Has learning Esperanto helped you learn other languages?

While waiting for Korean on here, I'm starting to learn Esperanto because I read that those who have learned Esperanto for a while (One cause I read of improving language learning for later on after learning for 6 weeks, another one was learning it for a year; that one group learning Esperanto one year, then French one year spoke and understood the French better than a group who learned French two years.)

I'm not actually interested in Esperanto at all, but I'm wondering if anyone here has learned other languages easier because of Esperanto? My only language interests are Japanese and Korean.

Edit: My background so far with languages is having taken 18 credits of Japanese language and two years of self-study of it before that, plus four years of Spanish study, but I could just never get into it. I'm definitely familiar with the structure of both languages, but my struggles are with being able to form sentences verbally on the spot and listening comprehension. I'm wondering if doing oral/verbal practice on an 'easy' language would... I guess I would say, prime my mind/brain to do it for harder things.

February 23, 2017


Learning Esperanto is like learning music theory on a simpler instrument. Then, changing the class of instrument (wind/string/...) is not the same skill, but you understand the concept and it's much easier than learning different instruments without a theory.

EO helps you understand structure of sentences (not by heart, like in English).

EO builds motivation faster, as knowing another language makes learning another much easier. Would you spend many years instead of months learning a simple well structured language that is meant to be inter-cultural communication language?

Some links: and Korean-Esperanto Joke:


February 23, 2017

A few thoughts here. The short answer is - Esperanto absolutely has helped me learn other languages.

Like you, I already had a good amount of university language study under my belt when I started Esperanto -- so it was not the classic example of "teaching you how to learn" that is often pitched. Still, it didn't take long for my fluency in Esperanto to pass my fluency in German. I also remember the first time I was reading something in German and understood a word because it was cognate with an Esperanto word. (The word was "aboni".)

People often cite certain studies. All the studies are flawed - but call for more studies, as far as I'm concerned. Again, these don't apply to people who already speak a second language.

One thing that Esperanto did for me was give me an enthusiasm for learning languages and the feeling that I really can do it. Yes, I got some of that learning German, but when I reached a certain level in Esperanto I felt like I could do anything - so I tried everything - and made some good progress.

The other thing it did was give me the ability to read languages like French and Spanish. Sure, you can say you're not interested in that, but if you enjoy Esperanto and can pick up some reading ability in another language for little extra effort, then why not. The big thing, though, is that you need to be interested in Esperanto (which you say you're not) because otherwise, what's the point?

At the very least, I would think you would need at least a general love of languages. If your only goal is Japanese and Korean and you can't imagine the joy of being fluent in a language like Esperanto, there are plenty of ways to start Japanese and Korean that don't involve Duolingo.

February 23, 2017

Still, it didn't take long for my fluency in Esperanto to pass my fluency in Esperanto.

Is this a typo? (If not, it sounds like a rather profound statement!)

February 23, 2017

This had me laughing for a bit. It's like some sort of Esperanto koan.

"We sit together, Esperanto and me,

until only Esperanto remains."

February 23, 2017


February 24, 2017

I'm actually conversational in Korean. Learned it the "hard" way, through 2 1/2 years of intense schooling and immersion living in Korea. As an example, in my final semester at Sogang University we were debating the ethicality of euthanasia and genetic engineering. Will Esperanto by itself help you learn Korean directly? No. There are too few (if any) similarities between the two languages. Unlike learning a European language after Esperanto, where in learning Swedish I constantly run into words and concepts that are similar to Esperanto words and concepts.

However, learning Esperanto WILL help you learn Korean in that it helps you learn HOW to learn languages. In your particular case, if you learn Esperanto first, then Korean, and then Japanese, you will be amazed at how quickly you pick up words or concepts that are similar between Korean and Japanese. For example, 'family' in Korean is 'kajok', while 'family' in Japanese is 'kazoku'; 'satisfaction' in Korean is 'manjok', while 'satisfaction' in Japanese is 'manzoku'. Patterns and concepts that wouldn't immediately jump out at you as being similar (they would after some time, but not immediately), probably will immediately jump out at you after learning Esperanto.

