According to a recent survey carried out by Helsinki Times and Think Tank Magma, foreign-born residents in Finland have a strong level of awareness of the status of the Swedish language in Finland. A full 85 per cent of foreign language speakers in Finland knew that there is more than one official language in Finland when they moved here.
Two thirds are able to correctly state the size of Finland’s Swedish-speaking population. A majority of respondents agreed that Swedish language is an essential component of Finnish society. Yet, 43 per cent say that they feel as though they do not possess sufficient knowledge on the topic.
The survey revealed that, overall, the attitudes and perceptions of Finland’s expatriates towards Swedish language and culture is more positive than it was just ten years ago. When a similar survey was conducted in 2009, 47 per cent of respondents agreed that Swedish was an essential part of Finnish society, compared to 61 per cent today.
Although most respondents admitted to knowing very little or zero Swedish, 72 per cent stated that they would like to improve their Swedish skills. Meanwhile, 61 per cent of those surveyed described their Finnish language skills as poor or non-existent. A large majority of Finland’s international community were aware that Swedish can be chosen as a first integration language in Finland and is afforded the same validity as Finnish language skills.
A total of 542 people responded to this open web-based survey, with the most common respondents being from the US and UK. Altogether, students, professionals, unemployed and retirees from 83 countries responded to questions about their Swedish language skills, how they perceive Swedish speakers in Finland, and about their own knowledge of the role that Swedish plays in Finnish society.