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From Iceland — Key Role Of School System In Strengthening Icelandic Language

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Published September 24, 2021

Desirai Thompson

The Icelandic school system is a key actor in improving the image of the Icelandic language, according to the opinion of the Icelandic Language Committee (Íslensk málnefnd) as stated in their annual opinion on the state of the language, Vísir reports.

The resolution shows that there are many areas which can be strengthened to support the flourishing of the language which is spoken by roughly 350,000 people–most of whom live in Iceland. A re-evaluation of the content of Icelandic teaching and the education of its teachers along with emphasis from the preschool level on language stimulation and development are important starting points.

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Libraries are also touted in the resolution as important centres for language information, urging their increased support. The production of Icelandic study material should also be stimulated in technologically modern ways.

It is also demonstrated in the resolution that the English language is often associated with fun things such as “entertainment, recreation, travel and future opportunities” whereas Icelandic is often associated with duller topics like “school assignments, grades, corrections and older people”. These are associations the Iceland Language Committee are hoping to dissolve.

“It is important that schools and society as a whole are aware of this attitude problem and realise how harmful negative discussions about Icelandic language use can be for the image of the Icelandic language on the one hand and the students’ self-image on the other,” the resolution further states.

Founded in 1964, the Committee works to provide suggestions to the government on Icelandic language issues, make proposals on language policy and produce annual reports on the state of the Icelandic language. Article 6 on the Act on the Status of the Icelandic language and Icelandic Sign Language codifies its structure and use.

The Icelandic Language Committee will hold its annual conference on September 30th at the National Museum. This year’s theme will be Teaching Icelandic in the 21st Century (Íslenskukennsla á 21. öld).

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