Icelandic Village 2012

Understanding the Village

The goal of this first workshop was to develop a common understanding of the Icelandic Village project and to begin preparations for the summer pilot course/village as well as establishing the theoretical underpinnings of the project and exploring possible teaching and learning methods and support material.


The Icelandic Village is a pilot project in the development of new methods in learning and teaching a second language. These methods include using available resources in the second language society for language use and learning, and making a link between classroom teaching and language learning out- side the classroom. In this project a network of companies in downtown Reykjavik and/or on the campus of the University of Iceland are invited to participate in giving Second Language Learners of Icelandic (as well as other Second Language Speakers of Icelandic, i.e. immigrants) an opportunity to conduct their daily live business in Icelandic. The Icelandic Village is a bridge between classroom interaction and real- life interaction.

The participants in the Village are real companies such as a bank, a bakery, a café etc. where the Second Language Learners of Icelandic can use the new language for doing business. This is a guided participation in real-life interaction in Icelandic as the staff will get training in how to serve low level speakers of Icelandic, the learners get specific lessons before going to the Village. These lessons are based on the reality and specificity of each business. Finally, there will be a specific design in the actual places which helps the learners further with their business interaction.

The interaction in the Village will be taped and those data will be used for research, which will then feed back into the Village as improvements. The final product of this project is:
A) an operational Icelandic Village where second language learners of Icelandic go for learning while doing everyday-life business. Our goal is that the Icelandic Village will remain a part of everyday life in Reykjavik.
B) A handbook/toolbox that can be used to set up Language Villages in other places in Iceland and in other Nordic countries where the situation is similar to the one in Iceland.

The Workshop

The workshop began with an overview of The Icelandic Village, theorectical developments in social per- spectives on Second Language Acquisition, and design experiments for supporting language learning.

Intro to the Icelandic Village   (Guðrún, Kolbrún, Guðlaug)

Intro to Second Language Aquisition Developments (Johannes

Intro to the Språkskap Project   (Brendon)

Intro to ‘Talk to Strangers’ Kit   (Euan)

The kit is a set of tools to support SL learners before, during, and after talking interactions.

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Figure 1: The Tool Kit

Field Trip to the Village

All workshop participants took a tour of some of the Icelandic Village locations, including the Bakery, the Bookshop and the Student Cafe.

During this time we worked in small groups to look at the environments through specific lenses, attempting to understand the ways in which the learners could be guided: Teachers as guides; Material as guides; Coaches as guides; Places as guides.

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Figure 2: Lookng at the environments

Once we returned to the workshop room, the groups shared their reflections and ideas for how the learners could be supported in different ways, which Euan captured on the whiteboard:

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Figure 3: Supporting the learners

Field Trip Reflections:

”Icelandic Corner”

An area within the Icelandic Village locations where learners can sit to read material and practice, and talk. In order to encourage this, the corner could have signs which tell members of the public and staff that the learners are looking for people to talk to.

“Temporary Icelandic Corners”

Learners could also create temporary ‘Icelandic Corners’ using small signs or signals to show speakers that they would welcome coaching.

”The Language Menu”

The language menu works much like a food menu, but instead prepares the learner with language to carry out their encounter using language and pictures. It could also be combined with sound files.

”Icelandic Icebreakers”

These are simple phrases and questions that can start interactions in Icelandic and/or help engage someone to become a learners coach.

”Non-speaking Coaches”

We agreed that it is not always necessary for someone to actually talk to a learner for them to become a coach. Especially when in a new environment, learners can benefit from watching and listening to how speakers interact.

”Photo and Friend Coaches”

Learners can get some quick and simple coaching from friends or colleagues by talking to them (even on the phone) on the way to a speaking encounter“

”Everyone is a Coach”

We discussed the idea that being a coach could be so simple that anyone in the village locations could be one. This would mean that training would be very simple, more like an introduction to the village.

Self-generated Situation Books

Situation book would be a combination of prescribed teaching material with space for learners to document and update situations (e.g. bookshop interactions) based on their own experiences. One format might be blank/part created comic strips for learners to complete.

”Taking the chances for Accomplishments”

The learners should be guided in order to notice and take advantage of chances to accomplish situations in their second language.

Icelandic Village Scenarios Activity

The workshop participants split into groups to work on scenarios for learners in locations in the Icelandic Village. Task:

  • Identify a scene/place outside the classroom.
  • What does the student need to do in the scene?
  • How can this situation be supported?
  • What happens in the classroom before an afterward?

