SFI students struggle to speak with ‘shy’ Swedes

SFI students struggle to speak with 'shy' Swedes
An SFI student studying in a classroom. Photo: Claus Gertsen/TT
Over a third of students who sign up to learn Swedish never speak the language outside the classroom reveals a new survey.

The study was conducted by Eductus to monitor the effectiveness of the SFI (Swedish for immigrants) language course which is available for free to all new arrivals with a personal number residing in Sweden. 

A total of 1147 people participated in the study with 36 percent saying they didn't speak their adopted language outside of the classroom.

The study also revealed that 32 percent of those surveyed said they didn't socialize with people who spoke Swedish. However, nine out of ten people said they were eager to get to know more Swedes.

"To become a part of society, to get a job or take part in what is happening at your child's school then you must speak Swedish," Susanne Christenson of Eductus told the TT news agency.

She added that Swedes were a bit "shy and reserved" and said that Swedish speakers needed to do more to engage with language rookies by striking up conversation in shops or on the bus.

Christenson said it was also key that SFI students should attempt to make friends and contacts outside of their own group.

The survey's findings is the latest setback for the state funded SFI program. In September the government announced plans to abolish the incentive scheme awarded to foreigners learning the language after the 100 million kronor ($15.3 million) scheme had yielded poor results.

It is estimated that there are more than 100,000 people enrolled in SFI courses, a number that has doubled between 2005 and 2011.

In an op-ed published in Dagens Nyheter in October the head of a government inquiry recommended introducing a voucher system to allow students to shop around for a course that suited them.

"SFI needs to be able to handle a continual flow of students who have to have the option of studying at their own pace and according to their own schedules," said Christer Hallerby.

Hallerby added that two thirds of SFI students are labour migrants or married to Swedish citizens, while asylum seekers and migrants joining family members in Sweden make up the remainder.

Meanwhile, Susanne Christenson said Swedish companies needed to see the benefits of hiring foreign staff and said a third of workers with Eductus were born overseas.

The Local/pr 

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