This page began at 1920 GMT 23 March 2006 by moving some text, unaltered, from the Education Ideas page.
While trying to be as objective as possible, I feel that the best solution for the concept of language barriers is such: If using the website oriented education concept above, instead of spending time and money to translate the many lessons, concepts, and websites to the respective countries native language, I propose the use of a constructed language, preferably Esperanto, the most popular one in use today (with about 5 million users worldwide) as the language of education worldwide. This idea has many benefits which I will explain:
-Esperanto was designed to be easy to learn and to the best of my knowledge and personal experience, it is. This could be the first of the lessons that the student would learn. In keeping with the idea, http://www.lernu.net/ is an example of a site where one may go to learn the language. To ensure the quickest possible learning, and to root out problems involving an individual’s first language, the "Direct method" of teaching it is used here. There are other websites I'm sure that are just as successful in teaching this way.
-English and Mandarin are the top spoken languages in the world. This is not by choice. Population is the reason in the case of Mandarin and English just happens to be the language of business and the internet. I feel that a strong sense of global satisfaction in this project would result if not only the students of the third world countries had to learn Esperanto in order to learn, but also the many nations across the globe that are teaching them had to learn it as well. That would allow for any country to communicate and teach directly with the students. No language barriers.
-What happens when people from the U.S., Europe, or Asia decide to visit these nations involved in the project? Immediate communication is established without the idea of the students needing to switch their native language. Without the use of Esperanto, these students would have all this valuable information, but not be able to do anything with it due to language barriers. Imagine a flourishing of education in South Africa and the schools put out some great talent. What then for them? They would travel in search of prosperity. While the many dialects of Africa are definitely beautiful, they aren't popular business languages and these student's talents' would not be able to flourish with their new education. It would be giving someone a brand new car without any keys to go with it. Learning of the worlds main business languages (English, French, Japanese, Arabic) is not ruled out by any means to those that want to learn it. But it represents a higher level of education that most will probably not obtain. I feel that the ability for even the individual schooled in just the arts, or just math, or just the sciences (all of which are not normally ventures that promote the assimilation of foreign languages) be able to gain the advantage of having that common language anywhere in the world.
Comment on the idea of using Esperanto
Esperanto was designed to be an auxiliary language, with the idea that it could be a second langauge for everyone: it was not intended to become the first language of users.
I feel that it would be a good idea to make available Esperanto versions of learning material so that people can use that to become skilled in using the language if they so desire. However, although producing many versions of learning material in many different languages will as you write involve "spending time and money to translate the many lessons, concepts, and websites to the respective countries native language," that is, I feel, part of what needs to be done to make the project work. If some people can produce Esperanto versions by volunteer effort then hopefully they will be made available within the system: I feel that as auxiliary items they could be very useful, they need not be regarded as replacing versions in native languages. Nevertheless, if a learning module starts in English and then versions in Spanish and Portuguese are produced fairly quickly and then other versions take longer due to the amount of work and the possibly smaller number of translators available for localization into languages with a smaller number of users, then an Esperanto version might well be a valuable resource for a teacher whose native language is such a rarer language and who does not know English.
I am interested in Esperanto and indeed have included the accented characters for it in most of the fonts which I have produced. I feel that it has much to offer in the context of being an auxiliary language. I do feel, however, that children should have the opportunity to be educated in their own language. However, the word "should" is easily written yet does not deliver a solution, so using Esperanto is, I feel, certainly a tool which is there to be used and which could, in certain cases, perhaps be of great usefulness.
Some years ago I produced an animated gif file, when I was learning how to make them, which mentions Esperanto.
12 March 2006
[Comment by Brian Clements 12 March 2006
"Esperanto was designed to be an auxiliary language, with the idea that it could be a second language for everyone: it was not intended to become the first language of users."
I may have been unclear in my wording, but that exactly was my intention: to have Esperanto function as an auxiliary language. Even though the users would spend a great deal of time on it and probably get it to fluency very quickly, the idea and intent was that the individual’s native tongue wouldn't be threatened by whatever country decides to do the most teaching. I have trouble explaining it fully, but I think that a large influence of a language that has no native country or culture isn't as threatening as a language that has a nation and a culture backed behind it such as English or Mandarin. I feel too that just by staying in their particular geographic location with the cultures they know and love, they will not loose their native tongues, which is exactly my intention.
"Nevertheless, if a learning module starts in English and then versions in Spanish and Portuguese are produced fairly quickly and then other versions take longer due to the amount of work and the possibly smaller number of translators available for localization into languages with a smaller number of users, then an Esperanto version might well be a valuable resource for a teacher whose native language is such a rarer language and who does not know English."
