Time to learn some Swedish! Where to start?

  • I hope you had a nice week and you are ready for a new dose of information about life in Stockholm. How I was telling you on my first post, to learn Swedish was the most important thingfor me after moving here. I wanted to be able to communicate with people, and it was essential to speak Swedish to find job within tourism. It has been kind of a long and not easy way, with a lot of exams and not always interesting classes. However, I think it has been worthy to learn the language and learn some important things about the Swedish language (I don’t mean only the word FIKA), and about the Swedish culture.

    Let’s start from the beginning, because in this post not only I would like to show you my way to learn Swedish, but I would also like to give you some tips about where to go and how to start your adventure with your new language.

    The most important is to be registered in Sweden and have a Swedish personal number (personnummer) because without it you cannot access the free Swedish courses sponsored by the government. If you are still not registered and you would like to know how to do it, please go to your nearest Skatteverket (tax office) office and ask about a registration form. You can find all the pertinent information on their website https://www.skatteverket.se/.

    But that is not my topic for today. I assume that you are already registered in Sweden so let’s take the next step in your Swedish learning process. The first step that everyone needs to take is to go to the SFI Centrum and sign up for the SFI (Swedish for immigrants) course. In Stockholm, the main office is located on Rosenlundsgatan 52, Södermalm and you can find more information on their website http://www.stockholm.se/sfi. If you are living in another municipality around Stockholm you will need to go to the SFI Centrum in your municipality. The easiest way to find where to go is to write in Google: SFI and the name of area where you live in.

    On your first visit to the SFI Centrum you will have an interview for them to know about you, about your level of Swedish and about where would you like to attend the course (which of the several schools and facilities they have). Don’t worry if you don’t speak any Swedish, and you know only the world FIKA because you can have the interview in English too. They will ask you about how would you like to learn your Swedish, meaning that you will have to choose how many hours per week and which shift suits you best for the classes (morning, evening or maybe during weekends). There are plenty of schools offering SFI courses such as Hermods, Lernia, ABF, Folkuniveritetet, etc. I chose Hermods in Kista, because at that time I was living in Akalla, so that was the closest school to my apartment.

    The SFI courses are conformed by four levels (A-D), and it depends on each person how long it takes to finish them all. People with completed high school or higher education usually start directly from level C with only a short preparatory course before that. That was exactly how I started my adventure with Swedish. I think it is important to highlight that after each level (except for the preparatory course) you will have a national Swedish exam focusing on reading, listening and writing skills which you have to approve in order to continue to the next level. The whole SFI course took 9 months for me to complete, and after that I was ready to go forward to the next step.

    After completing the Swedish for immigrants (SFI or “Svenska för invandrare” in Swedish, now you should know this) it is time for you to start with Svenska som andra språk (SVA) grundläggande nivå (Swedish

    as a second language basic level). In order to register for these courses, you will need to find the office responsible for this education level in your area. You can find the education platform for the city of Stockholm on https://komvux.stockholm.se. Each municipality has its own platform and office, so you will need to find the correct information by searching for ̈Komvux + name of your area”, for example Komvux Solna. You can also ask for help to the study guide (Yrke- och Studieväglädare) on your school and they will help you register for the next courses and provide more information and details.

    Swedish as a second language basic level (SVAG) has also four levels (1 to 4), and same as in SFI you need to pass several exams and evaluations to go to the next level. In most schools, you don’t need to register again for the next level since this is done automatically, but it is always better to ask to be completely sure.

    These courses are slightly different and more challenging than SFI, where you learned only basic vocabulary and basic grammar. Here you will cover more in-depth grammar, and you should be ready for a significant amount of writing assignments as well as speaking and work in groups. You will also have to read your first book in Swedish and be able to discuss about it with your classmates.

    Each level duration depends of which type of course are you taking, and it can range from 5 to 20 weeks each level. I took most of my courses during the evenings (half-time courses), because as you know I was working all the time and it was impossible for me to take a full-time morning course. However, I had the opportunity to take one level as a full-time morning course and I can highly recommend that option, because you will have Swedish from Monday to Friday at least two hours per day. This configuration gives plenty more opportunity to learn because the teaches can spend more time on each section of the course. Otherwise, if you are taking the courses in the evenings, you should always make extra work in home to have the same level as the morning courses.

    The last level of the free Swedish courses is Svenska som andra språk (SVA). The name can be confusing because it is almost the same as previous courses. The difference is that this is no longer a basic level (grundläggande nivå) and you are expected to have a Swedish level equivalent to a high school student native speaker. In my opinion, these courses are mainly for people who would like to continue with their education in Swedish on a university or college here in Sweden. If you are not interested in pursuing any studies in Swedish, these are not for you, because here they focus more about linguistics and literature. You will need to read a book in Swedish and make analysis about the language, characters, etc. Nevertheless, if you are interested in continuing with SVA 1,2, and 3 after the basic level, you will need to register through the same website you used to register to the previous courses.

    Now you know how my journey learning Swedish looked like. I think it is amazing how Sweden helps people to learn Swedish in an easy way and without extra expenses.

    There are many other ways to further develop your Swedish besides the main path I have written about today. A very nice and highly recommended option to practice your speaking skills are Language Cafés (Språk Cafés, practice your Swedish). There are a lot of them and you can find them on the libraries throughout Stockholm or through social media such as Facebook and/or MeetUp.

    That will be all for today! I hope I have provided you with at least the basic information about how to learn Swedish in Sweden. You now know where to go and the only thing left for you to make is to start your adventure. No excuses! Register yourself and let’s start to learn some Swedish.

    See you next time! Kaja

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