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Immigrant language-learning bonus flops
A 2003 file photo from an SFI class

Immigrant language-learning bonus flops

Published: 29 Aug 2011 15:09 GMT+02:00
Updated: 29 Aug 2011 15:09 GMT+02:00

The government’s offer of performance-based bonuses to immigrants who learn Swedish in under a year has failed to produce results, according to a new report.

Bonuses of up to 12,000 kronor ($1,900) seem not to have been incentive enough for students in Swedish for Immigrants (Svenska för Invandrare – SFI) courses, as less than a fifth of the government’s money has been spent, Sveriges Television (SVT) reports.

“I had hoped that more would have received the bonus to allow integration,” said integration minister Erik Ullenhag to The Local.

The concept of rewarding quicker completion of language studies has benefited approximately 2,000 students since its introduction last year.

However, only 18.5 million of an allocated 100 million kronor has been spent.

The reform was put in place to encourage a more efficient way of learning Swedish and to make integration into Swedish society easier, though critics have long expressed doubts as to whether or not motivation is the problem.

“The only thing students want is to get a job and start a life here,” SFI instructor Annika Wall told the Dagens Nyheter newspaper last May.

“As I see things, this doesn’t solve any problems. Those who have difficulties and struggle for years aren’t going to be helped by the smartest students getting money."

For some students, the prospect of a bonus upon speedy completion of SFI classes did indeed serve as a motivating factor.

“It was my sole motivation in finishing the course in under a year," Australian Oliver Gee told The Local.

"I was in a position where I could benefit from finishing faster, and I knew I could do it, so I didn’t see why I wouldn’t take advantage of that.”

He added, however, that the bonus failed to motivate many of his fellow classmates.

“There were some people in my classes that knew they wouldn’t get the bonus and were not as efficient in learning the language so they disregarded the money and decided to take their time,” said Gee.

Though the bonus has been in place nationwide for a year, Ullenhag acknowledged that the effort is insufficient, saying it would be improved in the future.

“It is quite a new reform and we will evaluate it soon," he said.

He added that the bonuses were only part of a larger effort to improve SFI, which has long been viewed as a roadblock to immigrants' successful integration into Swedish society.

"We are also looking at incorporating a focus on better preparing immigrants for potential jobs when studying,” said Ullenhag.

He emphasised, however, that, in the eyes of the government, Swedish language education remains vital in immigrants' efforts to successfully establish themselves in Sweden.

“We are trying to put out a very clear message from society that one of the most important ways to integrate into the Swedish community is to learn the language,” he said.

Caroline Bursell (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

16:30 August 29, 2011 by CCVB
yea because there is no way to learn that horrible language in less than a year!!!!! Its a super hard language to learn, very complicated and it takes years to learn it unless you really really have to learn it I guess which is not my case, been here a year, everyone speaks English anyway ...
16:41 August 29, 2011 by Jackdempsey187
I learned the language in less than a year, it's not that freaking hard. Unfortunately this was before the incentive was in place so all I got was a certificate and a pat on the ass.
16:47 August 29, 2011 by Abe L
The Swedish language is very hard compared to other latin languages, to many words that mean the same and in general very hard pronunciation.

The government would do much better with acknowledging English as a secondary official language and expect immigrants to either learn Swedish or speak English. All Swedes speak English already and the vast majority of all immigrants do so it's a win-win.
16:48 August 29, 2011 by Bazsy
I had to register on The Local to make my first comment:)

It was today that I applied for the SFI bonus after I took the SFI D exam precise 6 months after I started SFI and I received VG so you couldn't even say that it was on the edge.

It could have been even faster as the whole month of July was off because everyone had summer holiday. I know some other people who took the SFI D exam in 4 months from 0 Swedish knowledge.

Now I will start SAS and I plan to finish it in 6 months as well. I think if you go to school all the time and learn 1-2 hours a day, you can do it this quick.
16:50 August 29, 2011 by Svensksmith
I consider myself reasonably intelligent...although I may be the only one to think so. I took a year of SFI and in no way consider myself fluent. Jack, you must be a language savant.
16:55 August 29, 2011 by Aquos
I'm a current SFI student and I know that the bonus is not at all a motive for most of the immigrants (who are mostly refugees).....Why?!

Because in a month they get almost the same amount of money from the community without doing anything except going to school.

