Do They Speak English In Norway: Everything You Must Know

English is, without a doubt, a language you will find anywhere and everywhere. If all you wish to know is if the people in Norway speak English, the answer is yes, and to a very large extent.

In Norway, it is safe to say English is the second language of the people. The European country, like most Scandinavian countries, is designed this way due to many factors.

If you plan to visit or move fully to Norway, you have nothing to worry about. This guide will walk you through all you need to know about Norway and its English prowess.

What Percent of Norway Speaks English?


Norway is not just a Scandinavian country, it is a Nordic country as well. About 90% of Norwegians speak English as a second language. 5 out of the 10% of foreigners or non-natives also speak English.

In total, it is safe to say about 95% of the people in Norway can communicate in English. When compared with Norway’s population, this means more than 5 million are familiar with English.

In Europe, Norway is considered the 5th country with the best English proficiency. The other top 4 countries are the Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, and Sweden. The Scandinavian country is also rated 5th among the top 100 English-speaking nations in the world.

Why Is English So Common in Norway?

There are a lot of reasons why English is common in Norway. Major ones include education, business, and geography.

Geographically, Norway is bounded by countries like the Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, and Sweden. These nations have a high English prowess and indirectly influence Norway.

Please note that these neighboring countries are closer to England, hence, possess stronger English-speaking abilities than Norway. So, for Norway to adapt, it needed to adopt English into its educational system.

This made schools and other learning institutions include English in their curriculum and better position their graduates internationally for any career. 

The cycle continued with graduates starting up businesses and collaborating with other English-speaking countries to improve the country’s development.

Does English Affect Business in Norway?

Norway is a very prosperous nation and English plays a huge role in its success. Everyday life and businesses in Norway demand a reasonable level of English. 

The Scandinavian country is known for generating most of its international revenue from exporting oil, gas, fish, and other raw materials. 

Here is a list of revenue-generating activities that have improved English proficiency in Norway over the years.

1. International business

As a result of their export and import dealings with English-speaking nations, Norway incorporated English into their language system for deals to run smoothly and put themselves in a good spot economically.

Speaking Norwegian can make business arrangements difficult to execute with countries like England if there is no common ground for communicating. 

Thanks to having English as a second language, Norway shares a common background and has an improved presence in the international market.

2. Tourism

Norway might not have much in terms of tourist sites and attractions. However, the little it has is a cause for English-speaking tourists to visit and communicate freely.

Just as tourists visit, Norwegians with expendable incomes also visit neighboring countries with better English proficiency. This is a chance to get better at English and learn new cultures.

Tourism also gives everyone the chance to appreciate the universal importance of English. It is very rare to see an English speaker get stranded in a foreign land.

Can You Live in Norway Only Speaking English?

A lot of people who leave their country to go study abroad often have a major challenge – the communication barrier. 

If you move from an English-speaking country to a country like China, you have a lot of work to do if English is your only means of communication.

In Norway, this is not the case. Since more than 90% of the population understand English to a certain level, you can live or school there speaking only English. 

This does not mean you should not try and learn Norwegian. It can be considered disrespectful to their language and culture if you do not learn it after years of residing there. 

Learning their language is also a way of making them realize that English is not trying to take over their culture.

Other Languages Spoken in Norway

Norwegian is the number and official language in Norway. However, there is another language called Sami which you can communicate in aside from English. 

Sami has over 10 different dialects and is primarily the language of the residents of the cold (northern) region of Norway. Norwegian is spoken by about 95% of the population in Norway.

Sami speakers are just a small minority. There are more English speakers in Norway than Sami speakers. Sami is not difficult to learn but you may be needing the help of a local to fully grasp the language.

For the record, Norwegian comes first and is followed by English. This is why most Norwegians are bilingual. When you meet a native who speaks more than these two languages, Sami is likely to be the third language.


Can you survive in Norway with English?

Yes, you will enjoy your stay in Norway if English is the only language you understand. 

However, understanding a bit of Norwegian can also make your life super easy.

What city in Norway speaks the most English?

Oslo, the capital of Norway, has the highest population, likewise the highest number of English-speaking people.

The capital welcomes about 3.5 million tourists annually.

Can you work in Norway if you only speak English?

You can work in Norway.

There are plenty of companies in Norway willing to accept people with no knowledge of Norwegian.

Final Thought 

While English is not the official language of the people of Norway, it cannot be regarded as a foreign or strange language. 

This is because about 90% of the country’s population understands the importance of the language and how versatile it makes them.

As a newbie or a foreigner, carrying out daily activities in English is not a big deal. What matters is trying to learn Norwegian, especially if you plan on staying for a very long time.

This way, there is a balance but it is never a necessity. You can live and enjoy yourself in Norway without learning Norwegian but there is no fun in that, is there?

I hope you found this guide helpful. To learn Norwegian, please see the best platforms to learn languages. Thanks for reading.