Why I am unlikely to learn Esperanto.

After my recent post about Esperanto, I received a number of comments, many from irate Esperanto enthusiasts, berating me for not considering Esperanto an important language to learn.

This has caused me to reflect on my motivation for learning languages. Remember, motivation is 70% of the battle in language learning. I am motivated mostly to discover a new culture and language and group of people . As soon as I get past the beginner texts, I dive into the following, using LingQ, and a variety of sources, books and audio books and material I can find on the web..

1) I enjoy histories of the country, which I read and listen to in the language. I have done this for all the languages I have learned, and most recently for Russian and Czech.

2) I read newspapers online and listen to radio programs and podcasts, with transcripts where possible,  to get a flavour of the contemporary scene, issues and concerns, in the country where the language is spoken.

3) I like literature, especially 19th century literature, for which audio and text is largely available free of charge for import into LingQ.

Once I have developed a sufficient level of familiarity with the language and the country, I want to go there and experience it first hand. This is my reward, and a dream like experience, as was recently the case in Russia and will be the case in October in Prague.

4) In many cases I have done business in the languages I have learned, which has enabled me to make friends, and to achieve a degree of success that would otherwise not be possible. It is also satisfying to use th language in this practical way.

Essentially none of this would be possible with Esperanto. I could read the literature, history or newspapers of no country. I could not travel and use the language unless I went to a dedicated meet up of Esperanto speakers, where I might find some of the people who have called me arrogant, nonsensical, illogical and prejudiced in commenting on my previous post here.

But then I would not travel just to meet up with non-native speakers of any other language, so I don’t think I would do so for Esperanto. But I accept that others would do so and enjoy it. I respect their interest in this undoubtedly intellectually satisfying activity. I respect their motives. I would hope that they would also respect and understand my reasons for not wanting to join them.

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One Response to Why I am unlikely to learn Esperanto.

  1. Streak says:

    Hi Steve, I’ve been a member of LingQ for over a year now but I’ve procrastinated with my language goals. I can’t find your previous blog post about Esperanto, but I really appreciate that you took the time to explain why you’re not interested in learning it. Like many native North Americans, I only speak English and I’m not terribly confident that I’m even capable of learning a 2nd language. I understand the benefits in learning a language that is, by design, fairly intuitive. But I keep asking myself, is it really worth it to learn Esperanto just for "practice" when I could be spending my time practicing the actual language(s) I want to learn? In any event, I think I’m going to skip Esperanto for now and jump into my target language. Thanks again for offering your perspective. To Bart Anderson: Thank you for passing along that information — if I find myself struggling a lot with my target language, I may take a break and reconsider Esperanto.

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