Iceland has long been a favorite among travelers and expats alike thanks to its pristine natural beauty and high standard of living. With many people looking to move there or just travel like a local, demand for learning Icelandic is on the rise. As Duolingo is the most popular way to learn languages nowadays, does Duolingo have Icelandic, and if not why not? Let’s find out.
Is There an Icelandic Course on Duolingo?
Unfortunately, there is no Icelandic language course currently on Duolingo. Despite the clear demand and the rise in tourism, Duolingo has caught up and created an Icelandic course.
It’s one of the oldest languages around, being descended from Old Norse, but somehow, it’s still down the Duolingo pecking order than Klingon…
Are They Planning on Releasing Icelandic on Duolingo?
At the moment there is no plan to develop an Icelandic course on Duolingo. This is despite many Duolingo and language fans complaining about the lack of Icelandic on the app on various language learning forums and to Duolingo themselves on social media.
Duolingo normally keeps its user base in the loop about any new language courses that they’re developing and as it stands, Icelandic isn’t even in the conversation.
So, with development lead time, even if they announced that they were making an Icelandic Duolingo course tomorrow, it would be at least two years before we saw even a beta version of it.
Why isn’t Icelandic on Duolingo?
There are a couple of theories floating around the message boards as to why there currently aren’t any plans to have Icelandic on Duolingo.
Firstly, it’s a difficult language to learn. It’s listed as one of the hardest languages for English speakers to learn, even if you’re being taught by a native speaker.
With Duolingo’s accessible and broken down way of teaching, it might be difficult to actually teach Icelandic, as this format is not great for more complex languages.
Secondly, Duolingo used to use native language volunteers to help improve and increase their output when it came to developing new language courses.
This was usually through a mix of language teachers and just native speakers, who are familiar with the nuances of the language. Duolingo is a big company, but it doesn’t have someone who can speak every single language.
They’ve recently taken the decision to do as much of the course development in-house using actual employees as they can. This means development is taking much longer and Duolingo isn’t releasing as many new language courses per year as they have been doing so far.
With Icelandic being such a technical and difficult language, this will definitely have been a contributing factor as to why it’s not already on Duolingo.
3 App Alternatives to Duolingo that Have Icelandic Courses
Don’t worry if you’re looking to learn Icelandic via an app. Duolingo isn’t the only tech-savvy language learning tool out there, and these alternatives already have Icelandic courses built in!
You probably remember Memrise from back when you were trying to cram vocabulary for language tests. In all honesty, they don’t actually have an official Icelandic course, but what they do have is a community-based platform full of native speakers, so there’s plenty of reliable content.
You can choose from lessons, games, and Icelandic language media – it gives you a really well-rounded approach to learning Icelandic. There’s also a variety of fluency levels as well, so you can continue to progress!
Love audio-based lessons and learning? Gain great conversational skills in Icelandic with Pimsleur.
This app combines traditional flashcard-style learning for vocabulary with 30-minute long audio lessons that are designed to immerse you in Icelandic – something that’s hard to come by if you’re not in the country or watching a lot of scandi-noir.
Looking to up your vocabulary bank? Then you’re definitely going to want to download Drops, a flashcard-based language vocabulary app. It’s full of Icelandic words and phrases, together with memorable icons and imagery to help you learn more content in a fun and well-designed way.
It’s not going to help you with your grammar or pronunciation, but it works well as an add-on for other methods of study.
5 More Ways to Learn Icelandic (That Aren’t Apps)
Not into learning on your phone? We all learn in different ways, so that’s why there’s a wide variety of resources designed to help you learn Icelandic, away from the traditional app methods.
Want to improve your conversational skills in a practical, real-time kind of way? Well then, iTalki is going to be the platform for you.
It matches up native speakers with language learners of different levels so that you can get some much-needed pronunciation practice from the comfort of your own home.
These tutors know what they’re doing and you’ll be able to choose from a wide variety of teachers, all rated by previous students and with different price levels to suit every budget.
There aren’t many teachers for Icelandic on iTalki so the classes are a bit more expensive (the top two examples are $40 per class) but there were a few teachers that had classes for $18 which is a lot more affordable.
If you want to practice your speaking and listening skills in Icelandic, this is a great option before you even step foot in Iceland.
2. Streaming Services
Want to immerse yourself in Icelandic culture as well as the language?
Well, immersion is proven to be one of the most successful methods for learning a language, so by listening to and watching Icelandic news stations, shows, and films, it’ll help you get used to the pronunciation and gain context from the visuals.
Even if you have English subtitles on at first to help you, you’re still benefiting from hearing Icelandic being spoken and you’ll be able to pull out odd words and phrases until your language level increases.
Netflix even has an Icelandic Original TV Series called “Katla” which is pretty amazing considering it’s pretty hard to find Icelandic language sources to learn from.
Similar to streaming services, listening to Icelandic language podcasts can be really useful for learning pronunciation and conversational skills. These might be specific Icelandic language learning podcasts or regular podcasts that are presented by Icelandic native speakers.
Again, if you can’t follow along fully at first, that’s completely fine. It’s all about exposing yourself to the sound and flow of the language.
One of the best podcasts for Icelandic is One Minute Icelandic which is made by “Coffee Break Languages Podcasts.” I’ve loved listening to their podcasts “Coffee Break Spanish” and “Coffee Break French” so I can definitely vouch for the quality of their podcasts.
4. Language Learning Guides on Amazon
As with any language that you want to learn, chances are there are phrasebooks (like this super highly-rated one for Icelandic from Lonely Planet) and language guides out there designed to help you up your vocabulary and explain grammar rules.
Books are great for learning words and phrases in isolation, as well as improving reading and writing skills, but when it comes to conversational skills and pronunciation, you may need to combine this method with another, such as audio streaming.
Olly Richards actually has a version of his famous series “Short Stories for Beginners” in Icelandic that you can get in audio or paperback form.
This resource created by the University of Iceland is a really cool way to learn Icelandic and was developed completely by native speakers.
You have six courses to choose from and they’re all designed for self-teaching! All the courses cover spoken and written skills, so you can have a well-rounded introduction to Icelandic.
Have Fun Learning Icelandic, Even Without Duolingo!
It’s not really news that Icelandic is a niche and difficult language to learn, so it’s no wonder that the guys at Duolingo haven’t figured out a way of delivering it successfully using their trademark broken down, basic method of language learning.
That being said, as more expats move out to the Land of Fire and Ice, demand for Icelandic language learning resources is growing and is only going to get more and more popular, so maybe Duolingo should consider bringing back some of their native speaker volunteers to get an Icelandic course up and running!