I was recently asked on the “Looking for Answers?” page (where you can ask me things to see if I’ve blogged about them, and if I haven’t, I may do!) about what kinds of Esperanto books I use or courses I use, in order to learn Esperanto!

I decided that this was a particularly good idea, not only because I might highlight learning tools that you didn’t know about, but also because you might know of learning tools that I don’t know about! So don’t hesitate to suggest them, especially if they fit with my style of learning, so I’ll add a little information about how I like to learn too, maybe you’ll find it useful, or have suggestion for me.

So, I use a number of different things, because sometimes I’m only in the mood for certain kinds of learning. I’ve always found vocabulary difficult to build in foreign languages, but grammar to be intensely interesting. So perhaps ill-advisedly, I often spend hours poring over grammatical documents with a contented distant grin. In an effort to counter this obvious bias, I try to frequently look up a Wikipedia article and read the Esperanto version, so that I might continue to expand my vocabulary.

I’ve also begun reading various Esperanto fiction: “La Hobito” and “Gerda Malaperis”. The Esperanto Hobbit is still very taxing on my brain, and I find myself looking up words a lot, but it’s an old favourite, so I’m very much helped by my knowledge of the English version. “Gerda Malaperis” is probably more sensible. It starts off incredibly basic, with only dialogue, like a play. It slowly progresses into more complex prose, and often repeats sentences in slightly different ways to cement the vocab (which is also listed in a separate wordlist). Because this book is rather set out like a learning-to-read book. But I found it interesting, unlike my memories of learning to read English books! I also try to read aloud, and pay attention to pronunciation.

For courses, I follow Kellerman’s Complete Grammar of Esperanto. It suits me perfectly, because every lesson, it gives me my fix of interesting grammatical points (explained very clearly with examples) and a small list of vocabulary (I can absorb lots of grammar but not too much vocab in one go). Then provides exercises for translating to and from Esperanto (I only wish it had the answers too!). They vary in difficulty and don’t leave you thinking you can only handle basic translations (like much of the Spanish exercise books I’ve experienced for example). It’s very long and detailed, but each lesson is very short, so you can always delve in for short periods at a time, and you always feel like you’re progressing.

I’ve also been following the “Ana” courses on They have a listening exercise component that I’d been missing for a long while. I wouldn’t want to learn grammar from just these lessons (though they provide links to more info), but it’s very useful for vocabulary building and listening skills.

I had never come across Jen Nia Mondo before! But the description sounds very good! I’m going to start with it. I could do with some Esperanto listening exercises that I can do on the go!

No doubt, when my university studies aren’t taking up so much time, I will begin a correspondence course, because I feel like once I reach a certain level, I want someone who’s being dealing in Esperanto for years to help me improve more, and rid me of bad habits.

Also when I’m more confident with listening and speaking, I will no doubt hassle people for Skype conversations, given that my university has stopped doing an Esperanto course only this year! 😦 Lame!

Being Colloquial in Esperanto was great once I’d learnt the basics. It expands on the basics and talks about anything that might catch you out. There’s lots of little interesting bits, and a massive section on troublesome words. It was also a massive help on learning about participles.

Once my reading skills were starting to catch on, I starting reading over the Plena Manlibro de Esperanta Gramatiko. And I was surprised at how detailed it was. It talks about so many little nuances that had never occurred to me, and really opened my eyes about the grammar of Esperanto. Definitely a favourite.

Has anyone read the “Plena Analiza Gramatiko de Esperanto”? Any good? How current is the latest version? How does it compare to PMEG?

I also found this page very helpful with word building in Esperanto. Before I could read PMEG, it introduced me to the idea of roots being of different types (action,object etc.).

For dictionaries, I’m waiting on the online version of the PIV (because I’m poor!), which they say will be in test-form by the end of the year. For now I make use of’s dictionary, and Reta-Vortaro mostly.

When trying to look up how words are used, but can’t find a related bit of grammar, I often turn to Tekstaro, a collection of Esperanto texts that you can search through automatically using patterns of letters. E.g. “bol\VF” will search for all verb forms of the verb “boli”. It will then show the contexts that the results occurred in. Very useful!

And finally, I badger the people on Lernu 😀


10 thoughts on “Bookworm

  1. Saluton, Andy –

    I am also slogging through “La Hobito”, but I keep an English translation next to me if I get stuck on a word. There are some tricky and unfamiliar words there.

    Speaking of words, lately I’ve been thinking about the most important words in Esperanto, and was thinking about making a learning list of the most important ones. Unsurprisingly, upon looking around the Internet, other people have done this before me. For example, here’s Kontakto’s list:

    Also, is a new site I’ve found dedicated to simple texts based on these easy word lists. It has both written texts, spoken texts, and videos. Definitely worth checking out.

    — Scott S.

    • I’ve not come across either of those before! Multan dankon! I think I saw a book the other day about the most important Esperanto roots… I think it was “Baza Esperanta Radikaro”… I’ve not got it yet though!

