ESL Cover Letter Rubric (4)

One form of writing that native English speakers often have to do in order to get a job is to write a cover letter.  It is also possible that this could be an assignment for an ESL class, and as such I was able to find a rubric for a cover letter as an activity in an ESL class, which can be found here.  This rubric has five categories, each with a scale from 1-4, with 1 being the lowest proficiency and 4 being the highest.  The first category is format, which covers the design and layout of the cover letter, including there being an address, the date, the name, as well as an introduction, body paragraphs, closing paragraph, and signature.  The next category is salutation, and in order to achieve 4 points in salutation the student must have put the salutation in the right place, used an appropriate salutation, and properly formatted the addressee’s name, including capitalization and use of the proper title.  The third category is the body of the cover letter, also referred to as the content.  In order to achieve 4 points in the body category, the cover letter must have two body paragraphs that clearly state why the student is the best candidate for the job that they are applying for, as well as a complete description of their experience and education.  The fourth category is the closing and signature category, and states that the student must have a proper closing and signature with proper punctuation in order to achieve the maximum of 4 points.  The last category is the spelling, grammar, and punctuation category, which simply states that the spelling, grammar, and punctuation of the cover letter are mostly correct and do affect the understanding.

I found this rubric very interesting because I believe that a cover letter writing task could be very useful to ESL students, particularly those enrolled in a Business English course.  It is a highly authentic task to be assessed on, and being able to learn the format and structure of a cover letter, which is a requirement for most jobs, could greatly benefit those students who are hoping to work in an English-speaking country.  I would likely use this rubric in such a Business English course; however, I would first want to amend it.  I don’t think it is fair to have a category such as “salutation”, which is a very small part of the overall cover letter, to have the same weight as the category “body/content”, which is the entirety of the body paragraphs, including their content, style, and ideas.  I would want to break down the body/content category into several smaller categories, each one addressing part of the body or content.  For example, there could be one category for style, one category for appropriate word choice, one category for describing experience and education, and one category for explaining why the student is the best candidate for the job.  Previously, all of these topics were under one category.

I would also want to ensure that each category is extremely clear.  As stated in the article “Student-Generated Scoring Rubrics: Examining Their Formative Value for Improving ESL Students’ Writing Performance” by Anthony Becker, analytic rubrics such as this one tend to be more reliable because they they allow the rater to apply one scoring criteria at a time to the assessment.  Reliability is defined by Brown as consistency and dependability across raters and students, and so it is clearly an advantage to utilize a style of assessment that tends to be more reliable.  However, some of the categories in this rubric, especially the body content category, could be seen as vague.  I would want to ensure that all of the categories as well as what is expected of the students were completely clear to everyone involved.  This is also important because, as stated in the article “Rubrics for Assessment: Their Effects on ESL Students’ Authentic Task Performance” by Radhika De Silva, explaining a rubric is important to maximizing a student’s ability on an assessment.

Bibliography:

Becker, Anthony. “Student-Generated Scoring Rubrics: Examining Their Formative Value for Improving ESL Students’ Writing Performance.” CATESOL, vol. 22, no. 1, 2011, pp. 113–130., doi:10.1016/j.asw.2016.05.002.

Brown, H. Douglas, and Priyanvada Abeywickrama. Language Assessment: Principles and Classroom Practices. Pearson Education, Inc., 2019.

De Silva, Radhika. “Rubrics for Assessment: Their Effects on ESL Students’ Authentic Task Performance”.  Open University of Sri Lanka, 136-14

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ESL Presentation Rubric (3)

