Programming languages are the same worldwide but the same can't be said for local languages. Here in Sweden, you can often get by in English but if you really want to integrate you need some Swedish under your belt.
This is true in all walks of Swedish life and the tech industry is no exception. It's the basis of SFX-IT, a Swedish language course that comes with a side serving of tech industry lingo, coding courses, networking opportunities and other professional pointers.
Day students who attend the programme at the C3L Center for Lifelong Learning in Tyresö, 30 minutes south of central Stockholm, split their time between language lessons and other tech-related topics.
SFX-IT also organises frequent seminars in partnership with local tech companies. Just recently, consultancy firm Axakon was invited to SFX-IT to talk about the Swedish IT market and the kind of skills that are most in demand.
Axakon's talent manager Tobias Carlsson explains that having a presence at SFX-IT is mutually beneficial for everyone involved.
“We knew it would be a win-win situation for both of us. It's good to help the community of people coming to Sweden and wanting to learn more about the IT market here.”
Of course, no good deed goes unrewarded and in turn, Axakon's presence at SFX-IT connects the firm with Sweden's up-and-coming foreign tech talent.
“It's a very good place to market ourselves since we are always recruiting people. We're growing and that's a room full of people who are within the IT market and possibly looking for work.”
Tobias explains that the seminar, which is in Swedish, covers generic information about the Swedish tech market as well as topics students were keen to hear more about concerning networking and the recruitment process.
“We just focus on keeping the Swedish simple and speaking slowly,” says Tobias. “Then if anyone has any questions or wants me to repeat something, I go over it again.”
It's a great way, he says, to meet potential candidates as well as excellent branding for the company.
“We usually don't put out ads, we just recruit through knowing the right people,” explains Tobias. “Meeting 30 new students, we get to know a lot of people who are interested and have the right knowledge. One student is coming to their second interview with us today.”
Online language lessons
Not everyone has the time to travel to Tyresö for daily lessons on-site. For those people, who may be working full-time or have other commitments, SFX-IT also offers an online evening course.
Venezuelan software developer Yennifer Chacon moved to Sweden four years ago. She had already tried SFI and found it not to be a good fit, so was curious when a colleague at Ericsson mentioned SFX-IT.
Photo: Yennifer Chacon
“I thought it sounded very interesting because she told me it wasn't just Swedish but also you can take programming courses and get a certification.”
Yennifer was quick to sign up and take the programming test required to get a place on the programme. She explains that while there is one two-hour class per week, she supplements this with a few hours of independent learning and homework.
“All the work is really focused on IT and programming,” she says. “I think that's really good because it's focused on your area and things you are already interested in.”
SFX-IT Swedish tutor Karin Arhamn explains: “I try to slowly introduce Swedish words which you can use when you work with computers or programming.”
She says that lessons are conducted through a system called ClassLive which can be accessed through SFX-IT's online portal. All students need to do is tune in for two hours a week and follow as Karin presents the lesson using a PowerPoint.
“I instruct them on grammar, read to them and create subjects for discussion on ClassLive. I let the students have influence over what they want to learn and this gives a direction to what we work on during the lessons.”
Photo: SFX-IT Swedish tutor Karin Arhamn
Yennifer is confident that her Swedish has improved since starting the course and is already beginning to see the learning take effect each day at work.
“In my team, there are many Swedish people so even though I am not brave enough to start a conversation in Swedish, it has really helped me to communicate with them and integrate more than before.”
It's not just Yennifer's Swedish language skills that SFX-IT has helped her to improve. She now also has her certification in Java, one of two programming languages students have the option to learn.
“You read a book and at the end of the course you take an exam to get a voucher for a certification. This is great for your CV; the certification itself is worth more than $250 (€216) but you get it for free.”
She is quick to encourage other foreigners to choose SFX-IT if they are keen to learn Swedish and pursue a career in Sweden's tech industry.
“I really would recommend anyone to join it. It's been very good for me and will be very good for anyone else who really wants to learn Swedish.”
This article was produced by The Local Creative Studio and sponsored by SFX-IT.