Dr. Mario Pei, Columbia University. 16 May 1973

In the numerous schools where the experiment has been tried, it has been ascertained that the monolingual student, when first exposed to a foreign language, encounters difficulties caused in part by the strange sound-and-pattern structure of the new tongue, in part by the psychological block engendered by the fact, so often pointed out by the Genral Semanticists, that he confuses the object with its linguistic symbol. Not only does he experience difficulty in reproducing the unfamiliar sounds of French and German, not only is he confused by the maze of grammatical rules and exceptions, the strange word order, the vocabulary in which the similarities to his own tongue are occasionally helpful, but almost as often misleading, he also has to struggle with the psychological fact that the link between the object “bread”and the word “bread”has been implanted and conculcated in his mind from the time he first learned to speak. At the outset of his French (or Spanish, or German, or Russian) course, he is required to do several things, and do them all at once:

If he begins his foreign language experience with a one year introductory course in Esperanto, these initial difficulties are not altogether effaced but they are definitely minimized. He finds himself facing a tongue of simple, elementary sounds, each of which is represented in writing by one orthographic symbol, and one only. He has to cope with a grammatical structure simple enough to be acquired in a few hours, with rules that have no exceptions. True, he will still have to memorize a vocabulary which is, like all vocabularies, arbitrary, and which will occasionally present misleading features. But it is far, far easier to concentrate on more words, plus a system of logical, unvarying prefixes and suffixes that always have the same meaning, if one is relieved of the necessity of acquiring and memorizing an infinite series of grammatical rules and exceptions and an arbitrary system of links between spoken sounds and their written representations.

This means that he will make far greater initial progress with his Esperanto than he would with any national language. It also means that he will find it easier to give up his psychological link between the object or action to be described and the spoken or written word that describes it in his own language.

Esperanto has often been described as a 'bridge' language to span the gap between the speakers of different tongues. It can also be described as a “bridge” language to span the psychological gap between one’s native tongue and any other tongue he may wish to acquire. In this sense, Esperanto justifies itself in the present day educational world by functioning as a stepping stone to the study of foreign languages.

Monolingual students exposed to a relatively brief course in Esperanto, who then go on to foreign languages, have been far more successful with the latter than those who faced such languages without previous preparation.

Under the circumstances, Esperanto courses as a regular curriculum feature are fully justified in the present as well as in the future, with the added bonus that Esperanto is a fully operational spoken and literary language at present, with a speaking population inspired by a true world ideology to render all possible aid and comfort to an Esperanto-speaking stranger in their midst. Esperanto is a language of considerable present day utility.