Professor Emeritus Speaks to Need for Better Icelandic Education

Icelandic language education course

Eiríkur Rögnvaldsson, Professor Emeritus at Háskóli Íslands, has recently expressed the need for better Icelandic education in an interview with Vísir.

Eiríkur stated that foreign labour is projected to play a larger role in Iceland’s economy in the coming years, and that it is imperative to provide immigrants with more opportunities to learn Icelandic.

Specifically, he fears that Iceland’s workforce may split into an Icelandic-speaking overclass with an English-speaking underclass in the service, restaurant, and hotel industries.

“I think it’s quite clear that if we want to continue the Icelandic language, then we have to do something,” Eiríkur stated.

Additionally, he called for more and better teaching materials and courses to be offered to foreign workers. “It must be possible for people to study Icelandic during working hours and so on,” he said.

He has been critical of Icelandic prescriptivists in the past, saying that an image of a pristine Icelandic language that does not change with the times and Iceland’s shifting demographics cannot be continued. Eiríkur has also called for the need for more openness in the Icelandic language community, saying that it is too easy for foreigners to revert to English, and not integrate themselves into life in Iceland.

Eiríkur is also active as the moderator of a popular Facebook page, Málspjall, in which Icelanders discuss grammar, innovation, and other current issues with the Icelandic language and its evolution.

On Icelandic language education and policy, read more of our coverage here.

Applications for Teachers’ Education Increase by 30%

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The number of applications for graduate studies in preschool and primary school education at the University of Iceland has increased by 30% compared to the average over the last five years. A press release from the Ministry of Education says the total number of applications this year is 264, while the recent annual average has been 186.

“This is really delightful news,” stated Minister of Culture and Education Lilja Alfreðsdóttir. “I myself feel a lot of momentum in education issues and the discussion about the future of Icelandic education.”

Earlier this year, the Minister introduced measures aimed at increasing the number of teachers. The measures include, among other things, a paid internship in the final year toward earning a teaching license for preschool and primary school teaching. Teaching students can also apply for a grant of up to ISK 800,000 ($6,450/€5,800) in their final year of studies. Applications for other Ministry of Education grants, which fund specialisation in job-related areas for teachers, have doubled in recent years.