Esperanto in Ukraine

According to a report I came across today, the Ukrainian Department of Education has recommended that Esperanto be taught in all schools in Ukraine. It is currently taught as an optional subject in some schools, but the Minister of Education believes that “Esperanto can help to make Ukraine the centre of Europe”.

A Ukrainian teacher of Esperanto interviewed for the report claims that you can learn Esperanto in just 7 days if you know no other foreign languages, or 3-5 days if you know a couple of European languages.

If you know Esperanto, how long did it take you to learn it?

Laŭ raporto, kiun mi trovis hodiaŭ, la Edukado Fako de Ukrainio estas rekomendinta, ke Esperanto instruiĝis en ĉiuj lernejoj en Ukrainio. Nuntempe ĝi estas instruiĝis nedevige en kelkaj lernejoj, sed la Edukada Ministro kredas, ke “Esperanto povas helpi fari Ukrainion la centron de Eŭropo”.

Ukrainia Esperanto-instruisto intervjuita por la raporto pretendas, ke vi povas lerni Esperanton dum nur 7 tagoj, se vi ne konas aliajn fremdlingvjon, aŭ 3-5 tagoj, se vi konas kelkajn Eŭropajn lingvojn.

Si vi konas Esperanton, kiom daŭris vian studojn?

This entry was posted in Esperanto, Language, Language learning.

28 Responses to Esperanto in Ukraine

  1. Rmss says:

    7 days? To what extent? I mean; can you be more or less fluent in the language in that amount of time?

    If they’re really going to pass this I’ll certainly pick up my Esperanto studies again.

  2. Josh D. says:

    7 Days? That sounds like the ultimate language study experience- ridiculously easy and with quick results! Too bad there are virtually no study materials at any bookstores I’ve seen…..

  3. Rmss says:

    Very useful site.

    Actually, I found a really good book in Dutch to learn Esperanto, which takes you from nothing to near fluent.

  4. Kulibali says:

    Via Esperanto ne profundas:

    Laŭ raporto, kiun mi trovis hodiaŭ, la Edukada Fako de Ukrainio estas rekomendinta, ke Esperanto instruiĝis en ĉiuj lernejoj en Ukrainio. Nuntempe ĝi instruiĝis nedevige en kelkaj lernejoj, sed la Edukada Ministro kredas, ke “Esperanto povas helpi fari Ukrainion la centron de Eŭropo.”

    Ukrainia Esperanto-instruisto intervjuita por la raporto pretendas, ke vi povas lerni Esperanton dum nur 7 tagoj, se vi ne konas aliajn fremdlingvojn, aŭ 3-5 tagoj, se vi konas kelkajn Eŭropajn lingvojn.

    Si vi konas Esperanton, kiom daŭris vian studojn?

  5. James says:

    At the risk of alienating y´all I´ve never seen the attraction in wasting time learning an invented language which hardly anyone speaks. I´d rather spend those 7 days learning medieval Spanish (or peeling apples for that matter).

    However, I have given in to the “multilingual bug” and have stopped being a total Spanish-only purist. I listen to Portuguese and French news bulletins every day on the BBC world service , a few mintues of Italian on RAI 3 and of course an hour or two of Spanish. ANd I want to re learn my latin next year (looks like I´m going to get a semester off from teaching to do part of a linguistics degree in one of the Universities here, woooo)

  6. Daniel says:

    WTF why would Ukraine want to interchange English with Esperanto? This makes no sense. English is THE lingua franca. Any attempt to change this will flake.

  7. BG says:

    I “studied” Esperanto for about an hour a day for about 7 days by reading the Esperanto Grammar and Vocabulary Wikipedia articles. From this I am definately not fluent or anywhere close, but I can understand written Esperanto pretty well. I know pretty much all the grammar and paradigms, some of the affixes, and much of the vocab due to other langauges I know/am learning. Most of my knowledge is passive, not active, similar to my knowledge of Latin: if I see a word I know what it means, but I can’t just think of it out of nowhere. The same applies to whole sentences.

    Becoming fluent in 7 days would only seem to be possible if you spent most of your time learning Esperanto.

    I personally think that accents make the written form of a language unique. The downside is that they can be a hassle to use on a computer.

  8. dmh says:

    I started studying Esperanto about two weeks ago, and am working on (have nearly) convincing my wife to study it as well.

    The most interesting thing about this is…we’re in the Ukraine! Haha… so maybe this article will convince her.

    Also, I read about an esperanto art convention in Yalta later this month.

  9. Simon says:

    Kulibali – dankon.

    Rmss & Josh – I don’t think you can acquire more than a basic ability to read and understand Esperanto in 7 days. Learning to write and speak it takes longer.

    I can read it without difficulty, and understand it to some extent, but can’t speak it or write it very well, as my not very good attempt above demonstrates.

  10. epingchris says:

    Why were some words crossed out in the original Esperanto passage?

  11. Simon says:

    epingchris – those were errors that I corrected using Kulibali’s version.