After initial explorations the groups were shown some of the material from previous workshops and the Språkskap project and given them in the form of cards to expand their scenarios:

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Figure 4: Summary of Språkskap

Icelandic Village Scenario 1 – The Café

(Kolbrún, Dóra, Arna)

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Figure 5: Working at scenario 1: The Café

In the classroom

Students work in groups to discuss what phrases they need to go to the cafe later. The teacher provides input, including teaching pronunciation. Together they work out a scrip for how the interaction might unfold.

The teacher acts out both sides of the interaction to demonstrate pronunciation. The students then carry out a role play exercise between themselves. The students leave the classroom with a ‘bunch’ of phrases (like a bunch of flowers). The students would carry their passport, map and other planning and preparation material, including phrases to use when meeting Icelanders and for if they get stuck.

In the café

The cafe is marked with a sign in the window letting learners know it if part of the Icelandic Village. Inside the cafe is a ‘practice corner’, complete with guidebook and language menu to support the learners. This could also be connected to a smartphone app.

There would be signs in the corner that would encourage members of the public and staff to interact with the learners if they wanted to.

The students carry out their interaction, recording it so that they can share their material with other learners. It is important that this material is shared so that students can get feedback and so that other learners can benefit from it, so the students should not only take it back to the classroom but upload it to the cloud space.

Back in the classroom

Once back in the classroom the learners have a ‘student workshop’ to share their stories, experiences and material.

The learners perform more role play to share how the interaction happens, on which the teacher will give them reviews, advice, and feedback.

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Figure 6: Overview “The Café”

Icelandic Village Scenario 2 – IT service

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(Guðrún, Dennis, Sönke)

In the classroom

The learners fill out a form to prepare them to approach IT services. This includes how they will communicate their problem, and answers to possible responses from the IT engineer.

The students also practice in terms of the spoken language, pronunciation, comprehension, and making themselves understood.
The students would also be able to watch example videos of the type of encounter they were about to go into.

At IT Services

As IT Services is a ‘novice/expert’ situation the team focussed on how the learner (novice) might act to make it a successful encounter, and what support might be there to help them do this:

The learner must get the ‘expert’s’ attention. This can be supported by having a marked area where, if the learner stand inside it, they show they want to engage.

The learners need to legitimize themselves, this could be done through a combination of showing their bright pink form and by being able to describe their problem.

The learner should be able to describe the problem and respond to follow up questions.

Finally, the learner should be able to understand the solution offered by the IT engineers.

Back in the classroom

The team felt that after the encounter learner motivation would be low, and they worried that learners may not be keen to dwell on it too long.

However, one exercise could be for students to tell the story of their interaction, focusing on successes and failure, and within the class working towards possible solutions.
Finally, the teacher would look to make what was learned from the encounter more generally applicable by making it more abstract. This would mean looking at language, phrases, and methods that could be used in other situations and scenes (other than just IT Services).

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Figure 8: Overview “at the IT Service”

Icelandic Village Scenario 3 – The Swimming Pool

(Basar, Viktoriia, Guðlaug)

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In the classroom

Students are shown some video of an interaction at the swimming pool they will go to, firstly without audio. The class then has a discussion about what might be said and what kind of vocabulary might be needed.

They then watch the video again, with sound this time, listening for words and phrases.

The teacher draws out the most important words and phrases for the students to practice, these are also available on the website as audio files so that the learners can listen and practice.

At the Swimming pool

The students are given the task of completing their interaction to buy a ticket and enter the pool, recording the audio where possible.

If they need some extra time, space, or help, there is an Icelandic corner in the swimming pool that they can visit to look at language menus and practice.

Where possible in the swimming pool the students should try to talk to the other pool users.

Back in the classroom

Once back in the classrooms the students will get back into small groups to do mini workshops about their experience.

In these groups they will share recordings; pictures of things they learned or had questions about; practical tips about interaction in the location; any material they collected.

Finally the teacher asks them to share any new words or phrases that they picked up that were not discussed previously or in the videos.

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Figure 10: Scenario 3: Overview

Icelandic Village Scenario 4 – The Book Store

(Johannes, Kristján, Euan)

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In the classroom

The learners get given a ‘scavenger hunt’ sheet with tasks on it to do in the book store.

In groups and with the teacher they work out the language needed to complete the tasks.
Finally the students carry out a ‘practice book store’ activity where they act out potential interactions.

At the Book Store

Since the book store affords exploration of written language, the learners look to get an overview of their own and other academic fields by looking at the signage and with the help of staff or shoppers translate the fields.

This could also involve the learners using recorders and other users to practice pronunciation.

