I haven’t been writing for a long time now and here I am back from my long hiatus – or more like my self-declared hibernation. It’s my first winter, you see. 🙂
Anyway, just a month ago I received a letter from the mail informing me that I have been accepted in SFI or Swedish for Immigrants‘ course. At first I couldn’t help but feel nervous about having to interact outside home but the feeling simply ebbed away as the excitement gets the better of me. Finally I’ll be going to school and the thought somehow gave me a sense of purpose. Who wouldn’t right? I find it interesting that not only will I get to do something else for a change but I will also have this chance to meet other people of other nationalities who are in the same predicament as me.
The first day was just a short one – just a couple of hours long – enough for an introduction from the team of Sprak och Framtid (Language and Future). At the end of the introduction, we were given a short quiz in Swedish. I find the questions to be pretty basic. I guess it’s more like testing if we know any Swedish at all or could even be checking if one can read and write too.
We came in the following day with the knowledge that the introductory course (course A) is just for 2.5 weeks long. There were a couple of Bosnian/Croatian girls in the class who already have some knowledge about the language and they had managed to skip the course after taking an exam. Though I’ve studied on my own as well, I do not feel as ready and confident as them to proceed to the next level. And besides, I have already formed bonds with the girls from Poland and Indonesia whom I can study and finish the course with. It’s just for a couple of weeks anyway.
The class was divided into two. One for those who speak Arabic and the other class was for those who can speak English or who can neither speak Arabic nor English. I actually befriended an elderly woman who can only speak Russian and a little Swedish and by doing so I was able to practice Swedish with her. At this point, I don’t really care if my grammar was failing me. As long as I made myself understood and I get to understand what she’s saying in return then that’s already a cookie point for me. 😀 In Tagalog, we call this manner of talking as ‘barok’ or like the how Tarzan speaks when he was just starting to learn his way with human speech.
Regarding the lessons in this level, mostly it consists of basics like greetings and appropriate responses, the alphabet and proper pronunciation, simple grammar structure and reading comprehension etc. The teachers taught the lessons in Swedish but in a slower pace and they accompanied some of their words with gestures to make it easier for them to be understood. Sometimes they would also translate it to English but not all. So it was really helpful I must say to have done some self-study as it was actually nice to recognize familiar words here and there and just kinda string them all together. Basically if I hear a word I am not familiar with at all it is kind of distracting and my brain starts to get confused. I tried not to dwell on it too much and just concentrate on listening more and more as sometimes it gives me the idea of what was previously said. I guess learning a new language as an adult is pretty tough but undeniably, a skill. Not everyone goes through it especially when there is simply no need.
I’m not sure if this is even worth mentioning but in the middle of the introductory course, we also had a study visit in one of the water and sewage plants in the country. In there we were informed about how their workers treat the water of the community to make it reusable and safe to drink straight from the faucet. We were also educated on proper disposal of wastes – the Swedish way. It was quite informative and interesting for me as I really admire anything that makes things work efficiently for the people and of course the fact that we don’t have the same kind of luxury back home. 🙁
Now moving to the end of the intro course, the class was also presented with the current status of the Swedish labor market, what the in-demand skills are and how to get certain qualifications on targeted jobs. Apart from that, we also had one on one interview with a career counselor there where we discussed our future plans regarding work and education. And then on the last day, we had received a formal written recommendation on the appropriate school we need to go to based on individual evaluation from the interview and class results. In my case, I would be continuing my SFI course in Folkuniversitetet along with my Polish and Indonesian friend while some students in the class were assigned to go to Lernia.
All in all, I feel satisfied with the introductory course except for the fact that one of our homework which was an essay type was not checked and returned. It would have been nice to know what grammar errors I had committed so I could learn from it. 🙁 But as a whole, I can’t really complain that much knowing that this type of education is free. And you know what they say, the best things in life are free! 😀