I've always admired people who are fluent in languages other than their native tongue, but it requires a huge amount of study and practice to become fluent. I suppose I'm lucky that my native language is English, but still, 90% of the world doesn't speak it, even though it's regarded as an "international" language.
One of my new year resolutions is to learn another language. I had attempted to learn German some years ago, because it's apparently the most widely spoken language in Europe (after English) so I signed up at duolingo
and started the German course. However, I soon remembered why I gave up learning German before. Any national language is hard because the grammar is irregular and there are so many special cases which you just have to learn by rote (in German there are 3 genders and there is no obvious pattern to tell you which noun belongs to which gender). Often the pronunciation is different according to the word, and again there are no fixed rules. Then there are all the idioms - more phrases you just have to learn by rote.
Then I found Esperanto. This is a language which was invented 130 years ago and was deliberately designed to be easy to learn. Apparently, other than Esperanto the easiest language for a native English speaker to learn is Italian which takes about 1000 hours. But Esperanto only takes 150 hours! It's also much easier to learn for speakers of other languages.
This is because the pronunciation and grammar is very regular and there are no exceptions which you have to learn by heart. It also sounds quite attractive (a sort of cross between Italian and Russian).
Is it worth learning? After all, what use is a language which hardly anyone knows? Well actually, quite a lot of people do know it, although they are rather thinly scattered across the world. Since the appearance of the WWW, there has been a surge of interest in the language (nearly 700,000 learners on duolingo alone, and that's only the English speakers) for obvious reasons.
The more I discover about Esperanto and its culture the more I like it, and it really is easy to learn. For more info see here
(select your native language from the drop-down box in the top right corner).