Learn Esperanto First!

Jumpstart your language learning on Duolingo by learning Esperanto first! With the Duolingo Esperanto course, you will learn the basic tools you need to learn any language more effectively and efficiently. Whatever your age, and even if you have already studied other languages, Esperanto can help you reach your language learning goals.

Are you frustrated by your rate of progress in the language you are currently studying? Do you lack experience with foreign language study? Do you find grammar and/or vocabulary painfully difficult? Don't despair, free effective help is available right here in the Esperanto course on Duolingo.

How can this be? And what is Esperanto anyway?

Esperanto is a constructed language which is very regular and much easier to learn than any national language. It was created in the late 1800s as a universal second language, and is used by over a million people throughout the world. Whether you are interested in learning it for its own sake or not, Esperanto has been proven to help with language learning because of its regular structure and logical approach. As a bonus it is fun to learn and builds self-confidence.

To learn what language experts think, you should watch Tim Morley's compelling TEDx talk about learning Esperanto and read Benny Lewis's popular blog post on the effects of studying Esperanto for just two weeks.

Here's what fellow Duolingo learners have to say about Esperanto:

"I started it last week and it really does seem to help when I do lessons from other languages."--Monica

"[Hungarian] is easier for me I think because I studied Esperanto some years ago. I tried--and failed--to learn Hebrew, German and Latin in school. As a young adult I studied Esperanto and now I think it is really helping me a lot! And it doesn't take all that much time to study it, either.'-- Jane

For additional information about Esperanto, go to the Esperanto Mega Post in the forum discussions. Happy learning!

July 25, 2016


Sorted by top post

Tim Morley's TED talk was definitely one thing that made me want to learn Esperanto. Now that I have, I can definitely say that it was worth it.

July 25, 2016

I have said this before, but it bears repeating. If you are interested in other languages DO NOT learn Esperanto first. Chances are too high that you will enjoy it so much that you'll never actually get around to learning those other languages.

July 25, 2016

Not true! You just put them on hold till you are fluent in esperanto...i will go back to the year sometime! ;-)

July 25, 2016

NE LERNU ESPERANTON! Poste, ĉiuj aliaj lingvoj ŝajnos tro tedaj kaj malfacilaj :D

July 25, 2016

I don't agree. I starded with French after Esperanto because 1) I did already fail to learn French in the past and I want to correct that 2) Esperanto makes French a way easier to learn and I can see myself rapidly progressing.

July 26, 2016

Nice plug! :)

If I sign up, do I get a free set of Ginsu knives, too? And a bamboo steamer?!! :) :)

July 25, 2016

Actually, I have heard people say that the Esperanto course is quick and easy due to how regular Esperanto is, and that it helps you get into the mindset of learning another language. Kind of gives you a set of skills and tools so that you're a more effective learner.

July 25, 2016

If you finish the course, you get a free issue of Kontakto magazine. Not quite ginsu knives, I know, but with 400,000+ learner's on the course, the knives might prove, er, financially difficult to fulfill.

The magazine is a good read, though. ;-)

July 25, 2016

Isn't the Kontakto thing "on hold" for the summer.

It's true though, that if you finish the course, you can get another free course by Skype. :-)

July 25, 2016

The wonderful thing is that you can read the Kontakto, a lot of it at least, after completing the course.

July 25, 2016

Unlike any other language on Duolingo, Esperanto was designed to be learnable and useable, and the course creators did a great job with the Esperanto course (and haven't stopped improving on it). That means you'll be a lot better at Esperanto by the end of this course than you would be with any other language at the end of an introductory course, and hopefully you'll have gotten a sense for what an enjoyable and creative language it is (and spent a little time discovering the amazing and welcoming worldwide community of Esperantists).

July 25, 2016

Not only "usable" in the sense of "understandable" but also, you'd be surprised at the ease with which you can invent new words for terms you don't already know.

July 25, 2016

Your post inspired me to get back to my tree, and now I'm almost to the last section! This is a wonderful post (staff should make it a sticky!!).

July 26, 2016

Totally agree. Many of my other languages have links to Esperanto and things click into place more easily because of the way i now think about language learning.

I am also way more fluent in esperanto than seems possible after only four months. (Also i have fallen in love with esperanto, it is a lovely language, the people you encounter as an enthusiastic beginner are almost universally helpful and it makes me feel good about myself)

July 25, 2016

[deactivated user]

    I had 7 years of French in elementary/high school and could communicate conversationally. (This was years ago) After only a few months of self-teaching Esperanto, I was reading and writing conversationally. I understand grammar better, and my very old French training is being stimulated. Also, the community is extremely friendly and supportive.

