Icelandic for foreigners has become the most popular course at the University of Iceland, Vísir reports. There are numerous social factors contributing to its popularity, but some obstacles still remain.
Margrét Jónsdóttir, the department head of Icelandic within the Humanities Department at the Univeristy of Iceland, told reporters that some 439 applications for the BA course in Icelandic for foreigners have been submitted for the fall semester. This comprises about 40% of the total applications for the Humanities Department as a whole.
Jakobína Hólmfríður Árnadóttir, the managing director of hiring at Capacent, told reporters that knowing Icelandic opens up further employment prospects for foreigners living in Iceland.
“Of course it depends on the job,” she said. “But companies usually want an applicant to have some knowledge of Icelandic, in nearly any job there is.”
However, while the willingness to learn Icelandic may be there, it is not necessarily easy or even logistically possible for many foreigners to learn it. As Eiríkur Rögnvaldsson, a professor of Icelandic at the University of Iceland, told Grapevine last April, he believes the government is not doing enough to help newcomers to Iceland learn the language.
“We are doing a terrible job of teaching Icelandic to foreigners,” Eiríkur contends. “Not all of the courses are suited to the learners, and we should be offering Icelandic classes during the day, as a part of their jobs. Many people will come to this country, get low-paying jobs, and they’re stuck there. We import people to come work in Iceland, and they don’t have the time to learn Icelandic [on top of working full time].”