English Exposure, Proficiency and Use in Iceland
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This chapter describes the findings of several studies on the exposure, proficiency and use of English in the daily lives of children and adults in Iceland. Results of national surveys, interviews and diary studies provide a unique and convincing country profile of the effect of the spread if English as a World Language at the national level. The findings show a high and consistent presence of English in Iceland, especially informal receptive English, transmitted through the media for several hours a day. The massive exposure leads to a high level of confidence among Icelanders in their English skills. A large majority of respondents report that their English listening, speaking, reading and writing skills are good or very good. The younger the respondents, the higher the reported English skills and the more likelihood of using English daily. However, although a majority of Icelanders hear English every day, very few speak or write English calling into question the basis of the self-evaluation and expressed confidence. The fact that university educated respondents are less confident in their English skills than those with shorter education backgrounds suggests that they may have difficulty executing language related functions characteristic of university level education or higher level professions. The fact that young Icelanders use English more than older speakers, including in communication, may indicate that English use is spreading across skills and domains.
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