In my previous blog I discussed about SFI introductory course which lasted for about 2.5 weeks. But now I would like to discuss SFI (Swedish for immigrants) more thoroughly based on my own experience and compare it with SAS Grund (Swedish as a second language – basic).
Again, this will be based on my own experience so it might be different for some who had already taken it up years before me. A lot of things had already changed – rules, curriculum etc. and things will continue to change over time I’m sure. But I just simply want to give people a peek of how it is like to study Swedish in Sweden as an immigrant and as an adult especially for those who had just moved to Sweden and is planning to take up the courses in the future. 🙂
I started SFI February of 2015 and I finished it around July of the same year. It took me just 6 months to finish it, not because I had already studied Swedish before or because I was really good with it, but I guess I got lucky because I was moved to an intensive class with a teacher who was very effective and motivating. So after passing the national tests, I was able to move further with my studies by taking up SAS Grund. I started this education August of 2015 and finished it by February of the following year – so about 7 months in total.
Below I have summarized the similarities/differences between SFI and SAS Grund based on aspects that some of us may have concerns about.
1. BENEFITS– SFI is like the elementary level of learning Swedish and this is where one can learn the basics of the language. It is also the starting point where one gets to learn useful words to get by. On the other hand, SAS Grund is like the middle school level where one can learn the more technical aspects of the language and somehow it is more academic in its approach. For one to be able to apply for other short courses, oftentimes this level of education is required.
2. PLACEMENT TESTS – I took tests on my first day for both SFI and SAS Grund. For SFI, I remembered, I took up a very simple test which required one to answer basic questions like: What’s your name?, Where do you live? etc. It’s not so difficult if one gets to at least try to learn something beforehand from available resources in the internet. For SAS Grund – I remember I had reading comprehension and essay writing. It wasn’t so difficult either though there were some words in the reading comprehension part that I did not know, but anyone could just basically guess their meanings. I believe that one should not be afraid to take this kind of tests because it just serves as a gauge to know how far one is.
3. SCHEDULE – In SFI, we get to choose whether we wanted a morning or afternoon class. Basically it was just a 3-hour class from Monday to Friday. In SAS grund, however, we were given a choice whether we would like to study during the day or evening where to study during daytime means we have to devote our whole time studying. So most people who are working, opt to study part time during the evening instead. School time was also just for 3 hours but only for 4 days a week but with tons of homework to do so it’s basically like spending the rest of the hours doing self study.
4. FINANCIAL SUPPORT – Before, students were able to receive SFI bonus after finishing the course within a year. Unfortunately, this was abolished months before I started SFI. And even if I would like to feel sad about it, I couldn’t because I could only be grateful that I can at least get a language education for free. It’s not something I can easily get in my home country. On the other hand, for someone studying SAS Grund, one is entitled to apply for CSN allowance through the CSN website. One has to meet certain qualifications though. And again, I didn’t receive this either because I was still under a temporary residence permit when I was taking up this course. 🙁
5. SCHOOL MATERIALS – We did not have books in SFI though we did get some printed handouts to work on. In SAS grund level 1 and 2, we were required to buy Språkgrunden and Språkporten BAS respectively. These books were very helpful in improving ones’ vocabulary and learning the grammar.
6. STRUCTURE – SFI consisted of 4 levels: A, B, C, D where A was the most basic and D was the most advanced. People could be move between levels depending on the individual’s pace. So don’t be surprise if like every week you get a new classmate. I was actually moved from B level to D intensive level. I actually skipped a level and to an intensive class on top of that! I didn’t even think I deserved that and I felt like I was being pushed to graduate early so as to clear some spots. But now I feel grateful that they did that because I got to move on quicker with my studies especially since my studies did not just end in SFI. I’d like to add that SAS Grund was more structured and organized than SFI. 15 weeks each for Level 1 & 2 with a detailed plan of topics to be tackled on. One couldn’t just easily skip a level or topics. No new classmates every week as well because of the set semester period.
7. CURRICULUM & TESTS – As I mentioned before SFI has 4 levels. Level A is when one gets to learn the alphabet, the numbers, the time etc. Really really basic stuff that some people can generally skip. B Level is learning more of the basics of the grammar. C level is when one gets to actually participate on oral and writing exercises and this continues on to level D. Grammar is being learned continuously throughout all levels. The only tests I took were the national tests for both C and D which comprised of listening, writing, reading and speaking. In SAS Grund, just like SFI we continued to learn the grammar but this time alongside with the chapters in our books. Vocabulary was also learned meticulously which was not a focus in SFI. We also took tests after studying each chapter of the book and essays/writings were more academically written as certain techniques were expected to be applied when writing a text. In SAS Grund, we also used a tool where we can send our essays and also view our assignments and reminders from our teachers. Really really neat tool.
I hope I was able to somehow draw a picture what one can expect in studying both courses. I know that it can be frustrating that one has to go through the cycle of studying all over again. Believe me, I wasn’t thrilled since I did get to spend years studying English just to get the perfect job and then knowing on later in life that learning english isn’t just enough. But in life, it’s never always gonna be a smooth road and things cannot be just offered to us on a silver platter. We have to work hard, strive hard, be patient and positive to fight ’til we reach our goals. We should also never give up learning something new.
I’m currently studying SAS 1. 2, 3. Perhaps I will talk about my experience on this level on my next blog. Vi får se.
Thank you for reading.