Saluton Komencantoj - Esperanto events are for YOU!
There is this idea among people learning Esperanto, I've seen it a few times recently, that Esperanto events are somehow not for people who are new to the language. This couldn't be further from the truth.
The idea is expressed in a few variations:
- Esperanto events are "tailored for fluent speakers".
- When I'm fluent, I'll come to a local meeting.
- Esperanto meetings are not "welcoming."
Usually this idea is expressed by people who have never been to these events. I'd like to find out whether this perception is coming from and what can be done to change it. First of all, if there's any truth to this perception, it's not intentional. There's nothing more exciting to organizers and participants that to see new people interested in Esperanto. Second, it's harmful to your ability to learn. There is no better way to get fluent than to take the plunge and go speak with people.
As a side note, I received similar feedback about our annual event on Lake George in October, so I put together a long, rambling video of "what to expect" there. It's not intended as a promotional video for the event, but more for people who had decided to come and want to know how to get ready. In case it is of interest, here's the link.
By the way, if anybody has any specific feedback about what has given them this impression - such as a link to an event page - please mention it. This is a very important point to me. It's actually the entire reason I'm here on the forum.
I support Salivanto's statements 100 percent. Please, komencantoj, take advantage of any Esperanto meetings in your area or reach out and arrange Skype conversations with someone if you're too far away to travel to meetings.
And please also mention what it is that holds you back from participating so we can figure out a way to make that barrier disappear. This is exactly how the Toronto beginner's conversation group was started. I read people's reasons on this forum for not participating in Esperanto meetings and designed a meeting that removed those uncomfortable situations. So with your feedback, we can learn what you need and then try to provide it to you.
Well, the london (england) esperanto club meeting expressly warns those who do not speak esperanto that all of the meeting is conducted exclusively in esperanto. It recomends a beginners course as an alternative, which is not the same as a meetup or a social event. The implication being that their meeting is not suitable for those who are not fluent. Thus, being a comparative beginner and not fluent i would assume i was not going to be welcome/comfortable there and would not go.
Thanks for this. This is exactly the feedback I was interested in. Looks like the exact wording is:
The London Esperanto Club welcomes visitors, but if you don't speak Esperanto then do please be aware that the programme for our Friday meetings is completely in Esperanto, and our our beginners' course on Thursdays (at the Riverside Terrace Cafe, Southbank Centre) may be more suitable for you!
My first thought is that I'm impressed that there are enough people in London to support a standing beginner's event. My second thought is that (to me, anyway) "entirely in Esperanto" is not the same as "not suitable for those who are not fluent."
Jen demando por vi. Ĉu vi povas legi miajn frazojn? Ĉu vi komprenas min nun? Se jes, vi ja parolas Esperanton, ĉu ne? Estu bonvena!
The problem is not komencantoj but krokodiloj. I'm hearing people on this board saying they want to speak Esperanto. If so, then there's no problem. BTW, different people have different attitudes toward krokodilado. In some cases, you've got to get after the more fluent speakers to not waste your time y speaking English.
Jes, Mi povas legi viajn frazojn, sed me ne povas paroli en esperanto. Mi forgesas la vortojn, la gramatikon kai ....i get flustered and embarrassed...oops nun mi estas la terura 'krokodilo'.
Also with all due respect to you and your openness, that website phrasing is capable of being interpreted very differently by Americans or even Australians compared to a Brit. To a traditional Englishwoman that phrasing, in an understated English way, comes across very much as, 'Please don't come to this meeting if you can't cope fully in esperanto, if you cannot cope entirely in esperanto your correct place is with the beginners until such time as you are sufficiently advanced as to not make embarrassing linguistic faux pas' and given it's a London group that is how i would expect it to be meant. We Brits can get a lot of milage out of subtle cues.
If they don't mean it like that then they should probably set out some criteria for self evaluation.
Edited for clarity. To be fair i might eventually gather the courage to rock up but i probably would not say anything. At all, beyond Saluton, anyway. And sit at the back, kind of lurking for a year or two.
Nu, ja povas esti ke mi mislegas la anoncon cxar mi ne estas brito. Mi ne povas negi tion. Restas, tamen, la fakto ke ili ja havas renkontigxon por "komencantoj". Se vi ne kredas ke vi estas preta por la cxefa renkontigxo, kial vi ne iru al la komencanta? Alternative, kial vi ne simple demandu? Eble mi ne konas britojn (sed paranteze, mia fratino logxas en Londono) sed mi ja konas Esperantistojn.
