FSI Norwegian Headstart Course
What is Norwegian Headstart?
The Headstart language courses were originally created by the US Defense Language Institute for US service personnel who needed to learn the basics of the language in the countries where they were stationed. They focus on teaching the vocabulary and expressions you need for everyday communication while remaining light on grammatical explanations.
There are actually two recognized forms of Norwegian, the written language, known as Bokmål, and Nynorsk, the spoken language. However, since this is a course in spoken Norwegian, the emphasis is on the latter.
Norwegian Headstart was first published in 1981 and is divided into eight units that can be studied in any order – except that Unit 2, which deals with numbers, needs to be covered before you tackle Unit 3.
Within each unit, there are five sections. The first section lists the unit’s learning objectives, the second presents the new words and phrases for the unit and the third provides further examples of the new language in the kind of contexts you are likely to encounter it in. The fourth section consists of a series of drills for practice, and the fifth section takes the form of a dialog, giving the language further context.
Each unit is also accompanied by an audio recording that includes the new vocabulary, drill exercises and dialogs for the unit along with all the necessary instructions.
Finally, at the end of the course, you will find a comprehensive introduction to Norway that, although now a little dated, provides a wealth of information on the country as well as its culture and traditions.
How can you use Norwegian Headstart?
Since the Headstart courses were designed to be used for autonomous study, you can work through the materials more or less as they are without needing to adapt them too much. After finishing the pronunciation section at the beginning, you can work through the units in the order you prefer by listening to the instructions on the recordings.
These courses have been designed to be flexible, so you can study them in any way you choose – if you find that something works for you, then just keep doing it. Don’t try to rush through because there are no prizes for finishing the course quickly. Instead, take your time and focus on mastering the new language before moving onto the next unit – and don’t be afraid to go back and review again later.
You should work through at your own pace to gain the maximum benefit. However, most people will finish the course in around 40 hours of study.
Also note that, since these materials were designed for members of the armed forces, you may find the course contains quite a lot of military-related vocabulary. However, don’t feel that you need to memorize everything – instead, focus on the language you think will be most relevant to you and don’t worry about the rest.
Taking it further
Of course, you can’t learn Norwegian just from books, so as soon as you can, you should take your new language skills and try them out in the real world. Look for Norwegian speakers to practice with and try to make speaking Norwegian a part of your daily life – and if you go to Norway, try to speak the language with the locals as much as you can. Then, when you start doing this, you will realize how much Norwegian you already know.