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The Local _ Norrland _ English speaking primary schools

Posted by: visitor10 22.May.2010, 08:49 AM

I may be visiting Umea University after Christmas and plan to bring my family ( I have 3 children 6,8 and 10). I have searched on the internet for primary schools that my English speaking kids might attend for a semester but have not manages to locate any.

I am happy if they follow the Swedish curriculum its just the language that is my concern.

Any information would be much appreciated.


Posted by: roch 22.May.2010, 10:05 AM

Hi Chris,

I am a teacher here in Umeå.

There are not any international schools here for primary school level, or solely English speaking ones. The closest to your requirements would be Språkskolan.

Also you MIGHT be eligible for your children to have a lesson in English every week for 40 minutes with a hemspråk (home language) teacher.
However, if you are here only for a term, then I think that would not be likely as you need to apply for it. And I know that there are children on a waiting list at present.

If you do find that you would like more English lessons for your children when you arrive, please do contact me as I currently also take private students.

Good luck with your move!


Posted by: Puffin 22.May.2010, 10:17 AM

As you say there are no English speaking or biligual schools in Umeå apart from an upper secondary/A level college for 16-19 year olds.

What you should do is to contact the education department in Umeå and discuss your situation
Some kommuns have 'Tellus' classes which give intensive Swedish support

Posted by: Puffin 22.May.2010, 10:44 AM

Your children have a legal right to English lessons (modersmålundervisning) - they are not legally allowed to put kids on waiting lists

Posted by: roch 22.May.2010, 10:56 AM

Hi Puffin,

That may be correct but when the other teachers are full time and cannot fit in any more children, they need to have at least 5 more students wanting modersmåls undervisning to be able to hire another teacher unfortunately.

I know that the Hedlunda school has a good program for students who have just arrived and give strong Swedish support at primary school level... but I am not sure about the other schools as I have been doing just a little studiehandledning also which is support in English for Swedish subjects for primary level children...and again it is only 40 minutes a week per child.. you can have either the Swedish support or the home language teaching. So from what I can see a lot of schools opt for this rather than have a special class or department. I know that higher up there are special classes and programs but at primary level, not so much.

I think if the OP is only here for a term then a school like Språkskolan could be the best option rather than throw the children into a completely Swedish environment for such a short time. (That is, if it is only one term).

Posted by: roch 24.May.2010, 07:33 PM

Hi there!

Some extra information and links for you!

If you are coming after Christmas you need to email NOW as the closing date for starting in the Autumn term 2010 has already passed recently.
The school here that offers a lot of support as mentioned before is Hedlunda skola. They have the special classes that will support your children if you decide to go the full Swedish route.

In any case they are also the place to contact if you are wanting home language sessions (1 X 40 minutes a week at your child's school).

You can use google translate to read the pages :-)

Whatever you do, DO NOT leave it until right before you come to try and get support for your children! They are organising teachers and sorting numbers for the autumn term 2010 NOW. So if they know that you are definitely coming after Christmas maybe you can pre sign up so that your children will be assigned a time and slot with one of the teachers allocated to what ever school you decide to go to.

If you leave it too late then your "term" will be eaten up with registering, meetings, being slotted into a space with a teacher, or if everyone is full, waiting until there are 5 children for the kommun to hire another teacher and you might find you could only get a few sessions before the term is over!
The one thing I am not 100% sure of is whether you actually can register before you have moved here and got the personal number etc sorry...

They are really friendly and very helpful so will be able to help you further :-)


Posted by: byke 24.May.2010, 08:03 PM

I really don't understand how home language sessions benefit the child?
Especially for children who are already fluent in there home language / mother tongue.

And lets be honest, 40 minutes a week after school when the kids want to play is hardly education. Not forgetting that a home language teacher doesn't need any qualifications to "teach" (basically a glorified au pair)

Home language "teachers" dont have to be qualified other than being able to speak a certain language. And normally means its just some unemployed "immigrant" who has been lucky enough to get a job by talking to a kid in whatever language.

