Six IES students won in four categories at national language finals

Six IES students won in four categories at national language finals

The finals of national language contest IlCompetition saw two IES teams take home trophies, and two individual IES students win mother-tongue prizes. In total five IES schools competed in the finals after winning regional contests.

The team from IES Lund won the Spanish competition while IES Sundsvall won the contest in English. Two students from IES Umeå individually won their respective mother-tongue categories, in German and Spanish.

In the nail-biting final to the English competition IES Sundsvall took home the prize after no fewer than three tie-breakers.  They beat IES Hässleholm, in second place, and IES Lund, in fourth.

Linus, one of the two students on the winning team from IES Sundsvall (pictured above), said: “I stood up while screaming in glee. Immediately turned to my partner and hugged him. We had won. It is hard to put into words, I was just very, very happy.  I would definitely not have won this thing without him. Personally, I think he is actually the better English speaker out of the two of us.”

In order to win Linus and his team-mate Joana had to answer tie breaker questions on English-speaking realia, including how many years have passed since the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, how many stars are on the flag of New Zealand and finally in which year the United States of America declared independence.

Linus said: “The most hilarious part was before the competition started, I asked my partner: ‘When did America declare independence?’ That was probably the most clairvoyant thing I have ever said. I doubt we would have won if we hadn’t looked up the answer beforehand.”

The winning team in Spanish was comprised of Sofia and Paula from IES Lund (pictured, right). The Spanish team from Lund also won following the drama of a tie-breaker, consigning IES Liljeholmen to an honourable second-place finish.  This is the second time in three years that IES Lund have won the Spanish contest, and prizes including a trip to Spain.

Paula said: “We were pleasantly surprised and extremely happy when we won. Since Spanish is a language that is widely spoken around the world we believe that the knowledge we gained during the competition will be useful in the future, for traveling or working abroad for example.

“Our advice for students thinking about competing in the future is to identify your strengths and combine your knowledge when working together as a team. We worked together by splitting up certain questions between us and discussing the potential answers during the competition.”

IlCompetition is a language and culture contest which aims to enhance students' knowledge of modern foriegn languages. Around 27,000 students throughout Sweden entered the competition.

In order to reach the final, each team needed first to qualify, and then win one of the seven regional finals held around Sweden.

Other IES schools performed well, reaching the national finals. IES Lund came second in the contest for French, after competing against schools including IES Sundsvall. There were also two IES schools in the national final for German, IES Lund and IES Umeå.  

The event also includes an individual contest for students who speak one of the languages included as their mother tongue.

This year two students from IES Umeå won their respective mother tongue categories.

Irene won in Spanish, following a family tradition, she said: “It was a fun experience and a good chance to learn more about Hispanic culture in general. I was very happy to find out I had won, since my sister had already won once before me and it's nice that we've both won.”

Meanwhile Constanze, who won in German, said: “ To be honest, I wasn’t even sure about participating the day before qualifications. I’m happy I did though, since it turned out to be a rare chance for me to use my German.
“I was sure not to have any expectations since I didn’t want to get disappointed, so when my teacher told me I won I was genuinely surprised. I felt proud to have kept some of my knowledge about both the German language and Germany itself.”

Sustainable lunches firmly on the menu

Sustainable lunches firmly on the menu

IES aims to continue to increase sustainability throughout the organisation and suppliers are being encouraged to find new ways of working. One example at IES Sundsvall facilitates sustainable meal choices, by CO2 labelling all meals served.

Student Rand Almilah (pictured above) has always had a choice of lunches in her school restaurant, but now she can also easily choose a dish which will have less of an impact on the planet.

IES Sundsvall is using a new system meaning that each dish is clearly labelled with the size of the carbon footprint it has produced.

‘How much CO2 is on your plate?’ the menu asks, and next to each meal is a value in kilograms, and an icon, to give a quick idea if that is a dish with a high, average or low impact.


For Rand, a student council member with responsibility for health and the environment, making an informed decision to eat in an environmentally conscious way matters.

“I think that it’s really important because a lot of things are happening to our climate, and I think it’s important to make a change.” She said.

“When our school starts thinking about it, then students and teachers start to notice it and think about it too.”

For several weeks the new menus have been in place, and now the caterers have started talking about them with the students, explaining what the values mean, and the benefits of a sustainable lunch.

Åsa Ingemarsson (pictured, right) from the school’s caterer, Mitt Gastronomi, said: “It is so exciting, and the children are excited too. We love food and we want the children to learn to love food.

“The children like it a lot and if they have already chosen to eat vegetarian then they are very proud that they took this decision. We start a thought process in the children with this as well.”

Even choosing between different meat dishes can have a different effect on the planet.  Åsa explains: “We served falukorv sausage. If you chose ordinary falukorv that had a value of 0.7, if you took the beef one then it was 3.6, the vegetarian one was 0.1; so there was a big difference. You don't have to eat vegetarian food every day, you can decide, and I think that is cool.”

The new menus are just the latest step the school kitchen has taken to increase sustainability.  They also put a lot of focus on not wasting food.  The amount of waste is regularly measured, and children are reminded that they can go back for seconds, so they don’t need to overfill their plates on the first pass.

Food is an area where Internationella Engelska Skolan has continuous discussions with suppliers with an aim to to minimise food waste while providing healthy, nutritious and sustainable options.

But does the new system actually work? Rand believes so.

“I really do think that students and teachers start noticing it and thinking, ‘Maybe I should start choosing meals that release less carbon dioxide.’ When they can actually see how much of an impact their meals have, they can start making that choice. People need to see how much of a change they can make.”

