• Sweden edition
 

Test sites named for Swedish language-learning bonus

Published: 11 Jun 2009 12:36 GMT+02:00
Updated: 11 Jun 2009 12:36 GMT+02:00

Thirteen Swedish municipalities have been chosen to participate in the first phase of a plan to reward newly arrived immigrants who perform well in state-funded language classes.

Back in March, the government put forward a proposal to offer cash bonuses as an incentive for students enrolled in Swedish for Immigrants (Svenska för Invandrare - SFI) courses to complete their studies faster.

Specifically, the programme would allow students who pass the most advanced level of SFI within one year to receive between 6,000 and 12,000 kronor ($780 to $1,550).

Before implementing the proposal nationwide, however, the government has asked the Institute for Labour Market Analysis (Institutet för arbetsmarknadspolitisk utvärdering – IFAU) to evaluate the plan by carrying out a pilot project in a limited number of municipalities.

Earlier this week, IFAU informed the government it had picked 13 municipalities to participate in the trial, as well as an additional 15 municipalities to make up a control group.

Participating municipalities will receive extra funding to support efforts to improve the quality of SFI courses as well as money to offer bonus payments to SFI students who meet the necessary requirements.

Municipalities in the control group, on the other hand, will only receive the quality improvement funds.

The IFAU proposal now goes back to the government, which will have the final say on which municipalities are eventually chosen for the pilot project, which is expected to start in early 2010.

The following municipalities have been proposed to participate in the trail:

Borås

Halmstad

Huddinge

Karlstad

Katrineholm

Luleå

Nacka

Sollentuna

Stockholm

Trelleborg

Uddevalla

Växjö

Örnsköldsvik

The proposed control group includes the following municipalities:

Gävle

Gothenburg

Haninge

Helsingborg

Härnösand

Jönköping

Kalmar

Landskrona

Nyköping

Solna

Södertälje

Trollhättan

Täby

Uppsala

Västerås

David Landes (david.landes@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

15:40 June 11, 2009 by justanotherexpat
Wtf? 6-12k SEK just for getting highest SFI grade? Puh-lease.......they'd have to make the test a bit bloody harder then - I got the top grade after 6 weeks.......
16:50 June 11, 2009 by Omaro
Again they made something to cover their failure in the integration system especially the SFI courses.
18:41 June 11, 2009 by karex
at the taxpayers expense...
18:45 June 11, 2009 by misfit20is
The bonus is being a functioning member of the Swedish economy. Anybody who is too lazy to learn the language OF THE COUNTRY WHERE THEY LIVE is a waste of space. This gives the immigrants who come, and make a go of it, and work their tails off, a slap in the face.
05:52 June 12, 2009 by enilorac
i think it will be good for preserving culture since there are so many immigrants. language carries on a culture and you can't put a price on that, so i'd say it's worth it
06:12 June 12, 2009 by odinmp5
human beings work based on incentives..

but this is way to expensive for the tax payer.

i have a better idea... if you dont speak swedish after two years in sweden ,you loose your asylum seeker status and you leave ...
09:24 June 12, 2009 by Nemesis
I am at SFI. It is a disaster. I think I am more likely to learn to speak Albanian than Swedish.

There needs to be a lot of changes at SFI.

They need to control the classes more effectively.

They more actual talking (prata) with the studetns one to one and in small groups, for longer periods of time.

They need to make it more practical, such as shop encounters, employment encounters, etc. That would make it more useful and allow people more oppertunities to practise even basic Swedish.

In the SFI I attend I was told assimilation is bad. I was very uncomfortable regarding the way it was put, particularly as most of my class are muslim. I noticed that the Serbs, Croatians and Christian Iraqi's were also uncomfortable when it was said.
10:04 June 12, 2009 by 7
incentive is great. how about offering a job placement instead?
10:13 June 12, 2009 by Puffin
According to the original announcement of this scheme it seems to be maily aimed at those with an academic background - the 12K is only available to those who arrive in Sweden after July 1st 2009 and pass SFI D before June 30th 2010.
13:14 June 12, 2009 by Somebody17
SFI needs big improvements, if not in all locations at least in hal of them. I study in Solna and is very very bad.I am doing just to take certification of the completion of the course.

The teachers are very very slow and don't have any interest for you to learn, they don't have motivation and they don't care if their classes are goo or not.

