Jes, Mi Lernas Esperanton – Yes, I’m Learning Esperanto

Consider this an admission of guilt. I am learning Esperanto. Esperanto has both its critics and proponents in the language learning community, which initially bothered me. Nobody has criticized me for wanting to learn Spanish, nor has anyone (including myself) felt the need to defend that desire. I expect that the same would be true if I suddenly decided to learn German, Hindi, Arabic, or Navajo. Yet, for some reason, Esperanto draws in critics and defenders. This has kept me from posting about it here, but now I’ve decided that my decisions don’t need to be defended, and criticisms are easily ignored.

I first heard about Esperanto from a friend in my high school German class. He didn’t know the language but he knew of it, and while the idea was fascinating, I wasn’t interested enough in languages at the time. In the past year or so I’ve become more and more curious about Esperanto but I didn’t want to sidetrack any progress I was making in Spanish. Just over four months ago, I decided that while I am not yet fluent in Spanish, I am comfortable enough with it to attempt to learn Esperanto using Spanish. So far, I don’t regret this decision at all. Spanish is established in my head well enough that I don’t confuse any of my new Esperanto vocabulary with it or vice-versa.

Learning Spanish is still my primary focus, but sometimes when I feel like I’m starting to burn out in Spanish, I switch to studying Esperanto. Esperanto is an exciting language for me, and studying it seems to help me regain my enthusiasm for Spanish as well. I feel that my Spanish has improved at a faster rate since I started studying Esperanto.


So far I’ve only been using online resources to learn Esperanto, but I have just recently purchased a couple of books as well. This is what I’ve been using so far:

  • – I’ve primarily been using in Spanish, so that my Spanish will improve as I study Esperanto. I spent a lot of time with this Esperanto puzzle tutorial, which appealed to my style of learning a lot. also has forums, reading material, a dictionary, and other useful materials to help you learn.
  • – This site is great to find sentences using a new word in many languages, including Esperanto. It currently has over 10,000 sentences in Esperanto. I take the sentences I find here and put them in my SRS. Many of these sentences are also translated to Spanish, and so if I find the Spanish sentence useful, I will copy it into my Spanish SRS deck as well.
  • A Complete Grammar of Esperanto – This is one of the two books I just purchased. I bought this to help expand my vocabulary, explain a few of the concepts I don’t quite understand just yet, and also because this book contains graded reading material. I wanted reading material in Esperanto, in printed form, but I also wanted something that would start at a simple level and build up from there. Since receiving this book, I’ve discovered that the text of it is in the public domain, and can be found for free from Project Gutenberg. I’ve downloaded the text version to make copying sentences into my SRS a simple matter of copy and paste.
  • Esperanto Learning and Using the International Language – This is the other book I purchased, and I bought it for mostly the same reasons I bought the previous book. This book is more modern, and also contains a section giving the history of the Esperanto language and community. I purchased two books because I wanted to see if there was one book I preferred over the other, and also to push my Amazon order over $25 so I could get free shipping. =)
  • Ek – If you are using Windows, this tool is handy for helping to type the Esperanto special characters: ĉ, ĝ, ĥ, ĵ, ŝ, and ŭ. The only problem I’ve had with Ek is that it doesn’t work correctly with Anki, which is why I built:
  • An Esperanto Support plugin for Anki – Simply install this plugin in Anki, configure your deck to use the Esperanto card model, and after that you can type in cx, gx, hx, jx, sx, and ux in your cards, which the plugin will automatically convert to ĉ, ĝ, ĥ, ĵ, ŝ, and ŭ.
  • If you are a Linux user, you can use an Esperanto keyboard layout that is usually already built-in with their distribution of choice. Unfortunately, I don’t own a Mac so I have no idea what tools exist for the Mac. If you know of one, please comment about it.

I’m curious to hear about other resources that people are using to learn Esperanto. If you have any, please leave a comment and tell me about it!

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13 Comment(s)

  1. Have you completed any Esperanto course?
    I believe that learning a couple of courses teaches more words in less time with better retention, and you also learn better usage.

