Expert Interview

Interview Guide

  1. How does adult refugees experience learning Norwegian?
  2. How do different age groups experience the learning process?
  3. What are the biggest issues for young adult refugees while learning Norwegian?
  4. How does a pre-knowledge of the English language influence learning Norwegian?
  5. What are your thoughts on things that can be improved?
  6. What impact does social interaction in Norwegian outside of the class have?
  7. Do students generally succeed?
  8. Are you happy with the level of fluency that most of the students reach during the course?
  9. Have you heard of digital apps like duolingo etc, how do you think they supplement the course?
  10. Would you recommend more people use duolingo or a similar app, Why? Or Why not?

Who was interviewed?

The interview subject is Jon Bjerkan a Norwegian Teacher who has taught Adult Refugees.

Where was the interview conducted?

Both of the participants in the interview where in the comfort of their own home using digital video chat.

How was the interview Conducted

The semi structured interview was done using digital video chat. Omar from the research group was conducting the interview and the interview subject, Jon Bjerkan, was participating. A screen recording was made on Omar’s computer.

What was the theme (s) of the interview?

Understand how Adult refugees learn Norwegian.

Why was the theme(s) chosen?

The themes were chosen because we wanted to get an insight in what issues there currently are in the situation of our topic. The person that was interviewed has an overview of how multiple people experience this situation and could be able to find an answer or suggestions to improvements for more people as his experience does not differ as much from personal experience as the students might be. We also wanted to know his thoughts on supplements to a Norwegian Language course, how they work, how they could be improve and how much of an impact these have in motivating and activating the learning process outside of class.


Interview transcription (attachment)

Analysis and summary of findings with quotes

Learning Norwegian can be quite challenging. But it really depends on the person, and their background. Whether they have had the experience of learning another language, or not. Students who have learned another language have an advantage because they have the experience but also knows what methods and learning techniques they can use when learning Norwegian.

However, the young students seems to have an advantage. Bjerkan states that he believes the younger students learn faster. And he also states that it is easier for them to get to use the new language. Some of the older students seems to have more trouble getting into the new language and ends up helping each other in class, using their mother tongue.

But regardless of age, students have different challenges. For some, writing is easier. And for other, speaking is easier. Many of the students are also struggling with understanding the language as a whole as well.

Those students who already have experiences with the English language seem to have an advantage. They are more used to a similar language to Norwegian. Both English and Norwegian have several similar words in the wocabulary, and the grammar between the two is pretty similar.

In order for the students to learn more efficiently, they have to use the new language in their spare time as well. Using the new language with friends and family will have a big impact on the learning process.

A good thing to know is that most students generally succeed learning the new language. Bjerkan states that if the students happen to get a job, where they are engaged in using the new language, they will get more motivated to keep using and learning more of it as time passes.

Bjerkan says he’s satisfyed with most of his students. As long as they do their best, and work hard to achieve their goals, he is more than satisfyed.

Tools are also an important tool in the learning process of a new language. Bjerkan claims that these tools are very handy to use on your spare time, when you don’t really have anything else on your schedule anyway. It is a good way to spend some time, in order to improve the learning process. He highly recommends them to any student who are trying to learn a new language.

Distribute the probes

  • How / when do you contact users?
    We contact them through mutual acquaintances, either personally or through email or social media.
  • How / when do you deliver the probes?
    We deliver the probes personally at the start on monday.
  • How / when do you collect the probes?
    We collect the probes personally on friday.

Our Cultural Probe

  • What is your design goal?
    To find out what the user has learned in a day.
    How do they feel about their use of Norwegian?
  • Who are your users?
    Adult refugees in Norway.
  • What is the probe made of (artifacts & tasks)?
    • Artifacts
      • Notebook
      • Pencil
      • Table (a sheet of paper)
    • Tasks
      • In the evening
        • Write down their use of newly learned words or phrases.
        • Write down your favourite word you learned or used today.
        • Put on a yellow star sticker for x amount newly learned words.
        • Circle around «emoji» that represent how they generally felt while speaking Norwegian that day.
        • Write down a goal for the next day. If the goal for the day was completed put up an extra sticker
          Goal examples: Better expression, Learn more phrases \ words, engage in conversation in Norwegian.
      • During the day
        • After a conversation in Norwegian fill out how you felt you mastered it on a scale from 1-5.
        • Comment about what went well in the conversation or what you want to improve on.
  • How do you plan to follow-up on your probe?
    Collect the probe in person (if possible) and thank them for doing the tasks.
    Ask them if they want to be informed about the findings of the data in the probe.
    If yes ask them how they prefer to be contacted.

The results:

Some pictures from the first person’s probe:

We can see that she was having a great time learning Norwegian and was quite happy. We also thought that she was still a beginner based on the newly learned words that she wrote. We can guess that she is a hard-working student and likes learning the language.

Some pictures from the second person’s probe:

The second person was even more satisfied with his Norwegian and happier. We think that’s because she spoke more Norwegian and maybe used the words she has learned correctly and with confidence. We also believe that she is an ambitious and positive person.