A final task would be for the learners to find a book that they recognise in an Icelandic translations, take a picture of it and take that back to the classroom.

Back in the classroom

Once back in the classroom the students can do a mix of:

Language exploration, looking at the translations they brought back and learning about word building principles.

Relating their experiences about the environment and interactions.

Share more abstracted material about the plot or themes of the book they found.
All of these would take some time in groups working out the language and phrases needed to convey this to the rest of the class.

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Figure 12: Book Store, Overview

Icelandic Village Activities – The Bakery

(Guðlaug, Dennis, Euan)

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Figure 13:

Classroom Preparation

• In classroom: Look at the village map and pictures of the scene the students will go into as a brief introduction. Teach students and practice the key basic phrases.

Village Task to the Students

• Go to the bakery to observe; Take a snapshot of the scene; find 15 most relevant objects or actions in the bakery (signs etc.) and then find the Icelandic for these.

Return to Classroom

• Students work in groups to pull language out of the snapshots. Discussion back and fourth between students and teacher to create vocabulary list for an observation scheme to take into the village scene.

Village Task to the Students

• Record some speech; Take a snapshot of the scene; Tick off observations of language heard. (Material: Dictionaries, blank observation schemes, notepads, dictaphone/recording device)

In the Classroom After Task to the Students

• Listen to recordings, ask students to share language they heard from the schemes.

With Teacher: What are the words that they could make out? What are the ones that they missed? Why is this?

Icelandic Village Activities – Bring back a doughnut

(Guðlaug, Dennis, Euan)

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Figure 14:

Classroom Preparation

• In classroom: Practice Bakery – Use recordings and vocabulary from ‘task 1’. In groups, students listen to recordings of clerk (isolated by teacher beforehand). The teacher plays the phrases out of order; students must put the phrases (partially written on cards) into the correct order.

In groups, students then formulate possible answers to the clerk’s phrases.

Village Task to the Students

• Go to the bakery to complete and record a transaction.

In Classroom After Task to the Students

• Students work in groups to listen to their recordings.

Task to the Students

• Create a short role-play with props to perform to the rest of the class (Material: Recordings, phrase cards. Paper, pens etc.)

Icelandic Village Activities – The Book Store

(Johannes, Guðrún)

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Figure 15


• For students to relate their own fields and professional identity to the counterparts in Iceland, and start to create a personal professional network.

Task 1: Identify your field

a) Go to the bookstore

b) Find the name of your field and the correct shelf

c) Find books in the shelves. You need to figure out if HI uses the same books as the one you know. You need to figure out whether there are Icelandic translation and have a look at these. Take a photo.

d) Which Icelandic books in your field seem to be interesting for you. Copy the list of contents and figure out what they are about.

In Classroom Tasks

• Make a poster in Icelandic about your observation of your field. Use and explain the icelandic terminology which you have found until now.

If you made any observations about word formation in Icelandic e.g. guðfreæði jarðfraði, note them and share them. Document with pictures.

Task 2: Information Gathering

• Find information about the relevant department on the website of and

Only use the Icelandic version of the website.

Are the departments specialized somehow?

• Find the people in the departments who are most relevant for you?

Is there a student union related to your field of interest?
Where is the department located, opening hours? Contact possibilities?

Produce an activity sheet out of your collected materials and post it on the common area.

Class activity

• Half of the class wanders around to inspect and discuss the posters of the other half of the class and vice versa

Task 3 Contact

• Figure out whom they want to contact and how?

Prepare a self presentation? What words and phrases would you need?

Go to the relevant offices and try to find information material in Icelandic about the study of your field in Icelandic.
Go there and write a short report of what happened. Share it

Icelandic Village Activity Cards

The above activities will be used in class as ‘Activity Cards’ in the following format with the Preparation and Task on one side, and the Classroom Task on the other:

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Figure 16: Activity Card

The Icelandic Village Kit

Based on our experience and discussions over the course of the workshop we began to sketch out the look and contents of a ‘Village Kit’ that would publicise the village concept and support learners and coaches. This was then worked into a design brief later

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Figure 17: The Village Kit

”Welcome to Icelandic” Poster

This is a poster that could be located in all Icelandic Village locations. It has several functions:

a) To tell learners, coaches, and members of the public alike about the concept of the Icelandic Village

b) To share tips for interacting with and coaching low level speakers.

c) Provide more in depth ‘take away’ material in the form of a leaflet or similar containing more details about the village, contact information, how to get involved, how to make donations or become a sponsor.

The poster is not aimed at any one group (e.g. learners, staff, members of the public) but instead should try to engage as many people as possible.