And later on when they finish school and remain jobless, they are going to get money again without working!

The bonus makes a difference only for people why aren't on asylum basis, like immigrants from the EU or those on sambo permits.

The only way to make it more seductive, is to increase the amount of money and give it to the ones with higher scores who have worked really hard!
17:09 August 29, 2011 by Stickeroo
The reason is because SFi is the most retarded, unorganized, cockamamie form of education I have ever seen or heard of. It's a wonder anyone passes it. That system was destined to FAIL! They teach you the same crap over and over and over and over again, and just when you're going to go on to something different, a bunch of new numpty afghans come and join the group and you gotta start it aaallll over again. The class sizes are way too big, and the method of evaluation to decide what level individuals should be at is totally flawed. There we're people in our C class that could barely read. FAIL!
17:28 August 29, 2011 by jacquelinee
Stickeroo I agree to "The reason is because SFi is the most retarded, unorganized, cockamamie form of education I have ever seen or heard of". When I went to SFI I was doing 2-3 hours of homework a night just to understand the next days lesson so I would not look completely handicapped to others as well as myself. Because I could follow the lesson, they assumed (falsely) that I was brilliant and bumped me up to the advanced class, when everything was just jibberish to me. But I passed, no problem evidentally, and got bumped through fast as H - - l and now I am ak to talk as long as no one speaks back because I can't understand anything. BUT THEY PASSED ME ????????????

Maybe they need to invest that 100 million kronor in better teaching. I had 3 different teachers sho each went over the same thing and all in a different way and the books were designed for 12 year olds. It is a hard langusge to learn, at least it is for me and arrogant and impatient instructors do not help.
17:29 August 29, 2011 by Aquos
@Stickeroo...

It all depends on your instructor here. Mine doesn't do that. She never starts all over again when there are new students.

I guess yu have to work so much by yourself away from them. I have talked to mine and told her my intentions of finish SFI quickly and she was helpful. She provided me with more books and sources to study from and she meets up with me every now and then to discuss what i have read and if I had any questions....etc.

But I agree with you about the fact that they add just anybody to a class that is supposed to have for example better educated ones. It is indeed unorganized.

Anyway, what I'm saying is that they always tell you that you can have that SFI course as an individualized course and count much on yourself.....Do it!
17:37 August 29, 2011 by skumdum
This is disgusting. SFI already costs us 2 billion a year and now they are paying them 12000kr if they pass.
17:46 August 29, 2011 by Aquos
@skumdum

Do you want to deal with illiterate immigrants instead?

Lots of the people who attend SFI (esp from Somalia or God knows where in Africa) don't read or write. Would that be a better alternative for you?
18:04 August 29, 2011 by skumdum
Instead of giving the 12000kr if they pass it's better to lower the wellfair if they don't pass.
18:07 August 29, 2011 by Aquos
That's not a bad idea.

Again, what I see and hear everyday is "We get enough money without working!"
18:41 August 29, 2011 by Grokh
i finished sfi in under one year with vacation and losing half the first termin included, most the people i studied with were war country people and they are still not even halfway and its been almost 2 years.

the government already gives them money so why should they bother going to look for jobs and learn the language since they already get paid for just hanging out at school with other people from their own country
19:37 August 29, 2011 by zaza
Of course the bonus system is not efective bcs is towards the refugees. As many people before that said they cant write and read and it is really takes them a lot of years to learn and pass sfi. Mean while they are reciving much more evry month and they dont want to spped up.

I finished it D with VG for 5 months and belives me it could be faster but the whole system is made to stop u as much as possible. SFI bonus is not aplying for most of EU even if it is aplied it takes more than 2 months to get this bonus. Now Im in SAS and more or less same slow and full with peopel who ar enot motivated bcs they get moeny from csn or state..really pity for all of the taxes that swedish people paid.
20:02 August 29, 2011 by Sheba
i have no problem paying my taxes for p'pple to get education...@zaza stop being so bitter and work towards achieving your goals...
20:03 August 29, 2011 by Aquos
There should something to be done to motivate those people AND to make them less abusive of the system!

Like one of the guys who posted here earlier said, there should be a regulation saying that the money from the community would be reduced if they don't move their lazy **** and become more active and involved.
20:16 August 29, 2011 by zaza
@Sheba,

U havnt been to these classes to see how iretering is to be around the poeple who really dont want to learn anything,, I am achiving my goals, dont worry about that.

