Alena Langhals says that the first step for people who recently arrived in Sweden and who want to study SFI is to visit a vägledningscentrum (study counseling center). Here, you will get in touch with a study counselor who will help you and test your level of Swedish. After this, you will be placed in a SFI course that suits your level of Swedish and your study background.
“SFI often makes the students feel more safe in the Swedish society. The will to learn Swedish, to be a part of society and to make a living on your own are common goals among SFI students”, says Alena Langhals.
All SFI courses include Swedish history and culture. The purpose is not simply to learn important dates, but to grasp the Swedish society as a whole. Alena says that this is very appreciated, since students quickly learn to understand Swedish traditions and values. Alena also speaks of the challenges students face, and what experiences they think are most rewarding.
“The hardest, but also most positive part, is of course learning the language. There is nothing more awesome than seeing a beginner class speak to you in Swedish after just a couple of weeks.”
In general, Swedes take education from a young age for granted, but for some SFI students it is not only about learning, but also about how to learn. Sometimes, study techniques are more important than grammar.
“The relationship between students and their first teacher at SFI often becomes very strong. For many, the contact with teachers and classmates is the first contact with Sweden. The school becomes a great place to get to know many new friends, says Alena Langhals.”
In the past, SFI has been criticized because the level classifications have not worked as hoped and because there has been a strong focus on “Swedifying” the students.
“The content of the SFI courses is regulated by a curriculum, which of course does not say that the students should be “Swedified”. Regarding the different levels, I have my own experience from being a student, a teacher and Head of Education, and I believe that the system works well”, says Alena Langhals.
“One good way to prepare yourself for SFI is to visit the web site www.hejsvenska.se where you will get a crash course in Swedish, similar to a language cafe. It is also good to visit your school before you start”, says Alena. “There is nothing more exciting than being a part of SFI. Every student is a whole journey, one day at SFI is enough to see the whole world”, Alena concludes.