We teach Swedish

Swedish language studies are available at more than 225 institutions at universities and colleges outside Sweden. Which in turn means that there are about 600 teachers teaching swedish at these institutions. We have interviewed a few of them.

Most of those who teach Swedish abroad are domestic teachers, but some are also permanently resident Swedes. There are also Swedish lecturers, were the teacher is employed by the university but the service is provided through the Swedish Institute.

At a young age, Irina Matytsina read the Pippi books that she loved. At the school masquerade in grade 1, she dressed up for Pippi and won first prize for best costume.

The interest in Sweden continued into the teens. Again, it was a book that showed the way. She then read a novel about a Russian girl who ended up in Sweden during the Second World War. The book was about how she made her way back to Russia via Sweden and Norway.

Today, just over 20 years later, Irina Matytsina is an associate professor and has taught and researched the Swedish language at Moscow’s State Lomonosov University – MGU. It is the largest and oldest educational institution in Russia that has offered Swedish education for just over half a century.

– Being able to teach Swedish from the very beginnning and then being able to join the journey and see how the students develop and how much they learn is hugely satisfying.

Amelie Pelletier is a foreign lecturer in Swedish at the University of Lille. The university offers Swedish teaching at two campuses.

– I have not been a Swedish lecturer before, but I have taught Swedish in Latvia where I was employed at a language center that offers language courses for individuals and companies. And when I was living in the Netherlands, I had evening classes in Swedish.

– It is stimulating and fun to work at a foreign university. I have great freedom to decide the content and design of my teaching.At first, it was a bit of a challenge to learn about the administration and routines around examinations, grades and thsuch but a big plus is that my colleagues at the department are so nice.

Is there any particular image of Sweden that you would like to highlight in your teaching?

– It depends on what theme we are currently dealing with. Swedish fika, the view of children and child rearing, climate activism and the Swedish consensus culture are some things we have talked about. It is a balancing act to not go into using stereotypes, but I find it interesting to highlight differences in how Swedes and French people behave and communicate. Some of these differences are expressed in the language and therefore come naturally in a language course.

Josef Wikström has long known about the lecturer positions that SI enables. In 2019, he filed an application, which resulted in his position as a Swedish lecturer in Bratislava.

– The students come without any prior knowledge of Swedish, so we start from scratch and work our way forward. At the advanced level, I also teach them about Swedish social science.

– Something that I find interesting about Sweden that I like to emphasize is that even in Sweden, what is Swedish is discussed and problematised. This means that there are a lot of texts and opinions about Sweden also by Swedes.

What are your biggest challenges as a Swedish lecturer?

– The biggest challenge is that the students get as much knowledge as possible, even though they do not live in Sweden. If you teach in Sweden, the students will come into contact with the language in a different way, and above all, the vocabulary will also be used in other ways than during the lessons. Fortunately, the students have many lessons in Swedish.

What advice would you like to give to others who are c intersted in teaching Swedish abroad?

– I think that openness and acceptance of things that are not as one is used to is absolutely necessary. If you have that then I think you should apply!

You can find the interviews in their entirety in Swedish and meet more Swedish teachers on the Swedish language website svenskaspråket.se