Many general English classes, especially ones that teach students academic English, require students to give an oral presentation at some point, meaning the English teacher would then need to have a rubric to assess said presentation.  One presentation rubric can be found by following the link here.  This rubric has nine categories for assessing a presentation and a four point scale for each category, with 4 being the highest number of points a student can achieve and one being the lowest.  The first category in the rubric is “understanding of audience”, and in order to get four points the student must know who their target audience is and use the appropriate vocabulary, tone, and language, as well as anticipate questions that may come up during the presentation and address them appropriately.  The second category is body language and requires students to utilize appropriate body language, including eye contact and gestures, in order to achieve full points.  Next is a pronunciation category, which asks that students use the correct stress and intonation with very few errors, followed by a content category, which requires students to have clear and purposeful content along with a variety of supporting details in order to get four points.  The visual props category grades students on the effectiveness of their photos and slides, and the fluency category requires the student to be in control of the presentation and be able to speak clearly without too much reading directly from prepared notes.  The grammar and structure category requires good grammar and sentence structure with a few small mistakes allowed, and the linking language category requires “varied and generous” use of linking language throughout the presentation.  The last category is the interaction with audience category, which requires the student to solicit questions from the audience and respond appropriately.

One thing that I like about this rubric is that it does have a lot of individual categories that really break down the different aspects of giving a presentation.  With nine total categories, the student can see exactly how they are doing with regards to specific aspects of giving a presentation, which is better than simply receiving a set number grade as their only response.  As stated in the chapter “Assessment in Second Language Classrooms” by Anne Katz (2014), analytic rubrics such as this one are useful tools because they allow students to see where their strengths lie as well as where they need work, and in this way they can serve as very useful feedback that will help the student to improve.  I also like this rubric because the categories cover a wide variety of the micro- and macro-skills that Brown discusses in the “Assessing Speaking” chapter of the textbook Language Assessment: Principles and Classroom Practices.  Giving an extended presentation is a very complex task, and so it can be useful to help students practice a wide variety of skills, all of which are represented by the rubric.  These include the macro-skill “convey facial features, kinesics, body language, and other nonverbal cues along with verbal language”, which is represented in the body language category of the rubric, and the micro-skill “produce English stress patterns, words in stressed and unstressed positions, rhythmic structure, and intonation contours”, which is represented in the pronunciation category of the rubric.

I would use this rubric in an intermediate or advanced classroom for students who are learning either academic or business English.  The rubric is specific towards assessing presentations, but is also able to be adapted easily for different content, audiences, and grammar structures being taught, and so could easily be used to judge either academic-styled presentation or business-styled presentations.  As with all rubrics, I would need to explain the rubric in detail to the class before implementing it, as that is necessary for it to be the most clear and helpful to the students (De Silva).  The only part of the rubric that I would adapt would be to remove the language “anticipates probable questions and addresses these during the course of the presentation” from the understanding of audience category, as I feel that that is already being tested for in the interaction with audience category.  That way, those two categories are clearer and more distinct.

Works Cited:

Brown, H. Douglas, and Priyanvada Abeywickrama. Language Assessment: Principles and Classroom Practices. Pearson Education, Inc., 2019.

De Silva, Radhika. “Rubrics for Assessment: Their Effects on ESL Students’ Authentic Task Performance”.  Open University of Sri Lanka, 136-14

Katz, Anne. “Assessment in Second Language Classrooms.” Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language, by Marianne Celce-Murcia et al., National Geographic Learning, Heinle Cengage Learning, 2014, pp. 320–321.

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ESL Essay Writing Rubric (2)

Essay writing is an important skill that will likely inevitably need to be taught in most ESL classrooms, and therefore a rubric for assessing this writing is an important tool for a teacher to have.  One such essay writing rubric can be found by following the link here.  This rubric lays out eight categories that would be assessed, and provides values for each category at four levels, with one being the lowest proficiency in that category and four being the highest.  The eight categories being assessed are understanding of audience, hook/introduction, theses/main idea structuring, body/evidence and examples, closing paragraph/conclusion, sentence structure, linking language, and grammar and spelling.  I appreciate the variety of categories here and how there are categories pertaining not just to grammar, which is often heavily emphasized in language, but also to more communicative properties, such as the essay’s organization and structure as well as its usage of linking language.  These are aspects that might not be assessed in a traditional rubric, but are still just as important, since an essay that includes entirely grammatical sentences can still definitely be a bad essay.  Additionally, breaking down the structure of the essay to multiple categories, such as introduction, thesis, body, and conclusion,  and giving each its own box on the rubric, can make the rubric more meaningful and provide lead to more positive washback.  As stated in the book Language Assessment- Principles and Classroom Practices by H. Douglas Brown, specific and generous feedback is needed on assessments for students to be have more positive washback, and having a separate category for each aspect of structure is a good way of making the feedback more specific.  

