California Lutheran Unviersity and The Sons of Norway, a community focused on maintaining the culture of Norway, have partnered up to hold a weekly Norwegian language class.
“It’s such a laid back, fun class. If you just want to go to Norway, it’s good to learn how to get around,” said Alex Hill, Norwegian-American teacher of the language class.
The class takes place in the Scandinavian Center at Cal Lutheran at 6:30 p.m. every Wednesday. The cost of attendance is $100 for a semester, but for Cal Lutheran students and members of the Sons of Norway, the class is only $65 a semester.
Hill said that every class provides free coffee because “coffee is so Norwegian,” with an occasional snack, such as cookies or melon.
The language class currently teaches beginner Norwegian. Hill said that the main focus is to give students the tools of basic Norwegian so they can better explore the nation and its neighboring countries who have similar languages.
Hill said the class learns through fun and interactive activities. On May 17, the Scandinavian Center will be celebrating a popular Norwegian holiday for the anniversary of the creation of the Norwegian constitution. Hill said the class plans to perform a skit of the Norwegian fairy tale “Three Billy Goats Gruff” in Norwegian.
Hill said that she hopes the class can eventually expand into an additional intermediate class to learn more advanced mechanics of the language.
“If we get enough students we would definitely do an intermediate class again. That’s fun, because you learn the grammar,” Hill said.
Olav Hassel is a member of the Sons of Norway and long-time student of the Norwegian language class. He said that there used to be an intermediate class, but there weren’t enough students attending to continue.
Hassel said the biggest challenge for the class has been retaining students. He said he hopes Cal Lutheran students and others interested in Norwegian culture or its history will join the class and continue to learn.
Hassel has been attending the class for about six years. He said that he was born in Norway and raised in England before he moved to the United States as an adult. Hassel said he enjoys attending the class because the language class brings him closer to his heritage.
“I think [the language] is an essential part of the heritage. I do feel strongly about my heritage and I am quite interested in the nation of Norway and its history,” Hassel said.
Hassel said that learning Norwegian opens up students to other Scandinavian countries. He said that Norwegians and Swedes can understand each other while the Danish also have a similar written language.
“It’s an opportunity to learn about another culture. Language is an opening to another nation… Norwegian is an opening to the whole of Scandinavia. Scandinavia’s a very progressive part of the world. They’ve got a lot of institutions and lifestyles that can teach us all something for the future,” Hassel said.
Marilyn Molinari is a former student of the class and member of the Sons of Norway. She said that she joined the class to learn the basics of the language and speak with her relatives when she visited them in Norway. Molinari said that speaking multiple languages also helps exercise the brain, and she said that learning Norwegian has helped keep her mind active.
Molinari said she enjoyed how the class shared Norwegian news, food and celebrations. She said the class is completely voluntary and allows for flexibility with people’s busy schedules.
“It was very good that there were no grades. We were just doing it for the fun of it and to learn about the old country,” Molinari said.