      Good luck with La Hobito! I wonder if anyone else enjoys the fact that in Esperanto you don’t lose the “f” in the word for elf? I personally dislke “elves” (sounds oddly like something to do with masonry), and would much prefer “elfs” (despite its slightly clumsy sound). In Esperanto of course “elfo” becomes “elfoj”! Love it.

      I also love “ĝuu”, thanks for bringing it to my attention! There’s just something simple and nice about it.


  2. I hope you won’t mind if I point out that a lot of Esperanto books (and badges and philatelic items) from previous decades are available on eBay.

  3. Ĉu vi legis aliajn verkojn de Claude Piron? ‘Vere aŭ Fantazie’ estas bonega libro por studado, per interesaj diverstemaj rakontoj oni povas lerni preskaŭ mil vortojn kaj – pli grave – konigi sin kun tre bela E-a stilo! Kiam mi legis tiun libron mi eĉ ekstraktis bele konstruitajn frazojn, ekz:

    “Li estis mezjuna indiano, ne tre parolema, kiel multaj el tiuj indianoj en la Ameriko, kiun ni nomas latina, kvankam ĉi-lande la latineco ne estis tre videbla, se ĝi entute ekzistis.”
    “Iu, tre profunde en li, vokis min kvazaŭ per forta kria voĉo, sed tiu voĉo estis silenta, kaj la voko esprimiĝis nur per la rekta rigardo de la nigraj okuloj, per la nehome dolora vizaĝo.”
    “Ĉiuj bariloj, konstruitaj en li de eduko por malhelpi lin fari agojn, kiujn gepatroj kaj instruistoj nomis nekonvenaj, subite dissaltis sub la premo de la sentoj turniĝantaj en li, en kiuj miksiĝis timo, deziro, malakcepto, honto, malamo kaj kolero.”
    “La manĝo estis mirige bongusta (mirige por Anglio, anglaj legantoj pardonu min) kaj mi des pli ŝatis tiujn ege plaĉe kuiritajn viandon kaj legomojn, ĉar estis tradicia angla kuirarto, kaj ne kelkaj el tiuj manĝaĵoj, nomataj “internaciaj”, kiujn oni tiel ofte ricevas en hoteloj kaj restoracioj, kaj al kiuj tute mankas lokaj odoro kaj gusto.”
    “Li foje diris al mi: “Kiam mi staras antaŭ publiko, kiam la lumoj en la salonego mallumiĝas, kaj nur forta, densa lumo elektra direktiĝas al mi, kaj mi ekkantas, tiam, ŝajnas, ke la ordinara “mi” iras flanken, kaj lin anstataŭas alia persono, multe pli brila, pli bona, pli sentema, pli alt-anima ol mi”.”


  4. I’ve read Gerda Malaperis when I first started learning (right after going through the Kurso de Esperanto – I wonder how many people Enrique has tutored over the years. . . He was definitely a help to me).

    I’m working through La Hobito now. I have to pick up the vortaro a few times a page but, I’m at the point now where I can read most of the book (aside from the unusual or plant words) without referring to the vortaro. I’m reading the English version a few days before and ahead of the Esperanto version which helps.

    I’ve got the free version of The Esperanto Teacher by Helen Fryer on Kindle and I read forums on Lernu.

    My reading and listening comprehension is much better than my speech or writing. I can recognize words faster than I can recall them (which is normal I think). I’m not an effusive person in general so, I anticipate it will take me a while to get to a proficient speaking level. However, at that point, my vocabulary should be fairly good.

    I recently joined E-USA and am considering one of the correspondence courses they offer in their membership information packet. I’ve also considered the Being Colloquial in Esperanto book. FWIW, there are a ton of Esperanto books for free on the Gutenburg Press site (Alice in Wonderland, some Mark Twain if I recall and many others). Useful if you want to expand your Esperanto library. However, most are older titles. I would like to see something newer translated to EO. How cool would the Dresden Files be in Esperanto? 🙂

    My biggest hesitation is, I also would like to learn Irish and Chinese. I’ve been focusing on Esperanto for a few weeks but my focus is beginning to shift more towards one of those languages. I tell myself that my future language learning will go quicker if I keep my focus on Esperanto for now and that has kept me from wandering . . . so far.

    Thanks for the resources and ideas.


    • I really do need to have a look through Gutenberg for anything I might enjoy. Though, yes, I share your desire to see something newer translated into EO. Also on the lookout for original Esperanto titles.

      I definitely know what you mean with the focus issue. I think I’ve dabbled in about 20 languages by now, and have never stuck them through to fluency. I think the ease, neatness and flexibility of Esperanto will be an excellent step toward actually getting comfortably fluent in a language. I agree that seeing this through will make future learning far easier; I already feel like I understand linguistic concepts more thoroughly for sticking with Esperanto.

      Thanks for the comment!


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