More, I checked and from 1h and 50 min the teacher was in the class 48 min!!! She is always finding something else to do. The teachers work with their preffered persons and don't ask every person in the class as they should do.

They should put more focus on conversation and not making 1 exercise in 1 hour!!!

The classes are very mixed and you can hardly talk with somebody since most of the people don't know english and they have no more than 8 classes- no offense to anybody but it's reality.
13:47 June 12, 2009 by Puffin
It's very difficult to make generalisations about SFI on the basis of attending 1 class - there are great differences both in teachers and the individuals' in the groups motivation to learn.

Sometimes there are problems where the kommun has contracted out the SFI provision to private contractors in order to reduce costs - this has led to a documented decline in the qualifications of SFI teachers - some contractors just want a body in the classroom and don't particulary care whether the person they employ has any qualifications in either Swedish of teaching - I knew Slovakian who was employed as an SFI teacher on the basis on her gymnasiet level (SAS) Swedish.

There is also the the problem in many kommuns of provided the right level - 8 classes sounds like a luxury - in many smaller kommuns there is one class which has to accept everyone until all seats in the room are full. I remember interviewing SFI teachers in smaller kommuns as part of a University project who had to cope with a single class with all students from completely illiterate to PhD level - no easy task.

Personally I think that there are 2 ways of improving SFI:

1) an increased focus on occupational Swedish so that you combine study with on the job work experience - there have been many projects for this (SFI for foreign electricians/SFI healthcare/ SFI for small business etc etc) but it is not a national thing which perhaps it needs to be.

2) Reorganise SFI as a county responsibility instead on a kommun one - it is hard for small kommuns with less than 15,000 residents to organise a range of courses - however within reason many people are willing to travel to a course that better corresponds with their needs. The county could probably organise more job related courses.

This would be a better use of time than paying 12,000 kronor to University graduates for passing SFI within a year - as to be honest this is not the group that the government most needs to get through the system quickly.
17:00 June 12, 2009 by migrantworker
It's not a problem of individual teachers, it's the whole SFI system that doesn't work. The tests are so easy that, as someone said, one can get the SFI certificate within a few months, if one really wants it. But getting the certificate has nothing to do with being able to speak Swedish or read and write more than the basics. And the certificate does not guarantee one will get a job. Jobs require the first basic certificate but they also interview applicants to see whether they can speak Swedish adequately, and people going through SFI mostly don't. There are people who want to learn being forced out through constant easy testing (some classes spend all their time studying SFI tests themselves). There are also people receiving 10.000 sek a month to attend the classes, which makes the prize money here look pretty insignificant.
21:24 June 12, 2009 by xykat
I had a really bad experience with SFI in Taby. The teachers liked to treat the students as "lower people" just because some where paid to go there. I was American and not paid to go there. The teacher wanted to treat me like a "lower person" and I would not put up with it. I left and never went back. I have lived in Sweden for 13 years and I have managed to pay taxes for most of these years. So I would say I have not leached off the system. I have seen more Swedes do this actually with sick leave. I don't like these silly rules its just another way to alienate more foreigners. Give us foreigners equal rights for a change! Equal rights to jobs, equal salaries etc!!!
01:24 June 13, 2009 by amin7
Well if an american had difficulties in studying SFI and felt mistreated in sweden and to add his woes to he is staying in socalled Highclass Residential area like Taby and i met personally an english man who said same thing bút living on the other side of town namely Kista, well you all can imagine the rest of the foreigners specially with african or asian back ground.All im saying if the swedish would let the foreigners use their skills and experience then nobody would have an issue with learning SFI.The longer a person is made to do things he/she is not willing, the more they are likely to learn nothing or do something useful and that only leads to more waste of the goverment resources that comes sadly from tax payers including some who dont speak swedish. For the swedish ppl and goverment if you had decided to take in ppl or invite them, then you might as well as give the full sincere support they need without conditions.For my foreign FOLKS WHERE THERE IS A WILL THERE IS A WAY...!
07:31 June 13, 2009 by amira helenius
I also have a bad experience with SFI classes, very slow system , no curriculum , the teacher only talk and focus on those who can speak Swedish, and they mix the educated with the non educated , it was horrible.

I wasted 2 month learning nothing and now since I had my baby in December I am taking this long distance course, it is the worth, I learn nothing .

