Softwerk Academy

2020/01/10

Teaching the Swedish language at Softwerk!

Q: Could you explain who you are, your background and what it is that you are doing at Softwerk?

My name is Michael Nilsson, 38 years old and currently living in Växjö with my family. I was born in Macedonia but came with my family to Sweden when I was 5 days old. Today I am a language teacher with a master’s degree in teaching and 10 years of experience in teaching Swedish and English at all levels.

Since August 2014 I have been teaching the Swedish language to the employees who come from all parts of the world. I am responsible for the Softwerk Academy, which is all the language educational work at Softwerk.  

Q: How did you get to where you are today?

In the beginning I started as an English Teacher but the school I worked at needed a substitute teacher for the SFI (Svenska för invandrare) classes. At first, the first month or so, I did not like it because it was something totally new to me and at the time I hadn’t any degree in the Swedish language. However, I started to love it more and more. Working with motivated grownups who came from different countries was amazing and I really enjoyed it. Therefore, while working full time, I started to study Swedish as a second language at the University and got my degree. At the University Course’s IT platform there was an ad from Softwerk saying they were looking for SFI teachers. That seemed very interesting, so I called the company and almost immediately got the chance to work there. It was a nice atmosphere at the company, my students were so innovative and professional at programming, so it felt like an honor to work with them and teach them something. Moreover, they were very nice and motivated and for all these reasons I stayed at the company until this day.

Q: How are your classes at Softwerk?

They are great. Every class is 2 hours and we have class 2 days a week. I have 4 different groups at various levels. The concept is small groups with much focus on learning how to communicate in Swedish. We use very good digital material as well as books and I try to mix exercises and topics every step to the degree in order to keep my students focused and find the classes interesting. We smile and laugh a lot and have a positive atmosphere which, I would say, all like very much.

As I said before we also learn about life in Sweden, cultural codes, how things work because it is important as part of an integration process.

Finally, I use scientifically proven teaching methods blended with my own teaching experience and personal teaching style. I try to adapt to my students’ needs, use humor and give them the chance of influencing their own learning process.

Q: Would you say that your classes are successful?

Absolutely, both me and my students see the results. Some students finish after 70 hours knowing how to speak Swedish and communicate in writing. Compare this to SFI, where they study 60 hours a month, and still it can take months, even years to finish. Also, I continuously evaluate my classes with my students in order to keep the learning process at its maximum capacity. Moreover, I don’t want to take all the credit myself because the students are extremely intelligent and are mostly involved in their learning process themselves. I mean sometimes they come with requests regarding material or different ways of learning that suit them which most often is possible to integrate into our classes. They all have University backgrounds and are used to “absorbing” information and material. Lastly, one key factor is the possibility to work in small groups. They can ask questions and get a lot more space with me as a teacher than in a class with 25 students. 

Q: But isn’t it difficult to teach a group of students with different backgrounds?

No not at all. We have students from China, Macedonia, Slovakia, Ukraine and other countries, but most of my students are from Ukraine. I speak a little bit of Russian myself and I thought it would help the Ukrainians, but on the contrary, they even wanted me to explain the grammar in Swedish. So, diversity just enriches the dynamic in our classes. As long as they want to learn, I guide them and answer their questions and they practice communication outside our classes that they learned in a couple of months.

Q: What impact has the Softwerk Academy given you?

It has made me a better teacher for sure. Because I get many questions and advanced ones. My students are eager to learn and have high expectations from me. Thus, the level of my teaching capacity has developed a lot. Also, it has made me humbler as a person due to the fact that everybody at Softwerk are fantastic nice people and lovely to work with and that atmosphere makes you feel great. It feels like “a future type of workplace”.

Q: How important do you think it is to have the classes in-house at Softwerk?

Oh, the availability! The students are used to this environment and they feel comfortable here. I come to them, they don’t have to go somewhere for class and lose time for transport. I also try to be as flexible as possible. Sometimes we have evening classes for the students who want that. Besides the environment, the students know each other, and they have the same interests which is a great factor.

Q: What is your goal with Softwerk Academy?

To teach as many students as possible Swedish. And I would like to develop the Academy so we could help more people and companies learn Swedish and help them get accustomed to Sweden. To reach out with our successful concept is always my goal. 

Q: Do you have any last words that you want to say?

Yes, there is a question I think a lot of people are asking themselves; If you live in a country where everyone can speak English and work in a sector as IT where English is a dominant language – Why is it necessary to learn Swedish? Here is my answer: if you are planning to stay here without learning the language and culture, you will be isolated from society. Life quality gets a lot better when you know how to speak with all people in society, not just your colleagues or family.

