norwegian language and culture here in the Los Angeles area: Norwegian Church in San Pedro and Scandinavian Center in Thousand Oaks. At both places, you can not only pursue your interest in learning Norwegian, but you can also learn about Norwegian culture and customs. Continue reading

Norwegian Language Courses in Los Angeles

Bunad and reading* For more current information, please go to my new post: Norwegian Language Opportunities in Los Angeles. *

Occasionally, I receive inquiries from people in the Los Angeles area wanting to learn Norwegian. Norwegian is not in high demand so opportunities are very limited, if not non-existent. However, in the new year, the Norwegian Church in San Pedro will offer a course in conversational Norwegian with some emphasis on Norwegian culture and lifestyle. Starting January 10, 2015, instructor Olaug Macmillan will lead a class on Saturdays from 11am to 1pm for 10 weeks. A textbook will be available for purchase in class. The suggested donation for the whole course is $50. A minimum of 10 students is required. Please contact the Church at losangeles@sjomannskirken.no for more information.

Norwegian porridge(To make your trip to the Church even more worthwhile on the day of class, stay for some traditional Norwegian porridge. Every Saturday they serve porridge at 2 o’clock.)

The Church also offers a Norwegian course for children in grades 1 to 10. Skolegjengen currently meets every other Sunday at 1 o’clock. The fall semester is drawing to a close, but you can contact the Church about joining in the new year or next fall.

Skolegjengen consists of children who have Norwegian as a first or second language. All students work on the same topics, but tasks are adapted to different ages and levels. Students are taught Norwegian and given projects and activities about Norwegian culture, history, and geography. One parent must speak fluent Norwegian.

Skolegjengen 17 maiSkolegjengen performs at the Christmas Bazaar, Christmas service, and 17th of May celebrations at the Church. We had the pleasure of hearing them at this year’s 17th of May celebrations and they were a wonderful addition.

For more information on Skolegjengen, contact instructors Fredrik fbo@sjomannskirken.no or Marianne mhb@sjomannskirken.no.

* For more current information, please go to my new post: Norwegian Language Opportunities in Los Angeles. *