Ever since I came to Sweden, no even before that, I’ve been talking about ass-eh-fee, also known as SFI. This stands for Svenska För Invandrare, which means Swedish For Immigrants.
When I first heard about it, I was amazed and impressed with Sweden. A language course, for FREE?? It was almost to good to be true for this language-loving-emigrant. I asked around, expecting to find out it was in fact too good to be true and that there would be some ‘snake under the grass’ (as we Dutchies say), but no, they said. It’s true. All you need is your residence permit and a personnummer.
Ha. All you need…turns out that getting that permit and personnummer took a wee bit longer than expected. But I waited, and kept telling everyone: If only I could do SFI. I can’t wait to do SFI.
But barely anyone shared my excitement. Instead, I was warned: I was too eager and too excited. SFI is mandatory for refugees, and I would be seriously disappointed with the lack of passion from the teachers, the lack of motivation from the students, and the overall lack of quality of the education.
In the end I wouldn’t even speak better Swedish, they told me. Because all you would do was talk to other foreigners and who was there to correct you?
Well, here I am, barely 2 days into SFI, and there’s enough to say already. Mainly this: I like SFI.
My classmates are Polish, Somalian, Eritrean, Iraqi, Palestinian, Syrian and Croatian. Most of them have very thick accents and names that are hard to pronounce. We have talked about ourselves and practiced grammar and helped each other out. The teacher only speaks Swedish with us.
Maybe not everyone is as motivated as I am, or it could be that they had a hard time using the computer so a nap seemed a better option.
The teacher may not have been well prepared, or it could be that she was taking her time to get to know us a bit better before she started off with her lesson plan.
Here’s what I think:
I have something to get up for in the morning, which is more than I’ve had in the last 8 months.
I get free education.
I meet interesting new people who teach me things about their country, culture and language (who knew that they use the Ge’ez script in Eritrea? Who has even heard of the Ge’ez script? I hadn’t, until yesterday).
I am forced to speak Swedish and because everyone is either teaching it or learning too, I’m not nervous about it.
And people. IT’S FREE.
So yeah. That’s why I like SFI.