Hej! Jag är lite sjuk, hur mår du? Jag hoppas allt är bra med er.
(Hey! I´m a little bit sick, how are you? I hope everything is fine.)
A lot of people is asking me about the Svenska För invandrare, the Swedish course for immigrants (commonly known as SFI) that the municipalities in Sweden generally offer for free.
Is it good, is it not? Why? I really need to have the residence permit?
After 5 months of SFI I can actually pronounce myself.
First of all: if in one hand the SFI plan is national, in the other hand every municipality manages it independently. It is the reason why it is not uncommon to find contradictory opinions.
Question 1. I need a residence permit to be able to attend the course?
Usually YES. You need it. The first thing they asked me straight away was the personnummer. But I heard that in some municipalities they accept all the Europeans, you just need the passport. You can always try. As we say in italy “try doesn’t hurt you”.
Question 2. How much time I have to wait to start the course?
It… guess what?… depends. In cities like Stockholm and Göteborg they queue is long. Even in Karlstad it is matter of luck. Here the course starts every three months. I applied the 27 of September and fours days after I started the course, other people had to wait 2 months. In Karlstad is max 3 months, but as I said it depends.
Question 3. How is structured the course?
If you are studying a bachelor or you have an university degree, SFI is divided in 2 levels: SFI C and D, and for every level you have to attend a national exam.
Question 4. Which level it guarantees to me?
When you finish the SFI D (so, all the SFI) you are supposed to have a B1 level of Swedish according to the European Framework.
Question 5. The lessons are in English?
No, they are totally in Swedish, from the very first lesson. If you do not understand raise your hand and ask the teacher to repeat in English.
This approach can be really frustrating at the beginning because you will not be able to understand anything (or almost), but stay motivated! It happens to EVERYBODY, you are not stupid, not at all. In the long term it is an effective approach and you will be able to understand without any problem, do not worry.
What about my personal experience? It is okay (not enthusiastic but neither disappointed). To be honest I was having much more expectations. The professor is really nice, talkative and open-minded but she is a student (PhD) and it is obviously that she is not well prepared. She is rather slow in explaining, and we are losing a lot of time repeating the same stuff all over again. That could be good for someone but not for me. This is my personal opinion about the course I am following.
One HUGE suggestion: study by yourself. Attend the course, it is important, but do not expect that these hours are going to be enough to improve your Swedish significantly. I consider it as a basic support to the learning process. It is rather obvious but you have to practice A LOT at home. Listening to radio, renting a book from the city library, watching SVT or find some Swede willing to talk with you and s on and so forth.
Moreover SFI courses, as I said, are quite okay but they probably are not going to teach you properly the pronunciation, that is quite difficult in Swedish and fundamental when it comes to talking. And till you do not practice your speaking your improvements are always going to be small ones. So, I suggest to keep particular attention to it, and make sure you pronounce properly. Lexin, a Swedish online dictionary, is a good instrument for the pronunciation check, so check it every time you learn a new word.
The course is good also because it puts you in contact with other immigrants, and you can take a chance to know new comers that have the same issues or problems, with the possibility to share your experiences and at the same time learn about other cultures.
Swedish is a really nice language. I am surprisingly in love with it, and all the efforts you are going to make are going to worth it! 🙂
Lycka till! Good luck!