Esperanto should be your second language.

You’ll learn Esperanto, and a third language, faster than studying that language alone.

“Flagoj esperantaj, antaux la kongresejo de la roterdama UK 2008.” — Ziko (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Disclaimer: This blog is to document my thoughts, which may be completely wrong; do your own research.

Apparently learning Esperanto as your first non-native language will save you time. According to Wikipedia the propaedeutic value of Esperanto is so great it outdoes learning a different language from the beginning. That’s two new languages faster than one!

The consistent, easy grammar and vocabulary of this constructed language make it ideal for overcoming the inertia of learning your first language beyond what you grew up speaking. Then re-familiarized with the components of language, your third will come much easier. And now you speak three!

Since learning a constructed language in particular is quite nerdy (though potentially very practical, as just given), it fit well with my goals. I don’t yet know but I estimate there’s decent overlap with software engineers, if not grammar nerds, and from all over the world — Esperanto can be your common language!

Here’s how I’ve been learning Esperanto on Android in 2019:

  • Drops came to my attention after winning Best App 2018, and it’s amazing. Phenomenal design. Rapid way to learn vocab with proven spaced repetition. I stick with 18–36 words (1–2 categories) a day.
    Tip: Swipe after every checkmark to go faster.

A popular language-learning marketer gave some valuable advice, that I’ll paraphrase: “Focus on vocabulary, learn as many words as you can and begin immediately speaking in horrid, terrible, broken sentences.” This essentially encompasses two valuable techniques for accomplishing anything: fail fast, and iterate. The more rapid your feedback, the faster your adaptation. Also, achieve something usable (i.e. sufficiently complete) then refine it — which incidentally enables the earliest and most rapid feedback.

With Esperanto’s regularity, those initial bumbling sentences are very likely to be correct. While there is certainly a complete grammar, it’s so little effort that the vocabulary almost is the language.

  • PReVo — Vortaro de Esperanto (Dictionary of Esperanto). This is an excellent Esperanto dictionary for Android. When Drops introduces a new word, and you aren’t sure of its parts, check it in PReVo so you can identify the root and suffixes, if it has any. This will make everything easier and I strongly recommend it.
    Tip: Uncheck all but Esperanto and Angla in settings. Use “x” to write diacritics, e.g. cx for ĉ: this is required.
  • lernu! seems to do a great job covering the grammar, and although I don’t recommend their dictionary as much as PReVo, I still use it semi-often.
  • Duolingo has Esperanto, but I haven’t used it yet. I’m halfway through Drops (1500/3000 words), which I may finish before switching (the “emphasis on vocabulary” approach). I need more time in Duolingo before I’ll know if waiting was a good decision.

When I began, I had no way of knowing if Esperanto would live up to its promise of ease and consistency. Three months later and I’m very pleased.