Open Access

This is Not My World”. Essential Support Strategies for Newly Arrived Adult Immigrants Learning Swedish


In Sweden, the state-sponsored language education, Swedish for immigrants (Sfi), provides language and cultural knowledge for the integration of newly arrived adult migrants in Swedish society. Sfi’s educational quality has sustained severe criticism. Through qualitative investigation of Sfi teacher work, this study aims to find out what pedagogical priorities guide the teachers’ classroom practices with linguistically and culturally diverse students. Furthermore, it aims to compare the contributions to Sfi learning environments of ethnically diverse teachers whose language experiences are different. Research into second language acquisition and native and non-native second language teachers contextualize the research aims. Bakhtin’s (1986) conception of human understanding as the meeting of two consciousnesses and García’s ideas about translanguaging in language education for adult migrants provide theoretical perspectives. Classroom observation alongside teacher focus groups generated data. Content analysis condensed the data into five essential support strategies that foreground students’ existential needs, their home languages as a learning resource, integration, learning challenge and instructional partnership between ethnically diverse teachers. Findings do not support the view that non-native language teachers are better equipped to teach second language students than their native counterparts but illuminate the unequivocal advantage of harnessing the pedagogical strengths of both teacher groups cooperatively.