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'Tailor Swedish classes to newcomers' needs'

'Tailor Swedish classes to newcomers' needs'

Published: 31 Jan 2013 11:15 GMT+01:00
Updated: 31 Jan 2013 11:15 GMT+01:00

With one in four Swedish language students dropping out of the state-run classes, three Liberal Party ministers argued on Thursday that the system is not helping newcomers integrate and needs a work-focused overhaul.

"Swedish for Immigrants (SFI) doesn't work well and should be fundamentally changed," wrote Education Minister Jan Björklund, Integration Minister Erik Ullenhag, and the new Equality Minister Maria Arnholm in an opinion piece published by the Dagens Nyheter newspaper (DN) on Thursday.

"We have to focus more on individual needs and make clearer the connection to employment."

With a quarter of enrolled students dropping out before their course has finished, and inconsistent teaching quality nationwide, the politicians want the classes to tie in with the Swedish Employment Agency (Arbetsförmedlingen).

They suggest newly-arrived immigrants could pick up the Swedish language much faster in the work place rather than in the classroom.

In 2011, over 100,000 students took SFI classes and more than 40,000 studied at municipal adult education programmes (Komvux). Many of these students are highly educated, while others are illiterate.

To combat these students' problems with finding work after SFI, the ministers proposed three steps to improve the integration process.

Firstly, they argued that SFI should have a clear connection to work or internship opportunities. They proposed newcomers meet at an early stage with Arbetsförmedlingen staff to discuss finding work.

Secondly, the ministers proposed more flexibility in teaching based on individual students' needs and capabilities. Tailoring courses to fit what job the student will be looking for could also be helpful, they suggested.

Thirdly, they proposed that the Swedish language system be harmonized nationwide.

They said an inquiry would determine whether to abolish the SFI system, and instead transfer all language courses to Komvux.

"Knowledge of Swedish is essential... Unfortunately, too many people who've come to Sweden have poor language skills mainly because SFI hasn't worked well enough," they wrote.

TT/The Local/og

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Your comments about this article

12:52 January 31, 2013 by Migga
Why tailor Sweden after newcomers needs, why not tailor newcomers after Swedens needs?
13:40 January 31, 2013 by bourgeoisieboheme
This is why they don't integrate... you never make them. The state is continually dancing around the issue, trying to make the new comers comfortable, make sure they are happy, conform to their needs. I understand trying to link work to SFI but I don't see a lot of employers seeing this as a good deal for them and it gives the impression that you go through SFI just to get a job, no incentive to actually do well, study hard, and learn.
14:14 January 31, 2013 by skatty
I think there are some very basic problems with the whole immigration system in Sweden, and the debate on immigration is useless if Swedes would not be able to understand the basic rules.

I read the Swedish article in DB in here:


In the second paragraph it says:"Historiskt har tankegången varit att människor som flyr till Sverige först ska lära sig svenska och sedan söka jobb." which means from historical point of view people, who seek asylum (flee to Sweden) first should learn Swedish and then look for job.

The basic problem in here is that Swedes mix up immigrants with refugees. Asylum seekers move to Sweden don't even suppose to learn Swedish language; because they are not immigrants, they are refugees! Refugees can choose to learn Swedish or not, depends to them. They don't even have to look for job.

A refugee is a person, who go through an asylum seeking process (over 80% of newcomers); and an immigrant through an immigration process to get permission to stay in the country. Swedes expect that refugees behave and response in the same way that immigrants do by identifying refugees as immigrants!

Immigrants suppose to learn Swedish language and look for jobs, and Swedes believe if they identify refugees as immigrants (by classification, and behavioral manipulations on social level) then refugees consider themselves immigrants, who suppose to learn Swedish language, look for job, and see Sweden as their own country, which is wrong (and of course Swedes look at them as citizen too, which they don't; at least not a first class citizen)!

Of course there are some reasons for this immigration policy (conscious mistake) in Sweden, but too long to write it in here.
14:18 January 31, 2013 by Logic_and_Reason
As with any education endeavor, what you get out of it depends primarily on what you put into it. Do not blame the teachers for the failure of the students; teachers are there to provide structure and lead the way then evaluate the students' progress. If the students do not study the material, do the homework assignments, do not attend the courses and then stop coming altogether, it is not the teachers that need changing. These newcomers need to understand why learning Swedish is important but the system is rigged so that they do not need to integrate. They will be taken care of regardless of their Swedish skills, so why bother?
14:20 January 31, 2013 by bagbas
I was offered SFI where highly educated were supposed to be. I went and couldnt stand more than 30 min- and left... in a classrom made for 20,25 people, we were trying to fit in as 50!! people had babies, kids with them in the class... all talking, crying.. how efficient would zthat be, and how could you stand it for a year or sth??? now i am paying from the pocket and going to Folksuniversitet! Before, i had government supported language lessons in Germany also and they were much much better!
15:30 January 31, 2013 by Chuck_Norris
I had the same problem. I went to SFI, there were woman breastfeeding in class, man talking on mobile phones, some people didn't even know how to write and had never in their lives been in a classroom. Half of the class time was spent getting students to be quiet so to start the class. It could be clearly seen they were there because they had to be there, not because they wanted to learn the language.

I ended up not going anymore,it was a waste of time, instead am doing at Stockholm University.
17:54 January 31, 2013 by ret

need i say more!!

i do hope nobody else gets missinformed.

you have italian cars,german technology,spanish wine,etc.

how about swedish non-information?
22:53 January 31, 2013 by Kronaboy

Actually yes I can blame the SFI teachers; the majority of them have stumbled into SFI teaching from other sectors, t.ex ICA checkout, and have no right call themselves teachers as they appear to lack any formal teaching qualifications. My experience is they appear to spend the majority of their time on an ego trip rather than teaching, and lack the formal teaching qualifications to teach in a formal institution. Personally I prefer the UK ESOL method which is far more efficient in teaching the basics, and if an individual then chooses to advance further they can do so by way of GCSE or the Australian method.
14:18 February 3, 2013 by Brit-In-Sweden
I live in Stockholm and my SFI class gets held back by others in the class who quite clearly do not want to learn or integrate. I find we hardly ever have the same teacher from day to day, which causes problems with continuing what we have learned previously. Just my opinion based on my experience.
20:48 February 3, 2013 by cogito
@ChuckNorris #6.

Same for me. SFI is useless...as you said, women breastfeeding, kids crying, fellow-students who had never read a newspaper. I quit, found a job and learned Swedish at work.
21:22 February 7, 2013 by william kane
I get very depressed by many of the armchair experts who give there selfish opinions on here. I am one of those who have found SFI difficult and have not finished the course, I have still to complete the d prove. I agree that STI does not work for many people, and I feel that has got worse since it was privatised. trying to teach Swedish and make a profit do not go together, something has to give and is usually quality. The SFI I left had no native Swedish working there mainly because of low wages and poor teaching conditions. In the old SFI I had great respect for many of the teachers who really did go the extra mile in dealing with an amazing cross section of humanity. A major problem was that SFI had been going for over 40 years with out being reviewed, is it a surprise that it was having problems. As an English speaker I have struggled to learn Swedish at ,because I had been to university I was put into a higher class so I missed the basics . Next it is very grammar based , I could not remember my English grammar and my Swedish wife could not remember her Swedish grammar. So I am still struggling to learn Swedish.
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