Also while I was in SFI, we found out that there are many many can speak very good Swedish but they don't take the tests before they stay 3 years pretending to be stupid coz they get paid! Can you believe this?? How are they thinking? I am so stressed dreaming about finishing this SFI and try to speak Swedish as soon as possible to get a decent job and these people want to stay doing nothing but going to these boring SFI every day for 3 years??
14:24 June 13, 2009 by Törnrosa
Cash incentives for SFI will not work. It is just throwing good money after bad. The problem with SFI is that the current system is badly implimented by many kommuns. I have been taking SFI since Feburary and can say that my experience has been nothing but bad. I had previously taken a non-free course at Malmö vuxen skolan, which was awesome and everything SFI needs to be. Enthusiastic, motivational, speaking focused and enjoyable!

When I started SFI they put me in course A despite that I had already told them I had taken a previous course for 4 months. I thought it was a joke at first. My teacher treated the class as if they were four year olds, making them switch off phones, stop talking when she was, putting a stop to any political debates or discussions! I was shocked by the fact there was no talking swedish involved in the classes, that people merely read aloud from useless pieces of Swedish text that aren't worth the paper they are written on. The teacher made one student write a dairy on the blackboard every day and the whole class had to repeat it and write it. We spent hours reading the same lines of text again and again and getting nowhere "Vad heter mannen? mannen heter Jonas". I was told I could not go further till I had taken a test, but would have to wait two weeks for it. In the end I confronted my teacher and told her that I would leave if she didn't do something.

In the end after much fighting I ended up in course D, which was almost as bad as the first course. Very little in the way of talking, teachers who just talked AT you the whole time, no lesson planning, no enthusiasm. It is dire! Things with SFI reached a pinnicle last week when I confronted a teacher about a book (called Lisa's book, the fourth in a series of easy books, all of which unbelivebly bad) she was forcing us to read aloud (2 pages in 2 hours). The book was written from the prespective of and about the life of a 12 year old girl. It was so condescending and patronising that I asked her why we had to read it and showed her my copy of Harry Potter in Swedish that I've been reading. Her only answer was that most students in the class were at the level of the 'book', which is a complete lie because I have taken time to get to know a lot of them and we have formed our own study group outside of SFI so that we can actually learn Swedish!

The whole way in which the system is implimented needs changing with emphasis put more on the teaching of SFI. Teachers need to actually plan what they are doing in advance (rather than just sitting and having us read from the same textbook EVERYDAY) and the lessons need to be interactive, not just a teacher talking for 4 hours and going over 1 page in a bad text book. Students need to actually be pushed and have expectations put upon them.

Every day my classes are the same boring thing, people sit and listen to music, draw, sudoku in the metro, sleep, ANYTHING other go through the monontony of another class. Most people, including me, get to the point where they just can't take it anymore and take a few days off.

It seems to me like alot of the teachers think of SFI students as dumb and incapable of learning Swedish. They don't even try to motivate them. I want to know how they expect people to learn Swedish when they give no real motivational incentive and just keep repeating the same day over again! I hate going to classes, if I had anywhere else to be I wouldn't be there. I am only there for the certificate. A cash bonus would not make it worth going through those days everyday.

I can't understand why students cannot go faster, because my kommun WILL NOT allow them to do so, which is against the förordning set out by the government. I would have been able to take the test months ago, but instead I have had to sit in what feels like a torture chamber for months on end, waiting for June. Classes should be taught to the ability of the majority or the best students in the class and push those who are just sitting there collecting money rather taught to the weakest level. If that is not acceptable then classes must be split into those with an academic background (and those willing to try) and those who need more educational support.

The thing is the government förordning for SFI is not a bad thing. The system itself is not badly designed but it is implimented teribbly by many kommuns. THIS needs to change. SFI shouldn't be thought of as some grundskola class for kids it should be made adult and independant.

