I honestly never gave much thought to Esperanto until a little over two weeks ago. I might have wondered why the signs on Red Dwarf were written in both English and Esperanto, but other than that…nothing. I knew nothing about it. If anything, I thought it might be a dialect of Spanish.
But an online friend asked me to view a short video about Esperanto and consider spending ten minutes a day trying to learn it. I’ll admit - my first thought was, Yeah, right! Why would I want to do that? But by the end of the video I was convinced.
Now, I’m not telling anyone that they NEED to learn Esperanto. No one does, obviously. BUT it is very useful and really a lot of fun! Not only are there tons of free courses, music, puzzles, games, and literature available on the internet, but it seems that whenever you mention that you are learning this amazing language you immediately start communicating with people from different linguistic backgrounds!
That’s not at all surprising. Esperanto was designed to be a supplementary language to foster international communication. That’s why it was created to be intuitive, making it the world’s easiest language. Depending on the person’s native language, Esperanto is four to eight times easier to learn than any other. Students of Esperanto can become relatively fluent in three to four months, whereas comparative proficiency in another language would take years.
So after viewing the video, I thought, What the hell? Why not? I don’t have a terrific track record when it comes to foreign languages. Like many others, I passed one year of High School Spanish - a course that I took mostly because it was supposedly easy and I lived near Miami. I also managed to live in Germany for over three years while never mastering the German language. I knew a few phrases by speaking but was never able to write even those phrases. I also found some of the sounds hard to pronounce.
Esperanto has been the easiest and most enjoyable learning experience that I’ve ever had. Pronunciation is pretty simple - each letter has only one sound and every letter in a word is pronounced. The only slight difficulty for English speakers might be rolling the “r”s, but that is not a hard-and-fast rule so it’s not really a big deal.
Most languages have hundreds or more grammatical rules, exceptions to rules, and redundancies. Esperanto has 16 rules. That’s it. SIXTEEN. Because the language was designed rather than evolving naturally, there are no redundancies or exceptions, which accounts for the difficulty of other languages.
Because Esperanto was designed to be learned easily and quickly, the ordinary Joe (or Jane) on the street can begin conversing with people in Esperanto in a short period of time. My personal experience shows this to be true. Plus Esperantists typically love to share their knowledge of the language and help any newbies (such as myself).
It’s common for people who learn Esperanto to develop the confidence and desire to acquire other languages. Developing an understanding of the basic rules of grammar while becoming proficient fosters the confidence to explore other tongues.
Last, but not least, it’s really fun! In the past two weeks or so, I’ve made a bunch of online friends, downloaded Esperanto rock music and heavy metal, listened to mp3 lessons, and played Esperanto themed games with my eight year old son (We’re learning together). I’ve even started an Esperanto blog to practice writing and show our progress with our lessons. I’m sure it contains grammatical errors, but hey- I’m learning.
I’m not anyone special. If someone like me can pick up that much of a feel and love for the language in just a couple weeks, just imagine what someone who actually has a knack for languages can do!
If you are interested:
Lernu.net - A huge Esperanto site aimed at promoting the International language. They have free lessons available in many different languages. Members (free) of this site have access to lesson plans, free audio and text lessons, online forums, and more.
Music - This site has downloadable songs in Esperanto from different musical styles from the Blues to Heavy Metal.
Literature and Podcasts - It’s self explanatory. Get free books and podcasts in Esperanto. It’s fun!
*originally published at ganymeder.com