Esperanto is a constructed language, published in 1887 by Ludovic Lazarus Zamenhof as a means of unifying people who otherwise had no common language. Esperanto is the world's most widely spoken constructed language, and has been in active use for over 130 years. Although it has not been adopted as a primary language in any nation, an estimated 2000 acquired Esperanto in tandem with another language in upbringing. Esperanto has up to an estimated 2 million speakers worldwide, though this likely includes those with only a vague familiarity of the language.
Esperanto's roots were borrowed from European Languages, primarily from the Romance Languages, although many Germanic and some Slavic roots exist. The language is written in a variation of the Latin Alphabet and contains 28 characters. It varies from the Latin Alphabet in that it lacks the letters 'q', 'w', 'x', and 'y', and additionally, the alphabet includes 6 characters with diacritical marks: 5 with a circumflex and one with a breve.
Being constructed, Esperanto's grammatical rules are almost invariably followed. One notable exception is the term "Esperanto" itself (the name Zamenhof originally proposed was "lingvo internacia", meaning international language) and was not intended to be used as it is.
Due to the regularity of the language, the length of study-time to obtain a 'standard' level in Esperanto is estimated to be near a mere 150 hours of study, in much contrast to 1000 to 2000 hours in obtaining the same level in other Latin-based languages from a similar language.
|Lernu||Web||Free||Good for beginners. Story-based lessons interspersed with lessons on the basics of Esperanto grammar.|
|Duolingo||Web, iOS, Android, and Windows Phone||Free, $10/Mo.||Good for beginners. Gamified lesson format includes a variety of speaking, listening, translation, and multiple choice challenges covering many fields. Duolingo Effectiveness Study and more research here.|
|Clozemaster||Desktop, iOS, and Android||Free, $8/Mo.||Good for intermediates. It promotes memorization through the use of context and word association hence "cloze" (see: Cloze test).|
|Kurso de Esperanto||Desktop||Free||Good for beginners. Free computer program introducing Esperanto in 12 lessons.|
|Esperanto in 12 Days||Web||Free||Another 12 lesson course, this time online. Similar in format to Lernu, but much shorter and doesn't require an account.|
|Anki||Desktop, iOS, and Android||Free, $24.99 on iOS.||Popular flashcard software with user-made "decks"|
Books and .PDF files
- Fundamento de Esperanto by L. L. Zamenhof - The basic rules of Esperanto, laid out in a short document by the language's creator himself.
- uea.facila - Articles written for beginners in simple Esperanto.
- PIV - The leading single-language Esperanto dictionary.
- Tekstaro - An Esperanto literature search engine that is useful for finding examples of word usage in context.
- Kantaro - A lyrics wiki.
- CRI - Chinese International Radio (state-owned) provides some content in Esperanto.
- Fundamenta Krestomatio by various authors (1903) - Collection of short stories, tales, previously-published works in translation, poems, and other writings. Gives excellent models for usage and style of Esperanto writing.
If you have experience learning this language please share it, it's greatly appreciated.
- Being constructed and belonging to no particular country may make this language appear to be practically useless, but learning it can make other languages easier to learn.
- If you have previous experience with gendered languages, you'll want to focus on shedding the tendency to gender your words.
- Concentrate your early study on getting a good grasp of how the language works. Esperanto uses suffixes to modify root words to differentiate between nouns/verbs/adjectives/subjects/etc. Thus, once you know your suffixes, every new word you learn will count for a half-dozen. Esperanto is known for being incredibly flexible in this sense, that you can add words easily that don't already exist in the language by making a root word of it and modifying it to what you're trying to say.
- Freenode has #esperanto for live chat.
- Free couch-surfing for Esperanto speakers in many different nations around the world with Pasporta Servo
- There's an Esperanto version of Wikipedia It can be a nice way to practice writing, forming, and understanding the language.
- There's a lot of Esperanto media, both original and translations. It can be really helpful to immerse yourself in the language. Some media here.