Letter: A language sneered at

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The Independent Online
Sir: I was amazed that as many as 5 per cent of British children thought Esperanto should be the single international language for Europe (report, 10 June), considering that it is six years since the Modern Languages Working Group arranged for it to be excluded from the National Curriculum. Up to then one could attain a GCSE in Esperanto, and the results were very good.

In spite of this, the leaders of professional languages teachers left Esperanto out of the list. It ran from Arabic to Urdu - 19 languages in all, and only these may now be taught as main foreign languages. Esperanto may be taught as a second foreign language, if there is a demand from parents; but as even parents have hardly heard of it, demand has been so little that the GCSE in Esperanto no longer makes a profit for the Northern Examining Board, and has been withdrawn.

Having no country, Esperanto has to be taught, which means co-operation from teachers of modern languages. Unfortunately they are so prejudiced against it that, if asked for information about it, they invariably sneer that it is only an artificial language with no culture. For a week in July the World Esperanto Congress will be held in Prague, and in August, in Shanghai, there will be the first Asian Esperanto Congress. I shall be at both, among thousands of other users of the language, from more than 70 different countries. No headphones; no translations necessary. Marvellous!

DAVID R CURTIS

E-mail: curtis@enterprise.net

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