Icelandic Language Blog

Listening Exercises Abound! Posted by on Jun 26, 2017 in Icelandic culture

When learning a second language, it’s very important to keep the language in your ear as much as possible. Today, I’d like to share a few listening resources/exercises with you. I’ve tried to select representatives of a good range of levels, so I hope that each of you find something that suits you in this meager collection. All of these are serials, so do tune into RÚV and watch other episodes to keep practicing your ear.


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(1) Lundaklettur.  An Icelandic kids’ show! This one is new to me, but I gave it a quick listen, and it’s among the easiest to follow. Be aware that they’ll still use more complex grammar, like the subjunctive, but it should be sandwiched well enough in context to fill in the blanks.

(2)  Ævar vísindamaður  – the Icelandic Bill Nye the Science Guy. I recommend this for at least an A2 level of understanding. The show is very illustrative – by which I mean that, when they use a word that may not be familiar to you, they also hold up the object. Don’t be shy about rewinding a few times.

(3) Krakkafréttir. News for kids! I remember something similiar when I was in middle school – called Channel 1. The newscasters talk really clearly, so it’s a great place to start on your journey to better understanding and pronunciation!

(4) Kastljós. The buzz this month was the grand opening of Costco here in Iceland – and Kastljós covers everything from literature to mental health to, well, food cost variations between countries.

(5) Vettvangur dagsins on RÚV. Have your ear warmed up for this one! This interview will be difficult to follow, but is suitable for an upper intermediate/advanced learner. Give it a try – and again, rewind if you need to. (It’s more difficult to understand at various points). #politics

(6) Póetrý Gó is a new podcast through Alvarp. The hosts interview Icelandic authors about their writing habits, and how those intertwine with walking. In the premier episode, Hallgrímur Helgason — who has newly translated Othello into Icelandic — talks about how walking his dog ignited his creativity.

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About the Author: Meg

Hi, I'm Meg! I'm here to help you learn Icelandic, the language more than anything else in the world. I'm a former Fulbright scholar, with an MFA from Columbia, and I've published many translations into English from Icelandic and German. I currently study Icelandic, and translate poetry by trade. (If you have questions or comments on my entries, you can write them to me in the comments in either English, German, or Icelandic.)


  1. Kevin:

    Love your blog! Icelandic is a fascinating language that does what our language once did: create words from its own native Germanic resources. We also lost a large percentage of our native vocabulary in English that have cognates with Icelandic words. For example, we lost several synonyms for “man”, namely, “wer”, “guma”. We also lost words like this, “foresettedness” for “preposition”. This was a loan translation from Latin, but very much English. I noticed one small error in your above commentary. I am sure it was just an oversight. You said “subjunctive case”, when I know you meant “subjunctive mood”. By the way, Old English had a subjunctive mood that was very common in everyday language. Keep up the great work!

  2. Helen:

    Hæ Meg. Thank you for these links. Unfortunately “Lundaklettur.” doesn’t work for me. I use Linux and Firefox so there may be a glitch I’ll have to sort out. I go on RUV from time to time, see the weather forecast and other easy items. I have looked at children’s programmes too. When I was in Reykjavik last year I was interviewed by Andri for his show called “Andri á flandri í túristalandi “.I was at the beginning of þattur 8. I know that programmes can be seen again on “Sarpurinn” so it’s handy for watching series etc at one’s own pace. It’s hard for learners to listen to authentic material and not grasp every detail, but it’s a must if they want to make progress. Like English, Icelandic is different when reading and listening, it takes a lot of practice and patience! 🙂

    • Christopher May-Townsend:

      @Helen Hi, I also use Firefox and Linux so can confirm that when it doesn’t work it’s because krakkarruv uses some kind of “silent” region-locking.

      Anything that is foreign that has been translated into Icelandic tends to be locked to just iceland, but most if not all original content is region-free. Which is why the science show works but puffin rock doesn’t. As a Linux user I’d suggest looking into a local VPN if you really want to keep up with the local shows.


  3. Meg:

    Hi everyone!

    Thank you for your kind comments, and for helping each other to access some of the country-specific resources (copyright/VPN things).

    I’m going to be posting a followup to this blog in a few weeks’ time, so keep your ears open for some more great resources.

    All my best,