And I do like this point and agree.
Should translation of text to native tongues be a not too difficult task, then that is a more direct way of teaching and should be used. I would think though, that from the standpoint of volunteer teachers coming from developed nations, the prospects of learning one language, then being able to help out anywhere in the world with this project seems like a definite plus.
End of Comment by Brian Clements 12 March 2006]
English IS the Esperanto
Forget Esperanto as a language for education, for the following reasons:
- Esperanto is still very Euro-centric, being based on germanic and romantic languages (ie, English, French, Spanish, German, Portugese, etc. Esperanto was intended to help with language interchange in the developed "NATO" world. It is a utility of businessmen, soldiers, and diplomats. It would still be quite foreign and culturally dominating in the Arab world, Far East, Africa, etc.
- Most or all of the world's practical learning is already cast in the major existing langauges (sorry, Swahili; sorry, Tagalog). The key to mastering this learning is to learn English first. Esperanto just will never become the repository for knowledge that English is already.
- NEW knowledge is published in English almost exclusively. Esperanto will be nothing more than yet another way to point to new ideas already expressed in English.
- English already serves as a language of common understanding the world over. Esperanto's job is already taken.
Let's not short-change the world's children in this educational project. The first step in their education will be to learn English.
End of Comment by CM, 16 March 2006]
- English is an incredibly hard language to learn properly. Besides, who says that English will still be the language of common understanding say 50 years from now. Polyglot 11:11, 21 March 2006 (EST)
- No one can say what language will be the internet standard 50 years from now. However, *right now it is English*, and CM is very correct in his assertion that English is very valuable. In the perfect world, everyone would learn Esperanto or something similar. However as the world is not perfect, it would be an incredible disservce to students for them to learn a near-useless (in a post-education sense) language. English or a close second Mandarin (Pinyin of course) is practical right *now*. Another point, probably in 50 years, we'll all have universal translators and this discussion will be moot. JasonS 10:46, 23 March 2006 (EST)
[Comment by Brian Clements 3 April 2006
The fact that English is becoming the worlds “Esperanto” is the very reason why I am suggesting the use of a different language: because when the language spreads, the culture spreads with it. WITHOUT going into political debates, the key idea here is that I think the education should occur with the least amount of cultural influence from the nations supplying the education as possible. The increased use of the Internet, TV, and exposure to music will do plenty of that anyway.
I feel that as soon as you pick one of the natural languages as an official language for the project you do a series of things: First, you create a direct pathway for that specific languages culture to influence the nations being educated first culturally, then politically. This favoring a specific culture, I feel, should NOT be allowed to a byproduct of the project. What should happen is that the nation being educated should be gaining tools to enhance and flourish their own culture and create their own ideas about politics with as little outside influence as possible.
Second, as soon as a developed nation starts educating the people of a VERY influential and needy third world country, very keen businesses will start pushing product on them as soon as they see a window of opportunity. There are plenty of McDonalds all over the globe as it is. I’d rather see a family owned restaurant run by a brand new business graduate of the “$100 dollar laptop school” in Brazil then that same 30-year-old family man stuck under golden arches all his life because large conglomerates were able to move in for the kill before anything else could grow to fruition.
Third, say English were to be established as the main language of use here, not only would reason #2 happen, but almost every other established country in the world will use that very effect as a reason to not only bad mouth the whole project, but also to not participate wholly, if at all. If France were to start this project and start teaching needy kids in Africa, South American and the middle east French and they asked the United States for help, the very first thing we would want to do is to create another branch of the project in English, run by people stateside. Immediate schism. I feel that the goal here is the globe teaching itself, not the “west” teaching everybody else.
Fourth, jumping off the positive and productive reasons for using Esperanto listed elsewhere on this page, the very fact that it is the MOST neutral option (I do acknowledge CM’s comment that it is Euro biased) will mean that every nation will feel relatively the same about it. If everybody has to learn it, then everyone is on equal ground. Like stated in reason #3, nations like to bicker and will find every possible reason to not participate or nock another countries efforts. If you make everybody do the same thing in order to participate, this will better ensure that only serious people, organizations, and countries will contribute and that the focus and effort is on the education and not the people trying to get it done.
To respond to JasonS’s comment, I do agree that it is more useful right now to know English then Esperanto; this is obvious. And in a perfect world, everyone would be educated as well, but that’s what the project is set out to fix.
