Usona Esperantisto № 2018:5 (sep-oct)

Best of Ask Me Anything (AMA)

For much of 2018, the President and board have been hosting online Q&A sessions in our subsection of Reddit, the free online discussion forum. As per Reddit tradition, these Q&A sessions are known as AMA, for Ask Me Anything.

Questions to an AMA are submitted over a day or so, and readers get to rate them. Then, at a pre-scheduled time, the board spends about an hour answering the highest-rated questions. I’ve collected some of the questions and answers here, both for our members who don’t use Reddit, and for the sake of including the information in our newsletter archive.

Future AMA events will be announced on our home page, and as always we welcome questions sent directly to the newsletter. — Ed.

Does E-USA have any efforts to get Esperanto taught in public schools or community colleges? If so, how successful? What arguments have been successful getting Esperanto classes going? Or, is the bottleneck volunteers to teach such seminars/classes?

The biggest barrier to Esperanto in public schools in the USA is the lack of certifying exams that are accepted by individual states. If a state approves an Esperanto certification exam, anyone can get certified, and from there, it becomes easier to convince your local school or district to take the risk on an innovative course like Esperanto. Without a certifying exam, federal law has their hands somewhat tied; districts can’t hire a teacher who isn’t “highly qualified” in their subject area, and without a teacher, there is no course.

If you want to open the door for more Esperanto classes in public schools, contact your state’s education agency or board of education to ask about getting an Esperanto certification test added.

For Esperanto we have the KER exams administered by the administrator of edukado.net. The KER (aka Common European Framework of Reference) is what some in the USA are considering as credentials. Our board member, Charlotte Burton, presented Esperanto to the education certification board in Texas as a step in getting Esperanto on the list of accepted languages for Texas. It will take several courageous steps in several states for us to see real progress. It is much easier for families to make the decisions for home schools, community classes, and self study.

One of our main resources for teaching Esperanto in the USA is AATE (AAIE), The American Association of (Instruistoj) Teachers of Esperanto. It is a partner association with Esperanto-USA. It has separate membership, but you can join AAIE when you join Esperanto-USA at the same time. I will be glad to forward this question on to Ron Glossop, who is the current president of AAIE.

— Phil Dorcas


Would Esperanto-USA or any of its partner associations consider offering some kind of certification that is specific to the United States? I’ve read that the KER exam uses the CEFR scale, but that, in my experience isn’t very widely understood in the US.

Hello! I am the aforementioned board member who has been working on getting Esperanto certification in Texas, so I may be able to speak to this.

You are absolutely right about the KER exam, which makes it super helpful in some other countries but, as you note, not as much so in the USA. However, due to the way education works in the USA, each state essentially has its own rules. There are certain federal laws (like No Child Left Behind or the Americans with Disabilities Act) which all US states and territories must follow, but beyond that, laws and rules concerning education vary widely from state to state. A person who gets certified in Texas, for example, does not automatically get certified in any other state. You have to go through the individual requirements for each state in order to be certified in that state, making any sort of nation-wide certification test especially tricky. Aside from things mandated by federal law, there’s not much in common between states when it comes to public education. Texas is very different than Kansas is very different than California.

— Charlotte Burton


What’s your advice on starting new local groups/chapters? How do you balance a group for beginners with a group for proficient speakers that want to practice more conversation?

Step 1: Communicate with your regional helper if there is one for your area. We are currently searching for regional helpers in the USA for strengthening our communication infrastructure with local groups.

Step 2: Get visible. Get people together.

  1. Establish a contact and have it on the Esperanto-USA website. Interested people will have a way to locate you.
  2. Be sure that members are aware that there is a member list for Esperanto-USA that is sent out each year in paper form. Local groups should urge members to be a part of member body of Esperanto-USA.
  3. Amikumu is another great tool to get connected. Use it to send messages to those nearby.
  4. Make an announcement in the local newspaper or city website, if there are announcements for local events.

Step 3: Meet, either in person or virtually on the Internet with Google Hangouts, Zoom, or other meeting tool.

Step 4: Find out what people want to do and what their goals or visions are for a local Esperanto group. This is to find out what you have in common and to discover the needs.

Step 5: Communicate with the group and follow the vision.

Step 6: Be sure you listen to each member of the group to find out why they are interested in Esperanto. Each participant in the club is important, and none more important than the beginner, the newcomer. Respect their importance and contributions.

Step 7: Stay in contact with your regional helper.

One size does not fit all. Of all the clubs I’ve heard about, each seems to be unique. It is up to each local group to decide on its purpose, structure, and meeting content.

Balancing content between skill levels, learning styles, ages, and purposes is a challenge. Each club meeting should have a variety of activities which are taken from suggestions of the members themselves. Each member should be willing to participate for a short while in common activities, even if it might be boring for advanced speakers or overwhelming for the beginner.

This is a crucial topic because local groups are crucial to the Esperanto movement. You will have a regional helper, who will be your primary contact for these answers. The board is treating local groups as a very high priority. We want to know what you need from us. Esperanto-USA is here to support, nourish, and encourage local groups. Stay tuned to our website and to our bulletin Usona Esperantisto for more support, stories, and help for local groups.

