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Every fourth pupil of foreign origin

The principal of Fellaskóli in Reykjavík suburb Breidholt has decided to send all his teachers to a course on how to teach multicultural classes, as more than one of every four pupils in the school has a foreign background.

Thorsteinn Hjartarson, principal of Fellaskóli, said 60 percent of these children have lived in Iceland for less than four years and speak Icelandic as their second language. New teaching methods need to be adopted, he said, as these children cannot cope with traditional Icelandic grammar lessons. Fréttabladid reports.

“The percentage of children of foreign origin has increased very rapidly in the last few years. I believe that only 15 percent of pupils in the school were foreign-born in 2002,” Hjartarson said.

“It is challenging when many different cultural backgrounds meet, but part of the course [for teachers] is to encourage a positive attitude so that we can make use of the experience and knowledge of these different groups,” Hjartarson added.

Hjartarson said the pupils come from many different cultural backgrounds, but the majority comes from the Philippines. A teacher who speaks Tagalog has already been hired to Fellaskóli. Hjartarson said he finds it important to employ teachers who can speak the first language of the most common groups of foreign-born pupils.

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