Sent by Claude Piron, Geneva, Switzerland.
Many people says that today, English is the world language.
It is the language spoken everywhere on our planet,
including in Asia. If, in a discussion on this subject, a
participant express the idea that English is too difficult for
the great majority of Asians, and that to force them to use
it makes them feel inferior, it will be denied immediately.
More yet, if he says that Esperanto offers a solution
definitely more acceptable. Esperanto, they will retort, is
as difficult as English for the non-European people. But
these assertions are always a priori, they never emanate
from a person who took the trouble to check the facts.
This situation gives a quite different image than the
quotations shown below.
Follows a series of statements from Asian people who
testified that Esperanto is for them much easier to learn
than English or other languages.
1. "Even among English teachers the standard of English
is low. Many cannot keep a conversation in English".
Jamaliah Mohamad Ali, director of the
linguistic training program at the University of Malaysia.
2. "... just 19 percent of the people questioned in a survey
about English in Hong Kong felt comfortable when
communicating with native English speakers - about the
same level as in Japan and Thailand. More than 30
percent were afraid to speak English."
Teddy Ng, "Survey into English use
sows world city doubts", The Standard (China Business
Newspaper), May 6, 2005)
3. "Currently, I teach organization and administration of
libraries in a university in Tokyo. In Japan, they teach
Esperanto officially in ten universities, although
unfortunately it is not yet the case in mine. Obviously,
Esperanto is much more easy that European languages.
The Japanese study English during more than 10 years,
but they are not able to speak it, even for a simple
4. "... By then, I had already studied English for 7 - 8 years,
but I still couldn't speak it fluently ...
... Having learned basic Esperanto, understandably
I wanted to learn more. I could hardly find books about
Esperanto in regular bookstores, so I had to search used
bookstores. Luckily I found some instructional books,
dictionaries and others about Esperanto and I immediately
bought them without hesitating. I read those books with a
thirst. Thanks to the reading, I gradually started to enjoy
Esperanto literature. Now, when I read a sentimental novel
in Esperanto, I weep as it touches my heart. I really enjoy
that. I never felt that much joy when I read English books,
even though I've studied English for 7-8 years and
Esperanto for only 4-5 months.
Translated from the Esperanto original by Chuck Smith.
The English and Esperanto texts are side by side on this
5. "Hong Kong undoubtedly knew some English, German,
or French professors, but by far, the professors of
English are the most numerous and most visible. There
is not a Japanese university or great industrial group
from Taiwan which does not employ some Americans,
Australians or British, whose exclusive function is to
teach English. Alastair Pennycook is a professor of
linguistics applied to the university of Melbourne. When
he was a student, he also made easy money by teaching
English in Hong-Kong and in China. He noted that the
use of English as a language of communication remains
artificial. The level reached by its students never allows
them a communication going beyond the current needs.
Worse still, as an English professor, everyone wishes to
speak to him in this language but they realize very
quickly, that this type of contact does not enable them
really to discover the society where they live and even
less to be integrated into it."
Charles-Xavier Durand, "A universal language or
a colonial language?", Forum Quebec Avant-garde
(before-garde_quebec), message 23035/28313.
6. "For Angus Mui, geography class was the worst.
He says he could make out 'at most 30 or 40%' of what
was being said. The other classmates also couldn't
understand the teacher's English. "So most of us just
read comics, daydreamed or fell asleep, " says Mui.
Louise do Rosario, "Tongue-Tied: Hong Kong's
Bilingual Education Backfires", The Far Eastern
Economic Review, June 30, 1994.
7. During her youth, Qian Mingqi, who was for many years
an associate professor of English at Huadong University in
Shanghai, China, decided to become a teacher of English,
and to that end she devoted much of her studies to learning
that language -- four years of high school, five years of
university (1956-1965). Ultimately -- after the hiatus caused
by the Cultural Revolution -- she reached that goal, filling a
faculty position in the university from which she graduated
in 1965. She was one of the earliest Chinese academics to
visit the United States as a "visiting scholar" at San
Francisco State University.
In her last year of university, Mingqi decided to add a
second foreign language to her repertoire, and chose
Russian, which she actually studied for some weeks.
Then, one fine day, a "high government official"
(otherwise unidentified) appeared in the Russian
classroom. "Next year's World Esperanto Congress," he
told the students, "is to be held for the first time in Tokyo.
The People's Republic of China wishes to be represented
there by a cadre of enthusiastic young Esperanto speakers.
Those enthusiastic young Esperanto speakers will be you,
you, you ..." She was one of the young people chosen --
she was not a volunteer -- and found herself studying
Esperanto instead of Russian as a second foreign language.
As she told me, years later: "I was surprised to discover that
after one semester of Esperanto I could read and write that
language more easily -- and far more comfortably -- than
I could English after almost nine years of study." Ultimately,
she would teach not just English but also Esperanto in her
university -- in classes from which she had to turn students
away because there were too many of them for the size of
8. "Today, in China, they begin to study English before
ending the elementary school, but at the end of ten years
of study, a great number of students are unable to speak it.
