The language programme “Give Icelandic a Chance” has been awarded the European Language Label, an award that encourages new initiatives in language pedagogy.
A new initiative
The recognition was granted by the Ministry of Education, Science, and Culture and The Icelandic Centre for Research (Rannís) in cooperation with the European Union. Give Icelandic a Chance is an Ísafjörður-based educational initiative, which hosts events intended to bridge the gap between the classroom and the community. Taking advantage of the small community in Ísafjörður, the initiative helps learners of Icelandic begin speaking the language while removing the stigma of imperfect Icelandic. Events hosted by the initiative include conversational coffee hours, “speed dating” in Icelandic, talks, lectures, and more.
“This recognition is very important for our effort,” stated University Centre of the Westfjords teacher and organiser Ólafur Guðsteinn Kristjánsson to Iceland Review. “It’s an encouragement to us to keep going and to keep doing better. And the prize money is important as well – 500.000 ISK will allow us to do a lot.”
Ólafur also stated: “The award is also important for us because more people will see what we are doing and realize that they can do various things to help people learn the language. Hopefully, more participants will attend future events and take advantage of it, both native speakers and those learning Icelandic.”
Ólafur stressed the importance of raising awareness for the issues that the initiative seeks to address. This includes understanding what learning Icelandic entails and how Icelandic society can help language learners by ensuring that people have opportunities to use the language in as many situations as possible.
According to Ólafur, the goal of the initiative is to promote increased opportunities for people to use Icelandic in the broadest and most diverse ways possible so that those learning the language receive support and understanding. The initiative is coordinated in cooperation with the University Centre of the Westfjords, the Educational Centre of the Westfjords, and the municipality of Ísafjörður.
The European Language Label is awarded across EU member states and nations associated with Erasmus+ education initiatives.