I saw many refugees who dosent want to intigrate at all..thats what I am talking.. they are going to school only bcs they get money for that.
20:26 August 29, 2011 by Stickeroo
If you don't pass SFi within a specified amount of time, they should deport your azz back where you came from, even if it means they're gonna cut off your arms. That's what I call incentive.

@Aquos

What teacher you have makes NO difference, because your teacher keeps changing every damn week anyways. Maybe you go to some special SFi that actually works, but where I go, it's fu**ed up.
21:03 August 29, 2011 by pcgomes
It is unbelievable how people just complain about everything!

Sweden is a nice country, receives people from all over the world in hard conditions, does not charge for ANYTHING. The opposite, it gives money for people to do NOTHING, and pays EXTRA for the to leave the ghettos!

Where is Sweden failing? I would say: stop spoiling everyone. Swedes are no responsible for sustaining people that simply want to take cheap advantage of the welfare state.

I say: stop the benefit, and condition the permanence to some useful effort. Either study, or do some work.
21:12 August 29, 2011 by Brtahan
Ofcourse only 18 million were only used because many were ignored , like my story i finished SFi withing 10 months and i was told you cannt apply because of new rules .So the bonus is bullshit.
22:05 August 29, 2011 by @s-reader
Is it possible to study swedish at SFI under a residence permit for visit?

I have taken already 3 classes at folkuniversitetet and it s expensive
22:17 August 29, 2011 by Aquos
@Stickeroo

No, my teacher doesn't change. I have had the same one for 3 months now and it's almost the same for all the other classes.

Again, it has something to do with you, it's their unorganized system. But I still believe you can do it on your own if you're willing to.

@Pcgomes

I'm just against anyone who abuses the system!

I hear unbelievable stories everyday from refugees who are so proud of "being smart enough" to get more money from the community by manipulating the system! And yet, they still complain when payment is delayed one or two days!

I heard one guy with 9 children saying "I get more money from the community for my children than I could ever earn by working!"

It's so damn pathetic and sick!

And those people at the Skolverket and SFI have some weird belief that the SFI bonus has some motivating role....blah!
22:45 August 29, 2011 by johan rebel
In this evening's news show they interviewed a guy who moved here from Syria over 25 years ago, and still didn't speak even halfway decent Swedish. He also supported Assad. Not sure which is worse.
22:49 August 29, 2011 by countrysidedrive
I wanted to use that program but it wasn't available in Gothenburg. Also at SFI they believe talking the whole time in Swedish will teach you Swedish. But that concept is seriously flawed. Because if you dont know Swedish its like someone saying lsdjfasoldghjalshjgsaghjasolöhglasdhgaslöhglöashglöashglaskhglaglahglahglahgklahglöahgalhgshg. That will not teach a person Swedish.
22:52 August 29, 2011 by gh2008
i am a "refugee". i finished my SFI in seven weeks. the first week i spent there at school, i knew the system that SFI was designed, was more on the individual side than on the curriculum and staff at school. so i decided to work mostly at home. i used to spend four-six hours a day studying at home after school and i made it with a VG. however, after 2 1/2 years i still have problems with the Swedish language due to lack of practice. i am working at an international project where English is primarily used and i don't have the time to invest in studying Swedish on serious basis. ironically, my English is getting better!
00:05 August 30, 2011 by Uncle
pcgomes

Spot freaking ON! People are taken here LITERALLY from the mud like the orcs in Lord of the Rings, brought here, given money, free education, apartment....EXTRA money if they pass an exam.... While they sit and whine about how the language is hard.... Oh, them awful, RACIST swedes!!! How could they be so inconsiderate and invent such a hard language??? It was definitely directed and planned on purpose as an attempt to insult the immigrant population.

@Abe -"The government would do much better with acknowledging English as a secondary official language"

Hey Abe. I have an idea - let's all learn arabic and make them gullible swedes start speaking it...

They will be too afraid to look racist, so they will accept the arrangement and start going to AAS and AFM (arabiska för medborgare). All the Iraqi/Afghani/Somali blessings upon this land already speak the language - so what is the problem? And if you are from some irrelevant european country, then study arabic, or go back to where you came from! Eh? How do you like the idea?

