https://www.duolingo.com/Demo318

You will not learn Esperanto in 10 days.

I was browsing YouTube this evening, and I saw a whole lot of, "I learned Esperanto in X days!" Some a week, some two, some 12 - all of them incredibly short periods of time.

For any newbies out there, YOU WILL NOT LEARN THE WHOLE LANGUAGE THAT QUICKLY!

You will, though, after a few lessons, start to easily recognize parts of speech and basic vocabulary. However, to learn a full vocabulary, correlatives, affixes, prefixes, and all the rest, it will take months - maybe years.

It's still a much, much easier language to learn than almost all others. But be realistic. Listen to Duo, and do you lessons every day. It takes work.

6 months ago

36 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/salivanto
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I guess my first question is, if you were on YouTube, why were you watching all this and not Esperanto Variety Show? :-)

I had an interesting experience this week. I did a trial lesson with a new student. He'd started learning Esperanto in February - so almost exactly six months ago. He'd never spoken Esperanto with a real person before and he was nervous. His Esperanto was extremely good. Very clear. He was able to follow along with a conversation. He rarely, if ever, got stuck on a word or on what to say. It was a wonderful thing to be a part of.

One thing he said, though, really struck me. He'd started learning on Duolingo, but four hours into his studies, he realized that he was going to need some books. He got a copy of the book by Richardson (available on Amazon print-on-demand), and Teach Yourself Esperanto (3rd edition, often available used - hopefully he found one at a reasonable price.) He also did the course at lernu.net.

This student was not a polyglot or language expert (although I'm sure natural talent factors in). It's clear he put in the work, as you said, but what struck me was his reliance on books. Based on the questions I see on the site, I think a lot of learners would benefit from using another course (or many, as this guy did) along with Duolingo.

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JasonMey
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I, too, used a book. However, I checked it out at my local library, so I paid nothing. I can't encourage people enough to use the local library. It's a remarkable resource.

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/salivanto
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Back in the day my library even had a vinyl record in Esperanto.

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DaveRutan
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Was it San Diego Vokas? I may have saved my copy when we dumped the vinyl LPs.

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/salivanto
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It was "Ni Kantu en Esperanto". Last I checked, it was no longer available at the library. Thankfully, there's a decent copy on YouTube - much better than "I learned Esperanto in 10 days."

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Demo318

I've checked my local library a couple times. No Esperanto content that I can find. Next time I see a suggestion box, I'll put in my two cents.

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/LorettaPresley

I started making REAL progress when I combined books, audio, and various online resources rather than relying on just one, whether that be a book or Duolingo. The variety helps, too. If I don't feel like one resource one day, there's always another I DO feel like and I find that I learn more when I'm enthusiastic rather than thinking "Ugh, I don't feel like Duolingo" or "That boring old grammar book AGAIN". The brain craves repetition AND novelty. Different resources approach the same content from different angles, which also helps.

I use a lot of library stuff. If I buy something, it's used/cheap. I don't want to spend a lot of money on something because I KNOW that I'd make myself use it even if it didn't work for me just because of how much I paid for it. I find that knowing that I can only keep library stuff x amount of time helps me actually work through it as well.

5 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/carbsrule
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For certain definitions of 'learn' it's possible (though I agree, it shouldn't be espoused)

Remember this young woman who finished the original tree in 6 days? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ClKNspptp-o

(There's also an interview with a young woman who finished the tree in 3 days here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WcxrB3sZQko but the 6 day one is a much better interview)

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JoeyIsAGoat.

Thank you, I couldn't agree more. These sorts of claims only produce false hope and the inevitable disappointment and discouragement when these expectations aren't met. One thing that bothers me, is how these claims seem to discount the language. It makes it seem less dignified, as if its something someone could supposedly learn with almost zero effort. I don't want someone to look at my Esperanto abilities and believe that it was some small task for me to learn what I now know. It's taking me a lot of brain power to reach my proficiency goal.

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/salivanto
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Come to think of it - I learned Esperanto in one month.

I never word it that way, but I mention it a lot. Back in the day there was no Duolingo and if you wanted to have an interactive experience learning Esperanto you actually had to interact with people - at least through email. It was on a lunch break. I settled in by the pond with a printout of an email (imagine that!) and puzzled through it... and thought about what I could say in reply. I was suddenly struck with the thought - one month into my learning - that even if I stopped learning Esperanto, that Esperanto would always be mine. That is, I'd always be able to puzzle through emails like that as long as I had my dictionary.