 

Do you work within IT or are you an IT professional in Växjö and want to learn Swedish? Are you an employer in Växjö within IT and have employees whom you want to help integrate into the society? Join the Softwerk Academy – Contact us today for more information!

How can...

Växjö become the Swedish Silicon Valley?

2019/12/11

We sat down with Deputy Mayor Oliver Rosengren to talk about his vision for our city.

Q: Oliver Rosengren, you’ve previously said that Växjö can become the little Silicon Valley of Sweden. How?

Oliver Rosengren: There are two parts to making Växjö a little Silicon Valley, or Silicon Lake, if you want to use the local version. As a city, we need to be attractive for brilliant minds that want to find new solutions in tech. This means that we must have good infrastructure, functioning welfare, and a good labour market so that people want to move here. Having these fundamental parts working is our main task as the municipality.

The other part is the enterprises’ responsibility. I think creating an environment where tech companies meet and innovate together is hard to force, it just happens. Växjö is already a Swedish centre for modern tech, and you can trace some dots. Back in the day, when the tech giant Boss Media went down, lots of people started their own businesses. Today’s tech scene is somewhat of a heritage of Boss Media. So Växjö has great preconditions for becoming even better.

Q: How important is the tech industry for Växjö’s economy?

The strength of a local economy lies in having some really strong economic areas, as well as having a diversity of areas. Växjö and its surroundings has great traditional industries. We have the forestry sector with Södra, we have Volvo, we have Rottne Industries, and so on. These can be seen as the backbone of our economy. But to stay relevant, we also need to have a modern, interesting, and innovative side of the economy. I’d say that the tech industry has become our modern industry.

Q: Politically speaking, what needs to be done so that the tech sector can further flourish in Växjö?

Starting off with the labour force, the important thing is getting the right competences. Together with Volvo and other companies in the GoTech network, we’re working to get more youths into the industrial and technology programmes in upper secondary school. Over the years, every industry figure asks me the same thing: “How we can get more kids into these programmes?” This year, we’re finally seeing results. It’s the first semester where they completely filled the programme, and even needed to add another class! On the university level, I think one of the best things recently was the introduction of the civil engineering programme at Linnaeus University.

Looking abroad, people need to be able to take their competence, intelligence, and innovative minds and come to Sweden. This is where I think Softwerk should have a medal of honour.

We need to make sure that these people aren’t then forced to leave when they have a job, are contributing, and are needed in their companies.

Q: So how can we remove the obstacles for Växjö’s companies seeking to attract foreign experts?

First of all, I know Softwerk has had some struggles with the Migration Agency in the past and I think you did an excellent work trying to get them to understand. It set a precedent in Växjö.

I’d say that the most important obstacle is the uncertainty. If you’re a company using your resources to attract someone, you want to be sure they’ll be able to stay. Companies are helping a lot with for instance language education, another very good Softwerk example. These companies are really putting their heart into this. But from the government and the authorities, they just face uncertainty. I’m proposing a so-called amnesty for working people. That means that foreigners working here will not be kicked out due to some minor paperwork mistake. If we do this, I believe the companies will solve the rest.

Q: Another part of the solution is to increase IT competences here at home. How can we get more Swedish youths interested in coding?

IT needs to be present in schools the way it’s present in society. But I don’t believe putting an iPad in the hands of every student will do this. Tech needs to be used in an educational way. Why does every student learn how to make a cushion, but not how to program? Why do they all learn how to saw, but not how an application works? We teach traditional crafts, and we should also teach modern craftsmanship, namely programming. I think this should be a mandatory course in elementary school because it’s something everyone needs to understand.

Q: What is the role of Linnaeus University in this?

Overall in Sweden, we’re quite bad at forging connections between research and companies. Also in this regard, Softwerk is a very good example. You’re the exception, since you have that connection with research. I would love to see more companies streaming out from the university. Overall, I want to see more partnerships between the Linnaeus University, schools, and companies.

Q: Deputy Mayor, what’s your pitch to foreign experts thinking about coming to Växjö?

The thing with Växjö is that we never give up, we thrive. These are classical Smålandian values. And if a person is thinking about leaving their country to go somewhere abroad to work, I’d say that sounds like a thriving person. In that regard, I think Växjö would fit very well!

Science at its best

Softwerk playing a major role in saving the swedish forest.

