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! firstname.lastname@example.org.
The current edition of the course
|the actual mp3 course||
|going from speaking to listening||
|grammar and vocab resources||
Beyond the course
The first edition
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.
- Screaming Masterpiece, dir. by Ari Alexander Ergis Magnússon (2005): general tour of the scene; full movie.
- Heima, dir. by Dean DeBlois (2007): Sigur Rós rockumentary; full movie.
- Electronica Reykjavik/Rafmögnuð Reykjavík, dir. by Arnar Jónasson (2008): more talk than music; full documentary.
- Backyard, dir. by Árni Sveinsson (2010): endearing tour of Kimi Records bands; film website.
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.
- Síðasti bærinn, dir. Rúnar Rúnarsson (2004): short film; full movie, and the same at Youtube.
- Mávahlátur, dir. Ágúst Guðmundsson (2001): feminist movie set in postwar Iceland; hard to get hold of though--find a friend with a copy...; IMBD entry.
- Astrópía, dir. Gunnar B. Guðmundsson (2007): okay, not a great movie, but possibly the only Icelandic film which is not about being Icelandic; it is in fact about being a role-player; and it's good for learning Icelandic from; full movie.
- Bræðrabylta, dir. Grímur Hákonarson (2007): short film; full movie (but you have to pay).
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.
- Jónas Hallgrímsson: Selected Poetry and Prose, ed. and trans. by Dick Ringler (1998): great literature, great translations, great introduction to the intellectual life of nineteenth-century Iceland; including one of the best guides to poetic metre in the field; full text.
- Icelandic Folktales and Legends, trans. by Jacqueline Simpson (London: Batsford, 1972) (rev. edn published by Stroud: Tempus, 2005): does what it says on the tin; preview.
- Seven Icelandic Short Stories, ed. by Ásgeir Pétursson and Steingrímur J. Þorsteinsson (Reykjavík: Ministry of Education, 1960): good introduction to late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century prose; full text.
- Anything by Iceland's foremost novelist, Halldór Laxness, many of whose books are available in translation. The big classic is Sjálfstætt fólk (Independent People) which is good if you have a dark sense of humour and like thick books. Atómstöðin (The Atom Station) is psychadelically confusing to the outsider but also witty, insightful and beautiful; another favourite is Íslandsklukkan (Iceland's Bell), set in the eighteenth century.
- Alaric also has a soft spot for Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl's work.