Lets say you want your child to do basic reading and writing which will obviously need to include grammar and comprehension etc in English (if thats their primary mother tongue).

Since its not part of the curriculum for Swedish kids, then it doesn't need to be taught.
And if it doesn't need to be taught, the state is no way obligated to supply material that it doesn't have for "English as a primary language"

From what I understand, the whole point of a home language teacher is simply to help improve a cultural tongue other than Swedish. But if the child can already talk that language as they have grown up in a environment where that is the child's first language then I don't see any real point in having a home language teacher.

Based on the OP's situation.
I dont see the point in uprooting your kids for 6 months as the whole time will be used to get your kids to learn another language and when they finally master it ... they go back home again with no education learnt apart from a bit of pidgin Swedish which they will most probably forget within a couple of years since they will have no use for it..

Posted by: roch 24.May.2010, 08:21 PM

Wow... say what you really think.

Up here, and I can't speak for other places in Sweden, the teachers were teachers and are also qualified as such in their own countries. I can understand that possibly in a rural area there might not be someone "qualified" , someone might be hired without the full requirements.

Why have a lesson in your own language? I am going to use English as the example here.
Many reasons:

*One or both of the parents are from an English speaking country.
*and this is very common, where one parent is English and one is Swedish but they are divorced but and the child is living with the Swedish parent, children need to continue their English to be able to communicate with their other parent and family members who could be living elsewhere.
*If the child has not had a Swedish upbringing it really boosts their self esteem to have some time in something they already have skills in while they adjust to Swedish school and the challenges of learning a new language.
*Even if a child still lives in an English speaking country they have English 5 times a week until they leave school right? They don't magically have wonderful English skills just because they can speak it. So why not continue learning the language that you have started your life with to be able to use it effectively and correctly in all areas such as reading, writing, speaking and listening?
*All teachers I know, including myself have prepared extensive individual learning programs with specific learning objectives It is not just hanging out for 40 minutes. Lessons have included reading, writing, comprehension, grammar etc tasks and homework too.

You are wrong about certain learning objectives not being set. I have seen the "informal" assessment charts to plan and ensure the child "can do" and is on track "to learn" certain objectives.

Your information is misguided and is not true for Umeå at least. And that is where the OP is coming.
Oh and it's NOT after school, the Swedish teacher pretty much decides when they would like the modersmåls teacher to come in during school hours. Together the hemspråk teacher and the Swedish teacher plan together when it would suit the child best.
Also in studiehandledning, the Swedish teacher sends Swedish work that the child needs help with, and the hemspåk teacher can explain it in English and help the child to understand, be it in Science, History or whatever.

The modersmåls undervisning here is run very well, under a great head, with the teachers really focused on their students.
So I am guessing you have had a bad experience or are you just giving an opinion on something you actually have no knowledge or experience with?

Posted by: byke 24.May.2010, 08:43 PM

Are you saying that home language teachers need to be qualified to teach as such in Sweden?

What is the absolute minimum qualifications a home language "teacher" needs to be allowed to be employed as such in Sweden? (By Swedish standards)

Posted by: roch 24.May.2010, 09:00 PM

I have already said I only know how it works up here.
Currently there are jobs advertised. All applicants MUST have a documented qualification from their home country.

Språket är ditt modersmål. Du har lärarutbildning och dokumenterat goda kunskaper i svenska. Du är beredd att arbeta flexibelt i ett lärarlag och kan samarbeta.

They also require for any permanent position that the teacher has Tisus or Svenska B or to be very close to achieving it. As all weekly staff meetings are held in Swedish and obviously all documentation etc is all done in Swedish too.
The standards obviously are set very high up here!

I don't know how it works in other kommuns.

But what I do know is that while what you said could well be true somewhere in Sweden, it is not true up here. The head runs a very tight ship.

