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'Link learning Swedish to citizenship': Liberals

'Link learning Swedish to citizenship': Liberals

Published: 12 Jun 2012 11:39 GMT+02:00
Updated: 12 Jun 2012 11:39 GMT+02:00

Immigrants should be required to learn Swedish before being granted citizenship and do more before receiving certain types of benefits, the Liberal Party has argued in a new integration policy programme unveiled on Tuesday.

"What's most important is that those who come to Sweden quickly learn the language and enter the labour market," three Liberal party ministers, Jan Björklund, Erik Ullenhag and Nyamko Sabuni, wrote in an opinion article in the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.

According to the ministers, "the Swedish language is one of the keys to Swedish society" and as a result Swedish integration policies should put more focus on ensuring new arrivals to Sweden learn the local language.

In addition to implementing a language requirement for Swedish citizenship, the Liberal Party also wants to see more individualized language instruction for immigrants.

"In order to improve results, there needs to be more adaptation of classes to participants' individual circumstances," the ministers write.

"There needs to be more flexibility."

Among other things, they want to see Swedish language classes offered to immigrants (SFI) offered on a part-time and evening basis, as well as allowing participants to enroll year round.

While the ministers emphasize the importance of Sweden being an "open and tolerant" country that should offer protection to asylum seekers and embrace the increasing need for labour migrants, the trio laments statistics indicating that only 50 percent of refugees and their relatives have found work after seven years in Sweden.

"How we manage to open our society and labour market for people who flee to or seek a better future in Sweden is going to be critical for Sweden's development," according to the Liberal ministers.

In addition to putting an increased emphasis on learning the Swedish language, the party's new eight-point integration policy programme also calls for immigrants to prove they are fully engaged in looking for work or gaining skills that could lead to employment before they are granted welfare benefits.

Immigrants who decline an offer of employment should also lose the establishment subsidies designed to help new arrivals get situated in Sweden, the ministers argue.

The Liberal Party also proposes that Sweden scrap retroactive parental leave benefits in order to reduce the likelihood that foreign born women refrain from participating in employment preparation programmes and language courses.

"The structure of parental benefits has resulted in them becoming a trap for many foreign-born women who come to Sweden with pre-school aged children," write the ministers.

Another measure designed to get more foreign-born women working in Sweden includes allowing greater access to job preparation and society orientation programmes for immigrants following family members who have already arrived in Sweden, the majority of which are women.

"To close our borders and reject people who come here to work and have a better future would be a historic mistake," write Björklund, Ullenhag and Sabuni.

"At the same time, we need to be better at giving people who immigrate a real opportunity to enter the labour market."

Speaking with the TT news agency, Björklund defended his party's call for making Swedish citizenship conditional on learning the language, something for which the party was criticized for proposing back in 2002.

"We have to do a better job with integration," he said.

"Other parties want to close our borders. We don't. But then we also have a responsibility to make integration work for the people who come here, and that's a job we want to take."

TT/The Local/dl

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Your comments about this article

12:41 June 12, 2012 by RobinHood
"We have a responsibility to make integration work ...."

"We have to do a better job with integration."

Why does it take the rise of an anti-immigrant party in Sweden before the mainstream parties present policies that plainly should have been implemented years ago?
13:17 June 12, 2012 by NyDag
Finally some sense coming from these left wingers. OF COURSE you should be able to speak Swedish if you are to call yourself a Swedish citizen. OF COURSE a new arrival should not have access to the same level of social welfare benefits as a Swede who has worked hard and contributed to the tax coffers his whole life. Too little too late though, we are already overrun by such leeching people.
13:20 June 12, 2012 by libertarianism
I also noticed the "we, we, we..", and I understand that the state needs a plan. But where is individual responsibility, self reliance, and pride in personal growth?

I chose to come to Sweden. The Vikings didn't drag me by my hair to land of perpetual winter. I agreed to this.

It is my responsibility to learn the language to the best of my ability and to adapt to this environment. It's wonderful to have help with this, and help helps learning happen more quickly and smoothly.

But always, it's my personal responsibility. Why is this missing for others?
13:21 June 12, 2012 by Serge75
Here always confused the immigration and refugee like the same. I could understand the confusion in people who do not engage in public policy, but not i can understand it in politicians. Or now use the racist euphemism of expatriate to differentiate it. An inmigrant/refugee is poor, ignorant, etc. and someone in Shlenger zone (educated, modern,etc) is expat? all in the same bag and shake it, interesting and nice argument. I must remember to the politicians that all who come from other country to live in sweden is inmigrant but not all are refugee, and for do good policies you can´t generalize?