February 24, 2017

Very helpful, thank you! Even though I'd learned Japanese for 2 years on my own and 2 years in a university setting (Finished a US university's Japanese minor program of 18 credits), I feel a lot more interested in Korean than Japanese and if Korean was available at that school, I would have chosen it in a heartbeat. I think I will go back to Japanese after like you said, mostly because I don't want to let go of my years of hard work, and maybe it could be useful someday.

February 25, 2017

My Japanese classmates at Sogang soaked up new Korean vocabulary like sponges. I, on the other hand, felt like I was pounding square pegs into round holes. Eventually, the new words would be in my active and passive vocabularies, but it took some time. Having that much Japanese under your belt, I would expect you to pick up Korean pretty easily. Good luck with it! 열심히 공부하고 화이팅!

February 26, 2017

Thank you for letting me know that, that's very encouraging. So far, Korean feels a lot easier to listen to than Japanese, maybe because of how the words are and maybe a difference in speed of speaking.

February 27, 2017

Esperanto has helped me greatly with agglutination. I feel like it has helped me understand Turkish and Korean grammar. I'm at the beginning stages of both, so take it with a grain of salt. It also might be a placebo because it helped me with confidence, but that doesn't make the improvement imaginary.

Esperanto has improved my language learning by helping me make polyglot friends. This network of language learners has been invaluable.

February 26, 2017

" It also might be a placebo because it helped me with confidence, but that doesn't make the improvement imaginary."

That there is what I'm looking for, wanting confidence, with speaking and listening specifically for me, but even if it were a placebo, I desperately need to break out of the bubble of being restrained to only reading and writing ability.

February 27, 2017

It might be the friendly Esperantists and not the language itself. Personally, I don't care why it works. I've made new friends who are on edges of their seats to hear me speak. Thats what every language learner needs, but often doesn't get.

February 27, 2017

Great answer! You are absolutely right about beginning language learners needing positive reinforcement from someone other than the teacher.

February 27, 2017

If you want something to tide you over while waiting for Korean, Esperanto isn't a bad pick. It's very easy to pick up, and can help get you thinking about how language works and can be a huge confidence boost, because nothing feels better than being good at something. Everything is 100% regular and it's just easy practice with thinking/using a different language. Having studied it would be useful to you if you ever got interested in resuming Spanish or trying another European language.

All of that being said, though, don't make yourself do something you don't enjoy. You can learn Japanese or Korean just fine without Esperanto, and if you don't enjoy it it will feel like pulling teeth. Oral/verbal practice with Esperanto can be difficult because Esperanto speakers/Esperanto media can be difficult to find (though a quick internet search should at least be able to dig up something). Maybe give it a try, but if you don't like it your time would be better spent learning the Korean alphabet or improving your Japanese skills.

February 23, 2017

I can say this knowing a bit about the history and structure of Esperanto, as well as limited knowledge of Japanese and Korean; Esperanto isn't the best bet if you want to use it later to learn Japanese or Korean. It's much better if you plan to learn almost every European language. Japanese and Korean are from different families (or family, depending on your stance with the Altaic language family debate) entirely than the languages Esperanto was created from (a mix of Romance, Slavic and Germanic roots, all of which by the way are from one larger family). The only reason I can read a little bit of Esperanto is because of my background in other Indo-European languages like Spanish. With the exception of loanwords, I see hardly any resemblance Esperanto has with Japanese or Korean. In fact Korean and Japanese share more in terms of both vocabulary and grammar than Esperanto does to either. It's kind of like asking if learning Chinese will help you learn both Arabic and Hebrew faster. You're better off just learning the two languages you want to learn.

February 23, 2017

The hypotheses behind the propaedeutic value of Esperanto (the idea that it can act as a springboard to learn languages afterward) is that the accelerated learning gives one the experience of learning a language in a fraction of the time. After spending four years in high school French, spending about 720 hours on the subject, my French is not yet at a level where I can speak comfortably. However, after spending only 80 hours learning Esperanto through Duolingo, I can already speak and read at a level well above my French. One of the biggest reasons for this is that Esperanto made it clearer HOW to learn a language.

