Author Karítas Hrundar Pálsdóttur has released her second book of short stories for Icelandic learners in Reykjavík. Titled Dagatal – sögur á einföldu máli (Calendar – Stories in Easy Language), the book is intended to help adult Icelandic learners by exposing them to everyday situations in Iceland in a straightforward and engaging way. Dagatal is a follow-up of sorts to Karítas’ first book Árstíðir (Seasons). In addition to being a helpful tool in the language learning process, Karítas says she hopes the book’s stories reflect the values of equality and diversity.
“I felt there was a need for more books in simple language, based on my own language learning experiences and also as a teacher of Icelandic as a second language,” Karítas told Iceland Review. When I started teaching and met more people that were learning Icelandic, I began to see what sort of material was missing.”
Dagatal is not a continuation of Árstíðir per se. While Karítas’ first book provides stories at the A2-B1 language levels according to the European framework, the stories in Dagatal have a slightly broader range of difficulty: A2-B2. The level is determined based on factors including vocabulary, grammar, and content.
Karítas says that while Icelandic language education in Iceland has made great strides in recent years, a lot more could be done. “I feel the development has been good, all things considered, but we’re behind compared to the Nordic countries in terms of teaching the national language to immigrants. Then, of course, it would be good to see more funding from the government and employers because immigrants don’t always have the time or money to learn Icelandic.”
In addition to being a language-learning tool, Karítas worked to ensure that Dagatal reflects the values of diversity and equality. “In the stories, I try to challenge the idea of ‘women’s’ and ‘men’s’ jobs, for example. I depict all kinds of families and relationships, including same-sex partnerships and blended families with stepparents. One of the characters uses the gender-neutral pronoun hán (they). The aim was to show the breadth of society: what Iceland has achieved and where it is headed.”
The publication received a grant from Jafnréttisstjóður Íslands (The Icelandic Equality Fund).