There is growing interest among foreigners in studying the Icelandic language, according to Margrét Jónsdóttir, head of Icelandic Studies in the School of Humanities at the University of Iceland, Vísir reports . Icelandic as a Second Language is the most popular study program within the School.
The School of Humanities received a total of 439 applications for both a full bachelor’s degree course and shorter diploma course in Icelandic for the new school year starting in autumn. This amounted to over 40 percent of all applications received by the School.
The University of Iceland offers two study programs in Icelandic as a Second Language: one is a traditional three-year bachelor’s degree, while the other is a one-year practical diploma course. In order to enroll in the BA program, students must already possess a basic knowledge of Icelandic, whereas the practical diploma is for total beginners. There were 237 applicants for the BA course starting this autumn and 202 for the diploma course.
Jakobína Hólmfríður Árnadóttir, managing director of recruitment at management consulting firm Capacent, said Icelandic skills often affect people’s potential to find employment. “Of course, it depends on the position, but usually companies require staff with some Icelandic skills for virtually every job,” she explained. Jakobína Hólmfríður stated that many foreign employees in Iceland had been hired through employment agencies.
Ingi Örn Gíslason, managing director of Reykjavík-based employment agency Íslensk Verkmiðlun, a.k.a. Jobs in Iceland, said he encourages everybody who comes to Iceland to work on behalf of the company to take Icelandic classes. He says interest in learning Icelandic varies, depending on the individual: “Those who come to settle down here naturally have more interest in studying Icelandic.”
According to Statistics Iceland, the population increased by 1.8 percent or 5,820 people in 2016. The biggest factor behind the increase was 4,069 more people moving to Iceland than the number of those who left. The number of foreign nationals residing in Iceland as of January 1 this year was 30,275.
Ingi Örn has noticed considerable interest among foreigners in working in Iceland: “There has been a huge increase in the last two or three years. The exchange rate is attractive and that’s a big factor,” he claimed. The economy here is such that there are enough jobs available. All the people who come to Iceland via his employment agency are from the European Economic Area, he continued.