Esperanto is far easier to learn than most natural languages, but it does take a little bit of work. Fortunately, only about 20 hours of study and practice is necessary to acquire a basic vocabulary and a good sense of Esperanto grammar. Here are some of the best ways to get started:
Portals to Learning
- Kurso de Esperanto
- Kurso de Esperanto is a downloadable computer program which guides you through all the basics of Esperanto in ten simple lesssons, complete with sound files, reading, writing, and speaking practice, and the ability to have your work checked and commented on via e-mail by an Esperanto teacher.
- Esperanto USA Correspondence Course
- This is a free course in 10 lessons with an instructor, corresponding either by email or snail mail.
- Mazi en Gondolando
- You can watch Mazi en Gondolando on YouTube. Mazi en Gondolando is an elementary course told through 18 episodes of an animated cartoon, published by the International Esperanto Institute.
- Pasporto al la Tuta Mondo
- Pasporto al la tuta mondo is a 15-lesson video course available from Esperanto-USA. The video portion can be viewed on YouTube, but ordering the DVDs from Esperanto USA gives you the vocabulary and grammatical explanations which are also essential parts of the course.
- Gerda malaperis
- Gerda malaperis, by Claude Piron, is available in many different formats: a booklet, an online course at Lernu! (complete with sound files), and as a movie filmed by Imagu Filmoj in Brazil. Gerda malaperis (Gerda Disappeared!) is a superb course based on an entertaining mystery involving the sudden disappearance of a university professor under mysterious circumstances. I recommend the DVD version.
Essential Books for Students
- Esperanto: Learning and Using the International Language
- Probably the best book in print for English speakers beginning the language. It’s divided in three sections: a short history and description of the language, ten short lessons, and an Esperanto reader which continues the lessons while introducing the student to Esperanto literature and usage. The final part is an Esperanto-English glossary which includes the 2000 most common Esperanto root words, giving you the keys to the vast majority of Esperanto vocabulary in common use. It’s also very reasonably priced, especially if you order from E-USA.
- Comprehensive English-Esperanto Dictionary
- This dictionary is indispensable for the new student of Esperanto. One of its key features is that it gives thousands of usage examples, instead of merely presenting a list of equivalent words with little or no explanation.
- Teach Yourself Esperanto
- TYE is an outstanding course book for English speakers beginning the international language. Unfortunately, it’s out-of-print, but there are many copies out there, as any search for used books will show. Prices of copies on Amazon tend to fluctuate from week to week.