Saga Jen Zhang

Let's Chat and Play | A different way to learn a language

Saga Jen Zhang was born and raised in China where she worked as a pre-shcool teacher. She came to Iceland 2011 looking for an adventure and sure found what she was looking for. Now, 11 years later she works as a tour guide which combines her interest in people and travelling around Iceland which she thinks is a very beautiful country. 

A good way to meet people
Saga first heard about Chat and play on the internet. Let’s Chat and Play in Icelandic is a sequence of events at the Reykjavík City Library where very experienced teachers, Hildur Loftsdóttir and Sigurður Hermannsson, teach Icelandic in various ways such as through board games and crosswords.

“This is a completely new way of learning a language – a very good way, it‘s not very important to think about the language but more about the destination. It‘s not only a good opportunity to learn Icelandic but also to meet new people. The teachers are also so great!

 Asked if she thinks it’s important to have a safe space like the library to learn and practice Icelandic she answers:

“Yes, it‘s very important for those who are learning the language, it‘s like a little community or a meeting place, people come together and learn from each other. If I‘m home alone I don‘t learn that much, maybe read one little story in Icelandic but when I‘m with people, we are together and it‘s a lot of fun. The Library is a great place for an event like this, there are not many people around and no-one is interrupting, it‘s very cosy.”

Saga enjoys traveling around Iceland

 Saga says she sometimes gets shy speaking Icelandic.

“When I speak Icelandic with my co-workers sometimes I get a bit shy when people don‘t understand me very well and I quit speaking Icelandic. On the other hand, when I‘m with people who are also learning, everyone is open and talks as much as they want. It works really well that participants are from different countries and at different levels in Icelandic, some just arrived, others have been here for years, we can all just communicate at Chat and Play.”

Chat and Play is offered at three different libraries, Grófin (down town), Gerðuberg (Breiðholt neighbourhood) and Spöngin ( Grafarvogur neighbourhood) once a month at each. Saga has been to all three libraries.

“It‘s great to have Chat and Play at so many Libraries, I have been to all three of them. I work next to Grófin and live close to Gerðuberg so those locations work really well for me, and then I have also been one time to Spöngin.”

Cultural centre where everything comes together
The Reykjavík City Library is located at seven different places around the city and many of the guests have a favourite one. 

“I love all the libraries and I love that they have all kinds of things, not only books but also documentaries and more. Although Gerðuberg is my favourite one, it’s like a cultural centre, the old people are knitting and doing their gymnastics, everything is connected.”

 Saga hasn’t only been to Icelandic lessons at the library but she has also been to some educational events in Gerðuberg such as about health and culture. 

But how is the Library culture in China?

“In China there are a lot of libraries but it‘s mostly students who use them to look for school material. Parents don‘t bring their children so much to the libraries, they rather look things up on the internet in order to save time. I want to encourage people who want to learn more, to use the libraries in Iceland, they are just great.”


Here you can read more about Chat and Play and see the program for fall 2022.


UpdatedTuesday February 14th 2023, 16:33