Learning the local language with volunteers.

Description of the activity

The activity language café in Health garden is an activity that started because immigrants should have opportunities to train the Swedish language even if they do not have SFI (Swedish for immigrants). In Sweden, it can take between 6 months and 2 years before they receive a decision on SFI. During this time many immigrants find it difficult to learn Swedish with Swedish residents. With the language café it opens new opportunities to learn the Swedish language together with other immigrants and Swedes who set up as volunteers.

The language café is run in the Health Garden and there are opportunities for beautiful weather to be outdoors, but also the greenhouse and orangery are available in bad weather. Volunteers together with immigrants decide together on the teaching. They can be divided into small groups to sit and talk. Some immigrants have little prior knowledge and some have greater experience of the Swedish language.


The language café is run by the gardener together with volunteers where Swedish is their native language, and some of them have even been a teacher. Sometimes the SFI teachers come to the garden with their classes. To create nice group dynamics, they discuss together which subject they should train on. Then they divide the immigrants into different groups.

Steps for the implementation of the activity

The language cafe’s start began with the fact that we contacted various organizations in Kristianstad. Some examples are senior groups and the Red Cross, from which we got some volunteers..

Together we decided on which days it would be a language activity. From these days we went out and visited schools that have SFI teaching, we contacted the municipality and were told which days there is another language café teaching. It turned out that there are many places in the municipality, but we do not want to compete with others but want our migrants to be able to visit many different language cafes every week.

When it comes to material for the activity, we have used material from the Folkuniversitetet’s website. We have also asked the migrants about what they want to discuss and we have based the discussion on this.

They meet one day a week for 2 lessons.

Materials and methods

Different aids such as flashcard, with pictures that are for beginners. Sentences with proverbs or statements that are typical of Swedish sayings and Swedish culture. They also use discussions about crops in the garden and how they are pronounced in Swedish. They use flashcards when they display images of crops and plants that they grow in the garden. For the language to be easier to understand, various methods have been applied. smaller groups have been formed and have had various activities to promote language learning. As example:

  • The focus is on information about how it is to live in Sweden.
  • A group of completely new immigrants without Swedish language skills started by presenting themselves and talking about where they came from for their country of origin.
  • As support, they used the flash card with simple pictures and words.
  • Use simple exercises, words that are missing and to be completed.
  • Different options in simple words to be written in sentences.
  • Infrastructure:
    The language café is performed in the Health Garden, there are opportunities when there is good weather to be outdoors, but we can also use the greenhouse and orangery which are available in bad weather.

    Materials and human resources:
    The number in the groups can vary, usually it is about 20-25 people who come each time. This means that 4-5 people who speak Swedish need to split the group into smaller groups.

    The language café is 2 times a week, and 2 hours each time. It takes about one hour to prepare and to copy and print out new study material.

    of the material used are sponsored from the Folkuniversitetet. There is a small cost for the printing and lamination of the flash card.

    Learning outcomes for the participants

    The participants who participate in the language café have explicitly stated that they are delighted by this way of learning more Swedish and they look forward to being able to stay be outdoors when spring and summer come.

    When they are divided according to how much Swedish they master, they have easier to learn more Swedish and it becomes more fun to practice Swedish. They like to be in the garden and feel at home there, more than before they started with the language training in the language café.

    The participants have been well prepared for the language café and would like to participate in the Health garden in addition to the language course, some have also asked if they can get an internship in the Health garden to be able to move on to work.