According to the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture, more than 200,000 people all over the world are registered as users on local website Icelandic Online, where users can follow various courses to learn Icelandic according to their skills, for free.
Minister for Education Lilja Alfreðsdóttir disclosed this information during an annual meeting of the Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies, where she also presented a brand new course created for the website.
“It’s a joy to hear such good news about our language,” Lilja said during the meeting. “We often talk about the threats that face Icelandic, but we also need to acknowledge the things that do work.”
While addressing the Icelandic Online project during the meeting, in fact, researcher Úlfar Bragason announced that the number of people who are actively choosing to learn Icelandic has never been higher.
Specifically, the number of users of Icelandic Online has increased steadily in the past few years, and so has the number of people studying Icelandic as a second language abroad or here in the country, for instance at the University Centre of the Westfjords. In addition, about 380 individuals were studying Icelandic as a second language at the University of Iceland last year—a number that has more than doubled since ten years ago.
According to the Minister for Education, however, authorities can still do more to encourage children and young immigrants who are enrolled in Icelandic primary and secondary schools to preserve the language for future generations.
“We have to look at the changes in the technology not only as a challenge but as an opportunity,” Lilja added. “We have to take advantage of the latest technologies for the benefit of the Icelandic society and for those who do want to learn the language.”
The Minister has therefore announced her plans to customise the learning environment of Icelandic Online so that it can easily be used by children as well in the near future.