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!