With Sweden’s recently introduced teaching certificate, studying just one term of Swedish as a second language is sufficient to become an SFI (Svenska för invandrare) teacher.
“If we want SFI teachers to be reasonably competent, the requirements ought to be at least double,” said the government’s SFI investigator Christer Hallerby to Sveriges Radio (SR).
While one term of Swedish as a second language is enough for SFI, teaching a subject in middle school requires studying that subject for three terms.
However, if the requirements are raised it may be difficult to find teachers.
At least 60 percent of SFI teachers must be certified and reach the minimum requirements, and according to representatives from Södertälje’s SFI education, it’s hard enough to find qualified teachers today.
“It would be very hard, at least at first. Unless the job becomes more appealing, so that more people want to become certified,” Jussi Koreila, principal of the SFI education in Södertälje, told SR.
Inga-Lena Rydén heads the National Centre for Swedish as a Second Language at Stockholm University. She also believes finding teachers may be difficult, but even so, remains critical of the low requirements for a job which often requires teaching illiterate students.
“I’d say that this is the most difficult teaching assignment you could have. You have to be able to alphabetize people who come from what we call spoken environments,” she said to SR.
She suggests an alternative to low competence requirements: giving SFI schools more time to find competent teachers.
“SFI teachers could have been exempt from the certification requirement, and been given more time, instead of just lowering the requirements, which I find hard to understand. Lowering the requirements means lowering the value of the subject, which is unfortunate from a societal perspective.”