While learning French, I thought it was all about brute force memorization. Learning conjugations and remembering which words were which gender by remembering the gender for each word. This is a terrible idea. Languages have internal structures that allow for previously learned ideas to be applied to later ones, which, for example, is how native English speakers can, on the fly, use suffixes like "-ization" and "-ish" on words that otherwise never take them.

Esperanto taught me, not just how to speak Esperanto, but about how to apply knowledge to new situations. And this is just one reason why, even if Esperanto is unrelated to the target language, it can still benefit the learner. (Considering how Esperanto is considered an agglutative language and Korean is also an agglutative language, I don't think it's fair to say that it would give no inherent benefit, but I'll conceed the idea that Esperanto has nothing to do with East Asian languages anyway.)

Considering that LunarMagic seems to be in exactly the same place that I was (able to understand a foreign language to a degree, but uncomfortable using it on the fly) I think studying Esperanto for several weeks would be a great idea if the time was spent focusing on areas where they struggle. So, not just with Duolingo, but going on Telegram or Skype and finding speakers to talk with (which the Esperanto community is great for as experienced speakers will gladly slow down and speak more simply for someone else's benefit). Joining an Esperanto Minecraft server or Facebook group and posting/reading posts there to see how the words learned are used in practice. Going on to and trying to learn new words by reading the definitions in Esperanto to see how one can build their vocabulary IN THE TARGET LANGUAGE instead of just using an English-X dictionary.

Esperanto's benefits to learning other languages are not about the vocabularly. Yes, for learning another European language, that is yet another benefit, but learning HOW to learn is the real benefit of learning Esperanto first.

February 23, 2017

I like your comment about the 720 hours over four years of learning a language in a school setting. If you assume a child is "fluent" in its native language on its third birthday, you could say: 2 years X 365 days X 14 hours/day = 10220 hours of "language". When we say that your first language is easy, what we really mean is that you just don't think of how MANY hours you spent on it and you didn't know that it was work. If you had spent 10,000 hours over four years studying French, you would probably be fluent!

February 23, 2017

"I was (able to understand a foreign language to a degree, but uncomfortable using it on the fly)"

This is exactly where I'm at, yes, and hoping to use Esperanto to break out of this. It feels like... A trapped feeling, you know?

February 25, 2017

Yes, exactly. My French potential has left me feeling "trapped" for years. The difference now is that I realize what I was doing wrong. I thought it was about more learning. So I bought a 501 French Verbs and a French-English dictionary and tried to add that to my studies at school. But it only increased my knowledge, not my ability. I needed to use the language to understand it, and people told me that, but I never understood how.

I'm going to see Esperanto through for a full year and then go back to French after that. The way I learn it will be different. Yeah, I'll have Duolingo, but that will be secondary to my real efforts. I'll try to engage in places where French is used. There, I will dive in and make mistakes. I'll say things that seem right to me even if I'm not sure. Then, I'll pay attention to what others are saying, and use those constructions as guides for how I can say similar things. I'll use a French dictionary to learn new words whenever possible. I'll keep focused on my pronunciation and make sure that I have the phonology down by constantly re-evaluating how I talk. I'll read French articles and think in French at work. The books I get won't be about grammar. They'll be books in French. Novels and poetry for encountering novel words and seeing new ways the language can be used and non-fiction for reading quality French as it is used in day-to-day life.

If that all sounds like common sense, it really is, but I didn't understand WHY it was common sense until I had used all of those things to learn Esperanto. Because the grammar and spelling are simplified, I was able to learn that quickly and then get on to learning more important things. And, after a while of actually using Esperanto, I was able to then focus less on learning more and more on internalizing what I was learning. For French, that process would normally take much longer. Instead, it was like I was getting the experience of learning a language over the course of months condensed down into a matter of weeks. And that, I think, is the reason studies have found that learning Esperanto first can be beneficial to learning other languages afterwards.

