Lack of government funding is preventing foreigners who want to learn Icelandic from accessing courses, Vísir reports. Many foreigners find themselves currently unemployed and have the time and desire to improve their Icelandic language skills, and one Icelandic language program manager wonders why the government is not doing more to support this group.
Steinunn Ósk Kolbeinsdóttir manages the Icelandic language program at Fræðslunet Suðurlands, an adult education centre in South Iceland. Thanks to government funding, the school has offered Icelandic language courses to foreigners for years, and Steinunn says demand for the courses is very high.
“We can only take the same number as usual as we are not receiving more funding from the state to hold Icelandic language courses. We could teach many more [people] than we do and I see that there are many foreigners who are a bit surprised and astounded that they cannot continue to study for example when they’ve finished one course and then they want to take another course. Then we’ve used up the government grant and then we have to stop until the following year,” says Steinunn.
The government need to have more awareness of the issue, says Steinunn, and develop policies for teaching Icelandic as a second language. “I just want us to appreciate these hardworking people, who have taken it upon themselves to move to Iceland and work all sort of jobs here that Icelanders haven’t necessarily been enthusiastic about filling, and this manpower that has come here is incredibly important for us and I find it remarkable that this group has the interest and the will to learn a language that 300,000 people in the world speak.”