Perceptions of Relevance of English Education at Secondary School

  • Anna JeevesEmail author
Part of the Educational Linguistics book series (EDUL, volume 34)


The chapter focuses on Icelandic students’ perceptions of the relevance of studying English at school. Little research has been done into compulsory language learning at school in a context of extensive exposure outside the classroom and with relevance to second language learning motivation. Semi-structured interviews were taken in Icelandic. Sixteen participants at secondary school, aged 18–21, related their views on studying English in the present time frame. Twenty-two interviews with young Icelanders at university or in employment, aged 19–28, provided retrospective observations on secondary school English and its relevance to language needs after school.

The importance of Iceland as a new research context was revealed. Although advanced proficiency is needed for tertiary study and employment, the high level of exposure to English in Iceland means that some school learners see formal study as an anomaly. The relevance of English is presented as an individual, dynamic relationship between the present, past and future. Many participants at university and in employment described clearly their current needs in English and of the increased proficiency gained at secondary school. Rich qualitative data obtained also show that Iceland stands outside present paradigms of second-language learning motivation. An adapted framework attempts to encompass Iceland. This model may also suit other countries in Northern Europe where exposure to English is similar. Finally suggestions are made for areas of focus for learners and teachers of English in Iceland.


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fjölbrautaskólinn í GarðabæGarðabæIceland

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