Norway’s national council charged with strengthening the Norwegian language (Språkrådet) is worried that children and youth are being assailed with far too much English in the modern media world. They’re confronted mostly with English, for example, when they’re online or playing computer games.
“We need to make sure they can also get a good cultural offering in Norwegian,” Åse Wetås, director of the council, told state broadcaster NRK this week. A new survey suggests that one out of every four children aged three to five meet mostly English when they’re online.
“English has become the language tied to fun and entertainment,” Wetås said, “while Norwegian is used in less exciting, ordinary tasks.” She warns that can have consequences both for language development and attitudes towards languages.
She agrees that it’s good for children to learn English from an early age, “but for those who have Norwegian as their primary langauge, they also need to have a good, secure and reliable language development.”
A group of teenagers playing computer games at House of Nerds in Oslo don’t share Wetås concerns. “I can choose myself what language I want to use,” noted 15-year-old Mats Kristoffersen. Silje Gulbrandsen stressed that they all speak Norwegian to one another, but she thinks it’s fine to use English online.
Sigmund Strømme, who works at House of Nerds, said he speaks as much as 80 percent English durnig the course of a day and thinks children today are much better in English than they were when he was young. “I think it’s positive that kids learn two languges instead of just one,” he told NRK.