Worse, why they believe that the inmigrants want to obtain citizenship? Is it really?

I'm not against that all must learn swedish, but everyone who has go to SFI know that is poorly organized. Perhaps it is the prophecy fulfilled, saying that refugees / immigrants don´t learn quickly the language but the efforts I do to they can learn it are scarce ... a paradox well exploited politically.

Finally, the labour market must be less strict and stop consider that if you have a foreign name, you don´t speak swedish. I think that it is a social problem and not a inmigrants problem.
13:43 June 12, 2012 by isenhand
integration does not mean learning the language nor getting a job. Integration means becoming part of society; that means culture. To integrate people into Sweden they will need to integrate people culturally into Sweden. If they did that language and then jobs will follow.
13:49 June 12, 2012 by axiom
I couldn't agree more. I find it so odd that people can become Swedish citizens through naturalization and speak absolutely no Swedish, I know people who have done this.

SFI might be bad, I have no idea, never went, but I know many who speak Swedish fluently largely due to SFI.

It is almost impossible to integrate sans language acquistion. If you can't integrate yourself into society fully and be a part of civil discourse, exercising your right to suffrage in an informed and decisive way, then the only reason for being a citizen is to get a passport.

If you want to come to Sweden temporarily to work, live, study then do so. If you wish to settle permanently then learn the language and integrate, there can't be any other way.
13:50 June 12, 2012 by Serge75
(#2) By the international treaties signed it by Sweden must accept refugees. Many are refugees from wars in which Sweden had participated. One thing is the aid to refugees and other thing is what happen with the immigrants. In the refugees i don´t know what kind of aid is given but like Italian immigrant in Sweden, i do not have financial aid of any kind and I never want that sweden give me money for nothing.

(#3) And about SFI, really i appreciate it a lot, but that does not mean that the constructive criticism that it is poorly organized is not correct.

Finally, integration is a process comes from both sides, not one.
15:16 June 12, 2012 by NyDag
Serge75 ... Sweden has not been at war for hundreds of years, so you're talking crap.
15:40 June 12, 2012 by axiom
NyDag:

Sweden is currently actively in Afghanistan and AFAIK that is a war
16:09 June 12, 2012 by kirub
And learning not only Swedish but also how the country does it's basic economics.
16:26 June 12, 2012 by nathan45
"the trio laments statistics indicating that only 50 percent of refugees and their relatives have found work after seven years in Sweden."

Wow sure sounds like a good idea to me. Think of all the money spent on them in that 7 year period.

The things that could be done with that money like better benefits for women who have several children to raise the birth rate back to replacment levels or on education, health care any thing except spending your money trying to be the worlds baby sitter.
16:46 June 12, 2012 by colombianska_tjej
I think those measures are the logical approach to become a citizen. If I wanna be a swedish citizen, I must learn Swedish and integrate myself to the culture.

But then I remember that those who go to Sweden to study have to leave the country after graduating. Why do the ones who definitively want to stay in Sweden and work and be productive members of society are forced to leave, and those who come only for the social benefits without doing anythin in exchange are allowed to stay?

#3: I agree with the personal pride thing.
17:01 June 12, 2012 by shozea
Is anyone knows that Thirty percent of Swedes drop out of high school this time.

Just read this article http://www.thelocal.se/41386/20120612/ why they are focused on immigrant only we immigrant are more educated than Swedish
17:16 June 12, 2012 by johnny1939
Why learn Swedish when everybody prides themselves in speaking English? To become a citizen you just need to knock up some Swedish bitch and Bob is yoyr uncle!
18:22 June 12, 2012 by Tarc the Mexan
#13: seeing your spelling efforts makes me somewhat doubtful about your claims of immigrants being more educated than Swedes.
18:41 June 12, 2012 by skatty
I think immigrant should be required not only to learn Swedish, but also English before being granted Swedish citizenship.