Let's delete the identity, literature and culture of this unreasonable country and FORCE swedes speak other language, because you, Abe are experiencing difficulties in learning their language. What a wonderful and reasonable demand!

Instead of being in awe and thank the swedes for being such geniuses in English (unlike majority of other european countries from Finland, through France, Germany, Spain, Norway, Eastern european block through Italy) and making it easier on you, you start demanding from them to speak it as your own legal right... Like a beggar who robs someone who just gave him a sandwich.
00:23 August 30, 2011 by mollis
SFI is free.

If you dont like it, dont go.

Shut up about how its unfair that you didn't get some bonus. You get an education that would cost you way more. Get a private tutor and see what bonus you get there.

Me me me me. Shut up
01:20 August 30, 2011 by bolababu
this didn't work because it was a bad idea in the first place, we are many different people in the world with many different talents, for the same amount i could take the national bar exams in 2 weeks and pass it and immediately after forget everything i learned or studied.

i went to SFI while holding on to a full time job, barely studied at home and i finished SFI in 4 and a half months, i'm doing SAS B right now and still working full time but i have friends who were in SFI 3 years before i came there and they are still there.
02:21 August 30, 2011 by missjane30
Just my 2 cents...if you move to another country that speaks a language different than your own, you should do everything in your power to learn said language as soon as possible. It is disrespectful to your new "home" not to.

The fact that people have to be given incentives to do so is sad. They should want to do it because they personally want to assimilate.

When I travel to other nations I attempt to speak their language to the best of my ability...sometimes failing miserably, but at least I'm making the effort.

About the Swedish language, I've found it fairly easy to pick up. Not really any harder than the German language was for me. I actually feel worse for people that have to learn English. It's a fairly confusing language.
02:52 August 30, 2011 by GLO
Social planning at its best.
05:00 August 30, 2011 by Skidmark
You know what sucks? Being 23 years old with an International Baccalaureate Diplom with over 40,000 kr in CSN loans who has been applying for no experience jobs at bars & restaurants through arbetsförmedlingen for months and not even succeeding at getting anywhere close to even a praktik.

You know what sucks even more? At the end of your routinely messirable and depressing day which you have been accustumed to by now, your neighbour, who has never had a job in this country, offers to drive you on his way home in his new second car which he has just bought for 55,000 Kr while telling you as casually as he possibly can that he doesn't want a job.

Not really relevant to the article but I just had to share it with someone.
06:57 August 30, 2011 by Uncle
skidmark

Forget arbetsförmedlingen. Go directly to the companies sites. Always works .

As for the neighbour - it will come back to him. One way or another. Especially when the mortgage bubble here bursts and the govt will start cutting on spending. Your neighbour and his 8 kids will be sleeping in his second car... and whining about lack of justice of course.
06:58 August 30, 2011 by TheGroke
I have studied at three different SFI schools with five different teachers. From my sampling, my opinion is that SFI is like adult daycare. The real goal appears to be to provide something for unemployed people to do.

The teachers I encountered knew absolutely NOTHING about swedish grammar and avoided teaching it like the plague. Their idea of teaching grammar (when they did it) was to hand out an overly simplistic sheet on say pronouns without any explanation (here... do this). If you asked questions, they just got confused. My teachers seemed to think that having organized boardwork alone makes you a good teacher. They clearly had no training in keeping tasks relevant, varied, and in skill building (lessons are disjointed and there is frequent downtime). I've been told that teacher schools in sweden attract the lowest of the low (no one with skills wants to be a teacher)... I'm not sure if SFI teachers actually have any qualifications apart from speaking swedish, but what I've seen would appear to support this statement.

Class time is about three hours long. At least half of that time is spent staring blankly at a wall waiting for something... anything... to happen. I started ignoring the "lesson" and just studying on my own during class so that it was not just a total waste of time.

The level-tests that SFI administers take three hours. Why, I have no idea. Perhaps so the test administrators can get a bigger paycheck? Perhaps just to waste our time. Is there any other explanation? And the content of the tests is remarkable for its inability to test swedish skills. I know almost no swedish, and yet I could pass into level D easily. Honestly... it's a complete joke.

This program should not be shut down, but they should put some of this money into actually training their teachers and creating a challenging, not frustrating environment for students.
07:06 August 30, 2011 by Uggla
I wanted to recieve this bonus but I did'nt get it because I had "been in Sweden too long" because it is set up only for new people to SFI.