  12. Polly says:

    “At the risk of alienating y´all I´ve never seen the attraction in wasting time learning an invented language which hardly anyone speaks. I´d rather spend those 7 days learning medieval Spanish (or peeling apples for that matter). ”

    1)Why peel? That’s the healthiest part of the apple.
    2)You’re not the only one. I just don’t see the need to add another language to, what is it, 6,700+ nat. languages in the world – other than for fun. English, alone, would allow one to speak to most people on Earth.
    I know they say it’s easy to learn, but for whom? I find it hard to believe that someone not knowing any Western European language would succeed in 7 days or even 7 weeks.

    Barry Farber claimed in his book that Indonesian is the easiest language in the world to learn – maybe some version/dialect of that should be considered? If we’re going to impose a language on the world, why not just go with the one everyone seems eager to learn already, English? (I know I seem incredibly biased, but believe me, I’d gladly learn Indonesian or Outer Mongolian if that was to be the new lingua franca)
    I’m not sure that it’s not just a big waste of time for the Ukraine. I’d rather learn Ukrainian. 🙂

  13. James says:

    “Why peel? That’s the healthiest part of the apple.”

    not in Latin America. Oh no. Wax, and who knows what else is on those babies. Even if you grow the apple in your garden then it has still got the residue of all the smog on the skin. Peeling is a must and not a neurosis here. (I secretly suspect the peel is actually non-organic and does not decompose.)

    I did the obligatory language nerd thing when i was a teenager and read the Teach Yourself Esperanto book, but why learn a language with no literature and no native speakers? (and now someone is going to tell me that they raised their child speaking it as its native language…).

    Honestly, really, why?

  14. Josh D. says:

    According to Wikipedia, there are “roughly 1000 native speakers”. How, exactly, do you have native speakers of an artificial language that, as far as I know, no one has ever been raised in as their primary language?

  15. laci says:

    I would like to add just a few things.
    1. Esperanto has its own literature (original poetry, dramas and tones of novels) I even have to take a very serious exame from Esperanto literature whithin a year or so (I attend the Esperanto faculty of Hungary’s biggest university) so please don’t tell me that there isn’t original literature because I have to read so many books that it’s kinda painful 🙂

    2. English is a hard nut to crack! I’ve been studying it for about seven years now and I still feel like a beginner. I love the English language, let alone the literature, but I have to say that the phrasal verbs and idiomatic phrases, the exceptions and unusual formations and (etc etc etc.) not to mention the chaotic orthography makes the life of the learners pretty hard. We have to take in consideration the cultural imposement that all non-english speakers have to suffer when using English. I have to say that a Hungarian person has drastically different train of thought than an English person, so we have to force our brain to accomodate to the new way of thinking. So, among other things, that’s why I unwillingly accept English as a new lingua franca. (just to mention, speakers of Esperanto enjoy a greater freedom when they construct a sentence than speakers of English or Hungarian.)

    4. Number of speakers? How many people speak Chinese, Arabic, Spanish, Bengalian or Hindi and how many people speak English? Who cares! If it works with Indonesian, then it should work with Esperanto…plus don’t forget that Esperanto does not carry “cultural luggage” (thanks to its neutrality and Zamenhof :)) and by the way the speakers of Esperanto exeeds for instance the speakers of Maltese, Irish, Slovakian, Luxemburgish and these languages are official languages of the E.U.! (I think I don’t even have to mention languages like Navajo, Apache, Yiddish, Khanty, Mansi, Saami etc. beautiful languages some with great literature but…)
    5. Yes Esperanto is not perfect, but you have to bear in mind that Zamenhof was not a linguist. What’s more all the inventions of modern linguistics were unknown to him so he did what his sense suggested, and I think he did an excellent job considering the circumstances.

    Kara Kulibali:
    Mi rimarkis kelkajn erarojn ankaŭ en via versio 🙂

    Aliflanke mi bonvenigas la klopodon de l’ukrajnanoj (La vorto estas UKRAJNO laŭ mi), se tiu artikolo malmensogas mi iros en ukrajno post la diplomiĝo kaj instruos Esperanton ĝis la sango elfluos el mia nazo 😀 😀

    I almost forgot to mention that Esperanto has it’s own native speakers, not too many though. I’m lucky enough to know few by person.

  16. James says:

    There´s probably some town in California where they all speak Esperanto and eat organic apple peal

  17. David says:

    Actually, that’s precisely what they mean. Those approximately one thousand speakers were raised with Esperanto and (one of) their primary language(s).

  18. BG says:

    In the article referred to by the Crocodiling post a little over a week ago, the author talks about meeting a native Esperanto speaker: “a denasko, or Esperantist “from birth,” the offspring of two love-struck enthusiasts who met, coupled and raised children in their only common tongue.”

    I live in California and my family eats our own organic apples, but I don’t know of any areas where Esperanto is widly spoken (I know it’s just a joke).

    I am learning Esperanto basically just to see how easy it is and what an artificial language is like, not because I believe that it or any other made up language should/would become a lingua franca, although I can see the reasoning of those who do think so. Now I am thinking I should see how easy it is to learn Indonesian!

