Esperanto
Author: David Poulson


Teaching & Learning. Part One

Author: David Poulson
Published on: April 19, 2001

With the exception of a small number of people who were brought up as 'denaskaj' Esperantists (people who, when very small children learned to speak Esperanto at the same time as an ethnic language) Esperanto is a second language for everyone. And that means that it has to be learned, which in turn means that it has to be taught. Successful teaching methods are vital to the continued development of Esperanto (indeed, they are a matter of survival) and for some time I have been intending to write about this subject. In a recent topic article, Eroshenko in China: Part One

'In March 1920, Hujucz, Bakin and others re-formed the Shanghai Esperanto Association, and organised conferences, Esperanto classes and a correspondence course. One of the most well-known and successful teachers was a very young enthusiast, Cxen Gxoujing, who used techniques similar to those developed by Andrea Cseh to make his classes more lively and interesting. (I have an article in preparation about the Cseh-method of language teaching, which has been so popular in the Esperanto movement).'

And. as I promised then, I going to talk a little about the Cseh method of language teaching and it's creator.

However, as I have already told you, I just returned from 60 days in Thailand, and I hope to return to Chiang Mai in a few weeks to teach English at one of the universities there. So, before discussing the Cseh-method of teaching Esperanto, I first want to make some general comments on teaching a foreign language, based on my last two visits to Thailand. The first thing I should say is that to acquire a reasonable degree of proficiency in a foreign language is difficult in the most favourable circumstances, and very very difficult - even impossible - in others.

Yes, I accept the fact that a proportion of the world's population seem to have been born with a natural talent for learning languages, just as some people seem to be born with a natural aptitude for music. But the majority of us are not so fortunate. And when there is a very large degree of dissimilarity between the native language of the would-be learner, and the language to be learned (as in the case of Thai and English) then the task is really formidable.

Teaching methodology, therefore, is very important because language learners really do need the best help they can get: not just a talented and committed teacher, but also an approach to language learning which is as effective as possible. But, in Thailand, I met a number of very talented people (mainly senior teaching staff at universities) who, despite having spent thousands of dollars and a commensurate number of hours on trying to learn English are still at the stage where they have not mastered the basics of English usage.

Now they are trying vainly to reach the degree of language proficiency required by Universities in England, the USA and Australasia in order to enrol in a Ph D program and upgrade their qualifications in the manner to which their government is presently committed.

A major part of the problem seems to me that, both native Thais and foreign English-language teachers are trying to teach English through a traditional grammatical approach. And this, I am convinced, can never work.

Any attempt to describe modern English usage in terms of a grammar originally derived from classical Latin is quite hopeless, while the structure of the Thai language is so different from any European language that it is even difficult for them to comprehend some of the grammatical terms used by language teachers.

Don?t think that I know what the right method of teaching a Western language (and I think that we must include Esperanto in this category) to people from SE Asia, Japan, Korea and China. I certainly don?t and when I return to Thailand next month, I am going to have to find out!

But I do know that the teaching methods and materials widely used now in Thailand are not wholly reliable and not very effective. For example, I did a careful check through a short textbook on advanced English produced by a Thai university. There was a section (not very long) of English idioms. There were 22 mistakes. In a short list of English proverbs, there were 20 mistakes. And the section on so-called 'irregular' verbs had many serious errors. (One, I remember, described the past participles of the verb 'to be guilty' as 'gilt' or 'gilded'.)

Well, for some reason, Esperanto teachers seem to have felt the need for an alternative approach to language teaching for a very long time...certainly since before World War One. And, for the next few weeks, I am going to try to evaluate some of these new methods.

I suspect that I will need some help from those talented and experienced Esperantists who have made such valuable contributions to this topic in the past. Don't fail me now, friends!

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PRI TUTKOMUNA LINGVO
PRI RUSA LINGVO
PRI ANGLA LINGVO
PRI ALIAJ NACIAJ LINGVOJ
BATALO DE LINGVOJ
ARTIKOLOJ PRI ESPERANTO
"" PRI "KONKURENTOJ" DE ESPERANTO
LECIONOJ DE ESPERANTO
.KONSULTOJ DE E-INSTRUISTOJ
ESPERANTOLOGIO KAJ INTERLINGVISTIKO
TRADUKO DE MALSIMPLAJ FRAZOJ
TRADUKOJ DE DIVERSAJ VERKOJ
FRAZEOLOGIO DE ESPERANTO
, . VERKOJ DE ZAMENHOF KAJ PRI LI
, PROKSIMAJ MOVADOJ
ELSTARAJ PERSONOJ KAJ ESPERANTO
PRI ELSTARAJ ESPERANTISTOJ
. EL HISTORIO DE RUSIA E-MOVADO
KION ONI SKRIBAS PRI ESPERANTO
ESPERANTO EN LITERATURO
. KIAL E-MOVADO NE PROGRESAS
HUMURO PRI KAJ EN ESPERANTO
- ESPERANTO POR INFANOJ
DIVERSAJHOJ
INTERESAJHOJ
PERSONAJHOJ
/ DEMANDARO / RESPONDARO
UTILAJ LIGILOJ
IN ENGLISHPAGHOJ EN ANGLA LINGVO
PAGHOJ TUTE EN ESPERANTO
NIA BIBLIOTEKO


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