Why do we teach foreign languages in school? Is it because foreign languages are essential job skills students will need when they join the workforce? Is it a crucial life skill we need in society? Most of my former classmates never used the language after they graduated and soon forget most of what they learned. Few visit a country where the language is spoken and even then, they mainly use English. Students rarely read books in a foreign language or watch foreign language films without English subtitles, during or after school. Even after years of study, few can speak the language with much skill or talent.
So, is teaching foreign languages a waste of time? If most students don’t reach a comfortable level and rarely use it, what’s the point? I believe that even if students never use the language, it still is useful. Continue reading “Why We Should Teach Esperanto In School”
A major problem facing Europe today is the lack of co-operation and sense of common identity. We have a European Union but no union of Europeans, in fact few people identify as Europeans in any serious or meaningful way. So, let me propose an idea that would strengthen the bonds between Europeans while also making the European Union more efficient. We should make Esperanto an official EU language.
I’m sure this sounds a bit crazy and unrealistic, but it’s good to occasionally examine fresh and unusual ideas rather than solely sticking to the conventional wisdom. One wild idea every now and again won’t kill you. So, what is Esperanto and why should you learn it? Continue reading “Why Esperanto Should Be An Official EU Language”
The Irish language has a serious image problem. In the minds of young people many, it is still stuck in the 19th century (or earlier) in a time without electricity or cars. The ghost of Peig Sayers haunts the language with many imaging the language only spoken on a desolate, wind-swept, rain-soaked West coast by an old woman in a shawl beside a turf fire over a plate of potatoes. Conversations are limited to potatoes, tuberculosis, the evils of the British and decades of the rosary. During school, we’d sit at the back of class and wonder why we were wasting time on Irish. We doubted whether it was even possible to have a conversation about modern life in Irish, did this peasant language even have words for modern technology? Continue reading “Modern Technology Could Help Revive Irish For A New Generation”
You don’t see many libertarian Esperantists. Well, you don’t see many political Esperantists, the language is strictly political neutral and aims to appeal to everyone regardless of political opinion. Even still, Esperantists are more likely to be left rather than right wing. It’s understandable why nationalists don’t like Esperanto, it’s a very un-nationalistic if not anti-nationalistic idea. Tearing down barriers between nationalities does not appeal to them and nationalists fear that Esperanto could undermine the national language and culture. However, I think there are several good reasons why Libertarians should like Esperanto.
The only times I’ve seen Libertarians mention Esperanto it’s been to dismiss it. They viewed it as artificial, as a top down attempt to force social change instead of a natural bottom up approach. I want to argue that this misperception of Esperanto is actually the reverse of reality. Esperanto is really the perfect example of natural bottom-up growth, whereas natural languages are top-down enforcement by the state. I’m not the only one, just last week I read an article (in Esperanto) arguing for Anarcho-Capitalism for Esperantists. Continue reading “Why Libertarians Should Like Esperanto”
Where I come from, almost everyone speaks only the one language. Learning another language is like learning what happened at the Battle of Vinegar Hill or how mountains are formed. Something you try in school and maybe make some progress in the exam, but never really use in your life. People who know more than one language do exist, but so do talented people who can play musical instruments or get chosen for a sports team. They’re admired for such a gift, but most people don’t have that ability or even try to learn it.
I used to fall into this group, I could only speak English and didn’t see the need for any other language. Yet now I find myself using three different languages every day. Although I spend my leisure time reading and watching videos in English, I live in France and work for an Esperanto association. So, my free time is in English, my work is in Esperanto and everything else is in French. Continue reading “My Life In 3 Languages”
The vast majority of blogs (and vlogs) are in English, even when that isn’t the authors native language. Most people seem to believe that if you want to be read, you must write in English (or at least another major language) and that writing in a minority language is a waste of time. After all, it makes sense to go to where the largest audience is right? You would think that this is especially the case for a minority language like Esperanto, a language that many people have never heard of. How could that possibly compete with English, one of the dominant languages of the world, with hundreds of millions of native speakers and over a billion people who can speak it to some degree? I think it’s very interesting to compare my experience of two similar blogs, with very different audiences. Continue reading “6 Differences Between Blogging In A Minority Language Versus English”
Now don’t get me wrong. This isn’t one of those articles complaining about people who don’t use the standard or official form of English (I don’t do that myself). My aim isn’t to mock and insult everyone who speaks differently than me. Nor I am someone who thinks English should conquer the world and crush all other languages underfoot (I even speak Esperanto!). I support language diversity and think it’s good when people maintain local words and accents, as a world where we all spoke the same bland accent would be very boring.
However, sometimes the support for local languages goes too far. For centuries local dialects and languages were suppressed and discouraged in favour of English and other major languages. As if to compensate, the pendulum has swung the other way and all forms of local speech are studied, celebrated and supported. However, I feel the pendulum has swung too far and now some local differences are being exaggerated and put on a pedestal where they don’t belong. Continue reading “Scots and Ulster-Scots Are Not Languages”