One Class, 14 Languages - The Reykjavik Grapevine

One Class, 14 Languages

Published January 11, 2016

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In case Iceland’s burgeoning multiculturalism was in any doubt, one school lays the matter to rest once and for all.

In a sample size of a single 9th grade class from Fellaskóli, RÚV reports, the 24 students therein represent 13 different nationalities and 14 different languages.

The children hail from all over the world, from as far afield as China and as close by as continental Europe. The languages they speak include Polish, Vietnamese, Russian, Arabic, Bisaya, Ukrainian and Tagalog.

Not that having different mother tongues gets in their way of being able to speak Icelandic. In fact, six-year-old Lawin Þór speaks four languages. His mother is from the Philippines and his father is Spanish, the couple speak English with each other – which Lawin also understands – and of course he also speaks Icelandic.

These children, amongst many others, were featured in the Icelandic television series Rætur (“Roots”), which focuses on Icelanders of foreign descent and immigrants. The show can be seen Sundays at 19:45. The series, which is mostly in Icelandic but also includes English and other languages, can be watched online.

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