I would definitely want to use this rubric in the classroom, as I believe it could be applied to a variety of assignments, including argumentative essays and expository essays, which are two common essay types used in the classroom.  I would also need to exaplain the rubric to the students beforehand as that can help improve their performance, as seen in the article “Rubrics for Assessment; Their Effects of ESL Students’ Authentic Task Performance” by Radhika De Silva.  I feel as though for this particular rubric, I would need to take care to explain the difference between sentence structure and grammar, and how those are two different categories, as at first blush it may seem as though grammar and sentence structure are the same.  Other than that however, I believe this rubric to be very useful and straightforward to use in terms of practicality, and I will almost definitely be using it in the classroom in the future.

Works Cited

Beare, Kenneth. “ESL Essay Writing Rubric for Scoring Teachers.” ThoughtCo, 16 July 2018, www.thoughtco.com/esl-essay-writing-rubric-1212374.

Brown, H. Douglas, and Priyanvada Abeywickrama. Language Assessment: Principles and Classroom Practices. Pearson Education, Inc., 2019.

De Silva, Radhika. “Rubrics for Assessment: Their Effects on ESL Students’ Authentic Task Performance”.  Open University of Sri Lanka, 136-14

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Speaking Rubric for Fluency Activities (1)

The rubric below is a speaking rubric created by Pearson Education accessible here that can be used to assess a variety of speaking fluency activities.  The designers offer a few examples of what those activities may be, as can be seen below.

Roleplays, debates, and interviews are all good examples of activities that could be accurately assessed by the rubric below, based on the fact that they are activities that involve speaking and some degree of fluency.  They are also just good activities to use in the classroom,especially the roleplays, because they allow students to use authentic language and act out scenarios they may experience in real life.  As Joe Budden described in an article for the British Council Teaching English website that can be read here, roleplays give students the opportunity to “rehearse their English in a safe environment” and allows them to experience and work through a variety of language opportunities.  For these reasons, the following rubric could be very useful in class.

 

The rubric itself has a proficiency scale from 1-4 with 4 being the best and 1 being the worst, and under each level it has a variety of competencies that should be met to achieve that level.  While I don’t mind the layout of the rubric, if I were to use it in my class I would restructure it to be a grid instead, with each competency having its own box.  That would make it easier to assign the student a different number for each competency as necessary, since it is unlikely they would have the same numbered score for each bullet point.  For example, if the student “uses a variety of vocabulary and expressions”, which is level 4, but also “uses a variety of grammar structures, but makes some errors”, which is level 3, I would want to be able to clearly indicate that.

The competencies themselves within each level each look at different parts of speaking.  The first looks at vocabulary, and would have students at the highest level use “a variety of vocabulary and expressions”.  The second looks at the students’ grammar and would have the student use “a variety of structures with only occasional grammatical errors” at the highest level.  The third competency is about fluency itself while speaking and would have the student speak smoothly with little hesitation that does not interfere with communication in order to achieve a 4.  The fourth competency is about staying on task and responding appropriately, and the final competency looks at the students’ pronunciation and intonation.  To achieve a 4, the student would need pronunciation and intonation that is “almost always” accurate.

