Mother tongue instruction in primary school

Children and adolescents in grades 1–9 who have guardians with a mother tongue other than Swedish have the opportunity to receive mother tongue instruction in school. Preschool children are only entitled to mother tongue instruction in the national minority languages.

Mother tongue instruction is not the same as second language teaching (beginner's language). Your child must have a basic knowledge of the language to be eligible for mother tongue instruction. By basic knowledge, we mean that your child must be able to participate actively in lessons, understand simple oral instructions and be able to take part in conversations on everyday topics.

Most commonly, the student receives instruction in his or her mother tongue in the afternoon after regular school hours. It is voluntary to begin mother tongue instruction, but once the child has started, it is compulsory until the instruction ends or the child chooses to withdraw.

A student in grades 1–9 can receive mother tongue instruction if

  • one or both guardians have a language other than Swedish as their mother tongue
  • the student has basic knowledge of the language in question
  • the student uses the language daily at home
  • at least five students have requested instruction in the language within the municipality
  • a qualified teacher of the language in question is available.

Adopted children are exempt from the requirement that the mother tongue must be their everyday language at home. Nonetheless, the child requires basic knowledge of the language.

The right to mother tongue instruction in minority languages

Students in primary school (including pre-school) who belong to one of Sweden's national minorities have a strengthened right to mother tongue instruction. Lessons must be offered even if the student does not use the language on a daily basis at home.

The City of Malmö is obliged to provide mother tongue instruction in minority languages even if there are fewer than five pupils in the municipality and so long as there is a suitable teacher available. Mother tongue instruction in a minority language can be offered as a first language (the mother tongue or strongest language of the student) or as a second language (beginner's language).

Applying for mother tongue instruction

If you want your child to receive mother tongue instruction, you must apply using the application form, which must be submitted to the school. The principal will then decide whether your child meets the eligibility requirements.

After submitting the application

When school starts in the fall semester, a suitable mother tongue teacher will contact you, the guardian, to inform you of the time and place of the lessons. The group your child will be placed in may be at a school other than the ordinary one. An application for mother tongue instruction is valid until the end of grade 9, but you can cancel the request at any time.

Cancelling the request for mother tongue instruction

If the time and place of the lessons are not suitable, you must cancel your request. You can cancel the request by completing a form. The form must then be submitted to the child's school. The aim of the lessons is for your child to develop skills in his/her mother tongue. The classes will give your child the opportunity to develop his or her cultural identity and become multilingual.

Contact information


E-mail: sprakcentralen@malmo.se

Phone number: 040-34 31 10

Mailing address: Spåkcentralen, Rönnblomsgatan 6A, 212 16 Malmö

Visiting address: Rönnblomsgatan 6A

Visiting hours: Weekdays at 07.30-16.30. Closed for lunch at 12.00-12.30.