TISUS or SVA (svenska som andraspråk) through KomVux?



Tisus or SVA? For many advanced Swedish language learners, this is the “to be or not to be”.


While teaching Swedish at more advanced levels, I often get asked about the differences between TISUS and SVA, svenska som andraspråk. There are two similarities and several differences that have to be taken into consideration when making up your mind.


Scenario 1: The destination and not the journey is important.

You might have a strong wish to pursue studies at a university in Sweden. If you  want to pursue studies at a Swedish university, you can either take TISUS or get at least the grade E on the last SVA course, SVA 3, at KomVux. Both alternatives enable you to apply to a Swedish university. The second similarity lies in the required and tested level of C1 according to Common European Frame of Reference, CEFR.


Scenario 2: The journey and not the destination is important.

Do you only want to achieve a level of C1 or do you  also want to learn more about Swedish literature and language, due to the fact that you find this kind of knowledge interesting? Whereas TISUS is a language test where you oral and written skills are tested, the courses in SVA, SVA 1, SVA 2, SVA 3 are the same courses in Swedish as a foreign language that is taught at upper secondary school in Sweden. Hence, SVA courses will have more content and deal with other aspects than language skills. Literature analysis, argumentation skills, essay writing of different sorts, language history, history of literature, writing a scientific report are some of the essential parts throughout the SVA courses 1, 2 and 3. As a SVA student you will be asked to study the material dealt with in the official curriculum as stated by Skolverket.


Only language or much more?

In my experience from KomVux, several students often find that there is not enough focus on learning the actual language, such as working with the communicative skills like conversation skills. Teaching SVA, the teacher has to follow the official curriculum and being in a SVA course will never be the same as taking a straightforward language course.


If you are interested in TISUS, my best advice as a language teacher, is to take language courses at an advanced level, and constantly work with your language, both written and spoken. You also need to stay tuned into current affairs and news, as these form the basis for both the oral and the written exams. Since having an advanced vocabulary is an essential part of achieving any level above B2, I often recommend my advanced students to work with Avancera ord.


Focus on your goal

Being stressed to get into studies at the university or wanting to pursue a career in Sweden, time  often seems to be lacking or passing way to quickly. Having this said, to achieve a level of C1 in Swedish or any language for that matter does take time. The level of TISUS is C1 and in theory that is the equivalent level of your Swedish skills after passing SVA 3. Here, it is interesting to note that the students’ language skills in SVA 1 are in average on the level of B1+/B2- and the fact that each SVA course takes two and a half months of full studies.


Going along with old phrase “time is money”, SVA course have the advantage that it is organized by and given within the framework of Komvux. Komvux is the municipal adult education which has no costs for tuition fees for anyone with a Swedish social security number. In addition, a KomVux student is in general entitled to student support from CSN. (There might be some exceptions here, for example, depending if you have studied before and not completed those studies.) However, to study a SVA course 100%  means full time studies, makes it very difficult and also not suitable to combine with work. In contrast, a TISUS test is merely a test which takes place on one specific day and the fee is 1600 SEK.


Last but not least, to all advanced language learners: take your time and think about your aim and your purpose, plus plan ahead. I often compare achieving a language level of C1 to being fit to run a Marathon. It takes constant training, good focus and a lot of time divided during several months. As with physical activity where the body  sometimes feels weak one day and strong another day, you will experience up and downs in your language learning. But just stay focused on the goal, C1 level in Swedish, and you will succeed!