February 26, 2017

"I'll read French articles and think in French at work"

I have thought about doing this, even tried, when I was learning French(pausing to try Esperanto), and I felt like I was getting absolutely no where. I could only pick a handful of words from a paragraph and French and I can't imagine thinking in the language. Unless you count forced, simple, thoughts as thinking.

Is there a tip or trick you have for thinking in another language? I haven't quite reached that point in Esperanto yet.

February 26, 2017

Maybe it was just a matter of time, but I have one tip that, again, while obvious, it didn't occur to me until I was using the language:

No one can hear your thoughts.

Just like you shouldn't be afraid to speak poorly, don't be afraid to think poorly. No one will hear your crappy French or Esperanto in your head except you.

To explain, in English I will think a phrase before I can "construct" it and determine whether or not the phrase is "valid." Still often for Esperanto, and basically all the time for French, I'll need to construct the phrase in my head before I can speak without fear of saying the wrong thing. That seems to be most people's definition of not being fluent. But I don't have to stop when I'm just thinking! It doesn't matter if my thought uses correct gammar; I know what I meant to think.

My advice: become a terrible Esperanto/French thinker.

Think in Esperanto and French so quickly that you make consant mistakes. So poorly that you flush at your crappy grammar as you walk around, until you get past this idea that you need to be embarassed about your inability to think in a second language. Just having any amount of a second language in your head is still better than most native English speakers, and most importantly, it will keep getting better as you (ab)use it.

February 26, 2017

These are my core languages (Duolingo doesn't reflect that core because I am only just now getting into it and my history with languages goes back to childhood).: Danish, Russian, Spanish, Akkadian, Ancient Egyptian, Gaelige (recent), Norwegian (recent)

To discuss the three primary languages that I had most experience with: I learned Danish in 1-3 month and was reading and writing it fluently but I could only understand Norwegian spoken, it was a strange phenomenon for me. Russian took me a bit longer about 6 months but having learned Danish before that I felt pretty comfortable with learning languages as Danish was just so easy. Spanish on the other hand....I grew up with spanish and around spanish and yet had mental blocks that kept me from learning or enjoying learning. Duolingo made facing that hell feel a bit better, but I still struggled. So I just spent the past month studying Esperanto. I then went to study Spanish and I couldn't believe what started to happen. Without any refresher I began testing out of the entire categories of spanish. I sent a letter to one of my family members who is Spanish native, and I wrote her almost effortlessly (before it was a huge struggle) and I asked, how is my spanish! She said it's very good for someone who does not speak it every day and yet -- I understood that almost effortlessly. So imagine if I dedicated the daily time and effort to give to Spanish. I went to a page in interlingua to see if that came easier to me too, as I had danced back and forth with it but still struggled. And even -interlingua- came easier.

I am now convinced that confidence aside (I have the confidence I know I can learn languages quickly and maintain them with use), that Esperanto due to being so easy to learn and pick up while also carrying a good amount of vocab from romantic languages can help you at the very least learn another romantic language. I notice some slavic words in there and that helps some, not sure about the germanic but at least when dealing with the romantic languages I'd say yes. If you never use Esperanto for speaking and your interest is in another romantic language I can say it does help move you faster along, building that progress.

It also helps you-- I want to say structure the brain to what it's like to almost effortlessly learning a language and begin to use it. I believe that it helps build the neural pathways necessary to learn another language, and because you can begin understanding and communicating in it, even if you're not learning another romantic language or other, you've got an easy language base that you've learned -- a pathway already built inside your mind, and you can strengthen and add to that base, which will further restructure, build and strengthen those pathways. I want to say that any easy language could do the trick, but Esperanto is special because it was designed with ease of learning in mind.

I don't know but Esperanto has made Spanish easier where before it was a chore, now it's feeling more effortless. It's not like I can't use other languages or haven't learned them, so I know my brain is capable. Practical wise, it feels like Esperanto opened a lot more doors for me that weren't opened with other languages, and this is coming from someone who was skeptical about it and so consequently only picked it up for ideological reasons!

February 25, 2017
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