I like the different categories that the rubric is split into, with vocabulary, grammar, fluency, responding appropriately, and pronunciation/intonation each being their own category.  I also like that the rubric is general and could be applied to a variety of activities, as stated above.  However, as Radhika De Silva states in her article “Rubrics for Assessment: Their Effects on ESL Students’ Authentic Task Performance”, in order to be successful it is very important that a rubric is clear and also completely understood by the students, meaning the teacher should be sure to talk through the rubric in class.  If I were to use this rubric in my classroom, I would likely want to adapt it slightly to make it more specific to the activity I was assessing, or I would want to explain thoroughly to the students what I intended with each level.  For example, instead of having a generic “uses a variety of vocabulary and expressions”, I would want it to be clear to the students exactly what vocabulary and expressions I am expecting them to use.  Likely it would be vocabulary from the unit being taught or expressions specifically relevant to the activity they would be doing.  The same would be true for the grammar part of the rubric.  The section about speaking fluently without hesitation would likely not need to be adapted to activity or level, but I would want to make sure my students know exactly what I mean by “smoothly” and “little hesitation”.  The section about responding appropriately would likely be different based on the activity or level being assessed, so for that category I would want to make sure the students know beforehand what appropriate and inappropriate responses would be.  Lastly, the pronunciation and intonation section would likely be the same regardless of activity.  However, based on the level of the students and the class, the proficiency expected for achieve a 4 in pronunciation and intonation might look different.  Whatever it may be, I would again want to make sure that the expectations are clear beforehand.

Overall, I like this rubric for speaking activities because it can be used for many different types of these kinds of activities, such as debates, roleplays, and interviews, and because it lays out a set of expectations at each of 4 levels of proficiency.  However, in order to make the rubric absolutely clear to the students and to make it more relevent to the activity actually being assessed, I would likely want to adapt it.  I would do so by turning the two columns into a grid, and by making the categories specifically relevant to the task assigned, especially the vocabulary and grammar section.  I would also want to make sure to explain the rubric fully to the class before utilizing it for assessment.

Works Cited

Budden, Joe. “Role-Play.” Teaching English, British Council, www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/role-play.

De Silva, Radhika. “Rubrics for Assessment: Their Effects on ESL Students’ Authentic Task Performance”.  Open University of Sri Lanka, 136-14

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When Things Don’t Go According to Plan

I don’t know about anyone else, but when I plan a trip while I may plan for the worst, I’m still hoping for the best.  Unfortunately, sometimes things don’t go according to plan.

For our trip to Iceland, my friend and I rented a car.  It was little, green, very adorable, and the perfect size for our backpacks, sleeping bags, and tent.  We even slept in the car a few times in the north when snow meant that pitching a tent was impossible.

My friend with our car on Day 1

My friend with our car on Day 1

Then, about halfway into our trip, we crashed the car into a gas pump, doing severe damage to both the car and the pump.

Fortunately, my friend and I were both physically okay, but the crash was a deeply upsetting shock.  My friend and I were both very upset, and then while in the middle of a gas station parking lot she called first the police and the car rental company, and then her dad to talk about what to do because the rental and the insurance were both in her name.  I meanwhile called my mom, and immediately started crying as soon as she picked up.  I explained quickly that we were both physically okay in order to alleviate her worst fears, but that we were both really upset.

For me, I had been so proud of myself and my friend for planning and paying for this trip entirely ourselves, and in that moment it felt as if the whole trip would be ruined or tainted because of this car accident.  My mom then told me a story of how when she and my dad first got married they had planned to go camping, and on the way to the campsite my mom rear-ended another car.  She told me how instead of letting that ruin the trip, she and my dad decided to make the most of it and continue anyway, and they had a great time.  She then said that the only way she would be upset with me and my friend in this situation would be if we let this one incident ruin our whole trip.

After I hung up with my mom, I went and talked to my friend.  Fortunately, we’d paid for the full insurance when we rented the car, so even though we’d done approximately 4,000 Euros worth of damage we would only need to pay 150.  Then, even though we were both still upset, we decided to take it easy for the rest of the day and just try to get to our campsite so we could relax.  My mom offered to pay for us to have dinner at a restaurant to help us feel better, so once we arrived in the town we were staying in we headed to the only restaurant they had, which was in the lobby of a hotel.  After dinner, we went to the local swimming complex where we swam in a heated pool and relaxed in the hot tubs.  By the end of the day we were joking and laughing again.

