Esperanto and Language Learning

Esperanto is a planned language created by more than 100 years ago with the goal of becoming a universal second language for all. Prior to the WWI, the Esperanto movement experienced a phase of rapid growth. After WWII the world hand changed. Gone was the hope of peace through mutual understanding.

Though still alive, the Esperanto movement entered into a long slow decline. Partly this was due to great powers asserting their cultural dominance in the aftermath of WWII. Who needed a neutral second language when it is far more beneficial to learn the language of the dominant power in whatever part of the earth you happen to be born? Or, so the logic goes. This, however, short sided. Why? Empires rise and fall.

In ancient times Aramaic was used throughout the near east as a trade-tongue. How the mighty have fallen, who uses Aramaic for trade today? Latin was used in the middle ages for many official correspondences. But, who uses it for general discourse? No one notable.

But English is “Universal,” Isn’t It?

English was the rising star in the 20th century and will probably continue to be so for some time to come. Chinese will, in all likelihood, give it a run for its money in some parts of the world. But, with the rise of instant communication via the Internet the world has gotten MUCH smaller. Producing content in English only cuts off whole markets. Spanish, Arabic, Chinese and French constitute sizable markets. The world needs a universal second language now more than ever.

Esperanto has seen a resurgence in recent years almost entirely due to the rise of the Internet and other global communication mediums. (To be fair, Esperanto was still a healthy movement before the rise of the modern Internet.) But now Esperanto language web sites, blogs, and videos have increased to such an extent that the world is beginning to take notice in small but important ways.

For starters, not only is there an Esperanto language edition of Wikipedia (Vikipedio) but some Wikipedia related events have been held largely in Esperanto. Also, language learning methods have evolved considerably over the past hundred years or so. Though it is certainly fair game to doubt whether or not Esperanto will achieve its goal of becoming a universal second language for all, what is not in doubt at all is its ability to significantly enhance the brain’s ability to learn new languages.

Esperanto and the Language Learning Curve

You see, it’s easier to learn additional languages if you already understand two or more. If you grew up speaking only one language you’re at a severe disadvantage: it will be much harder for you to learn additional languages, especially as you age. Unless you learn Esperanto. Yes, really.

As it turns out, just TWO WEEKS of Esperanto language learning will significantly impact your ability to learn any other language for the positive. How? Because, Esperanto was created to be extremely easy to learn (for Westerners) and so two weeks of Esperanto is all it takes for your brain to learn how to learn languages.

Jeff Allen
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