Some pictures from the third person’s probe:

The third person is interesting. Her first day was not so good as we can see in the first picture. She had trouble or difficulty writing a text as she explained and wanted to learn more about writing a text. Thankfully, she was happier on her third day and we think that a teacher helped her with her problem.


What surprises us is that 2/3 students either don’t have any goal for the following day or that they somehow forgot/don’t want to share their goals with us. Even though they are the same students that are having a great experience learning the Norwegian language as we saw earlier.
On the other hand, the third person, who is not having a so good experience as the others, wrote down her desired result/s for the following day (but in the wrong place).

However, what can be deduced from this is that it is possible that sharing future plans is not desirable for a large segment of adult learners, or simply because they see it boring. In both cases, we believe that we should not ask this question again in future projects.

No one has used stickers too.


There will always be students who need help with learning new things (reality). Even if the number is small, we have to do something to make it easier for them to learn and to understand faster. That’s why, we are inspired to use technology to create something useful and helpful (like a chat app for smartphones) for everyone, even for smarter people.

Exercise: Cultural probe

What is the design goal of the cultural probe?
The goal for the cultural probe was to answer these questions:

  • What sources of influence are present in participants’ day-to-day lives?
  • What are participants’ food aspirations and how do they compare to their food realities?
  • What emotional reactions do certain foods illicit in participants?

What is the probe made of (artifacts & tasks)?
The probe are made off Activities to do at home coloured in white, and to-go which were coloured in yellow. The kit was made from toto bags, a camera, Moleskin notebooks and Cardboard Aesthetic.
The activities were as following:

  1. Meal Documentation  (to go)
    The user was to take pictures of the food they ate outside of the house and the environment they were eating in.
  2. Assumption Journal (to go)
    There was a notebook which the user was supposed to have on them for atleast 1 day. Then they where instructed to observe when another person was eating and write down what they were eating. Then the user was supposed to pick 3 stickers that represent their assumptions about the person they were observing based on the food they were eating.
  3. Colour Palette (at home)
    With the provided placemat and colouring pencils the user was instructed to recreate the colour palette of what they ate every time they ate a meal at home.
  4. Mood Placemat (at home)
    Each time the user ate a meal at home they were to eat it on a new sheet of the placemat and circle how they feel about the food, and about themselves after they ate.
  5. /6 Envelopes (follow directions on the envelopes)
    The user was given envelopes which had different directions on them.
    For example:
    Open this after grocery shopping.
    – List the food items you bought.Open this on the last day before handing in your kit.
    – List the items still left untouched from your grocery shopping.

What inspiration did the design team get from the probe results?

They felt it was inspiring because of the way the cultural probes redefined what research and bonding with the participants is all about.

Literature Review Summary

Main elements/characteristics of my information flow situation

When attempting to teach Norwegian to young-adult refugees, a good teacher is what most people would consider. But what if there were better and faster ways to teach a new language? 

Studies have proven to us multiple times, that being engaged in physical tasks helps learning. This is because when we are active, our brain is working much harder. It’s also memorizing the things we see and experience, much better. In other words, it’s recommended that you change the way you learn, with being more physically active when trying to learn something. 

Some teachers are well experienced with teaching, and knows what works and what doesn’t. However, only the best teachers know how to engage students into making the learning process more fun. That way, it will be more exciting for them, and they will often feel the motivation to work harder. This is because we like experiencing getting better at something we are trying to achieve. 

When learning a new language, it’s important to use it as much as possible. And if you don’t have too much time to use it in your daily life, there are several apps like Duolingo which provides push notifications and reminders on your phone, to make sure you do your daily language exercises. Using it every single day, is one of the most efficient ways to learn a new language.

Challenges encountered in the information flow

The drop-out numbers for adult refugees may have several reasons. These are refugee adults, who possibly have children witch gives them a financial aspect. 

Academic challenges like, cultural dissonance, language barriers, fear or distrust of authority figures, fear of speaking in class and lack of academic support at home may be some of the biggest, and most obvious challenges for an adult refugee learning norwegian. 

cultural dissonance causes lack of interest in learning the norwegian language, it causes discomfort or confusion, by people in the midst of a change in their cultural environment. This is relevant for the people who come to norway as a refugee, because they come from countries with a different culture and different expectations set to them. This makes people uncomfortable, and may cause them to not want to be a part of that culture if they feel rejected. 

Language barriers can be underestimated. for example if you are a norwegian student learning english, you have a lot of references to use. The student can use movies and TV-shows as a learning tool, and when you watch people speak english you get a better idea of how to form your sentences in english, appose to just learning the words translated. Learning how to form a sentence in a different language like norwegian can be a difficult task, if the refugee don’t have a norwegianspeaking reference to follow in terms of what you see, when a person is learning english, and has an endless supply of movies and TV-series. 

The learners have financial obligations leading them to take part-time jobs, witch can prevent the learners from doing school work, and resting for the next school day. These part-time jobs are uselie due to children at home, and they dominate the learners sparetime.

