We published this article last year, but we have been in touch with the Red Cross and they now have a list of their classes for this year. So here is our new article, updated and 2013 ready.
Learning the local language is the key to feeling at home in a new culture. However, not all expats in Sweden have the opportunity to go to one of Stockholm’s government funded language classes nor do they have the extra cash to pay for private lessons. If you fall into one of those two categories, why not check out the Red Cross Swedish language learning activities. They are run by a group of dedicated volunteers, are free and host activities for many Swedish language levels.
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or check out the YLC Swedish Language Courses Section!
The Red Cross local branches runs language learning activities at different places in Stockholm. You can google “Röda Korset” and “part of the city where you live”; for example “Skärholmen, Kista or Ulriksdal”. When you have found the right homepage, click on “vårt arbete” and “träna svenska” and you will find information about where and when the activity take place.
Shephali Sardesai, a newcomer to Stockholm tested the Red Cross Swedish activity last year. Read her tale below.
As anyone will tell you, living in a different country with a new language and a new culture to grasp, can be exciting but equally as daunting. Communication is key to fitting into any society as quickly as possible.
I knew that learning the language was essential to immersing myself within the culture here in Stockholm. Even though English, being my first language, probably decreases some obstacles, (most Swedish people speak English so well and are delighted to practice with you!), I knew that learning Swedish would open up many more opportunities, helping the essential parts of living here, such as employment and making new friends. Also, I am in Sweden so I should really speak the language I might add!
However, unable to join the SFI classes (as I was awaiting my personal identification number) and finding it impossible to teach myself, how was I going to reach my goal of communicating within the environment I live in?
Well, when I came across the yourlivingcity.com website, I read about the Red Cross Swedish language learning activities. It offers a great free service to many people from all walks of life and great opportunity to integrate as quickly as possible through talking Swedish. The activities take place every weekday at the Red Cross Refugee Centre, 55 Lundagatan, Södermalm, but there are a number of other groups and activities around Stockholm on different days and times. People go there to learn from the volunteers, who in fact call themselves ‘colloquial leaders’. Many volunteers provide their services once a week, making a crucial difference to peoples’ lives. Activities take place in two hour sessions, with a short fika break in between! You can take as many activities as you want and see fit.
My first activity was a real confidence booster! I hadn’t realised how much I knew already from just trying to teach myself with the available tools, such as studying online, reading subtitles on television, radio, and listening to people around me. The volunteers speak mostly in Swedish, to encourage understanding and the real world, so it really pushes you to listen, watch and concentrate throughout. Each activity is as different as the volunteers are. This keeps it fresh, and if you find that certain words, phrases or subjects are covered, and it only refreshes what you know…the saying ‘practice makes perfect’ applies! Although everybody is at different stages, the class structure seems to work well.
Grammar and conversational phrases are covered every day, and the alphabet including the extra jaw muscle tester letters such as ä, å, ö! I find the volunteers’ cover just as much as our attention spans can take, which was longer than I thought! Beginner activities take place every day, with a separate group for the advanced level. There is no need to sign up prior to classes; it is essentially a drop-in centre. That’s why the Red Cross classes really work for me, as I can pick and choose any day to go, and never feel lost or behind.
One of the Volunteers kindly gave me an insight behind his personal reasons of helping the Red Cross. Meet Jonas Joelson, 32 years old, Stockholm.
A friend told me about it. I was concerned with some political factors at the time and felt it was a good way to give back to the community. Even doing something small makes a difference. Two hours a week of my time helps others more in need.
Are you a teacher by profession?
No, I am a Copywriter.
Do you have a particular teaching method?
By improvising you keep things fresh.
What do you find most rewarding?
When I can make people who are low or depressed smile, that makes me happy.
Does one need to have any particular qualifications in order to volunteer?
No, you just need engagement and being prepared to give something.
Why would you encourage somebody to give their time to the Red Cross activity or attend the classes as a learner?
Language is a part of integration. I am always impressed by those who want to learn a new language.