After my experiences of SFI I now realise that I am going to have to pay for my own education in Swedish to get what I need and what the majority of SFI students need. That is the sad situation.
17:26 June 13, 2009 by jaswede
The only reason i attend SFI in my kommun is because its walking distance from my apartment. Im doing kurs 2C and i think my teacher should not be teaching SFI. im way ahead in my class and theres a dialogue in the book that u should ´prata med kompis´, i asked the teacher to let me practice with her and she said i have to wait on the others as i should do it with a classmate even if shes not there. i ask her how will i no i pronounce the words correctly if i cant do it with her. she only keep repeating what she said before. another experience i had is in my text im to write how much each person pay for a meal they had eaten. when i showed her my answers she looked in her answer book and said that my answer is incorrect. i told her its correct and she insist that its wrong. so i told her to add it herself,and she did and get the same answer i had, but still refuse to beleive that her answer book is wrong. i had to insist that she mark mine right which she reluctantly did.
23:09 June 13, 2009 by eefei
:=) Look at the work and residential permit of Norway and you will notice that if you want to keep working in Norway, you got to learn the language. And you have to pay your own way to the language... Not as generous as the Swedish system.
00:19 June 14, 2009 by jaswede
Im one of those people who really want to learn swedish but to be honest i learn more at home than at SFI. Im married to a swede with a close family unit and im the center of attention because im the only non-swede in the family. im from the caribbean. i dont think SFI is ´free` for me because my husband and all his relatives pay taxes which i think goes towards SFI so in a way they are `paying` for me . Jobs are difficult to get for some people but because of my husband`s relatives and friends i`ve been offered several jobs. so far i have not accepted any yet because unlike most people who come to live in sweden i didnt sell my house or close my business back home so im still supporting myself. my swedish in-laws love the fact that i make my own money instead of depending totally on my husband. yes i will accept one of those jobs so i`ll soon start paying my taxes in sweden too. SFI is also a way for me to meet other people besides my husband`s relatives and friends.
19:24 June 14, 2009 by Rubbi
I found SFI at my kommun well organised, excellent teaching staff and really useful my only regret was that I could not stay till the end of kurs D because of work. Seems I was lucky or the kommun is lucky.

The students that joined kurs C that got a hold of the language faster than the rest of the class were given their test in advance and moved up to D, the rest carried on for 1 more term then took their test. There was 1 guy there that seemed to be on Ckurs forever and moaning about SFI etc etc. Was then you realised that he was playing dumb to continue leeching of the state. Komvux had enough of him and arranged some alternative job training for him and removed him from SFI. Like many things in sweden it depends where you are and who you get be it SFI,ID cards at banks or car tests at bilprovening
21:11 July 1, 2009 by Jadarra
I'm confused. When I went to SFI, I didn't receive money. In fact, due to the lack of money and cost of dagis, we were counting every kronor and I just couldn't afford to attend anymore.

How are all these people in these other posts receiving money for attending?? I would love to be able to learn swedish faster than 'by myself', but we can't afford the increase in full-time dagis, and the cost of transportation for me to go so I'm stuck trying to speak it by myself which can be very difficult. While I think it's great there's no direct cost for SFI, I can't attend unless I have the money to cover the indirect costs.

Perhaps because of my situation, where I want to learn, but can't afford to, I understand the bonus offered here. I won't see any of it, and of course, I haven't experienced people 'mooching' off the system since I don't know how they are receiving money to attend in the first place, but I still think it's a good idea.
20:35 December 31, 2010 by flappinggums
I have been to 3 SFI courses, all three were complete garbage if looked at in terms of value for money for the Swedish taxpayer.

Course 1 (Alingsås '07) involved, for example, 20% of the week learning how to turn on a computer & send emails.....I quit.

Course 2 (Borås '10) 15hrs per week in class, 15hrs per week in an upaid work placement. The praktik was great but the class was another shambles with a teacher who was 21 & studying at uni herself who used to be doing her own coursework after getting the class to copy out some pages from Mål 1 & when I say never, I mean NEVER gave homework or collected classwork, marked it & gave it back with constructive criticism......I went to the head of SFI for Borås, had a chat, aired my grievances & was offered a place in another class in Borås. Shame I had to quit the praktik though :o(

Course 3 (Borås '10) 15hrs a week in class being taught by a couple of 60ish year old battleaxes who take no crap, give a rake of homework, talk to EVERYONE when seeking answers to exercises given in class & speak first in Swedish, then a bit slower in Swedish if you look puzzled, then Swedish for Idiots if you still look lost lol It's bloody great & I am now finally learning Swedish although it's difficult I have complete faith it'll only be laziness on my part that precludes me from being relatively fluent in a year or so.

To sum up, 1 out of 3 wasn't a waste of time & money. As a matter of interest I am friends with one of the lads from Alingsås & we still talk in English because his Swedish is so bloody awful & I know he ain't a lazy man so I'm glad I didn't hold on there.
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