SIFA: An intensive Swedish course for academics -an article by SIFA student Anirban Dey

Stockholms intensivsvenska för akademiker or SIFA, as the name suggests, is an intensive Swedish course for expatriates with professional and/or academic backgrounds as teachers, engineers, architects, economists, lawyers and social scientists. This is a free course provided by the City of Stockholm (Stockholms Stad).

What is SIFA?

As opposed to the SFI (Swedish for immigrants) courses run by a few other institutes in Stockholm, SIFA adheres to a distinct course structure and admits learners only five times a year. So, there are fixed dates on which respective courses start and end. Applicants are divided into three groups based on their academic/professional experiences

  • Swedish for pedagogues (SFP)
  • Swedish for economists, lawyers and social scientists (SFEJ)
  • Swedish for engineers and architects (SFINX)

This arrangement means that you will study in cohesive groups together with other learners from the same profession that you are in, thereby establishing relatively uniform learning contexts in the classroom which lead to more useful exchanges and interactions.

Note: Your professional and academic experiences are taken into account during admission, and even if you don’t meet each criterion stated as a requirement, you are granted admission based on the overall domain expertise that you demonstrate.

What are the courses and levels of Swedish that SIFA offers?

SIFA offers Swedish courses at three levels. All these courses are full-time

  • Swedish for immigrants (SFI)
  • Basic (Grundläggande)
  • Swedish as a second language (SVA)

The SFI level, at which most learners seek admission is further divided into three levels –

  • Introduction level
  • SFI C
  • SFI D


So, you can progress from being a complete beginner to an advanced user of Swedish in approximately one and a half years. However, if you are already familiar with Swedish, you can take the language placement test and start at a more advanced level. Similarly, if you have already completed the SFI level from another institute, you can show your certifications to SIFA and ask to be placed at the next level. Teachers keep an eye out in class as well, and if they notice that the level of the class is too easy for you, they can ask you to shift to a class at the next level.

The SFI level is also offered as a distance course, with a team of teachers solely dedicated to this. But learners have to physically attend classes for the Grundläggande and SVA levels. After the completion of a level and obtainment of certification, one can also discontinue the course and join at a later time, when the subsequent round of admissions starts for the next level.  


As you must have gathered by now, the word ‘intensiv’ in the acronym SIFA is not just a figure of speech! This is a full-time course that spans across the entire week, with four days apportioned to language studying (both classroom activities and homework) and one day for assignments, seminars, case studies, mentor programs etc. All the teachers who conduct the course have teaching certificates (lärarelegitimation) and have extensive experiences of teaching Swedish to adult learners in various contexts. Textbooks are provided free-of-cost to all the students, along with access to online resources and an on-campus library. Broad course structures are further divided into lesson plans for every week, so that students have a clear idea of the topics being covered each week. Some levels also have a weekly test every Thursday for students to evaluate their strengths and areas of improvement.

The teaching methodology follows a communicative approach to learning Swedish, with equal emphasis given on reading, listening, speaking, writing as well as grammar and vocabulary. The teaching is primarily activity-based, and is conducted through written tasks, online games, pair and group speaking activities, listening texts and assignments. As each class has not more than 25 students, the teacher pays individual attention to each learner and keeps a constant tab on their progress.

If you want to learn Swedish for professional or academic purposes, or even to integrate into the society here, a course at SIFA will surely go a long way in materializing your objective.       

Important things to keep in mind

One cannot apply for SIFA if one has been in Sweden for more than three years.
Getting an ‘F’ grade twice in the entire duration of the course i.e. from the Introduction level to SVA, will disqualify a student from continuing at SIFA. One can, however, continue one’s Swedish education at other language institutes.  
One has to maintain a minimum attendance of 70% for each level to qualify. 
There are scholarship opportunities that one can avail when one reaches the Grundläggande level.
All enrollments to SIFA are handled by the Adult Education Centre (Vuxenutbildningscentrum) at Rosalundsgatan 52.
Information and clarifications can be directed to this email address:
Last but not the least, the schools are all nut-free zones to prevent allergic reactions. The only thing you can go ‘nuts’ about is your Swedish! J

This article was originally published for Stockholm Dual Career Network on 27 February 2020.