Can Esperanto aid language acquisition?

Published 4th January 2011
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Ever heard of Esperanto? Neither have a lot of people, but it has been suggested that it may be a useful tool in developing language learning skills.

Esperanto is a constructed language, and is the only one to have native speakers. It was devised by L. L. Zamenhof as a means of achieving international understanding and breaking down barriers between communities. The word Esperanto is derived from the pseudonym (Doktoro Esperanto, meaning Dr. Hopeful) which Zamenhof used in the publication of his Unua Libro in 1887. The book set out the grammatical rules and roots of vocabulary, along with some examples of the language in use.

With its simple grammatical rules, lack of irregular verbs, and relatively easy pronunciation, a thorough knowledge of Esperanto can be gained much more quickly than other languages (four times faster, according to some Esperantists), and can therefore act as a building block for language learners. A positive for would-be Esperanto students is that there are not a great deal of slangwords or idioms – after all, the language was created to ease international understanding, not make it more difficult!

However, as a constructed language Esperanto has been criticised as being too heavily based on Indo-European languages, and is more difficult to learn for speakers of other types of languages. Of course, that is not to say that it is impossible, and many people who don’t speak Indo-European languages can speak Esperanto.

What do you think? Do we have any Esperantist readers? If so, we’d love to hear your opinion on this.

LAUREN WEBB

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