Because of the reasons listen above, I would hope that more people would learn Esperanto for this very reason. Note also, that Esperanto is just the language standard for other people in the world to teach these countries the information that they would not normally have access to. They SHOULD also have language classes in their native tongue and be taught correct grammar. They already live in their native country with their native tongue; it is a part of them and will continue to be. Given that, the countries teaching should acknowledge this effort and learn Esperanto as well to give these newly educated opportunities. Good things take time; great things take effort over time. If the goal is to fix a global problem, the entire globe as to make an effort. If that means English-speaking countries learning Esperanto, then I think that needs to happen.
End of Comment by --Neovos 00:23, 3 April 2006 (EDT)]
[Comment by William Overington 1120 GMT 3 April 2006
I have been interested in Esperanto, off and on, for many years.
I am not fluent in it and, not being much of a linguist, it would take me years to become fluent in it, if indeed I could ever get to that level. Even using what I know of the grammar of the language and a dictionary, I do not feel that I could express, say, the views in this comment, in Esperanto.
Just look at that last sentence!
Even using what I know of the grammar of the language and a dictionary, I do not feel that I could express, say, the views in this comment, in Esperanto.
How difficult do you feel that translating that sentence into Esperanto would be? For you? For me? For someone who has at this time not even begun learning Esperanto?
For me, it is important that the children are all educated in their own language.
It is also important that the project management is carried out effectively. If that means that interpreters need to be present at meetings then that is what it takes. It was said of a recent President of France that people in the media did not even know if he could speak or understand English because he always spoke in French and had an interpreter when interacting with English-spaeking people. Was having the interpreter political, practical or both? There was a time when French was the language used for diplomacy.
Where Esperanto could possibly be useful would be if there were some laptop cultural items bilingual in the local language and Esperanto. For example, some songs, some poems, some stories.
Maybe the name of the laptop could be in Esperanto, such as la laptopo, if indeed that does not already mean something else in Esperanto. Maybe if the laptop is available in several different colours, maybe the names of the colours could be definitively in Esperanto rather than in English or some other language.
Also, it could possibly become the practice when meeting someone who speaks a different language to greet him or her in Esperanto if one does not know how to greet him or her in his or her own language. After a few words or a few sentences one might then need to use an interpreter, yet it could perhaps be good to say something in the other person's language if possible, yet if that is not possible to use a neutral language such as Esperanto, so as to indicate that one is not expecting that everything is to be said in one's own language.
End of comment by William Overington 1120 GMT 3 April 2006]
About Esperanto (Claude PIRON)
If you are interested in this thema, I highly recommand articles from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claude_Piron especially (in no particular order) :
- Some Comments on Ignorance About Esperanto
- Linguistic Communication - A Comparative Field Study
- Understanding Among Africans
- Betting on Esperanto
- Esperanto: european or asiatic language?
- Why Esperanto, since we have, by default, a world language English?
- L’espéranto - un joyau éducatif méconnu (in french : the educationnal value of esperanto, too bad this one is not translated, see also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propaedeutic_value_of_Esperanto )
End of Comment by Jean-Michel Fayard, 16 March 2006]
Mi ankaux pensas ke Esperanto estas tauxga ideo
I second the proposal to use Esperanto as a go between language between all content. Everything can be expressed with it and it is extremely easy to learn. Just imagine if everybody around the globe would learn this language, we would all be able to talk to each other just like that! Polyglot 11:11, 21 March 2006 (EST)
Re "Mi ankaux pensas ke Esperanto estas tauxga ideo"
This is not correctly displayed Esperanto but uses a method using the letter x which is sometimes used with 7-bit and 8-bit computing equipment as a work-around.
The letter x does not occur in Esperanto. In order to write Esperanto one needs six accented characters which are not in the 7-bit or 8-bit ASCII set, and so a practice arose in places such as Usenet newsgroups of using an x to indicate that the previous letter was accented, this being possible because each of the various accented characters used in Esperanto acts upon a different base character from the other accented characters used in Esperanto. What has been here expressed as ux should be a ŭ character.
The correctly displayed version of the heading is thus as follows.
Mi ankaŭ pensas ke Esperanto estas taŭga ideo
The meaning as I would translate it is as follows.
I also think that Esperanto is a suitable idea
Producing the ŭ character in this wiki is straightforward, simply use an ampersand, a hash sign, the number 365 and a semicolon all in sequence with no spaces between.
The Esperanto sequence aŭ is pronounced like the ow in the English word cow. The word Mi is pronounced like the English word me.
Having said that, the ŭ character will only show if the font which is being used at the reader's location has a ŭ character in it, so the x method for accents does have some uses. However, if Esperanto is used on the laptop the x notation should hopefully not be necessary.
Note by William Overington 22 March 2006