While the car accident was scary and shocking, I’m glad that we didn’t let it ruin our trip.  Immediately after it happened I worried that all I would remember from Iceland was the sick feeling I felt after the crash, but instead I mostly remember happy events.  The crash has now become a more distant memory that my friend and I are able to laugh about, and I’m so happy that we didn’t let that one really negative experience affect our entire vacation.

The moral of this story is twofold.

1) Always ALWAYS always buy the insurance when you rent a car.  You never know what’s going to happen.

2) If something bad does happen, it’s okay.  Breathe.  Relax, and then let go.  Take care of yourself first, and as long as nothing life-threatening has happened, try and enjoy the rest of your trip.

A Quest for Puffins

I new before I even bought my plane ticket for Reykjavik that one of the things I definitely wanted to do in Iceland was to see puffins.  Iceland is teeming with interesting birds and aquatic wildlife, but those little birds with the bright orange beaks were the ones who captivated my attention.  I spent hours pouring over the Lonely Planet guidebook I had bought searching for the perfect place to go to spot them, vowing to wait as long as I needed in order to fulfill my quest and see a puffin.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to wait that long.  In Borgarfjörður Eystri, there was a lookout from which we could see hundreds of puffins!

A puffin poking his head up over the grass

A puffin poking his head up over the grass

Puffin chilling on the cliff

Puffin chilling on the cliff

Dozens of puffins in the water!

Dozens of puffins in the water!

We stayed at the lookout for a few hours, hoping that by sitting still and waiting we could encourage the puffins to come a little closer so we could take better pictures.  Of course, it’s against Icelandic law to get too close to them because they are a protected species.  Still, it was a really exciting experience to get to see these playful and colorful birds in their natural habitat.

Of course, puffins weren’t the only cool animals we saw.  We also saw seals and a wide variety of birds.  Unfortunately, we didn’t see any whales because we didn’t have the time for the half-day boat tour it would have taken to see them.

When we first arrived at this beach, we thought these seals were rocks

A cute seal

A cute seal

if you’re interested in cool aquatic animals and arctic birds, Iceland is definitely a place you should check out and visit!

An Icelandic Road Trip

Last year around this time one of my best friends and I decided that we wanted to go to Iceland and drive the ring road.  We both love traveling and nature, so Iceland seemed like the perfect location; beautiful, compelling, and filled with nature we wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else.  We planned our trip, bought our tickets, and flew from JFK airport to Reykjavik for a two-week tour of Iceland’s ring road.

The ring road is Iceland’s main highway, and also the only consistently paved road in Iceland, and it completely circles around the country making it perfect for a road trip!  Due to the high price and low availability of hostels and inns to stay in, we decided to bring a tent and sleeping bag and stay at campsites.

An approximation of the several thousand kilometers we drove over two weeks

An approximation of the several thousand kilometers we drove over two weeks

The campsites were wonderful- clean, with fully functioning bathrooms and showers, and often equipped with kitchens, wifi, a washer and dryer, and a room with tables and chairs to hang out and chat with other campers.  By renting a car and not having to book hostels ahead of time we were able to free up our schedule a lot and be more spontaneous in our day-to-day adventures.  We also saved money by buying food from grocery stores and cooking instead of eating at restaurants or other fast food places.  Instead, we subsisted largely on a diet of cheese and crackers, cheap fruits and vegetables, pasta and potatoes that we cooked at the campsites, and a tub of skyr a day.

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Not even all of the skyr we ate in our two weeks

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A typical example of our lunch

We had a lot of fun our first few days in the Reykjavik area exploring the city the going to museums, including the Museum of Rock and Roll in Keflavik and the 871+/-2 Museum in Reykjavik, and then we headed out into the country side to see some of Iceland’s famed waterfalls and volcanic activity.

