Roula - her motivation is very high
Roula came to Sweden in 2016 along with her two children. She has lots of plans for the future, including starting a business of her own. She lived in Vimmerby, where she finished her sfi-studies, then she came to Kristianstad, where she had soon completed the basic course in Swedish. Her aim is to start an authorised translation bureau in Kristianstad.
”Learn the language and you'll have the opportunity to find a way into a community that makes everyone welcome”Roula Al Haffar, home-language, working at Hyllie Park Folkhögskola at Östermalmskyrka.
– As a single mother I made up my mind right from the start to believe in myself, and I soon learned that language is the key to all the closed doors that new arrivals in Sweden encounter.
– Just like a key in a lock. Learn the language and you'll have the opportunity to find a way into a community that makes everyone welcome. I think it's a magic formula for conquering lots of obstacles.
But soon everything changed. Through the Job Centre she was offered a job at Hyllie Park Folkhögskola because of her university education in Syria. Roula graduated with a good degree from the College of English Education She is fluent in Arabic,English and Swedish .
” I've always enjoyed doing things that are worthwhile for other people, that's what it feels like if I bump into one of my students somewhere”Roula Al Haffar
First she worked for a year as a support teacher in languages, then she worked as a home-language teacher and now she has a class of her own.
– Working as a home-language teacher doesn't mean that I teach the students their native language, I explain Swedish grammar in Arabic.Now my students have just one day a week when we can speak Arabic, otherwise we speak Swedish.
– I've always enjoyed doing things that are worthwhile for other people, that's what it feels like if I bump into one of my students somewhere.
– It's very hard to be responsible for a group of adults in which most have experienced war. Many have lost relatives and friends because of the war too, So depression and anxiety are typical for them, and that makes it more difficult for us as teachers.
Sfi has four levels, A to D. Which group do you most like working with?
– Given the chance I'd have chosen level A. I know that this level poses high demands, but that is a challenge for me. I can notice the difference in the students'level of knowledge even although it is very slight.
– In sfi, the groups change all the time since new students keep arriving. I enjoy the variation in working with groups that are not static, says Roula Al Haffar.
”Students must trust their teacher. You show that you care”Roula Al Haffar
What are the most common difficulties that you have noticed?
– Students are often motivated to learn Swedish and become part of the community, but there are also some who are made to study sfi, and that means that it can be harder to deal with them. How do you deal with students who are introvert and integrate them in a group with the rest of the students? How do we quieten down the noisy ones?To force adults is not to treat them as adults. You must have routines and rules. You have to show them that what they do has consequences for themselves.
What is important for you as a teacher at an sfi-school?
– When you choose material, it must be relevant to adult life, for example housing and economy. What is important for all sfi-students is that our starting-point is the students' own experiences. A central word is trust. Students must trust their teacher. You show that you care.
– One advantage of working as an sfi-teacher is that the workload is relatively evenly spread throughout the year. I don't have long summer holidays any more, but I have six weeks' holiday per year.
Pupils at the school are very glad to have a teacher there who can explain Swedish grammar to them in Arabic.
– Having a teacher who can explain things for us in our own language makes it easier for us to understand the language and gives us a shortcut to learning Swedish. Our native-language teacher explains a lot of complicated grammatical rules for us adult students in our own language, says Jasim Aljalil.
Samia Issa, who is studying at level A, says that distance studies during the corona crisis are very difficult. But we speak as much Swedish as possible, and if we don't understand we use Arabic, which helps newe arrivals with their Swedish.