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What should you take into account when choosing the integration language?

What should be taken into account when choosing the integration language and when a worker is guiding the customer in choosing an integration language in a Customer Service encounter? The following information can help the immigrant choose their first language of integration:

  • Geographical area: When choosing a language, you should consider the area in which the immigrant wants to live. There are 33 bilingual municipalities in Finland, the majority of which are located in Ostrobothnia and Southern Finland. Although Swedish is used more visibly in Ostrobothnia, the number of native speakers of Swedish is highest in Helsinki (36,500 residents). The Swedish language can be used in bilingual municipalities with central and local government authorities. In municipalities where Swedish is spoken more widely than Finnish, residents may get by using only Swedish.
  • Family: If the immigrant’s spouse, children or relatives speak Swedish, it may be more natural to study Swedish first. This will support social inclusion and integration into local society.
  • Working life and occupation: Fully Swedish-speaking jobs are rare in the regions of Uusimaa and Southwest Finland, but in certain industries Swedish may be used at work, also in the geographical areas where it is not widely spoken. Such industries include children’s daycare, education, care and support for older people, and research. However, basic Finnish language skills are required for most jobs.
  • Existing language skills: Mobility is high in the Nordic countries. If a person has previous knowledge of Swedish, it may be worth continuing in the same language to make the integration process faster, and the person will be able to become involved in society more quickly.
  • Indo-European languages: Swedish is often perceived as an easier language to learn compared to Finnish. However, it is very individual how quickly language is learned. As an Indo-European language, Swedish is closer to English and German, making it easier to learn for those who already speak an Indo-European language.

The contents of Swedish-language integration have been produced for the website, partly in co-operation with the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities.

More information on Swedish integration:
Bilingual municipalities (in Finnish)
Swedish-speaking daycare and schools 
Swedish-language studies (You can limit your search by selecting Swedish as the language of instruction)
Overview of integration in Swedish: Mika Helander, Kan vi stå till tjänst?
Local information centres:

Final report of the Integration på svenska project of the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities (in Swedish)
Evaluation of the Integration på svenska project (in Swedish) 
Swedish as an integration language brochure (in Finnish)