The story of Språkskolan

Språkskolan i Umeå

Språkskolan’s new school building on Skärvstensgatan 6 in Umeå.

Språkskolan is an economic association run by 11 dedicated employees whose policy has always been that any surplus is reinvested in the association. Språkskolan has a unique pedagogy where the child is in focus. We currently have 6 preschool departments and a complete primary school with grades F-9 in Umeå.

Språkskolan started out as one preschool department in Umeå in 1995 under the name “Umeå nya förskola”. It started as an economic association founded by two preschool teachers with the hope of positively influencing the children’s development and with that their future.

The main reason why the preschool focused on languages was that several studies showed that children’s brains are amazing, they can learn any number of languages. Another reason was that many children graduated compulsory school without being able to read or write. Language stimulation improves the childrens memory, stimulates their learning ability and prevents difficulties with reading and writing.

“The best part is that all teachers listen to you and everyone gets the help they need. All the pupils respect each other.” – Filip, pupil

When we started in 1995 the EU entry for Sweden was new and a new market was opened for work, studies, import/export, etc. It would therefore be even more important in the future to have good language skills in several languages.

The pedagogy has evolved into something unique with language learning from the age of 1. In preschool, the youngest children work with Swedish and from the age of 2 they get to try different European languages in a playful way. In primary school, the pupils also get to try Spanish, French and German in addition to Swedish, which is the language of instruction, and English which is compulsory. In grade 4 the pupils can therefore make a conscious choice about which one of the languages they want to study during grades 4-9.

Much emphasis is placed on different learning methods, including drama, arts and crafts, movement, music and media in various forms. The idea is that both halves of the brain should be stimulated and lead to a more enjoyable and effective learning. We also practice self-confidence and communication in different ways, for example through presentations, debates and discussions in smaller groups. At the end of each semester the pupils perform a self-assembled show. Over the years, we have had performances on various scenes, including Folkets Hus, Sagateatern and Ersboda Folkets Hus.

One of our goals is to have small groups. In our preschool we have about 5 children/educator for most of the day. This makes it easier for the children to concentrate and for the educators to see and give each individual what they need. At school there are at most 24 pupils per class. Additional staffing is added when needed.

“The best part is that you get to choose languages early on and we have a great schoolyard”
– Sara, pupil

Språkskolan’s job is to give all our pupils the best start in life as possible with a lot of knowledge and a good self-esteem. In order to learn new things you must feel safe, and that means to be happy with yourself, your friends and the adults around you. The staff is our most important asset, which is why we have qualified teachers, ensuring a high quality of teaching. Our staff gets continuing professional development as part of the school’s developmentwork

With the help of our unique concept, we look at the pupil’s schooling in its entirety, the pedagogy is implemented at all stages from preschool to grade 9. We place great emphasis on individual adaptation, which means that pupils can keep working at their own pace or get extra help if needed. For example, the pupils who want greater challenges in mathematics can keep on working and advancing. This means that the level of skills in mathematics will be high. At Språkskolan the pupils have a generally high level of knowledge, as can be seen in the National Tests where we always have good results.

“We teach languages early on and we have a unique language pedagogy! We have small groups and classes, which makes it easier for both pupils and teachers. And the atmosphere in school is amazing!”
– Sandra, language teacher

In 2014 Språkskolan moved into newly built premises on Skärvstensgatan in Marielund/Olofsdal, just south of Mariehem, and finally we got our own complete kitchen to cook in! We believe that nutritious and delicious food provides healthier and happier children who have the energy to spend a whole day at school. With our own kitchen we can choose to prioritize local and organic food and we can control the origin. With food directly from our kitchen there will be less transport and thus we also help save the environment.

Our nwely-built school also provided us with a brand-new schoolyard that encourages movement and being outdoors. The new schoolyard has something for all ages, we have, among a lot of other things, a fire pit, a zip line, outdoor ping pong and a ball court which turns into an ice-skating rink during the winter months.

“The best part is our new premises, good food and that I learn a lot”
– Tilia, pupil

In recent years Språkskolan has worked extensively on various projects, including an EU project for children’s well-being and development and an internationalization project. Here we have found new partners with whom we have started an exchange. One goal is that you, as an older pupil, get to visit a partner school in Europe and also house pupils from the schools visiting us. Furthermore, school trips are organized to Norrbyskär and Munkviken in year 3 and 6.

The newly built Språkförskolan at Skärvstensgatan 8. Opened in 2016.

In 2015 the construction of a brand-new preschool started next to our elementary school, and in August 2016 we moved in. The new preschool houses six departments on two floors and is the building is well adapted to our needs.

Over the years we have developed and grown rapidly. Språkskolan has now a total of about 350 pupils in six preschool departments and one primary school (grades F-9), and over 80 employees.

CEO & founder

Siv Stenlund started Språkskolan in 1995 under the name Umeå nya förskola. Here she tells the story of why Språkskolan came about.