Research on esperanto as a language accelerator

General discussion about learning languages
Cainntear
Black Belt - 1st Dan
Posts: 1755
Joined: Thu Jul 30, 2015 11:04 am
Location: Scotland
Languages: English(N)
Advanced: French,Spanish, Scottish Gaelic
Intermediate: Italian, Catalan, Corsican
Basic: Welsh
Dabbling: Polish, Russian etc
x 4295
Contact:

Re: Research on esperanto as a language accelerator

Postby Cainntear » Mon Sep 28, 2020 10:02 am

Deinonysus wrote:Esperanto's propaedeudic value needs to be studied more.

Strangely, I only ever hear that word used by Esperantists... ;-)
However, I think any further research on this needs to be comparative. We know learning Esperanto makes it easier to learn another language. We know learning any language makes learning subsequent languages easier. The only question that leaves is whether Esperanto is measurably better than natural languages at preparing for later language learning.

I think it's tremendously valuable for any speaker of a Western European language (particularly English, Spanish, and French) who wants to learn how to learn foreign languages, and any speaker of other languages who wants an easy introduction to Western European languages.

Except that Esperanto can be misleading, setting up incorrect intuitions, particularly regarding suffixes.

If we did serious research into propaedeutic auxiliary teaching languages, the natural conclusion would be the invention of a completely new set of auxlangs that embody all the principles of language learning in the most efficient way, with the minimum possible traps to lead people away from natural language. We've learned a heck of a lot about how language works since Esperanto was written. Why a set? Because you wouldn't want to focus on e.g. conjugations to people who are going on to study isolating languages after. Implicit in what Deinonysus says above is the idea that the value of Esperanto as a first language diminishes rapidly the further you are from FIGS.

I consider Esperanto a bit like the programming language BASIC: a well-intentioned endeavour that was flawed from the outset and has been massively outdated by advances in technology since.
6 x

User avatar
devilyoudont
Green Belt
Posts: 470
Joined: Tue Jun 26, 2018 1:34 am
Location: Philadelphia
Languages: EN (N), EO (C), JA (B), ES (a mess), KO (dabbling)
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... 15&t=12245
x 1301

Re: Research on esperanto as a language accelerator

Postby devilyoudont » Mon Sep 28, 2020 4:29 pm

Cainntear wrote:The only question that leaves is whether Esperanto is measurably better than natural languages at preparing for later language learning.

I believe the evidence on this is that Esperanto offers no benefit on the quality of the preparation, only on the speed of the of the preparation. I think it's doubtful that any natural language is faster to learn than Esperanto, which can be learned to intermediate in 5 months even by a monolingual Chinese native speaker (basically a worst case scenario in terms of phonology, shared vocabulary, and grammar). I personally wonder if this effect exists for minimalist conlangs (eg Toki Pona), which can be learned even faster than Esperanto. Or does the limited expressive potential of those languages dampen this effect?

I am not sure if the intuition aspect matters at all. I think that the third language is faster than the second because you have learned how you learn a language. Clearly learning closely related languages, the pedagogic effect will be stronger... Yet it seems to me that this pedagogic effect still exists even if your second and third language are completely unrelated.
4 x
Joyo Kanji: 1350 / 2136 Japanese Intermediate 2: 4654 / 12000

User avatar
Serpent
Black Belt - 3rd Dan
Posts: 3592
Joined: Sat Jul 18, 2015 10:54 am
Location: Moskova
Languages: heritage
Russian (native); Belarusian, Polish

fluent or close: Finnish+ (certified C1), English; Portuguese, Spanish, German+, Italian+
learning: Croatian+, Ukrainian, Czech; Romanian+, Galician; Danish, Swedish
exploring: Latin, Karelian, Catalan, Dutch, Chaucer's English
+ means exploring the dialects/variants
x 4892
Contact:

Re: Research on esperanto as a language accelerator

Postby Serpent » Wed Sep 30, 2020 11:03 am

Cainntear wrote:
Deinonysus wrote:Esperanto's propaedeudic value needs to be studied more.

Strangely, I only ever hear that word used by Esperantists... ;-)
How would you put it more naturally as a native speaker of English? I wouldn't be surprised if the term has been popularized by non-natives.
devilyoudont wrote:I think it's doubtful that any natural language is faster to learn than Esperanto, which can be learned to intermediate in 5 months even by a monolingual Chinese native speaker (basically a worst case scenario in terms of phonology, shared vocabulary, and grammar). I personally wonder if this effect exists for minimalist conlangs (eg Toki Pona), which can be learned even faster than Esperanto. Or does the limited expressive potential of those languages dampen this effect?
We need to distinguish between declarative learning, ie explicitly learning the rules and the vocab, and actually developing "fluency" in the language ie being able to use it, think in it etc. There are definitely conlangs where you can learn the whole "manual" faster than in Esperanto, but this doesn't mean you'll instantly be able to speak it. Same goes for Esperanto, of course, you also need to practise skills like reading, speaking, etc.

I first started to learn Esperanto when I wanted to do a 6 week challenge (at the time you had to start a new language and the goal of the challenge was to compare the different methods). My main goal was definitely to improve my language-learning skills/capacity. At the time I was "fluent" in English and Finnish, and had experience with German, Latin and Yiddish (and, more informally, other languages including Belarusian, Polish, Estonian, Italian). I admired Prof. Argüelles who had said you become a better learner with four languages under your belt.

This was in summer 2007. That autumn I had to take Latin from scratch at university (with a strict teacher). I also gave Belarusian another try. About half a year later I started Portuguese, taking a class for a couple of months and then on my own. Honestly, it did feel different, but I don't think Esperanto alone was responsible for that. I would remember German words when trying to come up with Portuguese ones, for example.

Perhaps in some ways Esperanto did make the modern Romance languages less intimidating for me, with words like pensi and the days of the week. By all means, if you want to give Esperanto a try, do it. Especially if there's a community in your neighbourhood - like, somewhere you can "easily" go to. There's a community here in Moscow for example, but I've only met its members at Language festivals (lingva festivalo). I'm sure they meet up somewhere in the center, but I never bothered to join them. If you're an introvert like me, be realistic about your level of enthusiasm ;)

Of course there's nothing wrong with just reading in Esperanto or listening to podcasts or whatever works for you. But the biggest hurdles I faced were having to learn the established way to say things (with affixes), and a lack of content I truly care about.

For "learning to think differently", if you're not monolingual, toki pona works better than Esperanto. I think Esperanto's biggest strength is convincing people who've taken French/Spanish/Latin at school that they can actually learn a language.
8 x
LyricsTraining now has Finnish and Polish :)
Corrections welcome


Return to “General Language Discussion”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests