Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

My discoveries about Lernu.net’s free Esperanto course

with 5 comments

Lernu.net is a site that includes an excellent course in Esperanto. It is free, but in order for the site to keep track of the lessons and exercises you’ve completed,, you must register to take the course. (If you didn’t register, the site could not tell what work you’ve completed.) Registration is free.

The site has several features I gradually discovered as I completed the first several lessons. I wanted to note here the things I wish I had known at the outset.

I’m skipping things that seem apparent, commenting only on the things that I did not at first realize.

Home Page

Start with the home page. (This link is to the English-language home page).

Right at the top of the page, you see a to watch a video. Skip it.

Right below that appears in large print the question What is Esperanto?, followed by a link. Click that link and read about what it is, its important traits (“Let me tell you its features!” — line from the Slingshot Channel on YouTube), and a history timeline.

Just below the timeline are six videos. Those I would skip. But the next thing comes with one of my (belated) discoveries: the grammar, beginning with the alphabet.

At the upper left of each letter in the alphabet display is a faint loudspeaker icon. The icon means that if you click on the letter, you’ll hear its name and its use in a word. For example, “B” has the name “bee” in English, but in Esperanto the name is  “boh.” You also hear the letter used in a word (“bela” for B).

The audio teaches you Esperanto pronunciation, and it also teaches you the names of the letters. Letter names are important because as soon as you ask someone to spell a word, they will recite the names of the word’s letters. (That’s why children are taught the ABC song at an early age.)

That little loudspeaker icon appears throughout the course, and much audio is available throughout the site. Following the alphabet on this page, for example, are images that include the loudspeaker icon. Click the image to hear the audio.

Continue down the page clicking. The final link would take you to the course, La Teorio Nakamura, but for now, click the back-arrow and return to the Home Page.

Once back at the Home Page, look at the six links to the resources on the site. Click and explore as you wish.

The course: La Teorio Nakamua

When you go to the course page, you see an icon for each of the 26 lessons. Click the icon for Lesson 1: What is that? (Kio estas tio?)

The green band at the top contains links. The logo is a link to your profile, and there’s a link to the dictionary search. Clicking the dictionary link displays a popup, so when you use the dictionary, you don’t have to leave the text you’re reading.

There’s also a link for a keyboard feature that doesn’t seem to work on a Mac. That’s not a problem because Lernu does diacritics using the “x” system: type an “x” immediately after the character that needs a diacritic, and it gets the diacritic — for example, “cx” immediately becomes “ĉ”, “sx” becomes “ŝ”, and so on.

At the right side of the green band is the “hamburger” that indicates a menu. I discuss that below, but one item in that menu is “Course,” which is where we have come. Lesson 1 serves as an example

The lesson – navigation

The lesson starts with an image and text in Esperanto. Note the green dot above the lesson title. That dot indicates which page of the lesson you’re on (hover the mouse over the dot, and the page number is displayed). If you click one of the other dots, you go at once to that page, which allows fast navigation and also serves as a progress indicator.

The lesson – listening

To the right of the lesson title is an audio bar. Click that to hear the lesson text read aloud. Since it’s important to train one’s listening skills (and reading skills do not carry into listening skills), I use this a lot. I first listen with my eyes shut, trying to understand the words (this doesn’t work so well with the first lesson, since most of the words are new, but as you progress through the lessons, you can understand more and more).

After my first listening, eyes closed, I listen to the audio again, and this time I read the text along with the audio. I then read through the text without the audio. To see the translation of a sentence, hover the mouse over the sentence; to see the definition of a word, click the word.

Once I’m familiar with the vocabulary, I again listen without looking at the text to see how much I understand. I listen a lot so that the sounds become familiar. (I also return to earlier lessons and listen to the audio of the text. after a while I can understand the entire passage without looking at the text — just listening.)

The lesson – speaking

I also have found it important to read aloud the text passage. Speaking skills are independent of reading skills and listening skills, and in particular speaking skills (like writing skills) require and rely on coordinated muscular movement. In speaking, your tongue, lips, mouth shape, and vocal cord control are all important, and the standard repertoire of coordinated movements varies by language — for example, English speakers cannot, without much practice, easily produce in speaking the glottalized clicks common to some languages.

The sounds and sound combinations of Esperanto are not so different as that from English speech, but they still differ in particulars and patterns, and practice is required to produce the sounds with ease and assurance. Reading aloud provides that practice. I occasionally record (using a voice memo app on my phone) my recitation and then play it back. Initially my speech was halting and awkward but — as always — experience results in efficiency, and practice produces progress. I can now read with some fluency.

The lessons do not specifically call for you to read aloud, but I recommend you try it. You’ll quickly see (a) initially it’s difficult, and (b) with consistent practice it becomes easy.

The lesson – vocabulary

Learning vocabulary is much easier with:

  1. active recall — rather than looking at the Esperanto word and the English equivalent side by side, you look only at one and try to recall the other; and
  2. spaced repetition — you periodically return to active recall of vocabulary you’ve learned —  more frequently for difficult words, less frequently for the words you know well.

