Our guest contributor, Gemma, is a geologist, gamer, mother, crafter and dedicated Swedish language learner, all of which she records on her blog, www.emybloom.com. Having researched the courses available and passed SFI, she takes time from ‘svenska som andraspråk’ to give us the low-down on the choices available for learning Swedish.
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As an English speaker, learning Swedish isn’t always first on your mind, especially in a city as multicultural as Stockholm. Certain phrases are quickly picked up, but it can feel really hard to dive in and learn Swedish. There are several options though when it comes to learning the language – whatever your desired pace.
The free option: Svenska för invandrare (SFI)
If you’re registered as living in Sweden (and have the infamous personnummer), then you can register for taking SFI (Svenska för invandrare or Swedish for Immigrants) through the Stockholm county site. Often, they have courses running local to where you live, and with varied pace from every day to distance or evening courses. You will usually be given a placement test before starting, but don’t worry – it’s nothing to be afraid of!
Swedish for Immigrants is split into levels ranging from A to D depending upon your education in your homeland and desired study pace, with semi-formal exams to complete each stage. Once you have completed SfI D (with an exam called nationella prov D), then you can move onto svenska som andraspråk (known as SvA or SAS), which is split into 4 levels: Grund, 1, 2 and 3 (formerly A and B). Alternatively, Stockholm Uni’s svenska som främmande språk levels 2 & 3 are also a great post-Sfi courses if you want something more academic than komvux. This takes a year full-time, but you can also apply for study allowance.
If you want to study at university level in Sweden, then completing SvA 3, is one of the requirements to show competency in Swedish (or you can alternatively pay to take the TISUS test). You can again study SvA at your own pace, either in the classroom, or as a distance or evening course.
These courses can offer a great way to meet other Swedish learners, and it can be easier to speak Swedish without any restrictions, or at least, with less fears than with native friends and family. The courses can vary a great deal, so if you aren’t satisfied then it’s always worthwhile to speak with the kommun (the county council) and try to change groups.
Paid choices – Folkuniversitetet, Medborgarskolan,Berlitz….
These schools offer courses based upon the Common European Framework of References for Languages (CEFR) levels (A1 through to C2). The courses vary from intensive courses which run 4 hours every day for two weeks to courses that run once a week. Folkuniversitetet sometimes even offers courses for those on maternity leave where you can take your baby along with you.
These courses are ideal (though can be costly) if you are looking for a more formal learning environment. You can then formally show your proficiency in Swedish by taking the Swedex exam (to show A2, B1 or B2 level in Swedish), or the TISUS test if you are intending on studying in Sweden.
To go it alone or be social: that is the question
You can of course choose to learn Swedish yourself through a program such as Rosetta Stone or free on-line resources. Your local library should have a wide selection of books to help, including lätt läs books, simpler versions of Swedish books designed for new-comers to the language.
Whichever way you choose, there are also meet-up groups such as the Red Cross Swedish Classes or Language Exchange – Stockholm, which offer a chance to practice (and learn) in Swedish and even other languages.
Article: Gemma Helen Safikhani Kashkooli
Photo Credit: almccon