About Skapago

Why do language courses have to be so boring?

That’s what I asked myself after learning five foreign languages and organizing language courses.

With some friends, we conceived the idea of a Norwegian language course around a coherent, absurd story, rather than random dialogues.

This concept received overwhelmingly positive feedback, which spurred me to collaborate with experienced authors to create more courses

Who am I?

Werner ProfilbildMy name is Werner Skalla. I developed a fascination for foreign languages during a student exchange in France when I was 14 years old. It was mesmerizing to discover that I could communicate with people from a completely different background – many of them had grown up on vineyards, a sight I had never seen before – all because I had tortured myself with a French textbook.

Over time, I learned English, French, Norwegian, and Czech, primarily through self-study for the latter two. I lived in Norway for a while, studying at the world’s northernmost university in Tromsø. Therefore when I speak Norwegian, some people assume I was born on a remote island near the Arctic Circle. However, I’m actually from the south of Germany, though my Polish surname hints at my family’s roots.

I don’t want to be one of those sleazy language learning gurus who tell you that learning a language is ‘effortless’ or can be done in three months. My goal is to make the process of learning a language enjoyable, rather than frustrating you with false promises of a quick fix that turns out to be nothing but an illusion.

May I send you my best tips and strategies for learning languages?

Meet some of our authors

While I personally penned the stories of The Mystery of Nils (Norwegian) and Jens & Jakob (German), I collaborate with external authors for the languages I’m not fluent in.

Piotr Gibas

Piotr’s journey with languages began in communist Poland, where mastering them became his gateway to exploring the world. His academic pursuits took him to Beijing for graduation, then to UC Berkeley for his PhD, and he eventually became an associate professor for Chinese language and literature at the College of Charleston in South Carolina. His interest in Norwegian led him to discover Skapago’s Norwegian course The Mystery of Nils before a trip to Tromsø, Norway. Impressed with this approach to language instruction, Piotr reached out to me with the idea of creating a Chinese course inspired by the same concept.

Joacim Eriksson

Originally from Jönköping in southern Sweden, Joacim has over a decade of experience teaching Swedish. He’s based in Vienna, Austria, where he has taught a diverse range of clients including the University of Vienna, the Vienna adult education center, and the Austrian Armed Forces.

Meet the characters of our stories

🇳🇴 Nils

Nils is a doll inspired by the traditional Norwegian mythical creature „Nisse“. He was made by Erna Langvik, an elderly lady, as a birthday present to her eight year old granddaughter. Nils leads a happy life with his new family in Oslo. But due to an accident, he finds out that he means a lot more to Erna than just being a birthday present. Without knowing it, he has been carrying a painful secret, and during an adventurous trip to Northern Norway, he helps Erna to make one of the most important decisions of her life.

🇸🇪 Alfred the Ghost

Alfred was hit by a car when Sweden switched from driving on the left side of the road to driving on the right, and he now lives a peaceful afterlife as a ghost in his house in Kiruna, Northern Sweden. But then a new family moves into his house, and Alfred, besides being annoyed by the disturbance, starts to wonder whether they have something to hide …

🇩🇪 Jens and Jakob

Jens and Jakob are two sparrows from Berlin. The day the Berlin Wall falls, Jens drops out of his nest, but a girl finds him, takes him home and raises him on the balcony. He befriends Jakob, a wild sparrow, who teaches him how to fly.
One day an unexpected visitor arrives, and Jens slowly begins to understand that for his human family, the removal of the Wall is not only sunshine and roses: there is a secret in the family that might be uncovered now that the border is open. For decades to come, the family will struggle with the consequences of the former separation of Berlin. How will they cope with them?

🇨🇳 Jerry

When Chinese teacher Qi enters his classroom, he finds a horse among his students: Jerry. Jerry is amazing. Despite being a horse, he speaks and writes fluently in Chinese, Japanese, German, and other languages. He also cooks, cleans, listens to music (and to the rain), is romantic, sensitive, gentle … Soon enough, the teacher and Jerry move in together and become roommates. Qi thinks about Jerry day and night. But Jerry has a mysterious past, which could potentially complicate things …

🇩🇰 Holger Danske

Holger Danske, the Danish legendary knight, has been sitting as a statue in the casemates of Kronborg castle in Helsingør for about a century. A girl’s mishap puts an end to his dismal daily routine: when she drops a sandwich on his foot, the cleaner of the castle applies a special detergent which makes Holger come to life. After all the tourists have left, Holger sneaks out of the castle and explores the city of Helsingør. However, coping with modern life in Denmark seems to be more  complicated than anticipated …