What Is It Like To Live In Sweden Without Knowing Any Swedish?

Woman and Man Dating

I spent a semester in Sweden during my high school years. During this time, I spent half of the day going to a course to learn Swedish, and the other half was at my school attending the regular Swedish high school classes.

In Sweden, most of the population can speak fluent English. But even if they can speak English, the Swedish government supports many courses that offer immigrants and professionals who will live and work in Sweden the chance to learn Swedish. The Swedish government supports these courses because they believe that learning Swedish will help individuals integrate into Swedish society.

Swedes and The English Language

Sweden is one of the best countries in the world that speaks English as a second language. This was not always true, but Sweden has had mandatory English classes n its schools for many years. 

Also, there are many British and American television shows that are shown on Swedish TV in English.

When I am with my Swedish friends, we will speak English. The reason is that their English is much better than my Swedish. Many of them are so fluent that they don’t even have a Swedish accent. This, of course, is amazing for people who have never really lived outside of Sweden but yet can speak English so well.

It is estimated that almost 90% of all Swedes speak English fluently. This is exceptionally high for any country in the world. As the younger generation continues to master English, this number will continue to rise.

In practical numbers, if you are a tourist in Sweden, for every 10 people you stop on the street in Sweden, 8 or 9 of them will be able to speak to you fluently in English. The others 1 or 2 you stop may not be fluent but probably know a bit of English.

Not everyone in Sweden can speak English. In particular, some of the older people. In Sweden, most Swedes under 60 speak excellent English, but you may find that anyone over 60 struggles with the English language.

English is so widely spoken in Sweden that you could live in Sweden and not know any Swedish. You would be able to get around, do your shopping, meet friends who speak English, and have an active social life without speaking fluent Swedish.

Speaking Swedish Is Full Integration Into Sweden

If you have a plan of living in Sweden, you should learn Swedish. The reason is that without knowing Swedish, you will never be integrated fully into Swedish Society.

Many Swedes will speak fluent English, so the minute they see you are struggling in the Swedish language, they will immediately switch from Swedish to English. Any foreigner who wants to learn Swedish will need to work hard to practice the Swedish language.

Learning Swedish is important as you may find that you will have a hard time contacting some of the authorities or dealing with legal paperwork as it is done in Swedish. An example of this, of course, would be the tax agency and even the police.

So if you plan to live in Sweden permanently and make Sweden your home, to be fully integrated into Swedish society, you will need to speak Swedish; even though many Swedish speak excellent English, they also understand it is essential for you to be fully integrated to learn Swedish.

It is good to speak the country’s language you call home, especially if you permanently immigrate there. Also, in everyday life in Sweden, you might find elderly neighbors, bus drivers, taxi drivers, and others who do not speak English or do not want to speak English. Knowing Swedish would help you in those situations.

Sweden Believes In Teaching The Swedish Language

Sweden believes so much in foreigners learning the Swedish language that there are courses offered all over Sweden to learn Swedish. They believe that you must learn and understand their language to be fully integrated into Swedish society.

You can find courses offered throughout Sweden. They have courses for immigrants or SFI and Swedish for Professionals (Yrkessvenska).

The courses have trained and knowledgeable teachers in teaching Swedish as a 2nd language to immigrants and foreigners. The Swedish for Immigrants course has three fundamental parts: studying Swedish from beginner to more advanced courses.

Sweden is so dedicated to helping people who migrate and live and work in Sweden that they offer Swedish language instruction in English, Spanish, Turkish, Somali, Persian, and Arabic. So people who speak these languages can learn Swedish in their native tongue.

These SFI or Swedish language courses are designed for people who are already living in Sweden. To sign up for the course, you must have the right to live and work in Sweden, which means you are legally registered with the tax authorities.

Anyone over 16 years old who has a Swedish Identity number (or registered with the tax authorities) has the right to study Swedish free through one of Sweden’s many SFI or Swedish language programs.

As a large percentage of the Swedish population speak fluent English, you can live and work in Sweden without speaking Swedish. But, to fully integrate into Swedish society, it would be good for you to take advantage of the programs offered within Sweden and learn the Swedish language.

Not only will your Swedish friends be pleased that you can speak Swedish, but it will also help to make your experience in Sweden richer than it would have been without speaking the Swedish language.

At A Bus On A Dusty Road, we talk about all things to do with travel, life, and ex-pat living. We are all about “Living Life As A Global Citizen.” We explore social, cultural, and economic issues and website publishing.

We would love to have you be part of our community. Sign up for our newsletter to keep up-to-date by clicking here. If you have any questions, you can welcome to contact me, Anita, by clicking here.

Listen to our Podcast called Dusty Roads. You can find it on all major podcast platforms. Try out to listen to one of our podcasts by clicking here.

Subscribe to our A Bus On A Dusty Road YouTube Channel filled with great videos and information by clicking here.

Related Questions

Lapland Or Sapmi – In Norway, Sweden, Finland, And Russia

The Sami are indigenous people who live in northern parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia, known as Lapland or Sapmi. Most Sami people live in Norway and Sweden, some in Northern Finland and a few in Russia.

To learn more, you can read our blog on Lapland Or Sapmi – In Norway, Sweden, Finland, And Russia by clicking here.

Norway, Denmark, And Sweden Celebrate Christmas On December 24th.

Norway, Denmark, and Sweden celebrate Christmas on December 24th because Christmas day was permanently reserved as a holy day. The Scandinavians also celebrate on the eve of a holy day and not on the holy day itself. Many Scandinavians would attend a church service mass on Christmas morning.

By clicking here, you can discover more by reading our blog Norway, Denmark, And Sweden Celebrate Christmas On December 24th.

Anita L Hummel

Hi, I live in Hanoi, Vietnam but spend time traveling the region. I love to share with you things I see and learn through my travels.

Recent Posts

What Is It Like To Live In Sweden Without Knowing Any Swedish?