What needs to be improved

First of all, students come from many different backgrounds and ages, and not all of them are of equal learning abilities or have the determination to learn. Some of them want to learn the language as fast as possible so they could get to work or to continue studying. Others, just don’t care at all about the whole learning process or the outcome of the Norwegian course. The result of this is that those students who don’t care, don’t wish, or simply don’t want to make an effort to learn the language as effective as the others, will eventually, negatively affect them. 

There is some solutions to what can be done here. Students can be sorted into the classes they deserve. For example, a class dedicated to hardworking and serious students, and another class for students who like to have fun and play most of the time.

Second, It would have been really nice and more helpful if the teachers were multilingual. Sometimes no matter how hard you try to explain a word to someone, it never makes sense until it is translated into their mother language, or a language they know well. It is not necessary, but it would make learning the language easier. 

An overview of available digital tools and what problem each of them addresses.

Currently, the best digital tools for learning norwegian according to and (17.09.2019) is Memrise, Babbel, Nemo and Duolingo. How you access the guides differ, they all have free and paid models. These are all apps which can be used both on apps on a smartphone or a website on a computer, which make them easy to use on the go.

Memrise is an app that uses memorization and visual techniques as its learning component. Memrise is made to fit into a busy day as a supplement to a language course. It is meant for being used whenever you have a free moment in your day so you stay fresh on the language you are learning. This app also has a goal to make the learning experience feel more local as opposed to make you learn the language in a strict formal way.

Babbel also aims at making your conversational skills in the new language better. They try to be up to date with the current way of speaking to each other, this makes the learner speak more naturally. They also want you to speak correctly. Babbel also offer review sessions of words and sentences you have already learned, but in new contexts so that you can reinforce and refresh your memory of your knowledge.

Duolingo is one of the most known language apps on the market, it’s a good app with a whole bunch of languages available for learning, but most importantly; its free. Duolingo claims themselves that using their app is the best new way to learn a language. Its designed to be a fun and addicting experience, it also gives you immediate grading which is good compared to waiting for a grade to know what you have to improve on, wasting valuable learning time. 


Babbel costs money after the first course and memrise works with a subscription fee. The one drawback is that duolingo is inherently free, but you can only do so much of a course before you have to wait, unless you want to pay for duolingo plus which removes ads.

All of the apps mentioned are best used as a supplement for language courses, as they are great at refreshing your pre acquired knowledge. But one big issue that they have been critiqued for is the lack of grammar learning. Grammar is especially important if you want to also learn how to write in the desired language. For example french and Norwegian grammar is very different, and a french speaking person might not know this and get a bad learning experience. But that does not mean you can’t learn grammar using these apps, it’s just not going to be as quick and short as their other lessons as some grammar can be quite complicated and need exercises both verbally and written for you to fully understand it.

All in all these apps are designed to be used for short periods of time when you find the time in an otherwise busy day.

Documentation of the literature search

Our chosen topic is to look at adult refugees coming to Norway and their process of learning the Norwegian language. When we searched for literature that could help us gather more information on this topic we set some goals and questions that we would like to find the information necessary to achieve or answer.
These goals and questions are:

  • Improve the process of learning Norwegian when coming to Norway as an adult refugee
  • How does it work today?
  • How can we make it better
  • How can we support current solutions


With these questions and goals in mind, we searched for relevant literature for our topic. We did not limit ourselves to only scientific books and research reports but also allowed ourselves to look at newspaper articles as interviews with individuals in this situation will give a good insight into how they feel in this situation.

We searched using the glorious google engine and the sources we selected are:

(some keywords we used: «learning norwegian», «norwegian language education», «adult refugees in norway», «refugees learning norwegian language» and «adults learning norwegian language»)


10 Best Ways to Learn a New Language. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Activity as a tool in language training for immigrants and refugees. (2012, October 16). Retrieved from

Adult Refugees in the Norwegian School System. (2017, May). Retrieved from

An Analysis of the Language Challenges faced by Myanmar Refugee Students in Norway. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Do You Learn Better After Moving Around? (2017, March 24). Retrieved from

Integration as an Opportunity or Challenge. (2016). Retrieved from

Norwegian language courses discontinued. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Social and cultural adaptation of asylum seekers in Norway. (2014, August). Retrieved from


The reason we chose these as our sources:

is that they provide insights into our information flow topic from different perspectives. It doesn’t only look at the learning situation but also the differences in cultures, which is also a huge part of integrating into society. One big point is also the social aspect which is proven to be one of the most effective and important parts to learn a new language.

Learning Norwegian when coming to Norway as an adult refugee.

We wish to explore the situation that many refugees find themselves in when they come to a new country,  learning the language. Specifically for young adults above the age of 16 in Norway.

These are the goals and questions we would like to be achieved and answered:

Improve the process of learning Norwegian when coming to Norway as an adult refugee.

How does it work today?

How can we make it better?

How can we support current solutions?