From failed attempts of self-taught instruction in Icelandic, to semi-weekly classes, I have finally been able to pin point the most useful way of learning a language. It’s not the effort of gruelling over grammar, or forceful conversation at home, it’s the ability to persuade children in a strict, unrelenting manner to stop doing whatever its is they might be doing (on a daily basis). This recipe entails a need for clarity, a pinch of irritation, and a lot of self assurance. Icelandic suddenly becomes much more logical when you have to quickly find a means to an end without the use of English.
Let me provide you with some examples of phrases that have been tried, tested and true and have shaped my understanding of this not-so-easy foreign language.
1. Ekki setja í munninn á þér!
In using this phrase, I am kindly asking the child not to put ‘that’ in his/her mouth.
At work, there is a room dedicated entirely to an array of multicoloured balls. Overseeing this ‘ball-land’ can test one’s nerves in every way possible. Especially since one of the rules includes the following: ‘DO NOT THROW THE BALLS.’
3. Borðaðu matinn þinn!
Although I’ve learnt that ham makes for interesting face-masks, this request revolves around telling the child in question to eat their food.
4. Ég er hætt að ýta!
This phrase comes in handy when you agree to give one or two kids a push on a swing, and suddenly you become dubbed the playground’s master of pushing and are ambushed by children wanting you to push (ýta) them. Please note that if they don’t stop after you told them you are finished… just run away. Remember that you can outrun every kid on the playground.