14 Jul 2024
Learning Swedish: the options explained
Education Swedish Language Courses

Learning Swedish: the options explained

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….

Another option is to take privately run courses from schools in the Stockholm region such as MedborgarskolanFolkuniversitetet,  or Berlitz to name but a few.

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


  • Oxana 23 Jan 2013


    Great info!

    Do you know if it is possible to just pass SFi D and start education at SAS(without going through previous SFI courses)?

    And what levels do SFI A,B,C,D correspond compared to the system that everyone else is using, i.e. A1,A2,A2+,B1,B1+,B2?

    // Thanks!

    • Gemma 23 Jan 2013

      Hej Hej!

      Yep, you can absolutely take the placement test and end up starting at SAS Grund (and infact 1), though it depends on the teacher on the day and the kommun- they may still want you to take the formal test as ‘proof’ or you may just be waved on through.

      As to how the systems compare- I cannot say 100%, though I did Swedex B1 at the same time as taking SAS grund and it indicated that B1 is around Grund. The thing is though that SvA 2 and 3 are more about deepening your thought processes than the actual componant of learning the language, so you could say that SvA 2,3 could be anywhere from B2 to C2 depending on the person.

      As for SFI comparisons- I’d personally put D around B1- ish, as it requires the correct use of grammar in most situations- the written part I found to be quite unforgiving in that respect (I’m not sure I’d still pass if I took it tomorow!).

      I hope that answers your queries!

  • Michelle 24 Jan 2013

    I found Stockholm Uni’s svenska som främmande språk level 2&3 to be a great post-Sfi course if you want something much better and more academic than komvux. Takes a year full time but you can also apply for study allowance.

    • Gemma 24 Jan 2013

      Totally great to know that there’s an option there actually, I’d certainly have preferred doing something like that rather than the komvux I started off with (though I study distans now which is as academic as I like!)

    • Farrah Gillani 25 Jan 2013

      Thanks, Michelle! I’ve added it into the article.

  • Andy 25 Jan 2013

    And don’t forget, that to improve your spoken Swedish, you have the Language Exchange Stockholm who your living city wrote about.


  • Mikayla 28 Feb 2013

    I am living in the United States. My husband is from Sweden and we are expecting our first child in May. I know just a few words in Swedish, but want to learn more. I have not done well with just lesson books in Swedish as I am have difficulty with remebering how to pronounce the words. What online classes, websites or videos do people recommend to teach Swedish to myself and to our baby?

  • Satakieli 25 Nov 2014

    Hej! Tack för den hjälpsamma infon!
    If I have tested out of B2, do you think it is possible for me to jump right into SAS 2 or 3? I’m hoping to start with SAS 3 because I’m quite short on time if I wish to apply to university studies, but I’m not sure which qualifications I need to skip out of SAS grund and levels 1 and 2, or if it’s mandatory that I take either another placement test or follow the courses.

    If you happen to know anything more on this, please let me know. Tack på förhand!

  • sam 9 Mar 2015

    if i am on parental leave… can i join sfi classes?

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