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:
- lernu.net – I’ve primarily been using lernu.net 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. Lernu.net also has forums, reading material, a dictionary, and other useful materials to help you learn.
- Tatoeba.org – 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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