Aussies in Sweden

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There are several ways of learning Swedish. Most people enrol in an SFI (Swedish For Immigrants) program or you can go to Komvux or a Folk High school. There are other alternatives at places like Folkuniversitetet, or the tape/book series such as Linguaphone or private tutors. As your Swedish improves you can even go to university for further studies. The most common way though to start to learn Swedish is through your local SFI school.

Introduction: As well as language instruction, SFI also provides an introduction to Swedish society and helps the immigrant to plan for further studies and choose a career in Sweden. The number of hours of instruction varies from person to person, but usually takes about a year to complete. Different municipalities organise courses in their own way, so it is not possible to generalise. Completion of this course and passing a national proficiency test are highly recommended (and sometimes required) for anyone planning to enter the Swedish job market.

Step 1: You must obtain proof (personbevis) that you are listed in the population registry(folkbokföring) and have a residence permit (uppehållstillstånd) before applying for the course. In other words, you will have to be registered as living in Sweden and have a person number in order to qualify for these schools. In order to get your personbevis, contact the Skattemyndigheten (The National Tax Office), in your area, or you can order one on-line, and it will take a day or two to come to your address. The box to tick is the one marked "Svenskundervisning". If you are here on a working holiday or tourist visa you will not be eligible for the free classes.

Step 2: Next, go to your local kommun. They will be able to tell you how Swedish classes are arranged in their area. There is an official sfi website at SFI but funnily enough it is ALL in Swedish!! Great idea, guys, for all new immigrants who understand NO Swedish! You can also access information about the testing procedure in English here and you can also download previous tests.

You may be given a test in written, reading and oral Swedish to assess exactly what your level is, in order to place you in a suitable class. Most people need at least 700 hours of tuition.

Komvux The word Komvux stands for 'kommunal vuxenutbildning' (municipal adult education). It is available in virtually all local authority areas in Sweden. You can attend a Komvux course if you are over 20 and you can study the same courses as are provided at compulsory basic school (Grundvux) and at upper secondary school. Many immigrants go on studying Swedish and other subjects at Komvux after completing their SFI (Swedish For Immigrants) courses.

Other Medborgarskolan has several introductory courses of Swedish for English Speakers


As you would expect, having a private tutor is an expensive proposition, but if that doesn't worry you, I have a list of a couple here in Sweden.

Richard Lewis Communications This company has offices in Stockholm (two locations), Göteborg, Malmö and Helsingborg>.

Berlitz is also a highly respected service, with offices in Stockholm and Göteborg.

Swedish for Expatriates is run by Företagsuniversitetet and you can have one on one training, couple training or small group work with their courses ranging from absolute beginner through to advanced and Business Swedish. Classes are available in Stockholm, Göteborg and Malmö.


Please note that this is my experience only. I began to learn Swedish at the "Swedish for English Speakers" at Medborgarskolan in Stockholm. I did this because I was on a tourist visa initially and having no person number, I was not eligible for SFI. The course I did was 1500kr for 10 lessons over 5 weeks. I attended 4 courses of lessons (40 lessons). The classes were small and all instruction was in English which I found useful. This gave me at least a basic understanding which was helpful when I went on to SFI.

There are horror stories about SFI. But I think there are good reasons for choosing SFI.

1. It is FREE (and not much is in Sweden, I can tell you!).

2. The teachers are generally very good, and have experience in teaching people with all levels of Swedish.

3. You are really encouraged to speak only Swedish. There were 10 different nationalities in my class of about 15. The classes are taught ONLY in Swedish. It sounds impossible, but works!

4. Our only common language is Swedish. So we HAVE to learn to communicate. I can't lean on English to converse with say my Thai or Rwandan classmates. I just have to persevere in Swedish.

5. All "kommuner" in Sweden have courses, so there is one nearby wherever you are.

6. You can stay as long as you need to become proficient in Swedish

Useful textbooks I also purchased three grammar books in English:

"Swedish - A Comprehensive Grammar" by Philip Holmes and Ian Hinchliffe (ISBN 0-415-27884-8) - a very thorough, detailed and helpful text is a wonderful reference tool. It is compiled by English speakers, so it does answer those niggling questions that puzzle native English speakers about the Swedish language.

 "A Concise Swedish Grammar" by Ãke Viberg, Kerstin Ballardini, Sune Stärnlöf. (ISBN 91-27-50252-X B) - I recommend this text.

