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Erasmus+ Journal (Issue 3) 2014/15

Birgit Ehrenhöfer, University of Iceland, Iceland, Mobility for Study, PHST



Contact Information:


International Office

International Coordinator: Ms. Aníta Hannesdottír

Saemundargötu 6

101 Reykjavik

Tel.: 525 4000

Fax: 552 1331

email: ask@hi.is


School of Education

Service center


Tel: +354 5255950

Email: menntavisindasvid@hi.is




The University of Iceland educates teachers for preschools, primary schools and upper secondary schools, sports and health scientists, social educators and leisure professionals. The former Iceland University of Education, which has merged with the University of Iceland, forms the core of the new School of Education.

At the School of Education diverse research is carried out in the fields of education, pedagogy and training, for the purpose of creating new knowledge for the benefit of Icelandic society.


List of courses:


Teaching English to young learners                                                                                        

Main areas covered

  • characteristics of young learners
  • appropriate approaches and techniques
  • National Curriculum objectives
  • listening and speaking
  • songs, games, drama and creative activities
  • topic-based work
  • reading and writing
  • teaching materials
  • the European Language Portfolio
  • assessment methods

ECTS: 10

Course work consists of reading, oral and written assignments, discussions, presentations, and project work. The course includes 2 ECTS teaching practice consisting of classroom observation and a written report.



EFL learning and second language aquisition

Current research in the teaching of English as a foreign language, especially research on learning styles; learner strategies; learning problems; learner autonomy; language assessment and action research. The course includes reading, speaking and writing components, a classroom research project and student-led seminars.

ECTS: 10



Teaching Practice

Aims and content: Exchange students are offered teaching practice in Icelandic primary and lower secondary schools where they have the opportunity to get familiar with Icelandic schools and the school system. Students will introduce their home country  and participate in the school work and different subject teaching as applicable every time, such as language teaching or art and craft. These are decided according to students field of interests and organisation of the school work.

After the teaching practice period the students are required to send a two page report, approx. 900 words, to the international coordinator at the School of Education, gsoley@hi.is.




Icelandic Nature and Cultural Legacy


Nature of Iceland: Students learn about the weather and climate, geology, vegetation and animal life. They attend lectures about the geology of Iceland and go on fieldtrips to see volcanoes, hotsprings and lava and study the geography of the country. They go birdwatching, to the seashore and to "Icelandic woods".  They also learn about soil erosion and environmental problems in Iceland.  Field trips (1-6 hours) are an important ingredient of this part of the course.
Cultural Legacy: An Icelandic Family Saga wil be read. Also some Edda-poems about gods and heroes, together with chapters from Snorri's Edda (Ódin, Thor, Frigg, etc.). Some Icelandic folk tales and familiar motifs from oral tradition will be looked into, and Icelandic fairy tales will be compared to those of neighbouring countries. Introduction to Halldór Laxnes and his works. An afternoon-trip to a historical place will be made, and one visit to a historical  museum in Reykjavík.
Teaching methods: Lectures, seminar and group work, outdoor teaching

ECTS: 10


Description of the Registration Process


All applications for admission must be submitted online, using a specific form available during application periods.

Application deadlines:

  • Fall semester or a full academic year: 1 March (EU/EEA citizens: 1 May)
  • Spring semester: 1 August (EU/EEA citizens: 1 October)

International students have to fill in a special online application form. Subsequently, you get an Application ID and a web key number, which you need to create a personal account. With this account you can continue working on your application, for example you have to fill in the courses you have chosen. What´s more, through this account you can follow the progress of your application.

To complete your application, you have to hand in a photo of the front page of you passport as well as the transcript of records via email.

Once you are accepted at the University of Iceland, you receive a ´letter of acceptance´.


Teaching Practice


Fornhagi 1

107 Reykjavik


+354 535 6500

www.hagaskoli. is



The teaching practice, which I had together with my Finish fellow student Essi Rutanen, was one of my favourite parts of this semester abroad.

We didn´t have a fixed schedule, but our mentor, Finnur Jens Númason, asked us what subjects or lessons we would like to attend and according to our wishes, he arranged our visits in the different classes. Due to that, we were able to observe various very interesting lessons on different subjects:



Needlework and Woodwork

Natural Sciences (Biology)

Cooking Classes




We were supposed to be at school for ten days, mostly on Wednesdays, but our mentor was flexible, so we could also see other days.

Most of the time we were just observing the lessons, but once we were allowed to introduce our home countries, Finland and Austria. Therefore we planned two things: we prepared a quiz about funny facts of the two countries and we also baked and cooked Austrian and Finish specialities like Kaiserschmarrn. Especially the second part of our project was very much fun and the students enjoyed it a lot.

Another time, when we were just observing an English lesson, the teacher asked us if we would like to continue and do some activities with the students. We hadn´t prepared anything, because we didn´t expect to be teaching, so we just played some games. It was a new experience for me to teach without being prepared, but it was great fun.


Analysis of the teaching practice


The first thing I noticed was, that in Iceland everything seemed to be more easy-going than in Austria. The relationships between teachers and students were more on a friendship-like level and students were  allowed to call their teachers by their first name. I think this is a general difference between these two countries, because in Iceland everybody uses the first name to address each other. What´s more, students were allowed to use their mobile phones or listen to music during the lessons, which I found really disturbing.

Furthermore, it stroke me that boys and girls were seperated in many subjects, like for example Music, Drama, Wood Work, or Cooking. I assume that it would be better for the class community if they were mixed up or together more often, but I guess there are reasons for dividing them.

During my days at Hágaskoli, I got the feeling that it is not just going to school, but more something like a certain kind of culture there. There were so many things like an Anniversary Party, a sports competition or a Musical that made it more than just a school where students spend their days studying. I had the impression that the students were proud of attending this school and they were eager in participating in all kinds of events.


 Academic & Social Life

However, not only having the teaching practice in another country was interesting, but also going to a different University was a memorable experience.

From my point of view, the main difference was that I had far less courses here in Iceland than I had had in Austria during my previous semesters of studying. Here in Iceland I had three courses, ten credits for each. As a consequence of having only three courses, they were much more intensive and, of course, the work load was much bigger. However, it was nice to have it this way and see the contrast to the courses I had had at home. 

Both, the ´Teaching English to Young Learners` and the `Icelandic Nature and Cultural Legacy´ courses contained a lot of practical parts. In the first course, we had to introduce activities suitable for young learners to each other and we also had to create lesson plans on different topics. In the `Icelandic Nature and Cultural Legacy´ course we did a lot of excursions and trips, where we sometimes went to beautiful places that nobody would have found otherwise.

During those activities and trips, it was easy to get to know my fellow students better, and it didn´t take long to make new friends. In the ´Icelandic Nature and Cultural Legacy´ course, there were almost only Erasmus and Nordplus students from almost all parts of Europe. I made friends with people from lots of different countries, but I had hardly any contact with Icelandic people, which is a pitty. However, me and my colleagues we spent a lot of time together and did amazing trips to explore the beautiful and unique nature of Iceland.

When we went on trips in our free time, we always rented a car. This is one of the cheapest ways to get around, especially in the winter time, before the beginning of May. Avis Budget is among the cheapest car rentals, at least when it comes to cars without four wheel drive.

Before going on a trip, it is a must-do to check the weather forecast as well as the road conditions, because snow storms or sand storms are nothing unusual. Almost all of use made the experience of getting stuck somewhere, not being able to return to Reykjavik due to snow storms that caused the roads to be impassable.

Here are two very helpful websites to check on the conditions:




Here are some places I would absolutely recommend to visit in Iceland: