If You Get Double the Time: Teaching practices in the “Swedish/English” language subject option in Swedish nine-year compulsory schooling

Jörgen Tholin

classroom activities, teaching practices, course syllabi english, swedish/english language subject choice


In Swedish nine-year compulsory schooling, all students are supposed to learn English and at least one additional language, i.e., French, Spanish, or German. As a final option, extra Swedish and/or English classes, often called SvEn, are offered for students who choose not to study another language. The activities in SvEn are unregulated: there are no official instructions for the teachers, no set teaching goals (over and above those for regular Swedish and English classes), and no grading criteria, as students choosing SvEn are not graded in this language choice. This paper focuses on how 17 teachers organize their teaching of English in SvEn, basing the study on teacher interviews. It also analyses the assumptions regarding language learning that underlie their teaching practice and how these are connected to current and previous course syllabi.The analysis of the interviews demonstrates that many teachers have well-thought-out strategies for English teaching, though they are not always successful in realizing these in classroom practice. Despite the fact that the interviewed teachers say that underachieving students need more class time to succeed in their studies, many of them simultaneously describe the difficulty of filling SvEn classroom time with relevant content. None of the interviewees refers to current curricula and course syllabi. The teachers’ statements about lesson activities, and their reasons for them, fall into four categories corresponding well to the subject view that formed part of English course syllabi from the 1960s up to 1994.

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Apples - Journal of Applied Language Studies