National finals in four languages beckon for IES students

National finals in four languages beckon for IES students

Study and grit led to success - says one of 18 IES students in the national finals of a prestigious language contest.

The finals of language contest IlCompetition will feature nine teams from five IES schools, competing in Spanish, French, German and English.

Students from IES Lund will compete in the national final for each of these four languages, and if they are to win they will need to outperform teams from six others schools. 

The four teams from Lund will face tough opposition, including IES students from other schools. IES Liljeholmen are also in the final for Spanish, IES Umeå for German, and IES Hässleholm for English, while IES Sundsvall have a place in the national final for both French and English.

IlCompetition is a language and culture contest which aims to enhance students' knowledge of modern foriegn languages. Around 27,000 students throughout Sweden entered the competition.

In order to reach the final, each team needed first to qualify, and then win one of the seven regional finals held around Sweden. 

Amanda and Norah were the two students who made up the German team from IES Lund.

Amanda (pictured above, left, with Norah, right) said: “I actually have a really hard time with languages overall, but with this competition I have learnt so much. I have been blessed because I now know how the grammar in German works. I am so happy because that is a big part of the language.

“I am really competitive and I have a lot of grit and I told myself I am going to learn this, and by the end of IES I will have a B in German. I have studied so hard.”

“My family were shocked when I told them we won the regional final, my dad opened his mouth and he couldn't say a word. My mother just hugged me.’”

Amanda’s German teacher Cecilia Diurlin Steen said: “Amanda has developed a lot during this past semester, the work of all those years has sunk in now.  It has been implemented in her, so she understands the whole system of the language.

“When we won in German we were so happy, and that put some pressure on the other teams from IES Lund, and then they won as well.  We are very happy.”

L-R: Felicia and Estrid, French finalists from IES Sundsvall, celebrating their victory in the regional final

Estrid and Felicia make up the French team for IES Sundsvall.

Estrid said: “I wasn’t surprised when we heard we had won, instead the shock came as as soon as the competition started. We were getting a lot right and the questions were easier than we thought.  We were fist-bumping under the table each time we got a question right, so I was prepared for the fact we might win.”

“I definitely think the competition has given me more motivation. Getting tested this way and finding out you are good at a language is really motivational,  I wasn't sure if I was this good at French, but now I am more motivated.”

The national finals will be held by Zoom on the 18th and 19th of May and we would like to wish all the IES students taking part buena suerte, bonne chance, viel glück and good luck.

Bilingualism: A cornerstone of an IES education

Bilingualism: A cornerstone of an IES education

In an increasingly global world, we can all agree that command of English is important and that it is also crucial that our students master Swedish. This is why we run bilingual schools.

We are passionate about language learning and know that the benefits of bilingual education provide our students with so much more than the ability to thrive in a global society. Research shows that bilingualism improves cognitive abilities such as working memory and the ability to focus and reason.

A research study on bilingualism by Naja Ramirez and Patricia Kuhl in 2017 showed that bilingual children perform as well or even better than those who only use their mother tongue. However, it is best to learn two languages ​​at an early age and through interaction with people, rather than through television and other media.

In order to run high-quality bilingual schools, we employ excellent teachers who fully master the language they are teaching in, whether that is English or Swedish. Regardless of the subject, these teachers use concepts and keywords in both languages. Being bilingual is about mastering each language, ​​without this happening at the expense of the other language.

At Internationella Engelska Skolan, we succeed in this mission. If you look at the national tests and compare the student's development over time, known as value-added, you can see that students at IES perform better and above expectations in Swedish, English and mathematics when compared with both municipal and independent schools.

Success is achieved by starting early, having excellent teachers, a clear pedagogical idea, and a leadership that ensures an environment where students can learn.

Annakarin Johansson Sandman
Head of Academics at Internationella Engelska Skolan

The Hans and Barbara Bergström Foundation makes significant contribution to school research

The  Stockholm School of Economics (Handelshögskolan) today announced that it has established a new professorship with the purpose to research school organisation and leadership, in connection with the launch of a new center for school research.

Lars Strannegård, President of the Stockholm School of Economics said: “We are extremely grateful for the donation and are very happy that Barbara Bergström’s 75th birthday is being celebrated with this tremendous investment in science and research.”

The professorship will carry the name of Internationella Engelska Skolan’s founder, and is made possible by a donation of 60 MSEK  from the Hans and Barbara Bergstrom Foundation in connection with Barbara Bergström’s 75th birthday, 9 April, 2021. This also marks the first time that a named donation professorship at the school has been created in honour of a woman. (Pictured, right: Barbara Bergström)

Professor Karl Wennberg, currently of Linköping University, has been appointed to the Barbara Bergström professorial chair. He is a well-qualified researcher with an organisational theoretical basis and a broad interest in the social sciences. He is also a board member of the Scancor Foundation at Stanford University and Harvard University. 

Professor Wennberg will set about creating a centre to conduct independent research on school leadership and the factors that drive success, including how schools work in practice. The centre will generate knowledge about schools' operations, management and culture promoting excellence.

Hans Bergström, speaking on behalf of the Hans and Barbara Bergstrom Foundation, added: “It is deeply meaningful to be able to contribute to a type of research on school activity that is overlooked in Sweden, known internationally as 'School Effectiveness Research'.

“The approach is based on the fact that a school itself, properly managed and with strong convictions, can make a big difference. A school is not just a victim of external circumstances. With the prestigious Stockholm School of Economics as an institutional home, we believe that a strong research and education centre can be established, adding an important school-based perspective.

“Barbara and I are enthusiastic about such a prominent, productive and innovative researcher as Karl Wennberg becoming the first Barbara Bergström professor.”

Click here to read the original press release.