It takes time to learn a language so to give the bonus to only those persons who just arrived to Sweden does not make sense. Those of us who have been here for some time and are in SFI should be allowed to have the same rights. Even though I have been here 4 years, I only had the chance to start SFI last fall, but I have only one part of SFI to finish, so I have nearly finished the entire course in a half of a year, but I do not get the bonus because I did'nt come after november 2010.

It's not fair! rather you have been been here for months or years it does not change the fact a person is learning in SFI.

I am from America and my husband is Swedish, and I work really hard to learn Swedish. I get no help from anybody, but I see many in my class who don't even try to learn and they get assistance fromt he government as long as they are in SFI otherwise they have to go get a job. Why would the learn when they get payments from the government while in the program.

We can hardly pay our bills and they drive up in fancy cars.

I have
07:10 August 30, 2011 by bells on the knight
swedish is a difficult language? rofl.

try arabic, chinese, spanish, german, russian, dutch, thai, malaysian, or french for that matter.

if you are illiterate ANY learning will be hard, which may be the case if you come from a war torn country.

my wife learned Swedish in 3 months and apart from the odd grammatical error reads, speaks and writes very well.
07:39 August 30, 2011 by prince T
Most of the people condemning SFI are rthe ones that are not smartt. Many of the immigrants that i know passed throu it successfully.
09:20 August 30, 2011 by Aquos
LOL, I really can't understand many of the immigrants (esp refugees) who are complaining all the time!!!

I see many of them everyday and I keep wondering "What on earth is that?"

Swedish is difficult. I am not given much money. I need "them" to get me a bigger appartment. SFI is not good. Swedes are racists!

Well, any foreign language is difficult! That's the rule. So please try before you complain. personally I don't think Swedish is as difficult as Arabic or even Chinese. And it's definitely easier than French or German.

"I am not given much money".....huh? And were you able to get that amount of money where you came from? And if you went to say France, Italy, Canada, US...etc as a refugee, did you expect to get any money from the gov?

SFI is not good.....Go to the UK or the US as a refugee. Is there an "EFI" (English for Immigrants)? Which is free AND all you have to do is attending it to get money from the community!

I think Swedes are not racists at all, but of course many would be pissed off knowing that the money they pay as taxes goes to lazy bums who do nothing but complaining, trying to manipulate the system and do nothing to improve their lives!

GROW UP!
09:54 August 30, 2011 by zaza
@Aquos Bravo! Absolutly true!

I really cant understand alll these refugees who are complain from evrything all the time and quickly forget what they had in they are home countries.

I think is time Sweden to wake up and stop this free education for all, nothing in life is free and if u want to live in Sweden you have to make the eforts to learn and pay for this then u will be motivated and will study at home not just saying my 9 or 10 kids didnt let me study.
11:44 August 30, 2011 by alastairolaf
It's not free education for all. Having recently moved to Sweden I have been denied the right to learn the language through SFI. I am an EU citizen and am married to a Swede but despite this I have been turned away from the local job centre because I don't have the magic personal numbers. All I'm asking for is a leg up not a handout, an opportunity to learn the language, help with finding employment but I feel barriers have been placed in my way at every step. The beauracracy that exists in this country is baffling. It makes me angry when I hear that bonuses are been given out to people as an incentive to finish a course that I have denied entry to.
12:06 August 30, 2011 by mrbrad
My SFI teachers were quite good and I found Swedish to be a very logical language. I passed with VG this Spring after studying 6 months. Although I applied for the bonus through the school, nothing has been paid out yet. I wonder if long processing times are contributing in any way to that low payout total. Has anyone here been paid the bonus yet? How long did it take?

I think the bonus is very nice and definitely contributed to me learning faster, although I do feel like it's truly a bonus and don't feel a sense of entitlement about it. I was surprised when I first learned about it. It was good having that motivator, though, as I may have otherwise gotten lazy with learning and fallen back on English.
13:46 August 30, 2011 by wabasha
I think they could take that money and develop a TV channel for learning swedish. different levels at different times of the day, or even grammer rules explained in english/turkish/french and so on. 24 hours a day. and put a few "cant find a job" college grads to work. I should be passing D soon after nearly 2 years, but after that maybe a couple hours a week refresher would be nice. theirs not much on TV anyway...
14:38 August 30, 2011 by soultraveler3
Swedish language is not the problem. I quickly passed through SFI and SAS and can get by conversationally but I am in no way fluent.

