Must NHH faculty know Norwegian?

The language policy working group. From left: Professor Trine Dahl (Chair), Professor Jarle Møen, Professor Gernot Doppelhofer, working >Group Secretary Irene Velle Waraas, Senior Adviser, Jorun Gunnerud, Office of Student and Academic Affairs Communications Adviser Astri Kamsvåg, Master’s degree student, Ingelin Uthaug, Head of Academic Affairs, the Norwegian School of Economics’ Student Union, Associate Professor Aksel Mjøs.
The language policy working group. From left: Professor Trine Dahl (Chair), Professor Jarle Møen, Professor Gernot Doppelhofer, working >Group Secretary Irene Velle Waraas, Senior Adviser, Jorun Gunnerud, Office of Student and Academic Affairs Communications Adviser Astri Kamsvåg, Master’s degree student, Ingelin Uthaug, Head of Academic Affairs, the Norwegian School of Economics’ Student Union, Associate Professor Aksel Mjøs.
NHH By Astri Inga Kamsvåg

25 January 2019 10:56

Must NHH faculty know Norwegian?

NHH Norwegian School of Economics is going to revise its language policy guidelines. A proposal is now ready and will be sent out for comment in the organisation. In April, the Board will make a decision on the balance between English and Norwegian at the business school.

“The main points in the NHH guidelines approved in 2010 are retained. But some new guidelines have been added and others have been deleted or toned down. We have also replaced “ought/should” with the more obligatory “shall” in a number of places”, says Professor Trine Dahl, who has chaired the working group.

Deterrent

One of the most interesting issues is whether permanent academic staff must be competent in Norwegian. And will a requirement for Norwegian language skills make it difficult for NHH to recruit good researchers from abroad?

“We fear that a requirement of this nature will be a deterrent for international candidates. Our experience is that most staff learn Norwegian using their own initiative after a while.”

Associate Professor Aksel Mjøs

“We fear that a requirement of this nature will be a deterrent for international candidates. Our experience is that most staff learn Norwegian using their own initiative after a while”, says Aksel Mjøs for the minority in the working group.

NHH staff contribute actively to the Norwegian public debate, by communicating research-based knowledge and making expert contributions in the media and to government committees.

“Our main responsibility is to contribute to Norwegian society. So NHH needs staff who speak Norwegian and have expert knowledge about Norwegian affairs”, Trine Dahl says.

Norwegian or English Master’s?

Should the primary language for the MSc programme in Economics and Business Administration be English in the future? Or should Norwegian, alongside English, continue to be an important language on this study programme? The minority wants English to be the primary language. 

Bachelor readings in Norwegian

The working group proposes that the prescribed readings for the compulsory courses in the bachelor’s programme will be in Norwegian, always presuming that good Norwegian language textbooks exist. Otherwise, how will NHH students learn the Norwegian terminology?

Most of the mandatory readings are already in Norwegian, but the working group encourages the lecturers to take this factor into account in their choice of literature.

"NHH considers it important for our Norwegian students to be able to talk about their subject in their native language, not just in English. Therefore Norwegian terminology needs to be embedded early in the programme."

Professor Trine Dahl

“NHH considers it important for our Norwegian students to be able to talk about their subject in their native language, not just in English. Therefore Norwegian terminology needs to be embedded early in the programme. There will be more English during the MSc programme and English is the required language for the PhD programme”, stresses Trine Dahl.

“There is no doubt that we want a working community that uses Norwegian terminology”, says Dahl.

Improving communication skills

The working group also proposes that students on all study programmes should be offered tuition in the principles of communication and academic writing, in order to enhance their linguistic, textual and genre competence.

"Employers need employees who have good oral and written communication skills. We want to make our students even more attractive in the job market, through further reinforcement of their expertise as communicators," says Trine Dahl.

The working group's report National roots - international ambitions (PDF 1,2 mb)

Forslag til nye språkpolitiske retningslinjer NHH

NHH’s current Language Guidelines

The article is written by working group member Astri Kamsvåg.

The Working Group

  • Professor Trine Dahl, Department of Professional and Intercultural Communication (Chair)
  • Professor Gernot Doppelhofer, Department of Economics
  • Senior Adviser, Jorun Gunnerud, Office of Student and Academic Affairs
  • Communications Adviser Astri Kamsvåg, Office of Communications and Marketing
  • Associate Professor Aksel Mjøs, Department of Finance
  • Professor Jarle Møen, Department of Business and Management Science
  • Master’s degree student, Ingelin Uthaug, Head of Academic Affairs, the Norwegian School of Economics’ Student Union