As soon as they open the mouth, they are taken by shame
and fear. They say that they do not feel qualified to learn a
foreign language. But Esperanto is very logical and easy
to pronounce. In little time they usually speak it. That
encourages them, and helps improve their results in
Cui Jianhua, English professor.
9. "In June 1998, a survey carried out by the BBC among
its listeners to know what they thought of the idea of
doing of English the single official language of the
European Union, a Korean researcher, Kin Hiongun,
answered: "Korea invests enormous amounts in the
teaching of English. If I could have used my time in my
own way, I could have obtained five doctorates in the
years that I was obliged to study English.
10. In my opinion, Chinese people learn Esperanto much
more easily than European languages. Moreover, the
Chinese who have previously learned Esperanto enjoy a
considerable advantage over other people when they
study European languages.
11. "We, Asians, learn Esperanto, not "more easily", but
"ten times more easily" than the European languages!"
Lecturer in Dankuk-University, Seoul, Korea.
12 "When Roy Harris, specialist in languages, arrived
from Oxford to occupy the English chair at the university
of Hong Kong, it was convinced that Hong Kong met the
ideal conditions to be used as model for the future
bilingual communities of the 21st century. But he was
disappointed. The hundreds of student-assignments in
English which passed between his hands were stuffed
with errors and he was constantly confronted with
students unable to talk clearly in English."
Jay Branegan, "Finding a proper place for English",
Time, September 16, 1991, p. 51.
13. In Hong Kong, at the end six years of English at a rate
of three hours per day, that is to say 3600 hours, half of
the students fail the final test.
International Herald Platform.
14. "It's very worrying," says Legislator Henry Tang,
who sits on a public education body that is spending
increasing sums each year to improve the English of
secondary-school graduates. "The poor standard of
English has reached epidemic proportions," he says.
So concerned are big companies such as Hongkong
Bank, Hongkong Telecom and Swire Pacific that they
started a HK$20 million (US$2.6 million) campaign to
improve employee's English.
Young people in Hong Kong commonly communicate in
a hybrid of English and Cantonese, "a kind of Chinglish,"
points out legislator Tang. Teachers say Hong Kong-style
bilingualism is hampering students' ability to express
themselves. "These days, they are using a lot of hesitancy
words, like 'eh, er, laur, lur, lor'," says David Tang, head of
the Community English Language Lab."
China NN Archives, China News Digest,
15. I am an English teacher in the People's Republic of
China. I would be interested in popularizing exchanges
among Chinese and European students. However, I must
acknowledge that only few Chinese people learn English
well enough to be able to correspond in it. On the other
hand, Chinese students in many cities, all over the country,
learn Esperanto and reach in it a level of fluency which is
comparable to their fluency in their mother tongue. If you
have any idea how to organize co-operation among
Chinese and European pupils at the elementary and
secondary school levels, please contact me
Mr. Liu Baoguo's.
16. "I am an Iranian student who studies in Paris to acquire
a doctorate in sciences. During my studies I always studied
English and then, when I came to France, I put myself at
French. I also studied Esperanto and I must recognize that
it is the only language, besides my mother tongue, in
which I feel well. I do not feel at ease in any other foreign
language. Esperanto gave me the capacity to affirm me
and to communicate with others. I think that it is
appropriate to all the people as well, in particular in
University of South Paris,
17. Mrs. Nan comes from the proximity of Hong Kong. In
1999 she heard in the radio about Esperanto and started
to learn it by herself. "For me was simple to learn it.
And that they always expect you to know English, is
unfriendly", said the 27 year old lady.
"For 500 children in the world, Esperanto is the paternal
language" _Frankfurter Rundschau_ ,
September 13, 2002.
18. " Education Minister Chaturon Chaisang said that
most students' inability to communicate in English
despite spending years learning the language, pointed
to a clear failure in language-teaching in Thailand."
Chatrarat Kaewmorakot, "Calling for an overhaul of
the teaching of English in Thai schools", The Nation
(Bangkok), August 28, 2005.
19. Millions of people negotiate and bank and trade in
English every day. They must have gotten the hang
of it by now.
"I am getting hang?" asks Satoshi Nishide, managing
director of Daihatsu Auto in Prague.
Mr. Nichide, 31, studied English for 10 years and has done
business in it for nine. He and his Czech staff sit at a table
in their office behind the showroom, groping for the hang
"Means... I depend on it?" wonders technical manager
Vladimir Moravec. Spare part managers Milan Jandak:
" I'd like to have it?" Sales manager Arnost Barna:
"I'd like to stop it?"
"I know the phrase," Mr. Nishide says. "But I don't know."
Barry Newman, "World Speaks English, Often None Too
Well; Results Are Tragicomic", The Wall Street Journal,
vol. LXXVI, n° 110, March 22, 1995.
20. I'VE been learning English for about 10 years. But take
a good look at what we really learn. We may do quite well
in those tests and get the various kinds of certificates we
want, but when we turn to speaking and communicating
-- the language ability that really counts -- we are just at a
loss for words, as if we've never learned this language.
If broken English is all what we can learn, we'd rather do
without it. Too much energy has been wasted in learning
broken English on Chinese campus.
Harry Wang, "Speaking must be focus of English
language teaching", Shanghai Daily, February 9, 2006.