A Strategic Plan for Promoting the Teaching of Esperanto in Schools

The International Working Party, Introduction of Esperanto into Schools (I.E.S.)” (formerly “Language Launcher”), was founded in May 2006, with the aim of promoting the teaching of Esperanto in schools, first in Europe but later – with acquired experience – in the whole world as well. With this aim, professional and amateur teachers of Esperanto are working together. All members of the Working Party have equal rights; they are all volunteers who work within their own strengths, talents and capabilities. Our Working Party has neither a chairman, nor membership subscriptions, nor paid employees. To fulfil special tasks, separate sub-groups have been formed, co-ordinated by experts.

All co-operating partners have the right to modify the Strategic Plan to the extent that the modification is demanded by the laws, possibilities and conditions of any country concerned.

The strategic aims of the first stage of our activity are as follows:

  1. We must reach a point where, in at least two thirds of European Union and European countries there is a minumum of 1 to 5 schools for children between 5 and 11, in which Esperanto is being taught compulsorily as a first foreign language and a developmental subject.
  2. We must reach a point where, in at least two thirds of European Union and European countries, there is a minimum of 1 to 5 schools for 11 to 16 year olds, scout troops and other youth organisations in which Esperanto is used as a relatively easily acquired means of intercultural and multilingual communication.
  3. We must reach a point where, in at least two thirds of European Union and European countries, there is a minimum of one university or college for students aged more than 16 in which Esperanto is taught.
  4. We must reach a point where, in at least a quarter of European Union and European countries, there is a minimum of one university or college for students aged more than 16, in which the training of Esperanto-teachers occurs.
  5. We must reach a point where the above-mentioned schools, scout troops, other youth organisations, colleges and universities actively and creatively co-operate with one another.
  6. Only after the fulfilment of the above-mentioned aims can the second stage of our work begin.

For the realisation of our strategic plan the following conditions are necessary:

  1. Schools for children aged 5 to 11 and 11 to 16, scout troops, other youth organisations, colleges for students older than 16, and universities which are ready to be concerned with Esperanto.
  2. Professional language teachers also trained for teaching Esperanto
  3. Motivated adherents
  4. Financial means
  5. Public support
  6. International co-operation
  7. Internationally applicable textbooks and other teaching tools.

Our proposals for creating the above-mentioned conditions:

  1. — In the first two or three years of schools for children between 5 and 11 we do not propose the teaching of foreign languages. That period is necessary for the acquisition of the basic abilities, and the mother-tongue (including speaking, reading, writing and calculation). In the following two or three years, we propose the introduction of a special language-learning subject for the optimum preparation of the pupils for the later acquisition of other languages. We consider that the teaching of the international bridge-language, Esperanto, is the most suitable means of achieving this. It raises awareness of the universal elements of language and the structures of students' own and other languages, and gives them the opportunity of successfully acquiring basic skills in their first foreign language.

    — Later, between the ages of 12 and 14, we propose the beginning of learning one freely chosen, national language: "a preferred language" and one "widely known language" — according to the Maaluf Report prepared for the European Union. Thanks to the empowering value of Esperanto, while learning these three languages to the level of a school-leaving examination, students could save approximately a whole year. At the stage of such an examination each youngster will be able to understand — apart from the mother-tongue — at least on average three foreign languages. The accomplishment of this proposal would be a great help in the conservation of individual ethnic languages. The money and time saved would be available for the development of other necessary abilities.

    In schools for 11 to 16-year olds, scout troops and other youth organisations we propose the learning of Esperanto as a relatively easy and quickly acquired means of intercultural communication. Let them make reciprocal partnerships with other European schools and youth organisations, and with a non-European one. Such co-operation will from the beginning gradually enable our school activity to reach out to the non-European countries of the world. Co-operation will be based on an interchange of information about the linguistic, cultural, geographic and historical heritage of the countries concerned. The young people — using "snail mail" and the most modern technology — will gain foreign friends, and they will experience language-equality, while understanding, respecting and accepting

    — linguistic and cultural diversity. They will be able to collaborate in the preparation of communal exhibitions, websites, competitions, video-conferences, town-twinning and international meetings. We consider personal meetings of young people of neighbouring countries with different languages to be most important.

    — In the universities and colleges we recommend the teaching of Esperanto as a catalyst language in the acquisition of a classical, Latin-Greek, scientific treasury of words and the development of a more efficient use of other languages.
  2. The training of Esperanto-teachers is an indispensible condition. We must support those universities and colleges which already teach the Esperanto-teachers of the future. We must urge young students of modern languages, as well as unemployed and retired modern-language teachers, to take Esperanto as a new subject, They can very easily and quickly learn Esperanto to the level required for teaching it. We must emphasize the value of international teaching qualifications.
  3. To those interested in learning we should — as far as possible — always put forward the practical advantages of Esperanto: an international vocabulary, phonetic spelling, relatively easy grammar, the saving of time and money, the easing of learning other languages, its frequent appearance on the internet and Wikipedia, equal language-rights, and so on.
  4. In order to acquire a financial base we must take part in European and national competitions. Consequently, we must organise a raising of the level of competence in Esperanto of members of our Working Party. We must acquire the techniques of fund-raising. Donations from private individuals (e.g., in the form of textbooks, support for study-tours, etc.) can have great significance. Private capital, private enterprise and private schools must gradually play a part in the teaching of Esperanto in schools.
  5. An important part of our activity must be the acquisition of political support. We must maintain the best possible contacts with politicians. They, together with journalists and other key people from a variety of communities, will support us only if we can show positive results. We must never forget the "positive chain-reaction". The more schools teach Esperanto, the more schools will imitate them and the more politicians will declare their positive points of view. We must invite politicians to our events and regularly inform them about our important successes, large and small.
  6. The most important element in our activity must be international co-operation. Aided by Esperanto, educational establishments and businesses can communicate and co-operate. Systematically, we must efficiently demonstrate the advantages of the Esperanto-communication between co-operating schools, youth organisations, colleges and universities.
  7. Already, there are internationally applicable textbooks and other teaching aids. A commission of the International Esperanto Teachers' Organisation must choose from them those which are most convenient and recommendable.

Budapest, 30 June 2008.

The Strategic Plan has been put together – on the basis of ideas and propositions by the membership of the International Working Party Party Introduction of Esperanto into Schools (I.E.S.), (formerly “Language Launcher”) - and on the basis of forty years of activity in the Esperanto movement - by Drs Lajos Molnár and Julianna Farkas. We wish to express our sincere thanks to those who kindly revised it: Drs Endre Dudich, Renato Corsetti, Katalin Kováts, Seán ÓRiain, and Messrs. Leo De Cooman, Géza Kurucz, István Mészáros, József Németh, Radojica Petrović and Mihai Trifoi.

Suggested websites:

Contact for the International Working Party "Language Launcher":
Dr. Lajos Molnár: ludoviko@t-online.hu

Translated from Esperanto by David Curtis, Weston-super-Mare, England, 10 August 2008.