Who Am I?

by Erik Wilhelm Gren

I’m Erik!

My name is Erik Wilhelm Gren. I am a language enthusiast and Swedish is my native language. I love playing the piano, programming, and learning about languages. I’ve studied English my entire life and I’ve also had a Japanese exchange student live with me back in Sweden. in 2017, I had an exchange year in Japan where I got to live with a Japanese family in the country side.

Why did you start Skumtomte?

While living in Japan, I personally witnessed the struggle many students had learning new languages, English in particular in Japan. Personally, I strongly believe that no matter who you are, where you’re from or what your situation might be, you can learn anything, as long as you actually want to.

I found learning Japanese a pure joy and it was all thanks to wonderful free resources available online on YouTube and, especially, thanks to a website called guidetojapanese.org created by Tae Kim.

This website contained every single piece of information about everything from daily conversations in Japanese to complex grammatical topics. I adore Tae Kim’s work and I want to participate to the language learning community by creating a similar resource for Swedish learners.

Formal Education

Currently, I am a collage student studying applied mathematics at the Faculty of Engineering in Lund, where I currently live. I went to S:t Petri High School of Natural Science in Malmö for 3 years, and I also studied at Ujiyamada Commercial High School in Ise, Japan during an exchange year in Japan.

I have no formal education in teaching. However, I’ve always loved teaching people and helping someone finally understand a concept or topic is always a joy for me. I firmly believe that anyone can learn anything.

Experience in Teaching Languages

As I mentioned before, I’ve had a Japanese exchange student live with me for a year. During her stay, I learnt a bunch about what teaching Swedish to a complete beginner is like.

In school, she received books upon books about Swedish grammar and books upon books that she was meant to read and translate into English. I noticed she struggled a lot with the tasks given to her by the school, and she never really learnt anything from them. Strangely enough, she was showing steady progress speaking Swedish at home and talking to me and my sister.

My family and I created simple exercises with actually useful phrases and daily expressions that helped her learn Swedish grammar in the way a native child learns a new language. This taught me a lot about how to give good examples and explain the weird quirks of Swedish in simple ways.

Later, during my stay in Japan, I could apply these methods to teach English to my friends there.

Experience in Learning Languages

In school, I studied Spanish for more than 5 years. To this day, I can easily conjugate most Spanish verbs into different tenses and what not. However, if I actually met a spanish-talking person, I would struggle heavily having any sort of meaningful conversations.

Just like the exchange student living with us, I received only very formal books about grammar that didn’t really have real examples of actual spoken language. What’s the point in learning a language if the language you’re learning is not the one being used by said language’s natives?

This all changed when I found Japanese and guidetojapanese.org. While the grammar article’s were indeed in-depth, I never really felt overwhelmed or that the stuff I was learning was useless. Rather the opposite! The examples that were provided seemed real and useful (and they were!) and it was all paced very well and in a very well-thought-out order. That, is my goal: to create a place with really useful information about Swedish with real examples and actually useful grammar, unlike most methods I’ve experienced in school.

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