Swedish for… Swedes?

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I prepared another post for today, but it’ll have to wait. See, today I tried to get inscribed for Swedish language classes. I was really looking forward, because I HATE (and yes, that needed to be in capitals) to be as isolated as I am now. Because that is exactly how it feels – isolate. While everybody (or almost everybody) here speaks English as fluently as you can expect from second language learners, it is just embarrassing having to reply “I’m sorry, could you repeat that in English?” time and time again every time someone in a shop or on the street addresses you for whichever reason. Let alone how annoying it is not being able to understand the signs in the street/in the shops, to have to ask your colleagues every single thing because you can’t even Google where the nearest hairdresser is. But I digress.

The SFI program Autumn 2010... in Swedish, obviously

Now, they have a nice little course in Sweden which is free for immigrants, called Svenska För Invandrare. For Lund, their website can be found here. Notice how it is in Swedish? Because obviously, people who want to learn Swedish… understand Swedish already, right?

But oh, you got me there! There IS an icon to get to the English version of the page. Try it. All in English! Isn’t that nice! Now try to find the opening hours. Whether there are courses Autumn 2010. When they start. It’s not there? Ain’t that a pitty…

So we send an e-mail to Pia Lindskoug, the SFI contact person, to ask for further information. At least on the Swedish page she is designated “Kontaktperson”, there is no mention of her on the English page. Maybe that’s why I haven’t received an answer to the (English) mail I sent 2 weeks ago. But hey, we’re flexible, let’s just go and visit!

I am fortunate enough to inform with my colleague about the opening hours, because those apparently don’t match what is stated on the web page (not that I found them on my own – that page was in Swedish). Now, to subscribe, you need to have a personnummer (some type of ID number). For which you need a Swedish address, a Swedish job and a Swedish person as a guarantee. Well, I’m lucky enough to be able to provide all 3, but while the application only took 10 minutes, it can take 2 months before I actually get the number – it’s a busy period, see. But no personnummer – not even a provisional (official) one – no classes.

So to be able to subscribe to Swedish classes, you need to

  • have a Swedish address
  • have a Swedish job
  • have Swedish friends
  • speak Swedish (to understand the website)

Basically, you need to be Swedish.

I understand the Swedish Democrats managed to get into the parliament – with this type of policies you’re making it real hard for foreigners to learn the language, a prerequisite for integration.

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2 responses »

  1. Incompetence, unfortunately, is a global problem. Most people seem to be unable to think through even the most obvious consequences.

    A brief correction to the elections, where there is an understandable confusion for outsiders:

    The Sweden Democrats managed to get into parliament for the first time. The Social Democrats received the plurality of the vote. The centre-right alliance will likely form the government (without either of the “Democrats”).

    • Thanks for your clarification! I’ve been here for only a month and the politic maze is still unclear to me… I’ve altered the last phrase now.

      I do realize not all foreigners arriving in Sweden speak English, and it is not quite feasible to provide SFI information in every language but still… Though I must say – just trying to get to understand the websites and explanations on courses, I’ve already learned some Swedish at least!

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing!

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