Why Learn Nordic Languages
The Nordic languages—including Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, and Icelandic, among others—offer a wealth of opportunities to learn about your family’s cultural heritage; discover inspiring leaders in innovation, education, and the arts; and explore a unique perspective on nature and life with words that don’t always translate exactly into English.
Consider some of these reasons to Connect with…
Uncover your roots! Almost 4% of the U.S. population has Swedish ancestry, much dating to the “Great Migration” of 1885–1915. Language can help you powerfully connect with the past, and with your cultural and intellectual inheritance.
Learn an “easy” new language, while stretching your vocabulary! As a Germanic language, Swedish is closely related to English, with many words in common like student, information and under. Other similar words include: båt (boat), katt (cat) and över (over). Swedish also features great words for concepts that English doesn’t quite capture, like lagom (“not too much or too little”), duktig (“remarkably competent”), and hen (a singular gender-neutral pronoun). Swedes also love creative compound words, like sköldpadda (“turtle,” literally shield + toad), tupplur (“nap,” literally rooster + trick), and smörgåsbord (“feast,” literally butter + goose + table).
Discover a hotbed of innovation! Boasting some of the world’s most famous inventors, just think of Alfred Nobel (dynamite), Niklas Zennström (Skype), Gideon Sundbäck (zippers), Anders Celsius (temperature scale), and Markus Persson (Minecraft), among others. Today nearly 1 in 10 adult Swedes are entrepreneurs or involved with start-ups.
Expand on your Norwegian connections! More than a million Norwegians have immigrated to North America over the last 250 years bringing their traditions with them. Whether you have family among them or not, you can connect to a culture that has become embedded in the fabric of countless communities around the United States.
Get a job in the energy industry! Speaking Norwegian will better position you to get a job with one of Norway’s global energy firms. Norway is both a leading producer of fossil fuels, and at the forefront of renewable energy development and climate change innovation.
Be noticed and take the challenge! Options for learning Norwegian are limited and by taking on the challenge to seek out the opportunity to do so, you set yourself apart from the rest and help yourself stand out from a crowd. It’s a unique way to show that you are committed to pursue something that distinguishes you.
Explore Danish heritage! The 2000 Census shows almost 1.5 million people in the U.S. with Danish ancestry. If you have a Dane on your family tree, learn more about the language and cultural traditions you are part of today.
Unlock the secrets of happiness and get past the hype on hygge! Learn Danish, talk with Danes, and find out how you can tap into “the happiest people on earth.” Also learn how to create hygge (pronounced “hoo-ga”) or “cozy contentment” in your life by learning Danish language and culture.
Learn how Danes bridge from “playing well” to working globally! LEGO (Leg godt or “play well”), the world’s largest toy company by revenue, has thrived since 1932 in Billund, Denmark, teaches millions to build things, use creative expression, and create order from chaos (a bag of loose bricks). Many have traced some of Denmark’s leadership in architecture, art, and other creative areas to Lego!
Story: UCLA Adds Nordic Studies to Undergraduate Degree Offerings
Story: The Fight to Preserve a Scandinavian Language in Danger
Explore your ancestry! Well over half a million Americans have Finnish ancestry. Language is the best way to connect with the past, and understand your cultural heritage.
Practice the art of Sisu! The Finnish concept of Sisu has no exact translation to English. Springing from deep in the Finnish spirit, sisu means continuing to act even in the face of repeated failures and extreme odds. It has helped make Finland the success it is today.
Learn new emojis like no other! Learn Finnish and understand Finnish culture, and you’ll be able to use a new and unique set of emojis like a real Finn. Finland is the first country in the world to create its own emojis.
Adapted from Concordia Language Villages; for even more reasons, check out these #LiveTheLanguage posters!
Scholarships and Grants
ASF offers fellowships and grants to U.S. post-graduate scholars, professionals, and candidates in the arts to support their research and creative arts projects. ASF also offers U.S. college students and recent graduates the opportunity to gain insight into the cultures and people of Scandinavia through their internship.
Concordia Language Villages in Minnesota offers a variety of scholarships for their summer immersion youth residential camp sessions.
The Danish Sisterhood of America offers four different types of scholarships and one educational grant to members or children of members of the Danish Sisterhood of America.
Founded in Denmark in 1959, DIS offers both need-based and merit-based scholarships for their study abroad programs in Copenhagen and Stockholm.
Finlandia Foundation National offers academic scholarships to full-time undergraduate and graduate students who are currently enrolled in accredited post-secondary schools in the U.S. or Finland. Special consideration is given to applicants studying subjects related to Finnish culture.
$1,000 scholarships are awarded to applicants who are members pf the organization or are related to members.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs offers a monthly stipend and travel grant to cover housing and living expense for undergraduate and graduate students enrolled at an institution in Northern Norway.
The League has compiled an extensive list of scholarships available to North American students of Icelandic heritage; some require a regional connection or organization membership.
The American Women’s Club of Stockholm grants an award yearly to a college student (male or female) resident in the U.S. and enrolled at a Swedish university.
The Association provides college grant funding to undergraduates with at least 25% Norwegian ancestry.
The Sons of Norway Foundation offers several scholarships for cultural exchange and higher education to members or children of members of the Sons of Norway.
Check out this compilation of funding opportunities through Swedish universities, competitions, international organizations & foundations.
Looking for a Nordic Language Program?
While initially developed to report language enrollment figures, the MLA database provides a comprehensive listing of postsecondary language programs, allowing you to refine your results by language, geographic area, and/or type of institution. The data is based on MLA’s 2013 survey.
To Get Started:
- Select your language(s), up to eight
- Narrow your search, as desired, and click “search now”
- Expand your findings to reveal specific schools offering programs in your language by clicking on the small triangles on your results page