English at the University of Iceland

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The Nordic countries have recently experienced increased pressure to adopt English as a language of science, higher education and business, and Iceland is no exception. Although the majority of courses at Icelandic universities are still taught in Icelandic, over 90 percent of all course material is now in English and there is extreme overt pressure on academic staff to publish in English. We report studies that show that at the tertiary level there exists a clear, although largely unacknowledged, discrepancy between the prevailing ideology, policies and language practice. Additionally, schools may not prepare students adequately to meet the demands of tertiary level studies. The findings of our studies support a view that a new linguistic environment has emerged in Iceland which has implications for the National Curriculum in English and for teacher education, if Icelandic youth is to be prepared for the use of English parallel to Icelandic in academia.


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