“People with a foreign background find an opening in the job market, at the same time as pupils with other home languages have a greater chance of achieving success,” says Katarina Löf, Head of Department at the University of Gävle.
Collaboration between the University of Gävle, the Employment Service and municipalities in the region has now resulted in a course to train language support assistants.
Municipalities in the region have a great need for language support assistants and will supply training positions in their schools. The European Social Fund is funding the project and the course starts this autumn.
The course will be sixteen weeks long and will consist of periods of theory combined with work experience. On the three courses that are planned a total of eighty people will be trained, to be employed in Gävleborg and Älvkarleby.
The 'language support assistant' does not yet exist as a profession in Sweden and it has been difficult to find assistants who can give good language support.
“There are many people who have perhaps worked as teachers in their homelands, who have pedagogical training, but who cannot find work,” says Katarina Löf. “People who could easily be very good language support assistants in schools.”
The course will comprise what it means to be a language support assistant and what one’s role in the classroom will be, vis-à-vis the teacher and towards the pupils.
For example if one does not understand what the teacher is saying, it is important to ask questions. One must listen to the pupil - have they understood or must one explain a concept or word that the teacher used?
“Regarding the pupil’s grades - they should not be put at a disadvantage just because they cannot explain everything using the Swedish language. The language support assistant should be there so that the pupils are in a good position to prove their knowledge and capabilities.” says Glafira Sörensen, leader of the project at the University of Gävle.
The course participants will learn how the Swedish school system works and what types of teaching are practised there, as well as the norms and fundamental values that are a part of the school system in Sweden.
Equality, sustainable development and democracy, which qualities one uses as a leader in school and how one creates leadership in a non-authoritarian environment; these are some of the topics that will be discussed.
Initially one must have a good knowledge of the Swedish language which will lead to the attainment of words and concepts that are common in the Swedish school environment.
There are great benefits for the university in meeting participants who have a different cultural background. The need for teachers with such experience is very great today. The hope is that this course could also be an opening towards considering working as a teacher here in Sweden. Perhaps the leap towards applying for teacher training won’t be too great.
“Other benefits are that pupils with other home languages have a better chance of establishing themselves in the Swedish system, then going on to higher education and a positive future. So there are many benefits,” says Glafira Sörensen.
For further information, please contact:
Glafira Sörensen, project leader at the University of Gävle
Tel: 026-64 85 52
Text: Douglas Öhrbom