Esperanto: bona lernilo

The Times-Tribune: Teaching a ‘universal language,’ but it’s not love

Nine months after an adult continuing education course on Esperanto he planned to teach at Marywood University was canceled for lack of interest, Mr. Janoski finds himself this week in a classroom at the school, introducing 25 mostly preteen learners to the so-called “universal language.”

“Who knows?” the 74-year-old Clarks Summit investment adviser shrugged Tuesday after his charges dashed off to their next class. “You might light a spark here or there.”

Created 120 years ago in Warsaw, Poland, by L.L. Zamenhof, Esperanto is a model of simplicity, with phonetic spelling and a mere 16 rules of grammar. Although it is spoken as a second language by an estimated 2 million people worldwide, it’s still regarded as a novelty.

The five-day course for youngsters in grades six through eight who are participating in Marywood’s Pathways to Pathways program is believed to be the first Esperanto class ever taught in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

For 75 minutes, Mr. Janoski walked his students through a review of the Esperanto alphabet and an initiation in nouns and adverbs, with an emphasis on pronunciation.

Near the end of the class, he belted out an Esperanto version of “Home on the Range” — “Hejm’ sur la Step” — with an invitation for the students to sing it to him when they meet today.

The class is supposed to be fun, but the intent is serious. Studies have shown people who learn Esperanto later go on to learn other foreign languages more easily and more quickly.

Jes, Esperanto estas bona ilo por lerni pri aliaj lingvoj.

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