The other good book that I recommend is "201 Swedish Verbs Fully Conjugated in All the Tenses: Alphabetically Arranged" by Richard P. Auletta.>


As in most languages, there are regional variations in accent and dialects that can make life confusing for the person trying to learn the language. Maybe these couple of links will help. Believe it or not, in a country of only 9 million, there are over 100 Swedish dialects!
Check out here and see the dialects in your area. You can play around with it and click on the different areas and listen to the variations. Quite a few are amazing. Even my Swedish hubby had a good chuckle at some of them.

Jämtländ Many, many words, phrases and even audio files at the Jamska site. (S)

Skåne Well, I won't repeat what my Swedish husband says about the "spare Danes" in this area of Sweden. Have a look at Skånsk ordlista. (S)

Ângermanland Yes, I know this is in the north, too. But Amos Persson's håmpäjdg is well worth a visit as it has sound files of the dialect and some very funny stories (S)


Centrum för läättlast as the name suggests is a resource for those wishing to read simple Swedish. It is the publisher of easy to read Swedish News called 8-Sidor . Here you can choose to either listen to or read the news (S).

Svenska Språknämnden "The site of The Swedish Language Council. Its mission is to monitor the development of spoken and written Swedish and also to strengthen Nordic language unity. The Council publishes books and handbooks and a quarterly journal, " Språkvård". They offer lectures as well as free consultation in linguistic matters. (S) (E)

360 språkfrågor " This website, has collected 360 language questions from Svenskan (the Swedish board of language), and the Swedish group for computer terms. It is fairly advanced, but can be a good resource on how to translate some more sophisticated computer terms from English into Swedish. It also has a number of other interesting facts.(S)

Igloo Swedish This is a very comprehensive course in Swedish grammar fully explained in English. If you need help on clauses, word order or just want revision work for your courses, it is very useful. (E)

Resurscentrum is Scandinavia's largest directory for language learning resources, material, links and exercises. There are some fabulous resources here covering grammar, conversation, culture, crosswords, vocabulary etc. The menu is in English and it is a very helpful site. (E) (S)

Verbix I've mentioned this on the other language page, but it is still a great verb conjugator and can be useful even if you have quite good Swedish skills (S)

Staffan's site This is a site compiled by a teacher of Swedish at sfi. There are a lot of links about Sweden and the Swedish language. There is a section in English, too.

Särskrivning is a great little freeware program that can help you distinguish between the meanings of words in Swedish eg how does "en sjuk sköterska" differ from "en sjuksköterska"?

Särskrivningspolisen " looks at these meanings in a light-hearted way. The site is a lot of fun .(S)

Skrivihop is another site that deals with "särskrivningar". It's funny because when certain words are split up they mean something totally different You need reasonable Swedish skills to read this site.

Avigsidan This site has been collecting "wrong meanings" and language quirks for over six years. It has examples of odd linguistics, incorrect or painfully over literal translations, funny expressions and many other things. It is updated weekly. Go there and have a chuckle. (S)

Lustigheter This site is totally in Swedish and highlights some grammatical anomalies (S)

Crossword Solver Ekelund's is an online crossword solver for Swedish (S)

Scrabble in Swedish this links you to the game. It's not easy, though, nor is there a dictionary either, but you could use one of your own or an online one. (S)


'Digital Dialects - Swedish Games Interactive games for learning the Swedish language.

This site gives many links to a variety of subjects. It is written in Swedish, but is fairly easy to navigate through with only a basic grasp of the language as many of the pages have pictorial links. (S)

Talar du svengelska? Stop sounding like an Aussie while talking Swedish! (S)

This site has some funny ones. Try some out (it also has translations)

Proverbs and Sayings Chalmers gives the most common Swedish proverbs and the English equivalent, with notes in English explaining them. A good resource. (E)

Swedish SayingsThis collection of Swedish Idioms really crack me up. And you thought we had some weird sayings! (I suspect that a number of them are complete fabrications)

More Swedish idioms and their painful, literal translation can be found here. My guy was in stitches when he read some of the meanings. (S) (E)

Talesätt or "manner of speech" also has a collection of everyday sayings with English explanations and translations (E) (S)

The Swedish Chef Remember the muppets, well the swedish chef is the same swedish chef from the classic T.V. program. (put ze cheeken in de oven).(S)

How to learn Swedish in 1000 difficult lessons - Francis Strand is a 48-year-old American magazine editor living in Stockholm writing a diary about the hard way to learn Swedish.(E)

Langoo - Amaze your friends! Multi-Lingual email - from any computer to any email account. The simple, easy and fun way to communicate in your language, e.g. Swedish.

Mikropuhe Live - you write something in Swedish then listen to a computer voice read it back to you. I think it's meant as a serious resource, and it is helpful, but it is also quite funny to listen to the half-Swedish, half-Finnish interpretation. (S)

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