    My students use the basic course “Kurso de Esperanto”

    and “La Gerda Kurso” as intermediate level.

    You should be able to start using the language with less than 20 hours of study-time.

    If you enjoy learning Esperanto from Spanish, you may read the book “¿Sabe Usted Esperanto?”. You may download it from the top of the same page. Download the file

    You may also click my name “Enrique”, to find my email address.

    Best wishes

    from Fremont, California, USA

    Enrique | Sep 1, 2010 | Reply

  2. A lot of beginners will probably really enjoy the publicly shared Anki deck called “Esperanto 101”. It has all the words from the basic list from Kontakto magazine, which is the magazine of the esperanto youth organization “TEJO”. In the magazine they mark which articles only have those basic words.

    There are 600 words in the deck, and the cards go both to and from English, so 1200 cards total. Most of them have Esperanto example sentences included.

    To get it, just load up Anki, then go to “File” -> “Download” -> “Shared decks”, and then you can type Esperanto in the search field at the top of the window. Look for “Esperanto 101”.

    I started using this deck just before going to SES in Slovakia this summer, and it helped me greatly.

    doviende | Sep 1, 2010 | Reply

  3. Congrats on learning Esperanto.

    I have a large collection of Esperanto links that you may find really useful in your learning and exploring of Esperanto.

    Good luck to you!

    James O'Neill | Sep 1, 2010 | Reply

  4. Congratulations on being brave and coming out as an Esperantist! You will find the voice of one lone complainer drowned out by the millions who actually speak and enjoy the language. Don’t feel guilty, feel proud.

    J | Sep 1, 2010 | Reply

  5. @Enrique: I have not yet taken any courses. Mostly I study from the resources mentioned in the post and use Anki to make sure I don’t forget what I’ve learned. You have a lot of good resources on your website and I will check it out more.

    Peter | Sep 1, 2010 | Reply

  6. @doviende: I’ve always been a fan of building my own Anki decks, but for someone who doesn’t have that kind of patience, that’s a great suggestion!

    That magazine you mentioned looks interesting, I will have to look into how to get it.

    Peter | Sep 1, 2010 | Reply

  7. @James O’Niell: That’s a very impressive collection of links relating to Esperanto. I’ve bookmarked it. Thanks!

    Peter | Sep 1, 2010 | Reply

  8. @J: Thanks! I hope to begin speaking with some of those millions soon, but for now I’m trying to build up vocabulary.

    Peter | Sep 1, 2010 | Reply

  9. Ever since I heard about Esperanto, I was always curious about learning the langauge – but because I’m still handling the basics of Chinese and Japanese, I though I should pick it up some other time.

    Thanks to your post and fellow commenters, I thank you for providing some links so I’ll be able to learn it when I have the time!

    arumisan | Sep 5, 2010 | Reply

  10. Don’t worry. I go to a local Esperanto group-there is a waiting list.

    A good course is “Yuidiot whywasttime withis” by W.Astement

    Hilson Jeward | Sep 22, 2010 | Reply

  11. Congratulations for your blog…. it is really interesting. I have heard about esperanto and I think that is a very strange language( a slavic-germanic-latin mixture language )on the other hand, I would prefer instead of inventing a new language I would latin or greek… Anyway: If you want to follow my blog about languages, please visit me:

    Miguel | Jun 3, 2011 | Reply

  12. Congrats on learning this!! very interesting.

    John | Oct 18, 2011 | Reply

  13. Hi!
    I am happy to come across someone who is learning Esperanto.
    As soon as I heard about this language I just found it fascinating. And I must said I was a bit disappointed/sad for coming to realize that not many people were using it.
    I really thought (and hoped) it would spread out around the world.
    No wonder you feel it helps you on your Spanish-learning process. Esperanto is a compilation of many languages (or the root of them), specially latin, which is also the root of Spanish.

    Good luck!

    Jose | Apr 20, 2012 | Reply

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