Also the teachers do not follow "Swedish curriculum" for each language as each child has individual needs and obviously levels. How could every language teacher for every language catered for be restricted by that? That is why up here qualified teachers are hired. You need to be able to plan and teach a structured program.
I have had a 6 year old who could read really well compared to an 8 year old who struggles with basic word recognition.
Planning of activities and learning opportunities is extensive and is structured to what the child's needs are.

This is how it works up here. The teachers I have met are qualified, dedicated and care greatly about the students they teach.

In short, while I do not have a permanent position up here, I have worked within the system frequently this year and quite frankly am offended that you made sweeping judgements such as we are all unqualified glorified au pairs.

I guess my two university qualifications and 14 years teaching experience makes me nothing but a babysitter in your eyes. Gee thanks for that.

Posted by: byke 24.May.2010, 09:03 PM

Since you didnt answer my question I will ask it again.

What is the absolute minimum qualifications needed to be a home language teacher needed in Sweden (set out by the ministry of education in Sweden).

Posted by: roch 25.May.2010, 05:54 AM

No you have not read my answer.

I said I did not know.

I said I only knew what was required by my Kommun. Which is where any job vacancies are advertised. And after all THEY are the people doing the hiring here.
In my last post you can clearly see that anyone NOT qualified will not be considered for any vacancy as that it what the Kommun requires.
The job vacancies for a variety of languages in hemspråk were advertised last week.

So up here it does not matter what the education ministry set. Umeå kommun will only hire qualified teachers.

All of my arguments have been based on what I know, where I live, in my Kommun and I have said that from the beginning. Which is relevant to the OP as THIS is where he is coming.

If you have such a problem for whatever reasons with modersmåls undervisning in your Kommun then why don't you do something about it instead of complaining?
Up here, it runs very well.
If you want to so badly find out about regulations in the law then why don't you find out about it? You are swedish right? So I am sure that you can navigate your way around swedish law and regulation pages a lot faster and better than I can.

My issue with what you have said in previous posts is that you made great sweeping statements that are wholly untrue for the Kommun of Umeå. You obviously have had problems with teachers with your kids, or substandard education experiences along the way. If you have then I am genuinely sorry that your children have had that experience. Not all teachers are wonderful and great educators. Just like in every job, in every industry, in every workplace there are always some lemons in the fruit basket. However, to make such generalisations like in your first post is misinformed and just plain wrong. And not fair to people like myself who work very hard and care greatly about the children in our care.

I have tried to explain how it works up here, even posting the qualifications required in a recent job ad on the Kommun website. But for some reason you are not willing to actually accept that it works that way here.
I have never pretended to know how it works in other Kommuns.

Do I think that all teachers must be qualified to teach? Yes I do.
Are there schools that hire non qualified teachers. Possibly there are. But not here in Umeå.

I have no interest in debating this point further with you.
My interest was to give the OP links and information to help his kids when he makes the move here. Because that's what matters the most in my view. Making sure that he has all the information necessary to be able to make the best choices for his children.

Please feel free to find out the laws and regulations yourself and let us all know.

Posted by: Puffin 25.May.2010, 07:32 AM

The qualifications required for a modersmål teacher are similar - if not more stringent - than for other teachers
- need for a teaching exam either from Sweden or home country
- need for good knowledge of Swedish - Svenska B is preferred
- in addition needs to be a native tongue speaker of the language

The average time for modersmål in Sweden is 60 minutes per week although some schools give more than this.

However the Education Act allows kommuns to hire unqualified teachers with similar qualifications for no more than 1 year at a time if they cannot recruit a suitable teacher - sometimes it is problematic if the school is only purchasing 60 minutes per week or sometimes a 5 or 10% contracts as a fully qualified person would probably not be a available for an hour or two here or there.

There was a reports a while ago that free schools have a lower number of qualified teachers in all subjects and are generally less supportive of modersmål teaching.

My eldest daughter has had 3 modersmål teachers - all have been qualified English teachers from a variety of countries

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