Anki is a free flashcard program that uses active recall and spaced repetition. It took me a while to figure out how to install and use it — explanation here.

I’m building an Anki deck of flashcards for the Lernu coursse, lesson by lesson. Right now, it’s complete through Lesson 11, and I’ll update it as I move through the course. You can download it here. [3 May 2020: Download link updated once I figured out how to use Anki – LG] And Anki has quite few Esperanto decks. One I particularly liked was Esperanto Affixes. Another useful one is Ace Correlatives Like A Native

Lernu’s course does not explicitly list the new vocabulary in each lesson, and it also introduces a fair amount of new vocabulary in the exercises and examples. That’s why I recommend working with the Anki deck I created. My goals is to include all the vocabulary, from the text passages, exercises, and examples.

The lesson – scoring, and correcting errors

When you finish the first page of the lesson, click “Ready” and you’ll see a score — 10/10 — and you can then click “Next.” That is, you get 10 out 10 points for reading the page, and the same scoring holds for other pages that involve reading. However, for pages involving exercises, your work is scored.

The second page of lesson 1 again consists of reading, with a link for more information. Again, note (and use) the loudspeaker icons: ear-training is essential.

The third page is the first scored exercise. In the exercise, you listen to the spelling of a word and enter the letters in the right order. When you have completed the exercise, click “Ready,” and the program checks your work. If your score is not perfect (10/10),  click “Try again” and correct the errors.

To see which answers are in error, hover the mouse over the answers (before clicking “Try again”), and the answers will be displayed in a little popup. Incorrect answers are flagged with a black background. Once you know which answers are incorrect, click “Try again” and correct your work.

The idea of this approach is to ensure that you master the material, and you do that by continuing to work on the page until all the answers are correct.

I at first didn’t know about how to find the wrong answers, and I gave up on the exercise on page 12 of lesson 1. One answer was wrong, but I just could not see which. Once I discovered the wrong-answer display (hovering the mouse over an answer to see whether it is correct or not), I returned to that lesson and easily found the wrong answer: I had typed “Yes” instead of “Jes.” I corrected it and got the 10/10 result desired.

The course exercises are not to find out how much you know but rather to help you learn, so you keep working on each exercise until it’s perfect. The “Try again” option sometimes gets quite a workout, but when I finish the exercise, every answer is correct.

The “More Information” button that appears in various lessons offers in-depth information. You don’t have to absorb all of it, but it’s helpful.

Exercises that require you to match a word with an image by presenting a line of words at the bottom with each image having a box for its word can be done by dragging the appropriate word to the appropriate box. Easier, though, to move the words to the boxes in order by clicking each word in turn. Click the words in image order, going through the images left to right in each row, moving top to bottom.

Hamburger Menu

I mentioned the Hamburger Menu at the right of the top green band. It has links for these resources:

What is Esperanto?  — That was covered above, through the link from the home page.

Course  — already discussed

Grammar — This link takes you to the table of contents for a reasonably comprehensive grammar, which you can explore as needed. It’s a good reference and can clarify issues that might otherwise puzzle you.

Media Library  — This has a variety of media in various categories and at three levels — easy, medium, hard. You can filter the entries to find those of interest. Some  text materials include the audio bar so that you can test your listening comprehension. Clicking a word displays a popup with the translation — a big help for a beginner.

Teaching materials  — This is specifically for teachers — and a great resource for them.

Forum — a place to ask and answer questions and exchange information. I’ve used the forum to get help in understanding various things. And I shall post in the forum a link to this blog entry.


That summarizes my initial discoveries. Lernu.net is a good site that teaches an interesting language. Give it a go.

And if you do decide to learn Esperanto, take a look at this list of online resources.

UPDATE: I also found Duolingo’s Esperanto course to be useful. You can review my posts on Duolingo for more info.

Written by Leisureguy

25 April 2020 at 7:18 pm

5 Responses

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  1. I thin you should add a line why you need to register.

    Like

    Juha Metsäkallas

    26 April 2020 at 6:33 am

  2. On Lernu.net, your progress cannot be tracked unless you register: you need an account so that they can keep track of which lessons and exercises have been completed. Without registering, there’s no way to distinguish one student from another.) Registration is free.

    I’ve now added that information to the post.

    Thanks for commenting. You prompted me to read through the post again, and I made several corrections and minor revisions.

    Like

    LeisureGuy

    26 April 2020 at 7:46 am

  3. I’m building an Anki deck of flashcards for the Lernu coursse, lesson by lesson. Right now, it’s complete through Lesson 11, and I’ll update it as I move through the course. You can download it here.

    the download link does not work anymore. Can you provide an alternate Download link?

    Thanks for your support !!!

    Like

    derprivatier

    27 February 2021 at 1:04 pm

  4. Hah. That’s odd. I’ll reupload and comment when done and tested.

    Like

    LeisureGuy

    27 February 2021 at 1:05 pm

  5. Okay, link is fixed, and I added an update on the Duolingo course.

    Like

    LeisureGuy

    27 February 2021 at 1:11 pm


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