    July 25, 2016

    I guess it depends on the language you're learning, if you already know a few, if Esperanto is helpful to you or not. For me, transitivity is an issue in any language (hajimaru/hajimeru in Japanese, for example) and learning and understanding it with Esperanto is helping me so much, since it is actually regular and makes sense in Esperanto. Judith Meyer did an awesome talk about how the affixes in Esperanto helps to organize learning about new languages. Not only Indo-European, but such diverse languages as Chinese, Indonesian and Hebrew. I think thinking about how and when to use the -us makes me better understand the concept over all and that helps me in other languages, too.

    July 25, 2016

    I actually plan on introducing my children to EO in order to instill the idea of extra languages. I have read multiple articles on the benefits of learning EO.

    July 25, 2016

    I speak Esperanto with my daughter. It is a way to keep up the everyday use, but is best done when one has really used Esperanto a lot already. Important to have contacts with other families using Esperanto. There are forums for that, email and Facebook groups, meetings of Esperanto families and the children's little esperanto congress every year (infana kongreseto). My daughter is in the Infana Kongreseto at the moment playing with other children. (Just speaking with one person, me, most days, doesn't inspire her as much to use the language, as meeting other children with whom she doesn't have another common language.)

    July 25, 2016

    I am learning esperanto as are my husband and my brother. I am trying to get some of my grown up children interested and when the grandchildren arrive.....

    July 25, 2016

    Mi aŭdis pri avino kiu donis specifan kvanton de moneroj al siaj nepoj post ĉiu leciono farita de la e-kurso ĉe duolingo haha. Laŭ ŝia sperto, tio funkcias xD

    July 25, 2016

    I feel this is only true if you've never (consciously) learned a language before. When you learn another language for the first time, you're also building your language learning skills, so you have strategies in place when you go to learn subsequent languages. Esperanto is pretty easy, especially if you already speak a European language, so it's a pretty good way to learn how to learn a language. It's also a good way to build your language learning confidence.

    But if you already have a lot of language experience, I can't see it doing much good.

    July 25, 2016

    It is certainly true that any language learning supports further language learning. For me personally Esperanto did three things supporting my learning of other languages: 1) a deeper understanding of grammar and language structure in general (also formation of concepts) 2) courage, the feeling of success (if I can communciate in Esperanto after such a short time of learning, then I can start SPEAKING German, just stop being afraid of doing mistakes and just go for it) 3) motive through meetings with interesting people (an interest to learn their languages).

    July 25, 2016

    Thank you very much for sharing this TED talk! This idea of a way of teaching in the primary schools is fascinating. I hope it will be developed more in future. I think I will also do the Esperanto tree sooner than I had planned :)

    July 25, 2016

    I will absolutely study Esperanto next year. Esperant seems like a magic language when I met it. I aim to finish the Spanish and English tree this year.

    July 25, 2016

    Mi kompletigis la Esperantan kurson du semajnojn. Ĝi estis mia deka arbo ĉi tie, sur Duolingo.

    Mi ŝatis ĝin multe, mi pensas ke ĝi estas facila lingvo por lerni kaj mi havis multan amuzon. Sed mi ne certas ke ĝi helpis min lerni aliajn lingvojn pli rapide.

    Por mi, la plej malfacila momento estis kiam mi komencis ĉi tie dek monatoj. La unuajn lingvojn mi klopodis, la francan kaj la germanan, ili ŝajnis tro malfacila por mi.

    Sed poste, kiam mi komencis aldoni pli da lingvoj (la italan, la katalunan, la portugalan, Esperanto ) mi komencis senti pli komforta studi lingvojn.

    Esperanto estas nur unu el ili, eble la plej facila. Nu, la unua 3/4 de la arbo estas sufiĉe facila, sed poste ĝi ne estas tiel facila.

    Por unulingvaj homoj, Esperanto estas eble la plej bona eblo kiel ilia dua lingvo. Sed se vi jam studis lingvojn, tiam eble Esperanto ne estos tia magia helpo.

    Please, correct possible errors (explaining them). Thanks.

    July 25, 2016

    Not much to correct: kiam mi komencis ĉi tie antaŭ dek monatoj ... la unuajn lingvojn kiujn mi klopodis lerni ... tro malfacilaJ por ... komencis senti min pli komforta. So you have learnt a lot of Esperanto in a short time.

