The North Germanic Norwegian language has two official written forms, Bokmal and Nynorsk. They have officially equal status, i.e. they are both used in public administration, in schools, churches, radio and television, but Bokmal is used by the vast majority, about 85-90%. Around 95% of the population speak Norwegian as their native tongue, although many speak dialects that may differ significantly from the written language. In general Norwegian dialects are inter-intelligible, though some may require significant effort. Several Finno-Ugric Sami languages are spoken and written throughout the country, especially in the north, by the Sami people. The state recognises these languages as official, and speakers have a right to get education in Sami language no matter where they are living, and receive communications from government in various Sami languages. The Kven minority speak the Finno-Ugric Kven language/Finnish.
Norwegian is highly similar to the other languages in Scandinavia, Swedish and Danish. All three languages are mutually intelligible and can be – and commonly are – employed in communication between inhabitants of the Scandinavian countries. As a result of the cooperation within the Nordic Council, inhabitants of all Nordic countries, including Iceland and Finland, have the right to communicate with the Norwegian authorities in their own language.
Any Norwegian student who is a child of immigrant parents is encouraged to learn the Norwegian language. The Norwegian government offers language instructional courses for immigrants wishing to obtain Norwegian citizenship.
The main foreign languages taught in Norwegian elementary school are English, German and French. Spanish, Russian, Japanese and Italian are available in some schools, mostly in the cities.