LearnEsperantowith Us!Start Learning!
In last month’s blog post, we talked about how important it is to speak a language to learn it. There are advantages to many of the new methods of online learning, but so many of the new tools neglect the speaking portion. To really flower, you’ve got to take charge of this yourself. Last month we covered a few different ways to find opportunities to speak online via video chat. This month we’re going to look into ways to speak Esperanto in person.
One problem with finding other people who speak Esperanto is that Esperanto speakers are not concentrated in one location, so you can’t just go where all the speakers are. Being spread out, however, also means that there may be – and probably are – other speakers near you. With careful planning you can find them and meet them. When you do, they will be excited to meet you.
There is no one method, site, or app for finding people. You’ve got to try them all. Some are extremely simple – even obvious in hindsight – but often I find that people haven’t thought to try them, perhaps assuming that there is nobody near by.
Start with Google. Search for your city name plus “Esperanto” and see what comes up. There’s also the Mondmapo, where you can list your location and some contact information, and look for others that have done the same. I’ve found a lot of people on Facebook either by asking if there’s anybody from my city or by searching Esperanto groups for my city name. Readers in the US may find this group a good place to start.
Esperanto-USA maintains a list of local clubs which is worth looking at. You can also check meetup.com. If there isn’t a local club, contact the closest one and make your presence known. They may know someone in your area, and if they don’t, they will now.
Pasporta Servo is a hospitality network, and may be useful if you’re visiting an area.
There’s even a phone app (Amikumu) which can help you find nearby speakers if they are also users of the app.
Invariably whenever I post about this topic, someone responds that they live on an island with 300 people or in a cabin the middle of the desert. If that’s you, I feel your pain … and hope that last month’s blog post helped you find people online. Another option is going to an Esperanto event.
Although I remain very excited about the value of learning with an online tutor by video conference, going to an Esperanto event has a number of advantages. The biggest is that you can experience true immersion in the language. You also will use Esperanto in a broader variety of situations that you would over Skype. (Kie estas la necesjo? Ĉu tiu plado estas vegana? Pardonu min, sed mi kredas ke tiu ĉi hamako estas la mia.)
Perhaps the most complete list of events is the kalendaro, which lists events from all over the world. There are too many to list here, but two that I’m involved with are NASK in Raleigh, NC and ARE on Lake George in the New York Adirondacks. NASK is a longer event with 8 days of classes, an arrival day and departure day (the 2018 dates will be July 3-12) – plus free time and evening activities. ARE is in October over Columbus Day weekend. Last year it was the best attended Esperanto event in USA/Canada. Now’s the perfect time to start planning if you’d like to help us beat that record.
Of special interest this week (19 August 2017) is Paralela Universo with simultaneous events in many US cities, South America, and Europe. This is a very beginner friendly event which you can hopefully reach with a few hours driving, and then be back home by bedtime.
If you’re going to invest the time, money, and vacation days to go to an Esperanto event, you want it to be worth your while. What advice can I give you? Above all, go! So many people have told me that they were afraid to go because they didn’t know anybody or weren’t sure they could speak well enough – but once they went, they were so glad they did. Second of all, speak Esperanto. If you really want to or need to, you will find people to speak English (or many other languages) with you, but you went to practice your Esperanto, so don’t be shy. I really have met people who told me they went to an Esperanto event and spent the whole time in their room doing online drills because they were afraid to speak to anybody. You’re not the only one who’s shy. People will be delighted to speak with you.
For me, ultimately, this is what Esperanto is all about. We learn the language to use it. We use the language to learn it. It’s about bringing people together.