The teachers and other school staff members in Suðurnes have been invited to take a course in Polish to better understand Polish students and their families, RÚV reports. The manager of the continuing education centre in Suðurnes says that this is not meant to discourage Icelandic learning, but rather to increase understanding and ease communication.
The proportion of residents of foreign origin is the highest in Reykjanesbær, consisting of around 26% of its population. The average in all of the surrounding Suðurnes region is 24%, nearly every fourth resident. Of the approximately 50,000 immigrants residing in Iceland, the Polish community is by far the most numerous, numbering at just over 19,000.
Kristín Hjartardóttir is the manager of the Suðurnes continuing education centre, which arranged a Polish course for the teachers and other employees of the local elementary school this year. She says that the course was set up on the initiative of elementary school teachers in Reykjanesbær, interested in gaining an elementary knowledge of Polish to get by in basic, introductory conversation.
“Moreover, we have students who may already speak Icelandic, but whose parents don’t know Icelandic or even English. In this way teachers and staff can at least have basic communication with these parents, instead of always having to rely on an interpreter as an intermediary,” says Kristín.
Kristín says that courses like this are in addition to the language courses in Suðurnes schools, and are not meant to diminish the importance of Icelandic education. The important thing is for everyone to be able to understand and communicate with each other.
“…and just to be able to understand students when they come [to school], whether it’s two Poles living here, or newcomers to Iceland,” Kristín concludes.
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