Learning Esperanto

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

Lernu! http://lernu.net is a portal for learning Esperanto, including a wide selection of beginning and intermediate courses in Esperanto, forums, information about the language, and much more.
E-USA (also known as ELNA) is the national Esperanto association for the United States. They offer a free ten-lesson course with an instructor via snail- or e-mail, and have nearly two thousand titles of books and recordings in (or about) Esperanto available. You need not be a member to take advantage of their services, but members have the advantage of a nice discount. E-USA also organizes a national Esperanto conference each year, as well as sends delegates to international conferences. All the books in print mentioned on this page should be available from E-USA.

Basic Courses

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.

Intermediate Courses

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.

Advanced Courses

Vojaĝo en Esperanto-Lando
Vojaĝo en Esperanto-Lando (A Trip into Esperanto Country) is a rich, entertaining, and extremely informative course by Boris Kolker, in the format of 26 presentations at an Esperanto club, on the literature, poetry, history, and culture of the Esperanto movement worldwide. Each chapter includes wonderful Esperanto stories, excerpts from longer literature forms, humor, poetry, as well as questions for discussion that function as advanced level exercises. Highly recommended.

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.

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