Norwegians Learn, Speak English Better Than ‘Muricans

To The Readers’ Forum:

I recently returned from a trip to Norway, where I enjoyed the fantastic art, mountains, food and people of that beautiful nation.

Of the many things I admire about Norway, the most significant is their mastery of the English language. Instruction in English starts early, and estimates are that 90 percent of the population speak the language. From the young to the elderly, everyone speaks confidently, with grammar that would put many Americans to shame. English was so prevalent that there were times I lamented that I did not feel like I was in a foreign country.

The people of Norway, and many other nations, consider English the Lingua Franca of the new global age. They know their young people need English in order to succeed. Ironically, our country does not value our language as deeply as other nations. While my immigrant ancestors knew that English was the key to success, many of today’s residents, including some who are already citizens by virtue of their birth here or in a territory, do not learn English. They attempt to secure jobs and attend school with the expectation that they can get by in their native language. Advertisers know this. That’s why we so often pick up a product in the store and have to turn the package over and around to find the instructions in English. U.S. government forms and notices are published in bilingual form, making it seem as if we have two official languages. Schools, court systems and public agencies struggle to meet the needs of non-English speaking people. If the people of Norway can learn English, doesn’t it seem that the people living in the United States could too?

Julie Hewitt