Reykjavik city center as seen from Hallgrímskirkja

Reykjavik city center as seen from Hallgrímskirkja

My favorite part of Iceland by far was seeing all of the geothermal activity, including steaming mud pots, bubbling water, geysers, and hardened lava flows.  When our plane was first touching down, my friend and I couldn’t help but stare with amazement as the ground got closer and closer, because we had never seen a landscape like this in our entire lives.  At first, we thought the lava rock was water because of its texture, and when we finally realized it was the ground it seemed like an alien planet.

Seltún geothermal area

Sultan geothermal area

That sense of amazement stayed with our entire two weeks as we drove through snowy mountains, up to lagoons filled with glowing, floating ice, past glaciers and thundering waterfalls, and down into the fjords.  The nature present in Iceland is unlike anything I’ve ever seen anywhere else, from the huge tourist attractions all the way down to the field of purple wildflowers surrounding a tiny church in the mountains.  I can only hope that one day I’ll be able to return to see more of the country, especially the interior and the west fjords.

Glacier!

Glacier!

Floating ice in Jökulssárlón

Floating ice in Jökulssárlón

Skógafoss

Skógafoss

Stykkishólmur, population 1,195

Stykkishólmur, population 1,195

Myvatn geothermal mud pots

Myvatn geothermal mud pots

Kirkjufell mountain

Kirkjufell mountain

A beach off the eastern coast

A beach off the eastern coast

My favorite flowers

My favorite flowers

Iceland’s Tiny Churches

One of Iceland’s most interesting man-made features is the huge number of tiny church dotting the country.  They’re mostly the result of the fact that Iceland has a very small population of only around 300,000 people who are very spread out once you leave the Reykjavik area, and therefore the towns were so far apart that every one needed its own church.

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The churches also came in a wide variety of architectural forms, from very traditional buildings with steeples to larger, modern, cement buildings that almost looked like alien spaceships that had landed in the countryside.

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One of my favorite parts of my friend and I’s trip to Iceland was stopping at these little churches to take photographs, walk through the cemeteries, and see if the doors were open to take a peek inside.  Some were very well maintained with elaborate alters while others had peeling paint and little to no decoration, but they all fit in effortlessly with their surroundings.

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I was also very interested in the culture surrounding these churches.  While statistics show that most Icelanders consider themselves Christian, many of them do not actively practice their religion.  I wondered as we drove past tiny buildings in the middle of nowhere without even a driveway connecting them to the main road to what extent the churches are attended and how active the church communities are.

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I would imagine that perhaps in rural areas with only a hundred or so people in a town the church communities might be more vibrant because they would be one of the only organizations at the local level that could interact to a large degree with the community.  However, I can’t say for sure.

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Whatever their reality, getting to photograph and explore these tiny architectural gems was definitely one of my favorite parts of visiting Iceland.  dscn5831

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German Culture Events

Physik auf Deutsch

 

Earlier this semester I attended a physics lecture presented in German, which was very interesting.  Even though I understood only approximately 15% of what the presenter actually said, with the help of the power point slides and the fact that I have taken many physics classes previously, I was able to follow along with the presentation fairly easily.  I really liked how he used a lot of props, such as the spinning plates and the bicycle wheel, to demonstrate his points.  I also found it very interesting how several of the physics words in German are “false friends” with physics words in English; for example, momentum in German in “Impuls”, torque is “Drehmoment” and impulse is “Kraftsoß”.  Overall, it was a great presentation.