The problem with the bonus is how Sweden has SFI and social benefits set up. Most of the people that are eligible for the bonus are refugees and like Aquos said above, they earn more money in a month sitting there not learning than the entire bonus is worth. There's absolutely no motivation to get through SFI quickly for them. When I was in SFI there were people there that had been in Kurs A for 2 years already and they were still there when I left.

SFI is like a daycare center for adults. 90% of the people there are only there because they have to go in order to collect socialbidrag. There's constant talking, phones ringing, children being brought in, dancing etc. Here the teachers were even threatened. It was so loud and disruptive that the few there wanting to learn had a very difficult time.

Tbh, I think the teachers passed people along faster than they should of if they showed any interest in learning at all. SAS is completely different than SFI, people don't get paid to go there so there was a huge difference in the quality of student and class. That was nice but at the same time it would've been nice to learn more grammar and more of the basics in SFI before moving on. You can't do that because it's a complete zoo.
18:20 August 30, 2011 by aoi
Well, people think like this:

If its expensive, its good.

If its free, its generally not worth your time.

If you GET money for doing it, its a trap.

So what the hell are they doing?

And btw. SFI sucks so bad because its filled up with analphabets!

Swedish is not hard to english/german-speaking people. You get so much for free.
21:50 August 30, 2011 by Ludde Svensson
I am an EU citizen married to a Swede. I work in an international company where the official language is English. Almost all Swedes speak fluent English. Universities offer many courses in English. In other words, Swedish is slightly useless for me. There are only 9 millions speakers in the whole world anyway. It's better to learn more useful languages like Spanish or even English -- especially if you are not good at it.

By the way, I study Swedish at Folkuniversitetet. Not because I need, but because I want. It's a good way to understand the culture and impress my Scandinavian relatives. Instead of talking about the weather I can say a few words in Swedish and instantly start a conversation. Beautiful. Done.

PS. The Local has too many stressed readers. I have been reading a few comments and there are always angry, short-fused users. People using "ad hominem" arguments and so on. Let's relax a bit, shall we? This is only the interwebz, not a real life discussion. Anyway, a troll is a troll and the haters are gonna hate.

Cheers!
01:09 August 31, 2011 by Really?!?
@ Aquos...pray tell which other African countries?

@ Ludde Svensson: Doesn't your condescending self not think that the people complaining here would take English speaking jobs if there were there to be taken? Kanske du behöver att tänker forst innan du pratar/skriver. Ask your folkuniversitetet teacher what that means and see what a beautiful conversation starter it can be.

Oh....cheers!
04:04 August 31, 2011 by CamCurrie
Intergation. The 'problem' appears to be beyond illiterate refugees: you also wish the literate, working, professional, tax-paying immigrants to 'integrate'. When will the Sweden and other Scandinavian countries recognise that some law-abiding immigrants do not wish to integrate? When will it be accepted that the maximum expectation for a legal immigrant ought to be for them to obey the law?
10:53 August 31, 2011 by JulieLou40
@ really: I understood what you wrote in Swedish to luddesvensson, and I haven't even been to sfi yet (still in the bloody queue because the refugees take priority, which will no doubt end up disqualifying me for the bonus because I won't be able to learn in time).
13:24 August 31, 2011 by Nomark
@really

Your post in Swedish contains grammar and spelling mistakes. I hope you're still attending Swedish classes.
15:41 August 31, 2011 by Really?!?
I sure am.
22:13 August 31, 2011 by godnatt
@ aquos

Or perhaps we just stop importing illiterate Somalis in the first place.

Problem solved.
14:52 September 1, 2011 by nuke
I did SFI in 1986 at AMU (Arbetsmarknadsutbildningar) in Eskilstuna, and we were even paid a council worker's salary! We studied from 9-16 each day for 4 months, if I remember rightly.

I then went on to Komvux (with the same teacher strangely) to do Gymnasiesvenska. At the end of that she told me she wanted to give me a grade 5 (best) but couldn't, because, she said, "Immigrants cannot get the best grade - this has been decided higher up". So I got grade 4. She was so ashamed, and told me so, but it didn't really bother me. I have since then been asked on several occasions over the years which part of Sweden I come from (and I am from the UK), so I guess no one really needed to see my diploma.