— Phil Dorcas


Kio estas la plej bona metodo instigi aŭ vigligi amikojn/familianojn lerni Esperanton?

Vi uzis ŝlosilan vorton: vigligi. Ne provu “konvinki” iun. La plej bona maniero estas per niaj historioj. Niaj rakontoj malkaŝas, kial ni faras aferojn. Ili montras kiel ni faris iujn decidojn kaj pri kio niaj prioritatoj fariĝis. La celoj, kialoj, motivoj estas gravaj. Paroli pri kial oni devus lerni Esperanton por pli bona mondo estas timiga “vendpropono”, kiu donas malmultan frukton. Nia plej bona vendpropono ne estas pri avantaĝoj kaj malavantaĝoj de lingvoj. Nia plej bona metodo estas nia koro-varmigaj aŭ movad-ŝanĝaj historioj.

Unu ŝlosila elemento estas unue ekkoni la aŭskultantojn. Al kiu vi parolas? Stephen Covey diris: “Por esti komprenata, oni unue devas kompreni.” Aŭskultu vian familion kaj amikojn por ekscii tion, kio gravas al ili. Kion ili serĉas? Rilatu al ili kaj trovi komunajn valorojn en via historio.

Ni en la estraro de Esperanto-USA serĉas bonajn historiojn por uzi en nia literaturo, nia retejo, kaj en sociaj komunikiloj. Ni havas kelkajn, sed bezonas pli. Skribu al nia redaktoro aŭ al la estraro, se vi havas interesan historion aŭ citaĵon por helpi nin. Dankon.

— Phil Dorcas


Where can I listen to Esperanto being spoken?

There are many, many examples of spoken Esperanto in podcasts and on sites like Youtube, but the quality varies enormously, and not all are great models for students. One site I especially like is the blog Esperanta retradio — particularly the entries by Paulo Sérgio Viana of Brazil, an Esperantist well-known for his literary translations, articles in Monato, and prizewinning entries in the Belartaj Konkursoj of UEA.

His contributions to Esperanta retradio are outstanding: the content is well-written, the pronunciation is clear and steady, and the accent is very close to the international “ideal” to which many speakers aspire. Each spoken entry is accompanied by the corresponding text, so you can read along as you listen.

— Hoss Firooznia


Kion vi diras al homoj kiuj mokas Esperanton?

It is easy to get this wrong. I usually get this wrong and chastise myself later for not taking advantage of a seemingly difficult situation.

Listen to the mocker. Listening works wonders. The mocker will expect you to get all bent out of shape and get defensive. Be open, inviting, and set yourself into a relationship mode to listen.

Do not try to convince anybody of anything.

Use stories. The mocker will often ignore the facts, no matter how factual they are. However, the mocker doesn’t know your story.

To contradict, don’t use any negative words. Think of something like: “Well, what I’ve experienced is …” Show an attitude of curiosity and softness.

Ask questions to invite a dialog. “Where did you hear that? … Yes, we get that a lot. There are certainly a lot of myths out there, and it is hard to separate the fact from fiction.”

Try to find a common ground, even if it is an extremely remote one. “So, we both seem to have an interest in languages.” Or for the completely negative: “So, we seem to both understand the importance of our respective cultures.”

“Esperanto celebrates the differences, and we certainly seem to have them! I am all about communicating with people who are different than I am.”

Each case is different, but don’t get defensive. Be ready to learn, relate, listen, with patience.

Learn about our history. Learn about Zamenhof. Be equipped with some great tools in your discussions with your future friends. Sometimes the greatest critics become the greatest supporters. The opposition is not the enemy. Apathy is the enemy.

—Phil Dorcas


Kiel povas nova esperantisto kaj nova membro de Esperanto-USA partopreni en la organizo kaj la Esperanto-movado en Usono? Kaj kio estas farenda, se la loka klubo ŝajnas malaktiva, kaj oni ne povas kontakti ĝiajn estrojn?

Certe la loka klubo estas la ĉefa maniero partopreni en la movado en Usono. Eĉ por regionaj, landaj, kaj internaciaj eventoj, ofte la loka klubo havas la informon, kiun vi bezonas. Tiu informo venas per nia retejo, nia bulteno Usona Esperantisto, kaj per la komunikado al la klubestroj kaj regionaj kunordigantoj.

Krom aktiviĝi en loka grupo, vi konsideru ĉeesti landan kongreson, regionan kunvenon, kaj aliajn eventojn. Eble vi havas viajn proprajn ideojn pri tio nova, kion vi volas vidi en la mondo per Esperanto. Diskutu viajn ideojn kun viaj novaj amikoj en la movado.

Se vi ne havas proksiman aktivan klubon, vi nepre komunikiĝu kun via regiona kunordiganto. Se tio ne fruktodonos, bonvolu kontakti min aŭ alian membron de la estraro de Esperanto-USA. Tiuokaze, ni eble kune starigos novan grupon en via urbo!

—Phil Dorcas