Staff Information and Materials

We discussed the issue of training staff involved in the Icelandic Village project. Some group members felt it necessary to ‘train’ the staff members, whilst others felt that they would only need to be ‘informed’ about the project and what they might encounter.

In the end it was decided that, in order not to make it feel too daunting, the staff should be talked to in short (2 x 0.5 hours) sessions and not only told about the project, but also asked for their own ideas and feedback too. This would also be accompanied by some instructional material for them to use and to be displayed at their locations.

We also agreed that, if possible, it would be valuable to get some staff feedback after the pilot.

Tangible Support Materials – The Village Kit Brief for Design Team

(Basar, Viktoriia, Kristjan)

• Dora leads the visual communication and the overall voice of the project, its core message.

The language corner: a specific table, wall, marked ground, etc. What are the signs to mark that corner/ space? Would that be a sticker? How visible is it?

The material placed in the corner: vocabulary cards, pens, notebooks, etc. Size of the table, its height is also important. With or without chairs?
Design a poster that has an empty space that could be filled with students’ drawings/designs from the poster workshop. The poster can also be left in a store in the Icelandic Village so that the customers can fill it with questions, comments, wishes, notes, language-dates, etc.
Think about the material, the empty space could be a white board, an A0 notebook with tearable pages, etc.
Can the empty poster, paper be used on different surfaces? As tablecloth, etc.
The team visits the premises with presentation material, which also includes deliverables or gifts.
Design a box with posters, booklets, brochures that the teachers/trainers can leave behind when they’re visiting the village stores. Can you design a game, for example, with time sheets to be filled out? collecting points, stamps, stickers, etc.

What the team carries with them: physical and digital. When it’s digital: a memory stick, a website, etc.
An easy to use format for Class Activity Cards that teachers can use and edit.
A template for ‘language comfort zone’ exercise so students can explore and map the size of their comfort zone in Icelandic.
Icelandic speaking card: a card that learner can use to ask friends, family, colleagues etc to speak Icelandic to them for short, defined periods of time.

Icelandic Village passport: a notebook or support for learners to carry with them, to prepare for and support interactions.
7 tips for the Icelandic Village: a friendly and helpful guide to participating in the Icelandic village, for staff in the locations as well as members of the public.

The Village Brand

(Group Discussion)

During group discussions it was suggested that the ‘voice’ of

the Village Brand should be:

Friendly, Respectful, Secure, Inclusive, and Interactive.

We agreed that further discussion between Dóra and her team and the Icelandic Village team to decide on the final tone of voice and additionally the ‘core message’.

Village Web Support Materials – Class-specific Facebook Groups

(Brendon, Kolbrún)


Each course involved in the Iceland Village starts a class facebook group for sharing in Icelandic. Here are the steps for starting a group and hints for using it in classroom activities.

Starting a Facebook Group:

You need to have a Facebook account.

1.Go to Groups on the menu left side of the screen (Hopar) and click “start a new group” (Bua til Hop)

2. Give it a name: The Icelandic Village – _______________ (name of course)

3. Add the names of all students. You may need to ask them their facebook link or name ahead of time. This is best done with the students in class (so they can find themselves).

4. Click closed group (Lokadur)

5. Bua Til!

As a teacher, decide if you would like to have other teachers or Icelandic speakers to be part of the group.

For Teachers

-Show the Facebook group page during class.

– Printout Facebook entries for use in class activities.

– Ask students to look at & comment about each others posts

For Students

– Pictures with descriptions. Add from smart phone or from computer.

– Task based

– Upload achievements

– Comment on others’ entries.

Introducing Smart Phone & tablet applications

– Ask students to share their favorite self generating content applications

– What applications “push” material to facebook?

– Introduce “Talk to Strangers” iPhone & iPad application.

The Icelandic Village Facebook Website

– General description/introduction

– Map of participant businesses

– Adverts

– Donors

Research Interests in the Village

(Group discussion)

As a group we discussed the collective and individual research possibilities and outcomes from the Icelandic village pilot and beyond.

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Classroom and Village ethnographies to learn about the interactions – This could be specifically from a situated learning perspective.

– Try to find Phd funding to study the Village

– Masters projects. Possibly in the areas of: – Pedagogy

– Anthropology – Sociology

– Basar expressed his interest in developing his Language experience design framework.

– Dennis would like to look at the socio-material environment:
– What people are doing in the interactions in the village?

– Guðrún would like to know how the village teaching method helps:
– Students: Do they go out and speak earlier?

– Staff: What does it do for them?