A beginners' mp3 course in modern Icelandic

This is a sixteen-hour beginners' Icelandic mp3 course, developed for Icelandic teaching at the University of Leeds and inspired by the self-teaching methods associated with Michel Thomas. It's not perfect, and may contain one or two mistakes. But it hopefully provides a confidence-building and efficient way to get started with Icelandic--and to get towards the point where you can say enough to Icelanders in their own language that they will talk back to you in it, giving you a chance to get better. Alaric also thinks that it's a good way to get started on learning Old Icelandic.

Over the years, Icelandic learners around the world have generously provided advice and corrections on this material, and Alaric always receives it gratefully! alaric@cantab.net.

The current edition of the course

the actual mp3 course
  • the mp3s (including course contents list)
going from speaking to listening
  • practice every single sentence from the course on Memrise to develop literacy and embed learning. These are pretty slow going, but some people like to do them at the same time as the mp3s
grammar and vocab resources

Beyond the course

The first edition

For the Alistair and Laura Fan Club, the first, eight-hour edition of the mp3s and associated material (contents list, vocab lists, etc.) are here, and the associated Memrise exercises here.


This course was designed by Alaric and recorded by Alaric, Rachael Gillibrand, and Ben Calvert at the University of Leeds in 2014; the associated resources were partly developed by Slavica Rankovic.

Its first incarnation was recorded by Alaric, Laura Boehm and Alistair Woods at the University of Leeds in January 2011. Thanks also to Kate Zalzal and Claire Musikas for helping to pilot the course, and to Paul Sturtevant for lending us the recording equipment.

The project has been funded by a Leverhulme Trust International Academic Fellowship in 2014 and a University of Leeds Teaching Fellowship.

Some other suggested resources

This is just a bit of a grab-bag of material which Alaric has at some time found useful in teaching modern Icelandic language and culture, with a bias to stuff that's available free online and in English translation. Some of the URLs for videos are liable to prove unstable so may not be up to date--but if something's disappeared from one site, it's probably appeared on another (try the Google video advanced search option).


These documentaries are good introductions to current Icelandic popular music--and other aspects of culture.

For an interesting commentary on some of this, see Nicola Dibben, ‘Nature and Nation: National Identity and Environmentalism in Icelandic Popular Music Video and Music Documentary’, Ethnomusicology Forum, 18 (2009), 131–51, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17411910902816542.


Lots to find and play with at icelandiccinema.com. Just a few that have caught Alaric's eye that he thinks are really worth watching.


Infamously, the number of novels and poems published in Iceland in a given year is N2.4, where N is the size of the Icelandic population. Still, here are some pointers.

And there's all that crime fiction. Of authors widely available in English, Yrsa Sigurðardóttir seems to be the most highly regarded by Alaric's friends.


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