I have been studying Swedish since late October 2014. Throughout the year, I have posted about starting to learn Swedish, and my impressions after I decided to finish the evening SFI courses, as well as the summer school I attended. I was always very intent on learning Swedish with the ultimate goal being fluency.
In the autumn semester, I had chosen to try something new with SFI (Swedish For Immigrants). I had tried evening courses, didn’t like them very much, I tried the morning classes (during summer school) and liked them a lot – but I had lectures at law school, so I couldn’t go to morning classes during the semester. So, the only option I had was to try SFI Distance learning.
Skeptical at first, I wondered how this would work. I was assigned to one teacher and I had access to Komvux’s online portal: It’s Learning. It was surprisingly simple altogether: you meet with your teacher to discuss goals and wishes for the course, you can choose whether to work 8h/week on your Swedish or 15h/week. I chose the latter, being the overly ambitious person that I am. Then, your teacher sends you homework with a deadline, through the portal. You have to finish the homework by the given deadline, and then you will receive the homework back with corrections and feedback.
So far, so good. I was really satisfied. The twist was that, even though you made small mistakes in your homework, you would have to send in your homework again, this time with all corrections implemented in your submission. So, the point is to make you write it down and correct it, and not just see the mistakes/corrections and move on. I was beginning to like it more and more.
The best part of the course was that you had two to three meetings with the teacher in person. Each session would last 45min and during that time, you and your teacher would focus on what your biggest weakness(es) are, etc. It was like having a tutor. I absolutely enjoyed it. In addition to all of this, you will probably get a couple of books to read, and then write about (all in Swedish, of course).
Now, some advice for all of you who want to study Swedish through SFI:
1. I don’t think it’s recommendable to start off with Distance. It’s just not going to work if you don’t have a good basis of the language already.
2. For the Distance course especially, but in general for studying a new language, the most important thing to have is: discipline. This is crucial in the Distance course since you do the majority of your work by yourself, so you need to set some priorities and organise your time well. If you can’t rely on self-discipline to do your homework through the portal, just go to an evening course instead.
Now, the whole point of SFI is to give you a good basis of Swedish so you can move on to higher levels and ultimately become fluent. SFI has a certain scope and is finished with a national test. The national test is not something you can just apply to. In order to be able to take the test, your teacher has to evaluate you and recommend you for it. The test is held almost every month and is sort of a big deal. At least it felt that way to me. I was supposed to do it mid-November but I had seminars I couldn’t miss at school so I pushed it for the beginning of December.
The National Test looks like this:
Starts at 8.30, ends at around 15h.
READING: divided into two parts (cca 50min per part)
LISTENING: one part (cca 30min)
WRITING: two assignments (cca 90min)
SPEAKING: in front of two teachers, divided into two parts – Part 1: you talk alone with teachers. Part 2: you and another exam taker engage into a 10min dialogue, teachers observe.
And that’s it!
The results were in really fast, merely days after the exam. I had one last meeting with my teacher where I returned all borrowed materials and books, and she gave me my results back. I was thrilled with how it all went! Now my level is B1+ according to the Common European Framework.
Once SFI is done with, your grade from the SFI Course (test included) is relevant for the next level that you will take. There’s something called Grundnivå and Gymnasiet. Now, if you get A or B on your test and SFI course, you can skip Grundnivå and go directly to Gymnasiet and attend Svenska som andra språk 1. So that is what I will be doing: I start with my Gymnasiet courses in mid-January.
Wish me luck!