  19. Travis says:

    I learned the first lessons of Esperanto years ago for fun. But I soon lost interest because it seemed plastic with its lack of irregulars and its assortment of European vocabularies and grammars pulled out of context. For me, irregulars are what oil the linguistic machine. Without them, a language might feel formulaic. Nevertheless, over many decades, Esperanto has attracted thousands of people who speak it fluently. It has become a ‘real’ language regardless of its test tube beginnings. But I think it would be counter productive to offer Esperanto as a lingua franca when English is already understood and used throughout much of the world.
    James, why be so bothered by invented languages? It’s not a waste of time for those who find enjoyment and stimulation in them. Creativity doesn’t require practicality. I personally agree with you that I’d rather spend serious time learning a natural language than learning a conlang. However, invented languages give a glimpse into an individual’s thinking process. It also helps expand the inventor’s understanding of how a language works. While I may not choose to learn a given conlang, reading about it might prove very interesting.

  20. dmh says:


    Esperanto does have literature. There have been 25000 books published in Esperanto.

    Actually from some of the comments I’ve seen, books can be translated into Esperanto better than from other languages. Why?

    Well, most of the time, for example let’s take Foucault’s Pendulum into English (well, I thought the translation was quite good, but I haven’t read the original yet), the translator is a native English speaker, who has learned Italian. This means that they could miss some of the nuances that the original author wished to convey.

    However, if such a work is translated into Esperanto, then the translator is generally a native Italian speaker, who fully understands the text, and is able to convey exactly what the author intended.

  21. jdotjdot89 says:

    It wouldn’t be the first time that a near-dead (or in this case, never-really-alive) language would be brought to full bloom. An excellent example in modern history is the reintroduction of Hebrew as a spoken language. Ukraine may be trying to achieve this with Esperanto–and if they are the ones to start, they come out on top in the end, if they can influence other European countries to adopt the same policy, starting with the old Soviet bloc.

    L.L. Zamenhoff may win out yet.

  22. russ says:

    You can’t reach automatic comfortable fluency in ANY language in a week or a month, since repetition and practice are needed for such skills to become automatic, but you can at least learn and understand the grammatical rules of Esperanto in a week, compared to the months or years one needs for most national languages.

    Esperanto really is much faster to learn than other languages. That is why it would make sense as an international auxiliary language. People spend years learning English, and often even then can’t speak it comfortably or well. (I know, because I teach English as a second language and have met plenty of such people.) Contrast that with Esperanto, in which I could converse pretty comfortably after just several months.

    Yes, people with experience with European languages learn Esperanto’s vocabulary more easily than, e.g., Asians. But Asians still learn Esperanto much more easily than English.

    As others have said, of course there is a large body of Esperanto literature, and there are roughly 1000 native speakers (I know some of them also). It is surprising how people feel so confident condemning something based on false assumptions and just making shit up.

    Finally: if it weren’t for Esperanto, I would not have met my fiancee nor be able to communicate comfortably with her. (Esperanto is our primary language.) I guess for James that is “wasting time”, but the best relationship I’ve ever had is not a waste of time for me. And how can you claim (falsely) that “hardly anyone” speaks Esperanto and that it’s therefore a waste of time, yet you want to study Latin? 🙂

  23. David says:

    @ James.

    You lambaste learning the “artificial” language Esperanto which “almost nobody speaks”, but really hundreds of thousands of people speak it- there are even a few native speakers. Then a few lines down, you talk about your desire to learn Latin, which in fact is a *dead* language which nobody speaks. Oh the irony.

  24. Robert Eaglestone says:

    Esperanto is learnable, though I found some of the spelling to be a bit strange. Interlingua was much, much easier for me to pick up.

  25. Colm says:

    I can’t understand how when everytime someone mentions Esperanto on the net that within a few hours there are some people writting angry posts attacking the language. If the Ukranians want to teach Esperanto then it is up to them. Far be it from me, or you, or anyone to tell them what to do in their own schools.

    Esperanto is a beautiful language. And as a language it should be respected just like other languages are respected. And besides, this post as not about the language becoming or wanting to become an IAL, or replacing English etc etc… It is simply a post about the language being used at school.

    Chill-axe people. Really. 🙂

    Vivu longtempe la Esperanta lingvo!

  26. roland says:

    I am not especially gifted nor studied E-on intensively: after 1 year I had got the level I had got in english (I am french) after studying it 6 years.
    Tah time I was not yet fluent in spoken practice, it as acquired only later.

    Other who are more intelligent/gifted or mors assiduously study can be fluent in 1 or two months. An exemple is that man (a Corean university professor)
    Komuniga Maŝino:blogo en Esperanto de Amelano ::
    who began his blog in Esperanto 2 months after he get in touch with Esperanto.

  27. Mi estas China . jes mi lernis “English” sed ghi estas tre malfacila per nia Asiaj homoj.per gi ,Esperanto estas tre facila .kaj ghia alfabetoj estas una pronaco.
    mi tre ghojas awdis ke Esperanto estas la edukata lingvo en UKr-lando 🙂
    kaj multaj lingovoj de oficia en EU ,se ni Chinio skribi iom al EU ,mi nur per “English” .”France”estas tre malfacila per nia Chinio,koreo,japaniokun asioj.sed “Deutch” Estas ne granda usi.

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