Ricardo Rodrigues Coutinho was born on May 15, 1980, in Caracas and lives in the Valleys del Tuy. He studied at the School of History of the Central University of Venezuela. He began his studies in the international language Esperanto at the end of 2000 in the Venezuelan Esperanto Association. He was a member of minutes of the Cultural Esperanto Foundation (Fundaesperanto). He also worked as a member of library, secretary and he is the current president of the Venezuelan Esperanto Association. He coordinates the publication Venezuela Stelo , an official organ of the Association. You can find him on Twitter and Instagram.
- Tell us a little about yourself and about the teaching role of the Venezuelan Esperanto Association.
The Venezuelan Esperanto Association is the only nonprofit organization in the country, which brings together Esperanto speakers and promoters of the Esperanto language. I have studied the language, since I was 16, I played a role as disseminator, as well as a teacher of the Association.
The range of courses and workshops have varied greatly over the years, since the work is voluntary and the country situation severely limits the possibilities of offering an intensive service. Despite this, we have: introductory workshops, courses by WhatsApp and You Tube. We also have very important achievements, which include; translations of Doña Barbara, Agriculture of the Torrid Zone, Pequeñas obras del Libertador, poems by Eloy Blanco, Otero Silva, among others.
Learning Esperanto is very fast, among other things because it is very regular and flexible, even though the study of any language is a hobby of high level of commitment. Esperanto is known to be an excellent tool to assimilate other languages, since it allows identifying the basic elements of a language, being an exercise to understand every language in the learning process.
- Why do you think people should learn Esperanto?
Esperanto is an excellent propaedeutic language, because it allows identifying the basic elements of a language and inferring when learning other languages. Is an excellent impartial communication tool, because no matter which culture you belong, we are all equals; because when a national language is used as an international language, this community is significantly in advantage compared to the others. This equalizing element helps us into an atmosphere of international fraternalism; in my experience, in international conferences when I spoke with people with whom I had only Esperanto as a common language, I felt that I was talking in my mother tongue, I even felt that I knew my partner for years.
- Do you think that Esperanto can become a lingua franca?
In fact, it is a lingua franca. It learning occurs in all countries, whether in clubs, associations, foundations, either, organizations specially created for this purpose or some who feel the importance of its learning, we have several examples; the Oomoto religious group in Japan, some spiritualist groups in Brazil, the School of Modern Languages (UCV), Medicine (UDO, ciudad Bolivar), the Warsaw University, the University of San Marino, among others.
Each year the World Esperanto Congress takes place, this year in Slovakia; the 11th Venezuelan Esperanto Meeting (August 2016, in Mérida), the Spanish Esperanto Congress, Colombian Esperanto Congress (July 2016, Bogotá) is held every year, among many professional and nationals encounters.
- How often do you use Esperanto?
I speak, write and read in Esperanto daily on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, in email, WhatsApp, with some calls with esperantists or interested people. Undoubtedly, social networks are critical sites in the use of the language, I have friends over one hundred countries.
- What materials and methods are available for students of Esperanto?
Books, audio, radio, WhatsApp courses, YouTube courses, specialized pages, Duolingo, lernu.net, multimedia courses, classroom courses, Skype courses, PDF books, actually there are many tools to learn, free and payed ones.
- Is there an Esperanto culture? If so, can you give examples? Share some ideas/tips with readers.
There are several cultural elements in the Esperanto community, despite living in “diaspora” as the Russian historian Alejandr Korjenikov would define. The community and the movement must be distinguish, both have their own pace and both can encompass the same thing. There is an internationalist fraternalist vocation, and a hunger to know the other.
Examples of Esperanto culture are: finvenkism: activists that seek national and international recognition of the advantages of using Esperanto language as a lingua franca, to the point of reaching a sort of bilingualism, this trend was very strong at the beginning of movement. Raŭmism: posture that exalts the importance of cultural and social values of the Esperanto community as the ultimate end use of language; the idea of international bilingualism is only a utopia that is not the interest of the dispersed Esperanto community in the world. We have our own words, such as: mojosa (modern jun-stila, meaning equal to cool or nice), kokrodili (speak the national language at a meeting of Esperantists, either mixing or periodically using it), Esperantujo (Esperanto community, where people speak Esperanto is Esperantujo).
For those interested in learning Esperanto is very important to know that despite my distance is easy to communicate via the Internet, Esperanto is not a country but we can establish friendships and collaboration in almost every corner of the world.