Babel on the Fjords, Again

The following article from VG concerns “minority” children’s poor command of the Norwegian language and all the resources that the government has wasted in an attempt to improve these skills.

Many thanks to our Norwegian correspondent The Observer for the translation:

Seven out of ten children with minority backgrounds have poor Norwegian skills

Although the Government have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on initiatives that focus on language development in kindergartens, seven out of ten minority children have such a poor grasp of the Norwegian language that they have to take special language classes when they start school.

Since 2006 the Government has spent NoK400 million on free kindergartens in certain neighborhoods in Oslo. This initiative has also been adopted in Bergen and Drammen, writes Aftenposten. It was meant to prepare children for school, to improve the Norwegian skills of immigrant children and socialize them with other children. The initiative is due to be evaluated next year, but already now it’s clear that it has failed.

“We have failed in our efforts to bring the children up to a sufficient level of Norwegian for them to get by in school, says Anne Lindboe, the Norwegian ombudsperson for children.

She believes the current scheme where selected neighborhoods receive extra attention doesn’t work.

“It’s not sufficient to start attending kindergarten a couple of years before beginning school. We run the risk of creating academic underachievers,” she says.

Torger Ødegaard, City Councilor of Oslo (H — The Conservatives) is also concerned.

“This is serious problem for both for society and for the children. Research suggests that poor language skills at an early age can be a contributing factor in dropping out of school later in life,” he says.

For many immigrant children kindergarten is often the first encounter with Norwegian children. Berit Norstrøm, area manager in the Southern Nordstrand neighborhood, says that some minority parents believe that their children will learn Norwegian quickly — a few months before school starts. This is a myth, she says. Many researchers believe that it takes five to six years to learn a new language.

The Kaldheim Committee’s report from 2011 shows that high school dropout rates among adolescents with immigrant backgrounds are significantly higher than that of the general population.

For a complete listing of previous enrichment news, see The Cultural Enrichment Archives.

2 thoughts on “Babel on the Fjords, Again

  1. “It’s not sufficient to start attending kindergarten a couple of years before beginning school. We run the risk of creating academic underachievers,” she says.

    HBD suggests that the academic underachievers were created, not by society or in school, but when the gametes combined.  The solution is to DEPORT, DEPORT, DEPORT!

  2. I very much doubt that it takes 5 or 6 years for a child that young to learn a language. I remember primary school in Australia in the days when new children arrived from Italy and Greece, and then later Yugoslavia (that’s what it was called then, and I’ve no idea what ethnicity they claimed) with no English, and I’m pretty sure they didn’t ever speak English with their parents. They adjusted pretty quickly–one Greek boy, who I believe arrived fewer than 5 years before school finished–was among the top achievers academically. And don’t get me started on how well young Vietnamese arrivals, or children of Vietnamese-speaking parents have done! So what’s the difference? Is it that in school the majority of children spoke English, or if English was a first language, didn’t necessarily speak the first language of the newcomer? Or was it that they were encouraged by their parents to do whatever was necessary to adapt to their new country to do well in it? Were they just happy to socialise outside their own ethnic group? Suggestions, please . . .

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