But not here in Gothenburg. One of the things that really surprised me when I first came to Sweden is that most Swedish people speak English fluently. It might be thought of as a natural thing here, but it surely is an amazing thing to me.
I could not speak Swedish at all and did not know the way to school or places I wanted to go in Gothenburg when I just started living here. But uncomfortable feelings were taken away quickly because almost all of the Swedish people I met here can speak English. This was especially helpful for my many questions in the beginning. This means, as a foreigner who cannot speak Swedish, Sweden is a great place to live or spend a few days without being afraid of the language problem, because there are just so many people who will help you out in perfect English when you get in trouble, want to enjoy sightseeing or study. Some people even manage to spend almost their entire time here without speaking Swedish.
Swedish people’s English is proved with data: According to the Educational First, Sweden ranked first out of sixty countries in terms of English proficiency. I have also heard that Swedish students start studying English from fourth grade on. Although Sweden starts the same year as many countries do, including my country, its English education is considered high quality since they use it like their mother tongue. English TV programs and movies, which are not synchronized, have probably supported this phenomenon as well, but English education is a big part of forming the basis.
Although Sweden is famous for its fika style and welfare state, there are lots of interesting discoveries to make everyday. The proficiency in English is one of those discoveries that surprise people, who would not have thought of that.
Written by Manami Maekawa