    July 25, 2016

    Thank you so much for your corrections!

    Actually I think I started the Esperanto tree last November. I got to the first check point and then I stopped. I was doing a lot of trees simultaneously back then.

    About four or five weeks ago, I had already finished nine trees here on Duolingo, so I resumed (in fact started again) the Espeanto tree and then I completed it.

    So all in all about four weeks of Esperanto (plus maybe two weeks back in November).

    I started studying languages here on Duolingo ten months ago and I have worked much more on Italian, French, German, Portuguese..... than Esperanto.

    In spite of this I would say my level in Esperanto is much higher than in German for example, and it is getting closer to my level in French, Italian or Portuguese.

    July 25, 2016

    Kiel vi diris, jen laŭ mi la plej grava nuanco: "Por unulingvaj homoj, Esperanto estas eble la plej bona eblo kiel ilia dua lingvo. Sed se vi jam studis lingvojn, tiam eble Esperanto ne estos tia magia helpo."

    Mi pensas, ke plej multaj homoj konsentus, ke dum la lernado de la unua fremda lingvo, oni renkontas pli da malfacilaĵoj ol en la dua, ktp. La argumento por Esperanto estas ke utilas uzi ĝin kiel unuan fremdan lingvon, por konkeri tiujn malfacilaĵojn per la plej facile lernebla lingvo, kaj la tiel akiritaj kapabloj helpos poste. Sed se vi jam estas poligloto, vi verŝajne pravas, ke tiu kialo por lerni Esperanton apenaŭ validas. (Tamen ja validas aron de aliaj kialoj, ĉu ne? ;) )

    July 25, 2016

    I have completed the Esperanto course, and I practise a bit every day; more than half of my tree is gold. I can honestly say that it has had no effect whatsoever on the ease of learning other languages. Hungarian is certainly not any easier for me! I have read many claims that Esperanto makes learning other languages easier, but my personal experience certainly doesn't bear this out.

    I can believe there might be a benefit for people who have never tried to learn another language before, owing to the very simple and predictable way that Esperanto separates its various parts of speech. However, this is merely an hypothesis. I certainly don't think that it is helpful to urge people to drop the language(s) that they really want to learn and learn another they are not interested in on these grounds. Most languages are nothing like Esperanto. I was learning languages before and after I learnt some Esperanto, so I very much feel qualified to say this.

    One thing I do agree on, however, is that Esperanto is fun. That is a much better reason to learn it than all this nonsense about 'helping you reach your language-learning goals'; it won't. It will help you speak Esperanto, however, which is an enjoyable thing to do. Learn it for this reason; it really doesn't make Russian, for example, any easier.

    July 25, 2016

    It's only natural a polyglot like you did not notice that improvement (19 languages on duolingo! Wow!). In my opinion (based on experience) and knowledge (from read stuff/met people) the best 1st foreign language at schools would be Esperanto (that's why even in a world where 95% of humanity would be learning English, Esperanto would still be worth learning to save time/efforts/costs).

    Anyway, when i first met Esperanto 6 years ago and gave it a succesful try from that day on, I already could speak English and French very well, and i had learned German for two years. I read this (which I'd love institutions would keep on doing those experiments, with much more accuracy) and i said: ok, I don't think it is going to help me learn German much faster (it was very rusty, after 3 years with no German practicing/learning at all), i am not a monolingual anymore. So... that year I started German again but at university, and Esperanto for the first time, home. I learned Esperanto very fast and it was fun, and it did help me undertand some tiny elements in the German language (a language I learned only because it is and important language in Europe better job). I don't like German in general, even after one year living in Vienna i didn't like it (those der die das drive me crazy, and I see Duolingo give too many hints about that).

    Now I'm learning home Mandarin Chinese for two years (I have an Esperanto friend from China who aroused my interested in it + it is an important language and will maybe become next international language, at least in Asia) and I must confess I hardly doubt I would have ever tried Chinese if I had not learned Esperanto before (I saw Chinese as a Great Wall) and say Esperanto is helping me understanding Chinese better and practicing it with Esperanto friends.

    So i get what you say haha and you are pretty right. A good argument for polyglots instead: you can add Esperanto to your list very quickly! :-)

    July 25, 2016

    As a russian native speaker, I can say for sure, it will help you to understand more deeply many concepts in the russian language - free word order, case system, ig / igx counterpart in the russian language, reflexive pronouns, agreement of adjectives and so on.

