Even if Norwegians speak perfect English, learning the native language is an excellent way to both fully experience the local culture and access the job market. Yet, when it comes to a practical method to practice or pick up the language on your own through internet and online communities, there are not many good quality free resources that suit your needs best.
If you, as an excited Norwegian learner, have ever searched for some video tutorials on Youtube, you may have ended up feeling disappointment. But, recently Michelle Alexandra has been a hope for curious Norwegian fans all over the world with her video series of "Learn Norwegian". She suddenly has become so popular that her thousands of virtual students started to complain about waiting for the next installments. One of her followers even called her The ’Kate Bush’ of the Norwegian learning world.
Talking to The Nordic Page, Michelle Alexandra tells us about her online fame and the Norwegian teaching experience.
Michelle, born to a Norwegian mother and American father, grew up in New York. Her mother always talked Norwegian to her growing up, and she also spent a couple of months every summer and Christmas in Norway.
- I always loved Norway and wanted to live here as a child and I never wanted to go back after vacation was over, says Michelle.
Then her mother decided to move back in Norway 2.5 years ago. She says that her mother always spoke Norwegian and she was sent to a youth camp where she now teaches. Her father also learned and loved Norwegian but they decided that he would not speak Norwegian to Michelle and her brother to make sure they heard the correct pronounciation of Norwegian from her mother.
How did you decide to produce these videos?
I actually did it for my roommate. He wanted to learn Norwegian. I had bought a Norwegian language teaching book for his birthday. But he wanted to hear the pronounciation. He promised me that if I made a video, he could hear me saying the essential Norwegian expressions and words presented in the first video. He would listen to it and then learn but he never really did. But one day when I checked my youtube account, I realized the popularity of the video. So, I really had no idea that I had got so many views and comments. Then, people wanted to have more courses so I said ok and made lesson number 2 and now number 3 is coming soon.
How often do you do the Norwegian sessions?
It is not my main occupation, therefore I tried to do it as often as my schedule allows. But I am planning to do a series of lessons. It is fun and surprising to me how many people want to learn Norwegian.
How were the reactions when you first launched that video?
Most of them have given positive feedback. It is a good thing to have a youtube video for your self-esteem, I believe. Every morning I wake up, I check my e-mail and see tens of people saying "Oh you are such a good teacher, you are so beautiful, do more lessons, we miss you"
Any irritating feedback?
Sometimes there are some irritating messages. But you have to take the good and bad ones. Though, mostly there are positive messages and people usually have questions about the pronounciation of certain words, tips for the improvement of the lessons.
Do you have any idea about the profile of your followers?
I have no idea at all but when I check the statistics provided by Youtube, Norway tops the list of the countries where the video is most watched. I also get fruequent comments from native Norwegians saying "I do not know why I am watching this, it is funny to hear my own language". There are also people who moved to Norway and from other places who want to learn Norwegian.
Do you have further plans to improve this fantastic service?
I do have a personal website. I put a little banner on it advertising ‘Learn Norwegian’. I am considering adding comprehensive online courses by building a website where you can download the lessons and tests. Also my students who are not in Norway can get private tutorials through skype.
So, you have decided to take this activity on as a mission?
I never thought there would be such a high demand for learning Norwegian. You know Norwegians are so good at English, and you usually do not need to learn their language to communicate with them, but it is a lovely language and it is so wonderful to see such a great interest in learning it.
Last words for your fans
I read and try to respond to every single comment posted, private e-mails and questions. Also I offer to people in Norway private Norwegian lessons.F or the ones who are outside of Norway I offer lessons through skype.
The first video of Michelle’s Learn Norwegian Series with more than 100 thousand views.
Michelle Alexandra is a freelance actress and singer. At the age of 10 she began taking acting classes in New York City, first at The Neighborhood Playhouse School of Theatre, and then at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts. She then went off to boarding school in Connecticut for her high school years where she starred in many school productions before going on to study theatre at The George Washington University in Washington, DC. Michelle has also studied acting in London at The New York Film Academy and in Oxford at The British American Drama Academy. She is a duel citizen of both the US and Norway. She has spent a great deal of time in Norway and speaks the language like a native. After graduating from college, Michelle lived and worked as an actress/singer in New York City for two years before deciding it was time to get in touch with her Norwegian roots. In the fall of 2010, she packed up and moved to Oslo, Norway where she now resides with her adorable dog, Bailey. Favorite roles include "Jen" in John and Jen, "Lady Anne" in Richard III, and "Veronica" in the world premiere of Stephanie Gardner’s The Point of No Return.