It's even more important to learn English than Swedish to be granted a Swedish citizenship; because you as an immigrant probably will not be able to find job in Sweden, and have to look job in other countries, it means to learn English is even more crucial than Swedish!
19:09 June 12, 2012 by arsalan.ikram
If Sweden wants to attract intelligent immigrants from around the world, instead of Swedish requirement, English language requirement is more useful because almost 92 percent of Swedish speaks English. It is an international language. Well according to my opinion this type of integration policy will not works, you cannot forcefully ask people to learn a language. The requirement of English language makes people life more better in Sweden, being a tolerant and open society, there is no problem to give preferences to people who speaks English and gives them citizenship on that basis. This kind of integration policy will not work and the results will be a disaster. Learning English is easier then Swedish so why not take help by creating jobs for English speakers. It really worth's. Canada, USA, UK and Australia have the best immigrant's quality in world especially if we compare to Sweden so I think we should learn lessons from them. I know it's very hard for native speakers to accept these kinds of ideas but accepting English as second official language makes people life more better in Sweden so though the integration process and mean while they learn simple Swedish too. Man is easy going. Such kind of integration policy makes more problems in Sweden rather solving it and off course its 100 sure that government will not elect in next election.
20:04 June 12, 2012 by towns
Oh man, this is rich! People on here are seriously suggesting immigrants should learn English instead of Swedish? Most (if not all) serious jobs in Sweden WILL require you to speak Swedish and guess what, these employers won't care how good you speak English if you don't speak Swedish.

Why would you want to move to/work long term in Sweden if your goal is NOT to learn Swedish and survive only on English? Seems pointless in my opinion. You'd be much better off living/working in an officially English-speaking country.
20:22 June 12, 2012 by arsalan.ikram
My dear friend in that way you will lose talent because Swedish is not an international language and nobody is interested in it, in general most of talented people(especially degree holders) move from Sweden after taking their passport to England including many natives because England has the opportunities which Sweden does not have because of stupid language requirement which will be big thread for Swedish economy in coming 10 to 15 years and in result only immigrants with no skills live in Sweden, Well right now nobody understands that but after 20 years if will a big problem and only flexibility with English language can save that but please do understand that German, French and Spanish are international languages and Swedish is not.
20:57 June 12, 2012 by mibrooks27
Not tough enough. Give any immigrant three years to pass a basic fluency test. If they fail, deport them.
21:27 June 12, 2012 by arsalan.ikram
It is not easy to deport anybody because Sweden welcomes refugees and consider the most tolerant country in world and we all should respect the sovereignty of country. Sweden invest billions or may be trillions in world to help poor countries but when it comes to helpless people which are small in number and need protection, we all are against them. It is not fair. Social democrats should come back and solves these problems.
21:33 June 12, 2012 by RobinHood
@mibrooks

Under the current system, there are "citizens " of Sweden, well into their second decade of SFI, who haven't yet passed the basic exams. They attend class the minimum hours necessary to qualify for their benefits and childcare, and have never paid a Crown in taxes.

Successive governments have tolerated this; politicians, language teachers and anyone else who questions it is called a racist. Whilst deportation is a bit strong, something needs to change, and this proposal is a good start.
22:56 June 12, 2012 by Rod Munch
All that Sweden needs to change is where it accepts refugee/asylum seekers from. If they stop taking them in from the countries that they currently do and start taking in refugees from South/Central America and SE/Far East Asia they would actually be taking in people who will try hard to benefit the country and not bring a bunch of religious baggage with them.
00:08 June 13, 2012 by matona1
immigration is the first business i life,people move even sun and the moon including the stars moves, and soon and very soon all immigrants will find peace going back to their country when sweden stop producing weapons
00:13 June 13, 2012 by batista
What is actually the current requirement to become a Swedish citizen? I thought that you have to go through some language test before getting, but apparently that's not the case?

Could someone brief on that?

Cheers ;)
00:17 June 13, 2012 by foxpur
I find it kind of amusing. I've been in Sweden for a total of 10 years (there was a 4 year gap in there). I did take SFI and gained nothing, then had a Stroke that wiped my ability to learn Swedish again... The entire times I've used English. I got my Citizenship in '09, does that mean to suggest I shouldn't have gotten it? Or that it should be removed because I can't, by medical reason, can't learn Swedish?
00:34 June 13, 2012 by shozea
@ Tarc the Mexan

Well...I'm sorry, if I cant spell right but that is not the point here , then you make yourself look really bad. I can be well educated in how to bake cakes and not know how to spell, and if I cant do simple things such as spelling correctly, then...people are going to think I'm an idiot. Also, political science isn't something to prove much, its not that hard of a major. Don't care about what you say/think, if you understand what i want to say that is enough for me to explain my view.
00:46 June 13, 2012 by arsalan.ikram
This is just a proposal by a party and I think that It will not implement when it comes in a parliament because of similar reason which happened last time. It is difficult to implement.
00:52 June 13, 2012 by libertarianism
Re 26, I wrote "to the best of my (one's) ability" bc I think it's important to recognize language disorders, whether congenital or acquired. Even the king is dyslexic, right? :)

Also, dear TL, the Swedish word of the day has been "lång" for at least a week now. How about some multisyllabic words and/or some idiomatic phrases? :)
06:36 June 13, 2012 by ericrufinosiah
Any person who wished to become a Swedish citizen should first pass a basic

oral Swedish Language test,then he/she should be tested on their knowledge of

Sweden,since he/she wished to become a Swedish citizen..

