The best place to learn a foreign language is a foreign country, as it provides the opportunity to practice speaking with local people. One of the reasons I chose to study in Sweden was because I wanted to improve my skills in the language. At the beginning, I tried to learn outside of school, but in the long run it didn’t really work out. Although my classmates were a big help, they couldn’t explain me the grammar, since for the native speakers it’s somewhat obvious and they don’t need to think about the rules, they just speak. And even though I was able to read and understand more and more, I still wasn’t happy with my writing and speaking abilities and wanted to improve them. I probably went through all the options available for Swedish classes here in Umeå, before finding the right course. It was a long process, but worth it. Here are the places I looked into, I hope this helps others who wish to study Swedish in Sweden.
The first option I looked into was the course catalogue of my university. Unfortunately they were only offering courses A1 and and A2, which are the two basic level courses. The Swedish courses at Umeå University are part-time and it would have been easy 15 credits for my elective studies. Although some people who have previously studied Swedish go back to the basics, I didn’t want to do that.
Someone at school told me I could take courses at Folkuniversitetet, which is an adult education association that offers all kinds of courses throughout Sweden. They have Swedish courses on all levels that are constantly running, but they cost about 3000 kr. I thought of it for a while and if I hadn’t found anything else I probably would have chosen this option, as I’ve heard that the courses they have are really good. However, I wanted to save money and looked into other alternatives.
I heard about SFI skolan from one of us digital ambassadors, Dena. SFI stands for Svenska För Invandrare (Swedish for immigrants), it is a school where immigrants can study Swedish for free. There are SFI schools all around Sweden and there is one in Umeå as well. Their website was only in Swedish, but I was able to read enough to understand what I needed to do. I had to call them and make an appointment in order to register for a course.
Since I had studied Swedish before, I had to take a language level test in order to see, which course I could take. The test consisted of speaking and writing. The speaking test was a simple interview with a teacher, I talked about my education, my hobbies and other topics related to everyday life. After the speaking part I was told that I could take one of the courses on their highest levels. The writing part of the test was a simple essay and it was fairly easy for me. The next day I received an email, saying that my level was too high for studying at SFI and I should find a course at Komvux instead. I knew I write better than I speak but hadn’t realized the difference was that big.
Experiences of SFI from our other digital ambassadors:
So I went to Komvux, (Kommunal vuxenutbildning / municipal adult education)which is a school that offers courses at high school level on various subjects. I was told I’d have to take another language level test to see which was the right level. The test was on reading, listening and writing and I got the results the same evening. My level was Swedish as a second language 1. I chose an online course as I wanted to keep my days free for my university studies.
The course started three weeks ago with some basic grammar, reading and writing. We will have an oral exam at the end of the course, but until then the interaction with the teacher will be via the internet. We have assignments throughout the course with deadlines on every two weeks, and for the next assignment I have to read two books in Swedish in total of about 800 pages. So at least my reading is getting better! I also applied for a summer course to continue my studies.
I’m still struggling with speaking Swedish and switch to English too easily. In a way it’s great that in Sweden you can survive with English everywhere, but on the other hand it makes learning the local language more difficult, however, if you really want to learn, you will find the way. 🙂