I think it was a watershed moment in my learning of Esperanto.

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/karasu4
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'even if I stopped learning Esperanto, that Esperanto would always be mine.'

I can really relate to that, though it's barely five months since I first discovered the language here. Perhaps this is more common with conlangs than with other languages. Not only are conlangs generally easier to learn and to master, but also, starting to learn a conlang is more like becoming part of a culture than 'intruding' on one, is my feeling.

And in our days, logging in to a forum or chat board can simply send you right into the heart of the community, be it Esperanto, Toki Pona, Klingon, Lojban, etc. etc. And from there you can even add to the culture yourself, by writing pieces of fiction, articles, blogs, translations, or whatever you like.

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/salivanto
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You put it well. That's just what I meant.

5 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/lectroidmarc

This is so important! You may not be fluent in Esperanto in 10 days (or 10 months depending on your effort level) but you can be functional very quickly. One thing I hear over and over is "I studied X for a year and could barely speak it." I don't hear that with Esperanto. I usually hear "In only X weeks I was able to hold a conversation!" (And the exclamation point is usually included too).

Also important is managing one's expectations versus one's effort level. I've have a 219 day streak on Duolingo, exclusively on Esperanto, I guess some people think I should be a C1 or something, but I know insofar as Duolingo is concerned, there's a limit to it's value. That and I know my own effort has been mostly minimal so I don't expect to be an expert.

That said, I've enjoyed the language immensely and so have started branching out because of that enjoyment. Duolingo has given me a fine foundation in the language which is great, but there are a million other things to read, watch and listen to, to really improve. I even hear there's an Esperanto Variety Show on Youtube ;).

I spent the day yesterday with a bunch of fluent Esperanto speakers (Paralela Universo). I don't think I made a complete fool of myself. While sometimes I like to say "I can speak Esperanto as well as any... kindergartener" there was a 10 year old denaska esperantisto there, so I did confirm that I can not speak esperanto better than a fourth grader :).

5 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/bookrabbit
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... unless you already know the languages it took its vocabulary and forms from, in which case using it within a week is entirely doable.

I recently went through the updated tree over the course of a week and went to a meetup and was able to speak a fair bit and understand a good deal more. I had previously done the tree quickly three years ago and left it alone since. I would have done even better had the meetup not been in an obnoxiously noisy pub. It is a marvelously accessible language. I like it much better now than I did when I first tried it.

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/karasu4
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After 3 weeks with Duo I could read original literature fluently (having prior knowledge in French, German and Latin helped, sure), and understand more than 90% of the spoken content in Evildea's Esperanto-language videos on Youtube.

We're, different you know. Being positive and curious helps. And it depends a lot on your prior language experience.

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JasonMey
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This is the reason I can believe the claim that Tolstoy learned Esperanto in a day: he already knew many languages. He was fluent enough in Russian and French to write literature, reportedly spoke 11 more languages, and actively studied at least 37 over the course of his life. By that point, anyone who studied a bit about Esperanto's phonology and grammar should be able to get the gist of any text, if not outright understand it fully.

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/karasu4
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Absolutely agree.

Also, here's a bit of a syllogism: With intensive study, one can supposedly learn to speak a foreign language fluently in three months. Such courses exist, and as far as I know, work.

Esperanto can supposedly be learned in one tenth of the time you spend learning another foreign language. (Depending on what other language you speak, and compare with, of course). Apparently some studies with native french speakers support this. They needed 1500 hours to learn English, 150 for Esperanto.

Suppose those two claims hold true, and can be combined, one should be able to achieve fluency in Esperanto in 9 days.

It would be fun to have a similar discussion about Toki Pona. Where we could argue whether you need two whole days to learn it, or it can be done in an hour.

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/salivanto
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Dear karasu4 (and SirDuckly) - I have not read all of Fluent in Three Months, but my impression is that the method explicitly involves short cuts. Maybe a better expression would be "cutting corners." If you follow the method, you will be "fluent" (whatever that means) not in German or French, but in imperfect German or imperfect French. Much of the method goes toward spending as little time on the difficult parts of the language - so that will undermine many of Esperanto's advantages when this method is used to learn it.

In the very beginning, when a student is learning canned phrases, Esperanto is really no easier than another language. "Saluton" is no easier than "Hola".

