Is it possible to work in Scandinavian countries using only English without knowing the local language?
The Scandinavian countries are in excellent economic condition, are sparsely populated and young people do not want to enter many professions, so it is relatively easy to find work in these countries. Considering that the baby boomers will soon be retiring, employment opportunities will only increase.
Working in Scandinavian with English
It really is possible to find employment in many sectors even if you do not know the local language, but only with English skills:
- Low-skilled jobs (cleaning, etc.) for which there is a great demand
- Jobs in the hospitality sector (cooks, waiters), which young Scandinavians do not want to do anymore
- All professions in the health sector (doctors, nurses, etc.)
- Highly skilled professions (engineers, teachers, etc.)
- Jobs in the tourism sector (tour guides, cruise staff, etc.)
- Jobs in transportation, industry, and manufacturing.
In Scandinavian countries, if a person wants to work, there is not the problem of work. Instead, there is the problem of language. The Scandinavian languages are not easy, but with a little good will they can be learned. While it is true that almost everyone knows English and that there are some jobs that can be done in that language, it is also true that if you know the local language, you have many more job opportunities.
It is a fact that Scandinavian employers prefer those who know the local language, even for jobs for which knowledge of English would enough. There are also low-skilled jobs, such as cleaning, that do not require language skills and where a basic level of English is sufficient to get hired. However, I strongly recommend that you do not go if you do not have at least a good command of English, because then it is really difficult not only to communicate with people, but also to find accommodation and a job. So you just risk losing money and time, because living in these countries is very expensive.
In my opinion, it is always best to take 5/6 months to learn the language of the destination country before leaving.
To learn Norwegian, there are courses at some universities, but only in the largest cities in your country, or there are also some private schools where you can take Norwegian courses, but these are also only in larger and tourist cities.
I would like to point out some resources that, while not a substitute for school or a native speaker teacher, can be helpful in learning the language:
- NoW, website that contains various conversations in Norwegian
- Klar Tale, simplified news in Norwegian (only partly free)
- Futurelearn, offers a well done course
- Youtube, interesting and very useful are the videos of Norsklærer Karense
- The Norwegian Wikipedia can be a good starting point. Since there are often the same articles translated from English, you can better understand the sentence structure there
- NRK there are many online platforms where you can take video lessons with native teachers
- Kompetanse Norge, website with all links to online Norwegian courses
- På vei, (Cappelen Damm house edition), very well done (for basic levels)
- Norsk på 123, (Cappelen Damm home edition), very well done (for basic levels)
If someone wants to move to Norway or another Scandinavian country without having reached the B1 level of the language before, but wants to learn the language after arrival, I recommend using other possibilities, e.g. the EVS (European Voluntary Service).
Anyone interested in working in Norway should read the article: Working in Norway