Academic journal article International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education

Paradigms in Swedish as a Second Language - Curricula for Primary School and Secondary School in Swedish as a Second Language

Academic journal article International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education

Paradigms in Swedish as a Second Language - Curricula for Primary School and Secondary School in Swedish as a Second Language

Article excerpt


This article analyzes and compares the curricula of Swedish and Swedish as a second language for primary and secondary school. The school subject of Swedish as a second language is young, and its ideological foundation has not been debated to any large extent, in contrast to Swedish. This article analyzes the curricula of both subjects in terms of "paradigms", i.e. beliefs and conceptions on a school subject, and the Appraisal system developed within the framework of Systemic functional linguistics. In comparison, the curriculum of Swedish as a second language turns out to be more oriented towards skills and communicative paradigms, at the expense of paradigms related to personal growth, literature or Bildung. Also, the curriculum seems to have weak connections to research on second language development or education. The article also gives an overview of the Swedish school system with special focus on education for immigrants and multilingual students.

Keywords: Curriculum analysis, Swedish as a second language, Second language development, Second language teaching, Appraisal


Throughout the Swedish school system there are two subjects of Swedish, Swedish (SW) and Swedish as a second language (SWS), the latter of which is intended for students with Swedish as a second language. SW is one of the oldest subjects in the Swedish school system and has a long history of ideological discussion and debate on its identity. On the other hand, SWS is a young subject, established in 1995, and, also, a subject that has been repeatedly questioned and criticized and that has met organizational challenges. There is an obvious need for a survey of the ideological and pedagogical background of SWS. This article aims to chart the aims and ideas behind the school subject of SWS through text analysis of the current curricula of SWS and compare these to the curricula of the subject of Swedish. The texts are related to trends and policies regarding immigration and multilingualism in Sweden.

The article opens with a brief introduction to the Swedish educational system. Focus is put on education for multilingual students and adult immigrants. Subsequently, the theoretical framework of the text analysis is given: first ideological and epistemic concepts from curricular analysis, and, second, the analytical framework of Appraisal (Martin & Rose, 2010) for analysis of evaluation and the texts' degree of dialogicity. A brief review of relevant earlier research on curricula in Swedish is also given. In the results section, the curricula for SW and SWS in primary and secondary school are compared and analyzed in the light of paradigms and conceptions of mother tongue education. The results are discussed in relation to earlier research on curricula and on learning and literacy in a second language.

Organization of education for immigrants and multilingual students

The Swedish school system in brief. In Sweden, compulsory education comprises nine years. Normally, a child enters compulsory education the year s/he turns seven and continues up till the age of 15. The majority of schools are public, but there are also private schools run by foundations or corporations. All schools are free to choose a pedagogical profile, e.g. CLIL, focus on a certain language, Waldorf etc.

Children younger than seven years are offered pre-school from their second year and pre-school class from the age of six.

Upper secondary education follows the nine years of compulsory schooling. There are 18 national programmes, which comprise three years. Six of these are preparatory for tertiary education (e.g. The social science programme, The natural science programme) and twelve are vocationally oriented (e.g. The hotel and restaurant programme, The industry programme, The health care programme). Students in the national programmes who meet the standards of the education, fulfil entry requirements for tertiary education. …

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