But don’t know where to start?
Start by downloading the first chapter of the Free Esperanto Book. The book has 14 chapters and each chapter has between 10 and 30 pages which you can download and print. There are also a couple of audio files. By the time you have worked through the book you should have a solid grounding in the international language.
“Se, lavante telerojn, ni pensas nur pri la trinkonta taso de teo, tiel hastante por malobstrukcigi la telerojn, kvazaŭ ili estus ĝenaĵo, ni ne vivas dum la tempo kiam ni lavas la telerojn. Fakte, ni estas tute nekapable konstati la miraklon de la vivo, starante apud la lavopelvo. Se ni ne povas lavi la telerojn verŝajnas, ke ni ankaŭ ne povas trinki nian teon. Trinkante la tason de teo, ni pensos pri aliaj aferoj, apenaŭ konsciaj pri la taso en niaj manoj. Tiel ni estas forsuĉitaj en la estontecon – kaj ni ne kapablas vere vivi unu minuton de la vivo.”
- Thich Nhat Hanh
Karlo: Facila Legolibro por la Lernado de Esperanto, is exactly what its subtitle says it is, an easy reader for learning Esperanto. Written in 1909 by Edmond Privat, a Swiss university professor, eminent Esperantist, and author of a biography of Zamenhof, Karlo might be the Esperanto book that has had the most readers. A charming little story, it traces the life of Karlo Davis from the day of his birth until his honeymoon.
Since it is written in simple Esperanto, I was able to understand most of it without once consulting a dictionary. There are questions at the end of each (very short) chapter which help you to learn the language by forcing you to use the language. Carefully re-reading the book, answering the questions, and using a dictionary, would be time well spent.
Karlo is available as a free download from Project Gutenberg.
How do you know, and how can you check, that what you are reading is good Esperanto? The best sources about correct Esperanto usage are written in Esperanto (or in Russian!). On a lernu forum I was given a list of good sources of information. I re-post them here so that I can easily find them again when my level of Esperanto has advanced to a point where I can make proper use of them.
It’s easy enough to learn to read Esperanto, but how do you learn to speak Esperanto when you don’t have anybody to speak it with? How do you know that your pronuciation and intonation are correct? Sure, you can talk to lots of people on skype, but if they are just learning the language too, how do you know that their pronuciation is any better than your own? The problem is to learn to speak Esperanto without an accent. How do you learn to speak “like a native” when there are no natives?
I found a solution to this problem in the person of an Austrian radio announcer named Anton Oberndorfer. I accidentally stumbled across him on the Internet not once but twice. He is the narrator of Esperanto Vikifilmetoj. These are little YouTube videos which consist of nothing more than Herr Oberndorfer reading short articles from Vikipedio, the Esperanto-language version of Wikipedia.
He also can be heard podcasting his own, quite interesting, op-ed pieces on Esperanta Retradio. There is no problem following what he is saying because, with the podcasts as with the YouTube videos, the script is show on the screen, so you can always match the spoken with the written word.
I would say – though, admittedly, I have little upon which to base this judgement – that Anton Oberndorfer speaks perfect, accentless Esperanto, with perfect pronunciation and perfect intonation. If I read the scripts out loud with Oberndorfer, speaking at the same time, matching my voice to his, and do this over and over again, my brain will correct the mismatches between my voice and his until I too can speak Esperanto like a native.
Julio Baghy (1891-1967), an Hungarian actor, is probably the most popular poet and novelist in Esperanto literature. Among his many works is La Verda Koro, (“The Green Heart”), a didactic novel for beginners based on his own experiences during the First World War as a prisoner-of-war in Siberia where he taught Esperanto to people of diverse nationalities. I found this little novel very poignant because all of the characters … obviously reflecting Baghy’s own sentiments … express the most enthusiastic and naive optimism that Esperanto will quickly find acceptance and play an important role in promoting mutual understanding among all mankind. Ninety years after La Verda Koro was written, Esperanto has still not been accepted as the obvious and inevitable and only possible solution to “the language problem” ... which is what it is … nor does mutual understanding among all mankind seem any closer. Very sad.
The edition of the book which I read was published in Hungary and has vocabulary lists and grammatical notes in Hungarian. Just now, as I started to write this entry, I discovered that Don Harlow, bless his green heart, has provided a free online version of the book with vocabulary lists and grammatical notes in English. And it has audio files! Click HERE
Anyone who has worked their way through an introductory textbook or the Kurso de Esperanto will have no trouble reading La Verda Koro and will greatly benefit from doing so.
A fun way – and I think probably a very effective way – for a beginner to learn Esperanto is by watching cartoons on YouTube.
Edukado.net is a website for Esperanto teachers that provides free “instrumaterialoj” (instructional materials). Because the site is entirely in Esperanto it may be difficult for a beginner to navigate, but if you click here and type “MAZI” as your “Serĉvorto” (search word) in the search box, you should find simply scads of stuff that will help you turn your watching of the Mazi in Gondolando cartoons into a wonderful experience of learning Esperanto.
Novaĵoj kaj opinioj pri la Esperanto-movado:
Kaj novaĵoj en Esperanto pri la tuta mondo:
Breaking story! A searchable online version of La Plena Ilustrita Vortaro de Esperanto (“The Complete Illustrated Dictionary of Esperanto”),which has been long anticipated, is up and running today! With nearly 17,000 words, this monolingual dictionary is considered the standard for the Esperanto language. It’s completely free, but you have to register. If you are already registered at the Lernu! Esperanto-learning website, you just use the same username and password. Here’s the link:
P.S.: You can also find a Russian-Esperanto dictionary, Granda Esperanto-Rusa Vortaro, at:
Vojaĝu kun Zam is another very easy introductory course on the Lernu! website. A complete beginner could tackle it right after working through Introduction to the Language. “Travel with Zam” takes you around the world from Novjorko (New York) to Kaburbo (Cape Town) to Velingtono in Novzelando to Nuko, the capital of Gronlando. Along the way short texts about the city being visited introduce basic vocabulary and simple grammar. Fill-in-the-blanks exercises reinforce the newly introduced language elements.
I worked through the course twice just as a review. I learned nothing I did not already know except that a glaciurso is a “polar bear” and a few other random words. What I did find very helpful about the course was the audio files. Paragraph-length passages of Esperanto are read at normal speed giving even non-beginners an excellent opportunity to practice and perfect their pronunciation. This is important because few students have ready access to a fluent native-speaker of Esperanto with whom they can converse in the language.