How has everything been studying Esperanto over the past weeks?
To be honest, I wish I would have studied more so that I could’ve used the opportunity at the Polyglot Gathering to practice more in-depth conversations, but I think everyone always wishes that they’d studied more. Other than that, it went great. To me, in the past six weeks, I not only learned Esperanto, but also how to learn a language. I really do feel like I know what I’m doing to start off my next language project. Though I reckon the next one will be much harder, I have a slight advantage now in that I’ll have a really good strategy going into it.
What have been some of the highs and lows?
I think every time I started a new aspect of the language was a low, because each step feels impossible at first. Another low was right before my first Skype conversation. I was extremely nervous. It turned out that I had no reason to be nervous, and it was great, but at the time I was really hoping for a sudden power outage so I could escape it. As for the highs: At the polyglot conference, there were so many unexpected moments when I was thrown into speaking Esperanto and I surprised myself with what I could discuss. One night I had a conversation about auras and synesthesia in Esperanto! Also people kept complimenting my accent and asking if I was “really” a monoglot, which felt good.
It was also very nice meeting you at the recent Polyglot Gathering in Berlin! [Full disclosure: I was on the main organizing team of this conference.] What was your general impression attending the Gathering and what was it like speaking Esperanto with so many people there?
I loved it! To be honest it was a bit exhausting to socialize in another language for 5 days straight, but I had so much fun. There are a lot of people I can’t wait to see again at other events. And there were several really, really impressive polyglots there. I especially liked the polyglot games and watching everyone strut their stuff a little bit and get competitive with it.
I remember you being a bit nervous about giving a 1-5 min lecture in Esperanto at the Gathering. How did that go and would you recommend it to others?
I am one of those people who gets incredibly nervous talking at a group of people in general – even in English. The fact that I was speaking in Esperanto for the speech wasn’t the hard part. I just don’t like giving speeches. For me personally, I prefer to suddenly have to speak the language without knowing that it’s coming. Like leaving our dorm room and turning a corner and running into an Esperantist and having a chat. Those were the moments I enjoyed the most. But preparing to give a speech did help me learn a few new words that I didn’t know beforehand (like community).
Now that the challenge is over, what are your future plans for Esperanto?
I am going to read books in Esperanto! I got that as a gift from an Esperantist at the conference, as well as a book called “La Krimo de Katrina.” I’m definitely going to keep improving my Esperanto, and I hope the next time we chat in person my level will be even higher
Has this experience inspired you to learn more languages?
Definitely, definitely, definitely. I am starting a new language in about a week, and we’ll announce it on the blog then and ask readers to join us with their own summer projects.
Thanks for the interview and I look forward to seeing you at another language event in the near future!
Dankon! Ĝis revido!
Photo used with permission of Chris Huffington