Frá fornum málum til nýrra. Um kennslu erlendra tungumála á Íslandi í sögulegu ljósi.

Auður Hauksdóttir

Útdráttur


Foreign language instruction in Icelandic schools began in the episcopal seminaries at Hólar and Skálholt, where the emphasis was on classical languages, Latin in particular. Latin was the lingua franca of scholars and language of instruction at the University of Copenhagen, where most Icelanders would receive their further education, well into the eighteenth century. During the latter half of that century the influence of Latin began to ebb, while instruction and publishing in the vernacular increased. Danish was taught at both the seminaries and at Bessastaðir, but its importance increased substantially with the establishment of the grammar school in Reykjavík in 1846, as knowledge of Danish was required for study at the University of Copenhagen. German was compulsory at the Reykjavík Grammar School from its inception, while English and French were at first optional subjects. During the latter half of the nineteenth century, following active debate on the value of foreign language ability, emphasis on teaching modern languages increased. As modern languages gradually assumed various roles formerly served by Latin, interest in the Greco-Roman classical heritage was also replaced by a focus on the literature and culture of modern languages. Direct exchanges with foreigners demanded practical linguistic ability, which led to changes in the objectives of language instruction. More emphasis was placed on oral and written expression and reading of contemporary texts, for instance, on literature and society. By the end of the nineteenth century, as modern languages grew steadily in importance, changes to the grammar school curriculum marked a decisive turning point.


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