Recently a large group of Swedish teachers from all over the U.S. gathered at the Swedish Church in New York for a networking conference. On the agenda was a lecture on new tendencies in the Swedish language (followed by a Q & A) by Professor Bo Ralph, workshops with themes such as “Goal, curriculum, theme” and “How do we get teenagers involved?” and so on. Gunhild Ljung, teacher representative from Svenska Skolan in New Jersey, and former chairman of SUF (Svenska utlandsskolors förening), opened the conference.

Helene Johansson, a Swedish teacher in Los Angeles, was inspired. “It’s great to come here and share information and knowledge with other teachers," she said. "For us the main problem is to keep older kids enrolled—I mean children over the age of 12—because their American schools demand a lot of their time and attention. This year, however, we are very fortunate at my school; we have great teachers and ideas. I’ve sometimes come to this conference being on the receiving end when it comes to ideas, but this year I think I have a lot to share with the other teachers.”

Ronny Karlsson introduced Sofia Distans, of which he is the director. Sofia Distans offers Swedish students the possibility to study all the subjects of a Swedish school from grade 6-9 via computer. The program follows the curriculum of regular Swedish schools as well as the criteria for grades. The students get clear instructions and a goal for their studies, and they are given the freedom to plan their studies as they wish.

Karlsson explained: “We currently have 600 students in some 180 places around the world. The students are children of businessmen, missionaries, ambassadors, you name it. … Sofia Distans began in 1994 when we were given an assignment by Skolverket (the Swedish National Agency for Education) to offer education for Swedish students living abroad. The object was to see if new technology could better the education for these students. We began with four very different places in the world (Beijing, Hamburg, Riyadh and Cochabamba) and twelve students. In the beginning there were some challenges because of the different infra structure and technical difficulties but we’ve ironed it out and now it’s working very well. The student can use his or her time as he/she feels is best.”

More info on Sofia Distans: www.sofiadistans.nu
On education in Swedish in general:
http://www.nordstjernan.com/news/education/766/
On language programs in all areas of the U.S.: http://www.nordstjernan.com/news/education/765/