The 6 film classics helping immigrants learn Swedish
Swedish film classics are now about to become part of the teaching material for SFI, Swedish language classes for immigrants.
By showing and discussing Lasse Hallström's My Life as a Dog, Kay Pollack's As It Is in Heaven and four other Swedish film classics, teachers hope that newly arrived immigrants will be able to improve their knowledge of the Swedish language and of Swedish culture and society.
Asfana Nasrullayeva from Azerbaijan has been in Sweden for two years, and she likes this idea.
"I enjoy talking with Swedes. It is not enough to just study text books. Then you only learn the grammar. You must talk to other people so that you can understand what they are saying. Watching and discussing the films is good because you learn something different than you do in textbooks or talking with other people," she tells Radio Sweden at her Swedish for Immigrants (SFI) class in Nacka, outside Stockholm.
Britt Lewis is teaching the language class at the Eductus school in Nacka. She started using the films several weeks ago. She pauses The Guy in the Grave Next-Door (Grabben i graven, bredvid) starring the late Mikael Nyqvist, to lead a discussion with her students on what they had seen so far.
"First and foremost it is fun to watch movies. It engages your senses in a different way. It is more stimulating. You learn new words. One gets to listen to the words, to see how they are used and put them into context. And after the film, you can discuss and use the words yourself. So it's a very good way to develop a vocabulary. But I would also say it engages you with the culture, which I think everyone appreciates,"
The films have been chosen to give a slightly different perspective on Sweden, such as through Lasse Åberg's comedy about Swedes abroad in Spain, The Charter Trip (Sällskapsresan) and the drama-comedy Black Jack. There's the relationship comedy, Adam & Eva, and an emotional drama, As it is in Heaven (Så Som i Himmelen) where a world-famous conductor returns to his childhood home in northern Sweden and teaches the local choir.
Manfred Aronsson is the CEO of C More, the film and series streaming site that began the "Filmtegration" initiative by allowing SFI teachers in Sweden to show the six films without cost.
"In these films there is both humour and sadness and other dimensions of how the Swedish mentality works. So I think it will be super interesting for them to discuss that, compared to reading a classic old textbook," he tells Radio Sweden.
There has been great interest in the project from SFI teachers. Around 1,300 teachers have acquired an account to use the films and related educational materials.
One of the students at the SFI class in Nacka is Ted Burr from the United States. He thinks it is an interesting project that helps him better understand both Swedish and Swedish culture in a number of ways.
"One is getting a sense of how Swedes talk in everyday life, it's about tempo, but also word usage, which is not always that easy to draw out of a textbook. But it is also a lot of other things woven into any film in any culture, that really conveys a sense of how the people are. Food, style, small things," he says.
But for others in the class, the films have also shown how similar countries can be. Andi Cobb recognized much from the northern town portrayed As it is in Heaven. She's from a small town in Texas in the US and there's a lot from there that felt familiar in the film.
"It greatly mirrored what my life was like growing up in that small town, very similar in many ways to how small it was, the mentality of the people. It felt like home watching that movie, definitely," she says.