Go to content
Skaptadóttir, U.D. & Innes, P.
Immigrant Experiences of Learning Icelandic and Connecting with the   Speaking Community.
Full references
Skaptadóttir, U.D. & Innes, P. (2017). Immigrant   Experiences of Learning Icelandic and Connecting with the Speaking Community,   Nordic Journal of Migration Research 7   (1):  20-27.
The Icelandic language has a central role in defining Icelandic   nationality. Given its importance in defining Icelandic nationality and as a   precondition for citizenship, the article studies what learning the Icelandic language means for the growing numbers of immigrants who have arrived in   Iceland in recent years. This ethnographic study presents immigrants’   perspectives on learning the language to be able to participate at work as well as gain access to the language community and Icelandic society in order   to examine theory-based questions regarding processes of inclusion, exclusion   and integration. Our study shows that although language is promoted as an   important aspect in inclusion into Icelandic society, many of our   participants who have attended classes but work mostly with other immigrants   experience the language requirements instead as a boundary marker in terms of   participation and belonging in Icelandic society.
Key words
Nationality, Icelandic language, immigrants, inclusion, exclusion
Other interesting information
Language learning and use in   the host country can be both inclusive and exclusive. Too much diversity can   be an obstacle to effective language learning. ‘’One thing that those who took classes point out is   that the group they were with in class affected how productive the course was   for them. When the student body was too diverse in terms of mother tongue,   former education or desire to learn Icelandic, they did not feel satisfied  with their growth in class. Both authors spoke with people who had taken classes   including students from divergent geographic and national backgrounds. In class, English often became the go-to language for explanations, particularly   when the teachers suspected that students could not understand directions and   clarifications in Icelandic. Some reported that they thought they learned   more English than Icelandic in these mixed classes, whilst others complained   that this use of English effectively excluded them. Especially in rural   villages, highly educated and illiterate learners were together in a class,   often with teachers not trained to teach about literacy. This occurred in   classes within Reykjavík, too, and the second author witnessed frustration   amongst teachers and students in classes with diverse levels of literacy   preparation’’.
Interest for the project
Contributor´s name + email
Stéphanie Barillé -   stephanie@unak.is
Co-funded by The Erasmus+ programme of the European Union.
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission.
This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
Back to content