How to Learn Esperanto
Esperanto, a planned language designed to be easy, removes exceptions and emphasizes on word-derivation and explicit markers. Currently, up to two million people worldwide use this language, and it's a gateway to other languages and cultures. Starting with this can even speed up the acquisitions of other languages such as Spanish and French! This article will show you how to learn the language efficiently, so you will be able to hold conversations as quickly as possible.
Find the right language course.Duolingo and lernu are two of the many options and are often considered to be the best out there. Duolingo has a course for English and Spanish speakers only. Lernu is available in 30+ languages.
Join chatrooms populated with Esperanto speakers.This will provide you with an input of real Esperanto used for casual conversation. There are many bilingual groups out there where you will be able to ask questions and switch to your native tongue if you're not confident enough. This way you can track your progress as you learn more and more things.
Take part in social media.There are large communities for Esperanto across all social media. Add some Esperanto speakers or join some groups/pages to gain an additional input of the language everyday. You'll be able to discover what is happening all over the world. Try to write at least one message a day to improve your writing skills.
Drill vocabulary to quickly improve comprehension.Spaced Repetition Systems are amazing to improve quick understanding of Esperanto. Find a list of the most common words in Esperanto and learn them with examples. Many websites use a Spaced Repetition System. Others can teach you vocabulary with the help of pictures, if you're so inclined. You can also improve your comprehension reading press articles, magazines, and books.
Read about grammar.Esperanto has few grammatical rules compared to other languages, but you should still learn them as they will help your text to be more expressive. If you are in a Esperanto chatroom, ask your grammatical questions there. You are more likely to find your answer through a search engine however.
Use a good dictionary.The best dictionaries are in Esperanto, so try to use them as soon as possible, because they will help you make connection between words.
Listen to podcasts and videos with subtitles to improve hearing comprehension.Try first to understand the subtitles, then listen to the extract. Pause and look to the subtitles if you don't hear a word. After several days, you will be able to enjoy podcasts without subtitles. There are many videos in Esperanto on YouTube, such as lectures, let's plays and vlogs. Some of them are subtitled. Remember to slow down videos if you need it.
Improve speaking (optional).Esperanto is mainly a written language. You can enjoy most of it without speaking it. But since the language is phonetic and straightforward, you can speak it fluently in less than 10 hours if you already write it fluently. The best way to become fluent is to go to a several day event such as NASK, JES and IJK, or to attend several local events in Esperanto.
- However, these are not a necessity. You can become fluent alone in your room. You can repeat after vlogs and/or read out loud chat conversations. You can use Telegram to chat with small voice message in the group Voĉbabilejo and find speaking partners. You can use websites who provide instant speaking rooms without needing to install anything.
- Read about word formation. It is not taught enough but is extensively used. It will make your learning experience better.
- Don’t worry to be original and to build your own words. If you follow the examples and the rules, your Esperanto is valid.
- If there are many ways to say the same thing, the most regular one is often the best. You can trust your intuition on Esperanto.
- Every fluent speaker misses the accusative from time to time, so don’t worry too much about it. You will be understood, that’s the most important thing.
- Try to use few and simple words. Instead of using complex words, try to build them using simple ones. Esperanto is an agglutinative language. You will reach fluency faster and people will understand you better that way.
- Don’t underevaluate grammar books such as PMEG. Esperanto is a regular and easy language, so reading them is not as boring as you might think, you might even find them even fun. They will help realize the full expressing capabilities of the language and make you feel you master the language.
- Past a certain level, do not focus too much on learning.
- Be careful about prepositions (“on” “in” “at”), as they are used quite inconsistently in English. Think about the situation before using a preposition.
- Don’t cram. Learning works better with a small input everyday. Also, work enough. Even if Esperanto may be 5-times easier than French for you, you still have at least 100 hours to go before being perfectly fluent.
- Translating one word at a time is not a good way to learn a language. It is very common that two words in English should be translated into only one. For example: “to go on” -> “daŭrigi” ; “to come up” -> “alveni”.
- Don’t overfocus on speaking. If you can read and write fluently at a quick pace, you can reach speaking fluency in one week-end in an Esperanto event.
- Do not use dictionaries too much. They are useful to help you understand, but you should avoid them when you are trying to build a sentence, as you may end up using a rare word and not be understood. It is better to imitate how others speak.
- Avoid English idiomatic expressions such as “it’s raining cats and dogs”, as they won’t be understood. You can know if a expression is idiomatic if the meaning of the whole is not the literal meaning of each word together.
- Automatic translators are terrible at grammar. Do not use them to build your sentences. However they might help you skim through an article using uncommon words. Try the plug-ins/add-ons “Eklegu!” and “Google Translate”, they are handy because they can translate a word on a click.
- Be careful about music videos, since they tend to have a non-natural structure, word and rhythm that are hard to understand, even for fluent speakers.
Video: Learn Esperanto The Easy(ish) Way, Lesson 1
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