Of course,the oral Swedish Language test and General knowledge of Sweden

should be made compulsory for all people who wised to become Swedish citizen

though a time frame should also be given to the person concerned.

As not to burden the people concerned,the Swedish Government should provide Oral Swedish Language class free of charge "
07:10 June 13, 2012 by Enjoyourlife
This is what should have been implemented long time ago. In fact it is a natural thing. If you want to become a citizen in any country, you have to speak the language.
08:19 June 13, 2012 by Swedishmyth
It's hilarious that this isn't already, and hasn't always been a requirement. Only a politician or an advocate of Western sacrifice would even conceive of anything else.
08:21 June 13, 2012 by arsalan.ikram
Passing a Swedish basic test is not a difficult task, actually many people who passed higher test cannot able to speak Swedish well, in general for people who speaks English(south Asian) should not come to Sweden because instead of wasting several years in language classes, it much better to move to UK, better place, friendly people and more opportunities and in Uk you watched several people who cannot speak English well but they have established business, Sweden people are very strange and complicated to understand so it better move to UK which is more better place for immigrants . Let them what they want. To most rigid nation I have seen in my life.
08:42 June 13, 2012 by theibmsstate
Useless, swedish is only in sweden, french, english and german is all over the world.
08:50 June 13, 2012 by Beavis
Fair enough.. all Swedes living outside Swedish in that case need to pass test in the langauge of where they live. Time to deport all those Swedes living in Thailand, USA, UK etc etc, they should be sent back to Sweden instead of being a burden on other societys.Imagine there was a natural disaster in Sweden.. a flood, an earthquake, would the same Swedes be so happy to be told to "go back where they came from"?
09:38 June 13, 2012 by mafketis
"It's even more important to learn English than Swedish ...it means to learn English is even more crucial than Swedish! "

So when do you plan to start?
10:15 June 13, 2012 by towns
"Useless, swedish is only in sweden, french, english and german is all over the world"

There are an estimated 1,300 languages spoken worldwide with 100,000 speakers or more and only 40 with at least 30 million speakers. Are you suggesting that all languages that aren't among the few most spoken are irrelevant? If so, you are also suggesting that the 3.5 billion people and their cultures who don't use at least 1 of the 10 most spoken (#10 French, #9 Malay, #8 Portuguese, #7 Bengali, #6 Arabic, #5 Russian, #4 Spanish, #3 Hindustani, #2 English, #1 Mandarin) languages are irrelevant. Frankly, that's quite benighted and destructive if you ask me.
10:29 June 13, 2012 by mafketis
I know this idea is hard to accept in egalitarian-minded Sweden, but .... not all people (or peoples) have equal, interchangeable abilities.

The failure of some immigrants/refugees to learn Swedish is just one more mundane failure in a history of failure, individual and societal (it is certain societies failure in creating tolerable living conditions that is responsible for them being in Sweden in the first place).

Groups of people are not fungible and bringing in large numbers of people with low collective social capital is never going to end well (especially if they already think they're better or more moral than Swedes).

The disdainful attitude toward the Swedish language (not 'important' enough) is symptomatic of a disdainful attitude towards _all_ Swedish values (like secular education, civil society and rule of law).
13:34 June 13, 2012 by batista
Can someone answer my question?

What is the current requirement to become a Swedish citizen, so that we compare the current system with what is mentioned in the article?
10:04 June 14, 2012 by cogito
The south of France, from Nice to Perpignan, is full of Swedes who cannot speak French, though they have lived here for many years.

Should we send them all back to Mother Sweden?
12:21 June 28, 2012 by olga118
You do not have to speak English to become a citizen in the USA. You do, however, have to pass a citizenship test about the history of the USA. I am very surprised that Sweden has so little requirements for citizenship, in fact it seems they have none, really.

While most Swedes CAN speak English, they don't tend to speak English because they live in Sweden so they speak Swedish. This makes sense, yes?

Considering that SFI is offered free of charge (and, in fact, offers $ if you pass a certain level within a certain time frame) I find it to be quite good. Sometimes I think people don't realize that SFI is designed to HELP you learn the language. You have to take the rest of that responsibility on yourself. Learning a language is difficult but not learning the language of the country you live in is just arrogant.
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