 

German Poetry Night

 

Poetry Night every year is a lot of fun, because so many people present so many different pieces from so many different genres.  I loved the amazing musical piece that one man sang for us, as well as Morgen’s rendition of one of Rammstein’s songs.  The acting in Rotkäppchen was very funny, and I enjoyed being the voice of the mother.  I also enjoyed reading one of my favorite poems by Rainer Maria Rilke, and getting to hear the poems that everyone else presented, especially the poem read in Middle/Old English.  As a linguistics major, it was very interesting to hear how English’s earlier sound was clearly identifiable as a Germanic language, yet still sounds almost nothing like English today.  Lastly, it was a lot of fun to sing 99 Lutftballons at the end while one student played guitar, and to sing the song with German scientists’ names in it.  I’m already looking forward to attending next year’s poetry night!

 

Opportunities Forum

 

The last German culture event that I attended this semester was the German Opportunities Forum, which was a great place to learn about all the possibilities for my future if I continue to stick with a minor in German.  I am very much interested in going to Leipzig this summer, so it was great to learn more information about that and the other study abroad programs that are offered.  Additionally, I will be applying for a Fulbright and so it was very useful that I got to get some information about the different opportunities there are in the Fulbright program for people who know German.   Overall, it was a very helpful and instructive event.

Street Art in Reykjavík (Iceland Part 1)

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Back in May, a friend and I went on an amazing two week road trip around the entirety of Iceland.  One of the features of the capital city Reykjavík that struck me the most during our first few days getting acclimated was the amount of graffiti and street art covering every corner.  Everything from stores to abandoned-looking buildings to houses had artwork prominently displayed, which created a vibrancy and vitality that I don’t think I’ve seen in any other major city I’ve visited.

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Apparently Reykjavík has been struggling over the past decade or two about, considering which side you’re on, either a graffiti problem or an excess of artwork.  In the late 1990s and early 2000s the amount of graffiti/street art was typical in Reykjavík of what one would expect from a major city.  However, something apparently changed in the early 2000s with the rise of international graffiti artists and increased tagging.

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Reykjavík became overrun with spray paint until words, logos, and pictures covered practically every inch of the city center.  On top of that, much of the work was often done without the permission of the property owners, leading to very tense relationships between the graffitiers and those in the graffitied areas.  Eventually the situation reached a point in 2008 where the city was forced to react, leading to a zero tolerance policy against graffiti and street art.

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This led to a lot of graffiti/street art being painted over, as well as the destruction of areas such as Heart Park, which was an area so heavily graffitied that it became a tourist destination and cultural icon in its own right.

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Of course, that extreme reaction also led to a lot of backlash from both those who created the art as well as those who appreciated it.  Nowadays, the city has reached a compromise of sorts.  Those wishing to create graffiti or street art must have the permission of the property owners, who in turn are supposed to (but don’t always) get permission from the city.  If you spray paint any public areas without the city’s permission, such as bridges, public buildings, streets, benches, or parks, it likely won’t last very long.

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So far, this compromise seems to be working in Reykjavík’s favor.  Iceland’s capital is spotted with tons of interesting and colorful pieces of art while still being respectful of property owners and city officials whose goal it is to maintain a positive public image of the city.

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I for one loved the random murals and paintings because of the vibe that they create and infuse the city with.  Without its colorful street art, Reykjavík wouldn’t be the same recognizably creative and interesting city that it is today.  The graffiti helps to highlight the imaginative and innovative nature of a city known for its art and music scenes as well as its bustling nightlife.

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One of the reasons that I love traveling so much is because I love experiencing different cultures and environments, and Reykjavík’s graffiti really helped it to stand out in the list of places I’ve been too.  My friend and I had so much fun just wandering the streets and bumping into unique and often beautiful examples are art around every corner.  Often we would decide to walk down a certain street or go into a different area sole because we thought we saw a particularly promising mural a distance away.  I can’t remember the number of times I said something along the lines of “Let’s go this way, I need to take a picture of that” before taking off down the block to stare at the side of a building, camera in hand.

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We photographed our favorites, but we could by no means photograph everything.  I just hope that you have as good a time looking at these oftentimes whimsical, unique, or beautiful examples of Icelandic street art as we did running into them.

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