“I have witnessed more than once how Icelanders are just very rude with our staff because they don’t speak Icelandic,” Anna Lára Pálsdóttir, receptionist at Hotel Katla in Vík, South Iceland, told Vísir. who has begun a new course to teach the language to foreign workers in the area.
Fræðslunet Suðurlands, a continuing education network located in South Iceland, runs the course which is held at Hotel Katla in Vík and began on Monday. Anna says it is not clear how many students will attend the course which runs twice a week in the afternoons until the end of November. All of the students are shift workers, and of the 24 that originally registered, many had to cancel due to lack of availability. “But as it turned out on Monday I saw I needed to make two groups, there were so many registered,” Anna stated.
According to Anna, those attending the course are all working in tourism and have been in Iceland for a considerable amount of time. Many are from Poland, the Czech Republic, France, and Spain, among other countries. “They were all very positive and excited,” she added.
“The goal is for people to gain confidence in speaking and using the language and understand it but I am not putting emphasis on writing much or grammar,” Anna stated. “Many have been here for a long time but lack the courage to wade in and start speaking.”
Anna estimates that around 90 percent of the guests at Hotel Katla are foreigners. “We are almost entirely staffed by foreigners in service jobs here, they are 80 percent or more. All the servers are foreign, for example, though we are Icelanders at the reception,” she says. Icelanders have often complained about the number of foreign staff at the reception.
“I don’t know whether it is insecurity with Icelanders but I have more than once witnessed people treated with arrogance because they don’t speak Icelandic. Icelanders feel they have a right to receive service in Icelandic in Iceland,” she adds, saying the landscape has changed. “If these people weren’t here to do this job for us then this hotel wouldn’t be open. There are no Icelanders here to do these jobs.”