    July 26, 2016

    It is probably most helpful to people before they start learning another language, or when they've studied a few, but haven't become proficient yet. I've studied spanish for years, but still can't speak it. Studying Esperanto had given me the freedom to not focus on trying to use perfect grammar, and just speak instead. I'm hoping that will unlock something in my brain for Spanish. I already feel like the Spanish is coming forward more as I speak.

    July 25, 2016

    Learn it for this reason; it really doesn't make Russian, for example, any easier.

    Actually, although I learned Russian at uni for four years and am more or less fluent (I joke I'm fluid in Russian, since I still make plenty of mistakes, but I can express myself easily and understand easily), there are certain things in Russian that I had never completely got my head around which I discovered (to my surprise!) suddenly made much more sense to me after encountering them in a deliberately simplified language. When you're not juggling six cases and three genders and two aspects, patterns are easier to spot! I think I even wrote a post about it, though that was not long after the EO course came out so I'd have to do some serious searching to find it again.

    I'm sure everyone is different, but I can say in my case, even using your specific example language and despite the fact I was previously (15-ish years ago) very fluent and am currently fluent if not perfect, yes, Esperanto helped me understand some things I had not previously quite got my head around.

    (I actually find Esperanto eerily Slavic in many ways; whether it would be similarly beneficial to other advanced learners I do not pretend to know. I can only describe my own experience.)

    July 26, 2016

    Yes, in my attempts at learning Russian (I set it aside to focus on Spanish, but I plan to get back to it once I'm reasonably conversational in Spanish), I found a lot of thing that made perfect sense when I compared them to some aspect of Esperanto, which otherwise would have been more confusing.

    July 27, 2016

    If you read the papers on the esperanto effect: a) it was strongest for people that were either in their first language learning attempt or had failed in previous language learning attempts. b) it was strongest for those students that had the lowest aptitude for learning foreign languages.

    I don't think you qualify on either point. There are a couple of theories on the reason here. a) there are parts of the brain that get activated when learning a 2nd language. Esperanto activates those more rapidly than natural langauges B) esperanto teaches a vocabulary that extends the number of words students will encounter as cognates when learning other languages

    Again, I doubt either effect applies to you.

    April 13, 2018

    I've started learning and teaching it to my daughters for this reason.

    July 25, 2016

    Esperanto is also a good tool to contact native speakers of many languages. Basically, you learn an easy language first, you then have easy access to natives in many other languages. I use it this way for about ten years already.

    July 25, 2016

    Just a brief comment: the link to the TED talk is not working, try instead and enjoy :)

    February 22, 2017

    This will be my third time finishing the course.

    July 25, 2016

    Then you should definitely also try something from here:

    July 25, 2016


    July 25, 2016
    • 1744

    For those of you who want to study a natural language that is spoken by 200+ million people and shares more than a few similarities with Esperanto (word formation in a clever and logical way + overall grammar simplicity), I highly recommend Indonesian. It will be coming soon on Duolingo as well.

    root word - tulis = write

    Add the prefix pe- = penulis = writer

    Add the prefix ter- = tertulis = to be written

    Add the prefix me- = menulis = to write (smth)

    Add the prefix ber- = bertulis = to be written on

    Add the suffix -an = tulisan = something written

    There are also combinations of prefixes and suffixes used together:

    Add me- kan = menuliskan = to write something down; use something to write with

    Add pe- an = penulisan = process of writing


    July 27, 2016

    This issue has been studied before. The thing is: Duolingo is collecting data that could enable researchers to go way beyond previous studies on this topic.

    March 1, 2018

    I think that Duolingo may be collecting data that will make the case of learning Esperanto first more compelling. One group for whom this is especially important: There are serveral languages for which there is a course teaching esperanto for which there is no duolingo course yet

    I think Duolingo needs an English for esperanto speakers tree(and for that matter Spanish, Arabic, French, and Chinese for Esperanto speakers).

    Right now there are a fairly small number of people that have actually finished the esperanto course. What we really need to look at : Just how do those folks do in their next duolingo courses compared to others?

    I think that there will be folks for whom this will help and the people it will help the most may be the people that need the help the most.

    March 4, 2018

    [deactivated user]

      Do you think Esperanto would be useful for someone is learning French but who had previously reached a conversational/intermediate level in Spanish?

      June 20, 2018

      Esperanto is useful for anybody who is interested in speaking with Esperanto speakers. Spanish and French will help you with your Esperanto.

      June 21, 2018
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