I don't believe for a second that Esperanto is 10 times easier than other languages. I could believe 4 times easier. That suggests the new book title "Fluent in 3 weeks" - not that I believe it's possible.

Immersion is certainly possible in Esperanto. I've received requests for home-stay courses in Esperanto, and I'd be glad to do that if there was interest. There's still time to request a scholarship for on-line learning, which would be a great part of a simulated immersion strategy. NASK is a perfect time to immerse yourself in Esperanto for over a week - and it's timed so that one can go from there to other Esperanto events. Pasporta Servo was mentioned in another reply. That's a great option. Any or all of these could be combined for a very interesting immersive experience.

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/SirDuckly

when you hear of people who learn a language in only 3 months, they are usually living in a place where the language is spoken. That kind of speed requires immersion, which you cannot easily get with esperanto since its not spoken anywhere

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/karasu4
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There are a couple of thousand native Esperanto speakers, and several million L2 speakers. If you go to the right places, you can immerse yourself pretty good, without worrying about the other people switching to English all the time. There's Pasporta Servo for instance, a service that allows you to live with Esperanto speakers for free up to three days at a time, where you will only speak Esperanto.

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DaveRutan
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To Salivanto: quibworthy.

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/salivanto
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I won't quibble with the specific numbers here - since I know that's not your point - but the numbers and details are "quibbleable".

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/MikeWortin

i say other thing: you really can't know ANY language at all, even your native.

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JasonMey
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An interesting philosophical claim. Are you getting at the idea that, because everyone has slightly (or sometimes massively) different interpretations of words, that no two people actually speak the same language?

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/karasu4
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Definitions...

Do you mean to say that no one in the world knows any language?

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/MikeWortin

you can know only language that you created and no one speaks it beside of you

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/karasu4
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Yeah, ok. There are probably some such cases. So the only people in the world who knows a language are geeky conlangers who fail to share their inventions with others.

Is there any point in learning and studying any languages then?

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JasonMey
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There's certainly a practical reason to study languages, but in a sense, one can never "know" a language like one knows a fact or a physical thing. Language is always changing. You cannot know for sure that a word will mean the same thing to another person as it does to you. When I say "chips," do I mean "french fries," "potato crisps," or "poker chips?" We can guess from context, but anything we do with language between others is always a guessing game at best.

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/karasu4
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Good point. 'Knowing' is relative. As in Esperanto, koni and scii refers to different types of knowledge.

I would be interested to know (hehe) if MikeWortin bases his claim on similar observations, or something else.

Otherwise, I pretty much disagree. Languages have always been seen as 'knowable'. Knowing every word, every rule, every fact, every nuance, etc. is rarely seen as necessary in order to 'know' a language by definition.

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Ponola
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But I understand what you're saying... ._.

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Demo318

Please keep your postmodernism in its holster.

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JasonMey
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This is not necessarily a postmodernist claim. It could come from skepticism or even empiricism (it is not too dissimilar to Locke's Nominal vs Real Essence idea). Until MikeWortin explains his reasoning, we cannot know from what epistemology he has drawn this conclusion.

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/eZentric
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Knowing is NOT binary. Knowledge of anything is stackable ie starting from nothing, you get a foundation that will support higher and taller pillars.

Knowing any language is NOT like pregnancy. One cannot be a little bit pregnant, but you sure can keep on expanding your house ... even if just one room with a roof can be called a home.

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JohnKing147785

I haven't come across a language yet that I could learn in 10 days.

5 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Jeremeto

I'm a bit surprised that nobody has brought op the question of 'when have you learned a language'. I see people talking about being fluent in esperanto in such and such amount of time, but what does that mean? does it mean that you can read esperanto without much trouble, is that conversational or is that dreaming and thinking in the language?

It's been a quick ride towards being able to read the language. some use of a dictionary required. However, talking in the language is much harder. you have to still remember a lot of words. Making up the suffixes and prefixes on the go is probably not 'fluent', cause that will need quite a bit more mental effort.

So i'd say learning it fully will indeed take much longer.

Some people, however, have some exceptional memory tricks and can learn stuff very quickly. Those people should be able to learn the language insanely quickly i guess.

5 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/salivanto
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I think several people have brought this up. CarbsRule just for one example. (I think there were others, but he was the first one I noticed as I scanned through.)

5 months ago
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