Erik Ullenhag: Is it still true that immigrants 'cannot get the best grade'? Or has the Swedish government finally decided that the impossible is now possible?
09:07 September 2, 2011 by Frank Arbach
"Bonuses of up to 12,000 kronor ($1,900) "

Now I know why I am paying TEN TIMES as much tax, in Sweden, as I paid in the UK.
17:25 September 2, 2011 by Captain Judgment
The real reason that the moneys set aside for rapid language acquisition via SFI have not been used is actually quite simple: Americans, British and Australians who are highly educated DO NOT WANT to be put in the same class as political asylum refugees from the middle east who have little or no education, and no cultural similarities. People here from English speaking countries usually have high level transferable skills and do not have the patience for lowest common denominator learning, which basically means if the slowest person in class determines the rate of learning for all, then those who can will pay to not be with the underprivileged. I gladly paid the full amount for intensive five week courses at Folkuniversitetet and also at Medborgarskolan. (They were about 5000 SEK for 5 weeks.) The Germans and the Dutch in these courses pick up Swedish much quicker than their English speaking counterparts in my experience...two months is usually sufficient given the number of grammatical similarities and cognates between their languages. Immersion with Swedish people and Swedish culture is still the fastest route to language acquisition.
12:47 September 3, 2011 by Emerald1961
I am married to a Swede and have live here for over 5 years. I attended SFI and once I completed that started Svenska A. I should have taken Svenska Grund but did not know it existed. The Svenska A class met for 3 hours twice a month. The rest of the time was self study. I can only speak for myself when I say it was next to impossible to learn a new language, any language, this way. I do know people that learned Swedish with little effort, but these same people also learned and spoke several languages, which leads me to think they have a knack for learning other languages. I do not have this ability. It was difficult and I decided not to return after the term closed. The field I am educated in and worked in is I.T. Because of the language barrier I have been unable to get a job. After so many years if not working I have forgotten a lot. As much as I like living here I often kick myself for leaving my country. I was naive to think it would be easy to find work that predominately uses English in a foreign country and that I could easily learn a new language. It doesn't help that we live in a rural area where jobs are few and far between.
06:02 September 4, 2011 by lewni
Isn't it so that USA gives you one year with benefits to learn the language and if you're not fluent they punt your arse back ? (heard something of the sort from an old SFI classmate) somehow that's only racist if you try that approach in sweden.
19:42 September 10, 2011 by Sh8rk3y
@NOmark hahaha snyggt

@All the racists on this thread - hang your heads in shame.

For all your information, SFI levels A and B are ONLY for people with less than ten years education , e.g. those from war torn countries like Somalia who have had little education and don't even know the alphabet. Anyone from any country where there is a half decent education system should begin at level C. The bonus is only for those from outside the EU who manage to finish the whole course in under a year. Not very easy if you are for example a Thai or Arabic speaker. Therefore not many get the bonus! Phew.

I have been in Sweden eight months, am feeling pretty comfortable with the language now, obviously not fluent yet but comfortable in most situations. SFI definitely helped! I had two very good teachers. Both were tall, blonde, attractive and extremely competent. The course was flexible and allowed me to progress at my own rate. What more could one ask for?

Swedish is a very logical language grammatically. The spelling reform circa 100 years ago organized everything and made it very phonetic and therefore easier to learn. The hardest thing is the pronunciation. Practise those 'hard' vowels folks!

In my SFI C class there were 20 people from 18 different countries, from every corner of the world. What a fantastic cultural experience! And it was free.

To sum up, I don't agree with the Swedish policy of taking in so so many asylum speakers but I do absolutely agree with and recommend the fantastic free education system. Obviously beginning with SFI for all non Swedes.
22:22 January 14, 2012 by janeway
00:05 August 30, 2011 by Uncle

Yes!

00:23 August 30, 2011 by mollis

Yes!

02:21 August 30, 2011 by missjane30

Yes!

05:00 August 30, 2011 by Skidmark

Welcome to Sweden!

07:06 August 30, 2011 by Uggla

Free education and you still want more!?!

09:20 August 30, 2011 by Aquos

Yes!
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