Integration in Swedish
As Finland has two official languages, integration can also be carried out in Swedish. The Act on the Promotion of Immigrant Integration gives the immigrant the possibility of choosing Swedish or Finnish as their first integration language. Education and training in either Finnish or Swedish is accepted as integration training.
Under the Language Act, the authorities shall protect the linguistic cultural tradition of the nation and promote the use of both national languages. To help a person moving to a bilingual municipality to choose which language to learn first, they need to be informed of the option of selecting the Swedish-language integration path, as at this stage, the children in the family will already go to school and the adults start working and studying.
Under the Government Resolution on the Strategy for the National Languages in Finland (2012), in services referred to in the Act on the Promotion of Immigrant Integration, foreigners settling in Finland should be systematically informed of the bilingual status of Finland and the offer of Finnish and Swedish language courses, as well as the significance of bilingualism in the labour market. The resolution also recommends that, especially in bilingual localities, the bodies purchasing integration training for adult immigrants consider the needs for instruction in the Finnish and Swedish languages to enable working life-oriented learning of Finnish and Swedish.
Swedish is the mother tongue of 5.3% of the Finnish population. In bilingual municipalities, Swedish can be selected as the first language of integration. Swedish has a special status as the second national language, and the option of studying and working is also offered in Swedish.
When applying for citizenship, the applicant can choose to take the required National Certificate of Language Proficiency test in Swedish. It is important to take the person’s situation as a whole into account when selecting the integration language. It is often also important to learn Finnish, as it is the predominant language of the labour market in Finland. Integration training provided in Swedish sometimes also includes Finnish language studies.