The Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Institute of Foreign Languages aims to promote and support research and pedagogy in second and foreign languages. The Institute pursues these aims with a sense of the important role that language plays in all areas of human life and of the contribution that knowledge of more than one language can make to individuals and societies.
In a world of ever greater interaction - social, cultural, political and economic - the importance of multilingualism has never been clearer, whether for the individual seeking a job or a company breaking into new markets or a government pursuing its interests in the international community. But a language is more than just a means of communication, it is a gateway to another culture's experience of the world. In learning a second or foreign language we gain an intimate knowledge of how other people view the world and in doing so we not only gain access to a new world of ideas but also a real perspective on our own cultural view of the world.
Just as the world's many languages express the diversity of human experience and insight, so the mastery of these languages provides a means of drawing people of different backgrounds and perspectives together. The Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Institute of Foreign Languages celebrates the diversity that human languages represent and the means that they provide for crosscultural understanding.
The work of the Institute falls into a number of interrelated areas. Among them are:
- The investigation of foreign languages including acquistion studies, semiotics, translation, grammar and literature.
- The development of second-language teaching materials which reflect the latest advances in teaching methodology; The enhancement of professional language skills, in particular translation; With respect to pedagogy, the Institute will seek to act as a source of information on the latest developments in second language teaching methodology for all levels of the education system. The Institute will support courses, seminars, lectures and conferences in this field, as well as establish relations with equivalent institutes abroad. This work will enhance and support the University´s academic programs in language pedagogy.
With respect to professional language skills, the Institute will seek to enhance the status of the until-now marginalized field of translation. In the context of globalization, the translator's skills have never been in greater demand, and translation is one important way of furthering the Institute's aim of encouraging greater understanding between cultures. The Institute's work will thus complement the University of Iceland's recently established M.A. program in translation.
With respect to linguistic research, the Institute will support individual researchers and research groups, as well as provide a means for the publication of research findings. Resources will be focused on projects investigating particular foreign languages or second language acquisition, but the Institute will also support language-related literary and linguistic work. It will seek to engage constructively with the Institute of Literary Studies and the Institute of Linguistics in support of interdisciplinary projects where more than one Institute has an interest.The Institute seeks to increase a lively and internationally-oriented research environment which is likely to convey the message that study and research in foreign languages is genuinely interesting and profitable for people of various backgrounds, pursuing different goals. In this effort the Institute will sponsor activities with elementary and secondary school students in order to promote the idea of language learning as a key to multicultural learning.
The Institute pursues its work through a range of approaches, including financial support for relevant projects, organisation of seminars and conferences, publication of relevant research, hiring of research and support staff, provision of facilities, and working agreements with other national and international institutions.
The Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Institute of Foreign Languages will in future occupy a central position in second and foreign language research, foreign language pedagogy, translation studies, studies in foreign cultures and area studies in our country. The Institute already employs highly qualified individuals of diverse backgrounds and professional skills. We want to build on these strong foundations to create a genuine center of excellence in our field. It is our firm belief that by strengthening research in foreign languages at the University of Iceland we will be strengthening the research profile of our university. We also believe that our programs will contribute to the peaceful and educated development of multicultural awareness, both nationally and internationally.