"Saluton, mi finis la kurson en Duolingo kaj mi scivolas cxu vi opinias ke mi estas preta veni al la vendreda renkontigxo." Via demando, tiel dirita, estos tre bonvena.
Edit: Maybe someone from London will respond, but I have some additional information. The Friday meeting seems appropriate for someone with at least passive (=listening) ability in Esperanto at a meznivela level. From my experience, a motivated learner with previous language experience can reach this level with four months of serious study -- longer without previous experience, but certainly within a year of following a steady routine.
My thought, is if you can say "saluton, mi venis por auxskulti" and you can keep a positive attitude (e.g. "I'm going to take notes and learn at least three new things tonight") this would be fine. Of course, you could always go to the beginners' meeting and learn three things there too, right?
In our local group here we dedicate the first hour of our weekly meetup to beginners. Afterwards we switch completely to Esperanto. The beginners are welcome to stay but if they want to say something, they are explicitly supposed to try in Esperanto. Some of our members come half an hour later, because they are only interested in the conversational part.
It's interesting that I've been thinking about having the inverse rule for some of my lunch dates -- the start of lunch should be English free -- then if we want to gossip and catch up on news ... or explain something which was tripping us up, we can do that later. Then (as my speaking partner progresses and I break my own bad habits) we could lengthen the Esperanto-only portion. In any event, we've never been that formal.
This is the impression I often get as well, and I think the intimidation factor is largely a consequence of miscommunication. I think clubs stating that their official business will be conducted in Esperanto, but stating they welcome all interested parties, and having a 'coffee and conversation' hour after the meeting in both Esperanto and the local tongue would help ease matters.
I would venture to think that it would make more sense to have the beginning of a club meeting in both languages as that would help ease the anxiety of newbies, since they don't have to meet new people AND do it in a language they're not comfortable with yet. Then, once they're familiar with the people around them, they can start practicing their Esperanto. That's just my thoughts anyway.
I contact the group near me and told them I'm halfway through the course and had a small, small vocabulary. I was encouraged to attend and was met on my level for the whole meeting. We spoke in English and Esperanto and great care was taken to make me feel welcome.
What group could survive that ever discouraged new members from joining?
I also think that maybe terms like krokodilo may create a perception that beginners may be frowned upon.
There's a big difference between a komencanto and a krokadilo. Some of the most annoying krokodiloj I've had to deal with have been some rather fluent speakers.
One of the very first Esperanto expressions I learned was "ne krokodilu".
Jes, kaj kion vi volas diri per tio? Cxu "ne krokodilu" siginifas "nefluuloj restu for"? Laux mi, ne. Laux mi, "ne krokodilu" signifas "kara amiko, vi ja elspezas multe da mono, peno, kaj tempo por esti tie cxi -- bone pravigu tiun elspezon kaj bone uzu tiun eblecon paroli Esperanton." :-)
I am not sure. As a beginner and kind of a reclusive person myself, there is a bit of discomfort in the idea that you may not understand what is happening around you.
Although I very much agree that immersion is the best tool for fluency.
If anyone is interested, there is a Discord community (text and voice chat). Here is an invite link: https://discord.gg/0qqNiTsaYcyRkGwo
I turned to Discord as services like HelloChat and iTalki were not very active or reliable. With Discord, if you are online you can see the messages on the server and interact with everyone.
I never even considered going because I saw someone from an event on YouTube telling beginners not to go. Maybe others have seen this?
If anybody knows what video this is, please let me know. I'm very curious now.
Maybe someone else will know what it is. I'm inclined to think you misunderstood - or we are not on the same page as to what a "beginner" is - or the guy who said it is a jerk who shouldn't be listened to.
I would also like to see this video to understand what's going on. If you could find it, we'd be really grateful! :)
Was it maybe some litterature club or high-level working group on a specific topic? Hearing the language can't harm anybody though… All of the gatherings I've attended were welcoming, crocodiling, and had beginners' courses/games/chat, but beginners were free and encouraged to attend any other activities. In fact, there are many different people and activities, and you can befriend whoever you want and do whatever you feel like.
Along these lines - I'm requesting this same kind of feedback for our event on Lake George. Will all the excitement generated by Duolingo, it should be no problem to double the participation in the event this year -- if only we knew what the new learners would want in an event. Feedback wanted.