Language policy

This is the outline of our language policy with the aim of helping our students achieve individual and common language goals in this school. The awareness of and conscious use of language is the basis of intercultural understanding and mutual respect.


We are aware of and appreciate our students’ respective native languages and the cultural diversity they represent. A significant portion of our student population speaks Icelandic as their mother tongue, for others English is their strongest language, and a small minority are “Language A self-taught” students with a broad range of first languages.

Language of instruction

The language of instruction in the IB program is English with the exception of Icelandic A classes. All teachers are language teachers in their respective subjects and work towards the shared goal of establishing awareness of the target language with particular emphasis on academic vocabulary.

Language across the curriculum


The learning of language is a cross disciplinary responsibility at MH. Strategies for language learning are thus integrated into all programmes of study. Curriculum leaders, including the DP coordinators are engaged in the process of mapping the development of language skills across disciplines, so that a continuum of learning is developed. Staff is engaged in this process in faculty and IB planning meetings and it is an ongoing process at MH at present. Teachers of each subject/course are responsible for teaching the language required for academic success in their discipline, which includes subject specific language, forms of academic writing, note taking, critical literacy, oral presentation skills, communication technologies, register of language, vocabulary, analytical expression, or other language elements. They are also required to guide students in applying their language skills beyond the classroom and in the transference of language skills between academic areas of study.

Teachers, librarians and administrators are encouraged to engage in ongoing professional development to develop their skills in subject specific language, effective communication and inter-disciplinary cooperation.


English in the classroom

English is spoken in the IB classroom. Though the main student population is Icelandic students are encouraged to use English during lessons.

First languages

All students must study their first language. A placement test offered twice a year allows students to ensure that they choose courses of appropriate challenge. We offer Icelandic A: Literature and English A: Literature; other language A courses can be studied as self-taught SL with the help of a supervisor (in most cases an English Language A teacher).

Language A self-taught

Students opting for their native language self-taught are assisted throughout the 2-year course by an experienced Language A (Literature) teacher who conducts support sessions on a joint and individual basis with the students.

Second language

All students study at least one language in addition to their mother tongue. The school currently offers English B, Danish B, French B/Ab initio, German B/Abin and Spanish B/Abin as Group 2 languages.

Icelandic as a second language

The schooloffers ÍSA, Icelandic for foreigners, taught by very qualified teachers who know how to administer variety of levels within the class. ÍSA is not an IB subject. As the school environment is Icelandic, there is ample opportunity to practise the language in extra curricular activities, special events, festivals, café arrangements, parties, etc.

Correcting language

Language problems that have an impact on understanding and following the instruction are concurrently corrected in the classroom and in assignments. All teachers are contributing to their students’ improvement as to correctness, clarity, versatility, and appropriateness of the target language used in that particular subject area. We practise a variety of methods to correct/assess language weaknesses, both on an individual, group work, whole class level in all subjects.

Teachers’ language skills

Not all IB teachers are native speakers in English. We offer in-service language courses for our IB teachers conducted by English native speakers. All communication about IB on the school’s intranet (Lectio) and in IB staff meetings takes place in English to further train the target language.

CAS and student tutoring

An established part of our CAS programme is the notion of students helping students with the languages and offer tutoring for individuals or small groups on a regular basis. The tutors are typically recruited from Icelandic/English A classes.

Literacy support for students


Support may include:

•Amended tasks and programmes for individual students

•Literacy support classes in English (stoðtími)

•Special Provisions for Examinations

•Individualised literacy testing and development of strategies for improvement


Extension for student language


Students are able to undertake a wide variety of activities to develop their language use and apply their skills creatively and imaginatively. Examples of such activities include Mock UN, Debating, Public Speaking, Writing Competitions, Social Justice activities, Leadership opportunities, representative roles, peer mentoring, community service involvement, etc. These activities provide opportunities for students to use language persuasively, and for an authentic audience and purpose.


Referencing and language protocols


Guidelines for appropriate referencing of work and the protocols for formal

academic writing are accessible to the students in a number of ways, including:

•Access to online bibliography sites, with librarian assistance

•Formal sessions on academic writing, such as Extended Essays, Major Works, Personal Interest Projects, MYP Personal Projects, and other extended written tasks

•Formal sessions DP courses about academic honesty and referencing of work


MH Language Philosophy


Menntaskólinn við Hamrahlíð aims to equip its students to be life-long learners and effective

and productive global citizens in our rapidly changing world. In order to interpret this world and

participate actively in it, students need to have a sophisticated and complex control of language,

including the language of instruction, mother tongue and additional languages. Since language is central to learning, all teachers are, in practice, language teachers with responsibilities in facilitating communication.


Developing an understanding of language is complex and multi-faceted. The term “language” encompasses a range of literacies, including the understanding of written, oral and visual information, and an ability to interpret numerical information, multi-media and technology.

Students need to develop the ability to communicate in a range of contexts and for a range of purposes, across the breadth of the curriculum. They should develop skills in using subject specific language and manipulating forms of writing to suit a range of academic purposes.

They should also have opportunities to use language to respond both creatively and analytically to the world around them, to express their own world view and develop an informed understanding of alternate world views. All teachers are thus language teachers, and are engaged in the development of student knowledge about language and use of language to express their ideas and opinions.


Recognizing the linguistic and cultural diversity in our world doesn’t just mean giving a place to languages in the curriculum. It alters the very fabric of education, emphasizing that languages are integral to the curriculum and education as a whole.


An important element of learning about and through language is the commitment to multilingualism at MH. MH is committed to broadening students’ perspectives on, and engagement with, the international community by positioning the learning of languages at the core of the curriculum. Understanding language is fundamental to appreciating other perspectives and developing an authentic sense of Internationalism. Rather than superficial functional uses of language we aim to provide students with an authentic sense of the interrelatedness of language and the complex ways in which human beings communicate. Learning an additional language also teaches students about linguistics and enables them to understand how languages function. MH promotes language in a number of ways. English is promoted through the wide variety of experiences available to students in literature, creative arts, theatre, debating, public speaking, mock trials, music, IB Personal Projects, and other pursuits. Students have numerous opportunities to use their language skills to pursue personal interests in social sciences, visual and performing arts, literature, technology, the sciences, mathematics and additional languages.


Síðast uppfært: 08. ágúst 2017