2019/12/09

A summary of the interview with our CEO Björn Lundsten published by Växjö’s newspaper Smålandsposten.

The spruce bark beetles have been damaging over 10 million cubic meters of the swedish forest over the past two years. Hopefully, a new project based in Växjö will be the solution to stop this spread.

The goal of this project is to develop a digital tool to predict future attacks of spruce bark beetles through machine learning. The basis is to measure data through land and climate conditions at the plant site, to measure rainfall and temperature, and also the nature of the trees in the areas that have been attacked.

Björn Lundsten explains that we will train the system to provide prognostics for the future. If one follows the patterns on how spruce bark beetles have been moving the past years and registers under what conditions they prevail, we can predict in which locations the risk is higher.

So far, Softwerk is in a pre-project phase together with scientists from several institutions within Linnaeus University and the Skogsstyrelse (Forest Board). From Softwerk’s point of view, we can tell you that the interesting part has just begun and there is more to come.

Read more about the article through this link, http://www.smp.se/vaxjo/vaxjoinitiativ-kan-stoppa-granbarkborren/

From Shenyang to Växjö

An interview with Nils Sun, Softwerk Java developer

2019/11/21

“Programming is like playing a video game: you finish one level, and then you’re on to the next one.”

Hey Nils! What’s your story?

Nils Sun: In China, I studied a Bachelor’s of Computer Science and Technology, and a Master of Computer Application at Northeastern University. After I graduated, I got a job in a state-owned telecom company, where I worked for nearly 10 years as a project manager. I had the chance to work with lots of developers which got me interested in code, especially Java code. After my main project came to an end I wanted a new challenge, and began thinking about working in an international company. 

But I realised that there were two main obstacles in my way: lacking language and programming skills. So I quit my job and moved to Växjö, Sweden. At Linnaeus University, I studied software technology and programming and started improving these two skills.

How did you start working at Softwerk?

I was lucky to get to know one of the founders, Welf Löwe, during a one-week work exchange program to Germany. And the other founder, Rüdiger Lincke, was the teacher of my last course at Linnaeus University, namely software quality. After the course, he suggested I do an internship at Softwerk.

To be honest, when I started my internship I was a bit nervous about my coding abilities. At the time I didn’t have much confidence. But the co-workers were very kind and in a way my internship felt like a continuation of my university studies. It was a very good environment. I compensated my somewhat lacking skills with working really hard and after my internship, I was offered a job.

What’s your position at Softwerk now?

I’ve been working here as a software developer for three years now. My main focus is Java developing, and I’ve worked on a couple of interesting projects, such as Danfoss, AIMO, and Fortnox. I’m happy to be at a stage in my career where I can experience the whole software cycle. 

What’s an average day at the office like?

If I were to define Softwerk in three words, they’d be: optimistic, passionate, patient. Here, people get along like friends. As opposed to Chinese companies, Softwerk has a flat hierarchy. The bosses are kind and very patient and I feel like I’m free to ask anything. If there’s a problem, people will take the time to make sure you understand – and if there’s a language barrier they will even draw it out on the whiteboard!

The company also gives us lots of space to improve our skills. One example is when we organised seminars where each employee gave a lecture about a field they’re experts in. Softwerk also helps us foreign employees with visa applications, and offers Swedish language courses.

Personally, I feel grateful, because the company really has given me a lot. Not only have I improved my English and programming skills, but I also feel I’m more sociable than before.  I’ve improved my social skills through all kinds of group activities. For instance, the team has gone canoeing together, and we’ve gone on trips to Alicante and Macedonia. 

What’s the best thing about working at Softwerk?

The best thing for me is I just get more and more interested in my job. I think programming is like playing a video game, you finish one level, and then you’re on to the next one. I like problem solving, and that’s what I get to do every day: I work with cross-application platforms, checking the interface, log, and analysing problems. I think this is where I really can exert my strong abilities.

Beyond that, I like our office environment. Softwerk is concerned with its employees and the company adds new features to the office according to our demands. We now have many ways to entertain ourselves on Friday evenings; with a dart board, PS4, VR helmet, pullup bar, and tap beer. I think this brings us together as a team. It’s a special culture. 

Finally, where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I’m very happy here, and feel like I’m working among friends. In the future, I’d like to apply the techniques I learned from my projects to other projects and to tackle new challenges. I also want to improve my developing skills. My aim is to become an architect, to really grasp the software framework. Ideally, I’d be responsible for a new project as scrum master. 

And speak Swedish fluently. [laughs]