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Ástráður Sigurðsson, HrundÞórarins Ingudóttir

Icelandic learners have a tough time notorious. Icelandic is probably not only one of the most difficult languages ​​to learn grammatically (although some linguists have tried to uncover this myth), but English has spread throughout Western countries. What you are doing means immersing yourself, even for those who are really trying to learn. Inaccessible. For many foreigners living in Iceland, learning a language is an unattainable goal, coupled with the fact that the lessons available are mostly dry, academic and spectacularly expensive. I feel that.

It was in part this situation that the author Karítas Hrundar Pálsdóttir urged him to write her first short story for Icelandic learners.

“I love learning languages, and I’ve read many stories and texts in a simple language that suits my level,” says Caritas. “When I had a bachelor’s degree in Icelandic, I studied in Japan for a year and taught Icelandic as a second language. With more people learning Icelandic, I It became clear that Icelandic learners did not have the same variety of stories that they had access to as second language learners. “

New reliable

The book “Árstíðir” was published in 2020 and soon became a reliable text for Icelandic beginners. Caritas is now publishing a second collection of stories, “Dagatal,” aimed at slightly more advanced readers, with a focus on simple grammar and accessible text.

Like Árstíðir, Dagatal is a series of very short stories, the “flash fiction” that Karítas calls them. Stories can take many forms and quirky forms, such as text message conversations and short plays, which can be very appealing to the reader.

“In both collections, we strived to be innovative and creative in the presentation of the story,” explains Karítas. “So there are things that are set up as poetry, dialogue, journal entries, or email or messenger communication.

“But there is a lot of variety in content and genres,” she continues. “Some people are more exciting than others, others are melancholic. There are many interesting people with wordplay and some kind of punch line.”

The length of the story clearly helps readability for those who are accustomed to reading new Icelandic fiction, but Caritas feels that this style can also express his creativity. ..

“It’s about capturing a moment, or just an emotion,” she says. “Of course, it’s a linguistically rigorous form and can be limited, but it’s also the beauty of the writing process of being creative in a restrained form. Many writers We do that in a variety of ways. For example, poetry and playwriting have rigorous forms, but we are creative in them. “

Icelandic life in context

It was important for Caritas not only to introduce the learner to the grammar and structure of the language, but also to give people some context in Icelandic life, culture and customs. To that end, the main theme of Dagatar is a special event celebrated only by calendar days and Iceland.

“There are lots of introductions to the main traditions and how they differ from other places in Iceland,” says Caritas. “We are celebrating the same holidays as many countries, but we also have something unique and unique.”

“We hope that books will help people improve their reading abilities, but we also hope that they will increase cultural literacy and give people insights into Icelandic values, traditions and outlooks on life.” She adds.

Design is important

It is clear that great care and attention was paid to the overall design of the book to appeal to the reader. The presentation is sleek and stylish, avoiding anything that feels childish or textbook-like. Karítas worked with cutting-edge artists and designers Krot & Krass to create the look, including creating individual icons that indicate the language level of each story, without the hassle of reading a book.

“It’s important how the story is presented,” confirms Karítas. “It’s important to honor the learner as a general reader. The style gives them the feeling that reading should be a journey and reminds them that it should be fun. Language learning. I’m trying to have fun. “

Best way to learn

Until the story of Karítas was published, Icelandic learners were generally encouraged to read books for children so that they could practice reading comprehension. However, Karítas states that this approach is not always effective.

“Iceland children’s books may be about simple topics, but children learn faster, but second language learners have a complex grammatical structure to learn later,” she explains. .. “Adult learners may need that simple grammatical language structure, but they can handle a variety of topics. They have a larger worldview.”

Another problem Karítas has seen in Icelandic teaching is that it is mostly delivered in English, which makes the learning process very difficult for people of different backgrounds.

“Excludes people with backgrounds in other languages ​​that are not good at English, such as some people in Eastern Europe and the Middle East,” she says. “That’s why I wanted to make my writing comprehensive. The best way to do that was to include only Icelandic in the book.”

This includes both Alstigil and Dagatal prologues written by non-native Icelandic people. First Lady Eliza Reed wrote the forward of Alstigil, and the intro of Dagatal was written by prominent human rights lawyer Claudia Ashany Wilson.

A more forgiving approach

Caritas believes that having a strong role model is an aspect that is often overlooked to encourage non-native residents of Iceland to learn a language more than possible. Beyond that, she feels that broader cultural changes are needed to make learners more comfortable with the newly adopted language.

“There is a lot that governments and employers can do to facilitate access to Icelandic courses and reduce or eliminate fees,” says Karítas. “But it also makes society more forgiving.”

Anyway, the Caritas book is a step towards creating that tolerance and understanding reality. Fortunately for the learner, she has no plans to stop writing.

“I can assure you that it’s not over yet,” she says with a bitter smile. “I have more ideas for what’s to come.”

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