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As a result, Åkerberg-Avila began teaching Swedish to 35 students in 1986. Today, around 100 students enrol every semester, of which around 65-70 complete the course. Two alumni now also teach Swedish at CELE. The course load amounts to one hour every day – in other words, 5 hours a week.
Who studies Swedish in Mexico City, and why?
“I thought it might be a good idea to learn a Scandinavian language,” says Rodrigo Sales, a 23-year old Mexico City native and second-year student at the course. “I've always been fascinated with nature from countries such as Sweden. You don't very often get to see snow or clean forests on this part of the planet.” Rodrigo studies literature and visual arts at UNAM, and is considering studying in Sweden after he graduates.
What’s remarkable is that Rodrigo has never been outside of Mexico, and that the only place he’s ever spoken Swedish to another person is in his Swedish class. “I don't consider myself as the sort of person that would stop a tourist or a foreigner in the middle of the street to ask ‘varifrån kommer du?’ or something like that,” he says. “Truth be told, most of the people think it’s odd to learn Swedish.”
He attributes this sentiment to a general lack of knowledge among his fellow students about the education Sweden can offer to international students. “If students want to study abroad, probably 99% would rather go to the U.S. than Sweden, no matter if at the end it turns out to be way more expensive.”
The lure of a stint studying in Sweden is also what compelled Adrián Quero Herrera, a 25-year old sociology student from Oaxaca, to study Swedish. “I’m studying Swedish because I’ve been thinking of studying a master’s degree in Sweden,” he says. “I’ve travelled to Sweden and I like very much that country.”
Learning Swedish, then, is a way of opening doors, of keeping one’s options open. “I’m sure that to learn a language is very important if you’re trying to go to another place, so I just want to have more chances to get what I want,” says Adrián, who is also in his second year of studying Swedish.
Just like Rodrigo, Adrián thinks it a little strange to learn Swedish in Mexico. "We can’t practice it at all. But I sure like the language and I’m sure it’s going to be useful in the future.”
Centro de Enseñanza de Lenguas