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This is an excerpt from a Draft Lojban Textbook by Robert LeChevalier

Setting Your Lojban Goals
nu ko cuxna le do terzu'e ra'a la lojban.
(/noo,koh,SHOOKH,nah leh,doh,tehr,ZOO,heh rah,hah,lah,LOHZH,bahn./)

If you already know enough about why Lojban is worth learning, and want to learn Lojban, you can start with Lesson 1 now (well, finish this section first). If you are studying as part of a group or a class, feel free to work ahead on your own. Learning a language is a complex effort; you will not hurt your group effort by studying ahead. You may even enrich the group through personal insights that you may gain in a first reading.

Before you start learning Lojban, you should clarify your goals for studying and using the language. If you have an instructor, make your goals clear to the instructor. It is also useful to look over your cultural and language background and your experience in learning languages. Then, use this book's resources in ways suited to your specific needs.

There are several reasons for studying a language. You may wish to visit a foreign country where people speak the language, or to host a native speaker of that language visiting you. You may wish to read literature in the language. You may wish to confer with other speakers of the language. You may simply wish to gain the perspective of another language and its inherent cultural viewpoint on the nature of human life and civilization.

You are unlikely to visit Lojbanistan (except in your mind), or to host visitors from that realm. The other reasons listed above could still apply to learning Lojban. In addition, as the number of Lojban speakers grows, you might find knowing Lojban an excellent bridge to communicating with someone who does not know English.

Lojban has a couple of additional reasons for study that do not apply to other languages. You may be interested in computer applications of Lojban. You may be interested in planning, conducting, or participating in, various linguistic research efforts that will use Lojban. You also may be learning Lojban as a stepping stone to other languages; researchers have shown that learning one foreign language makes learning others easier. Using easily-learned Lojban as your first foreign language could greatly accelerate your learning another language that will be more important to your life. Lojban may be especially valuable for learning languages that are far different from English, languages whose structures may not easily translate into English.

These are just a few possibilities. What are your reasons?

Exercise 0-4
larnuntoi nopi'evomoi
(/lahr,NOON,toy NOH,pee,heh,VOH,moy/)

  1. Are you studying Lojban just out of curiosity, but have not (yet) decided to try to master the language for any particular use? (If so, you probably want to concentrate less on memorizing vocabulary, and more on structures of the language, especially those emphasized in Lesson 1.)
  2. Do you intend to read Lojban? Do you want to do so with or without a dictionary in hand? (Written Lojban will tend to have more complex grammar than spoken Lojban, and probably a larger vocabulary usage. You need to concentrate on recognizing Lojban words, disassembling complex words into their components; you must also have a broad command of the grammar. You will not have much need to recall a Lojban word for a concept without seeing that word in print. Pronunciation rules and listening practice probably aren't very important to you.)
  3. Do you intend to speak Lojban with others? Does your knowledge need to be fluent, for comfortable conversation or serious communication, or do you just need to 'get by' speaking the language only occasionally? (Having a command of the vocabulary is more important in speaking the language. You need to both recognize and recall Lojban words quickly; the recognition should include some practice with spoken words in isolation and in the context of sentences. To be fluent in Lojban, you must either build a large vocabulary, or be quick and skillful at 'making up' words or paraphrases to get your point across. On the other hand, you will seldom use more complex or unusual features of the grammar. Concentrate on the grammar covered in the earlier lessons of the book.)
  4. Do you wish to translate English or other languages into Lojban, especially with publication quality? (If so, you need to concentrate on the grammar, including the less common structures. You need to recall Lojban words for concepts easily, and to create new words and paraphrases easily. Your total vocabulary need not be large, especially if an English-Lojban dictionary is available; you need little emphasis on speaking and listening to the language.)
  5. Do you want to write creatively or originally in Lojban? (You need the same skills as a translator, though concentrating on the more common grammar structures before worrying about rarer constructs. (You should have complete mastery of the basics before playing with unusual word orders and constructs.) For poetry, you also need a feel for how the language sounds. You need especial skill at recognizing when your expressions rely on non-Lojban cultural information, or on idiom derived from other languages.)
  6. Do you plan to write in Lojban only minimally (primarily sentences, paragraphs, or maybe short letters)? (You need a good command of the basic vocabulary, and the basic structures of the languages, but do not need to master any particular feature.)
  7. Do you plan to use Lojban for designing computer applications? (You need to understand the grammar thoroughly in a formal or technical sense that will not be emphasized in this book. The informal approaches here will provide a basis for such advanced study. You also need to concentrate on learning patterns in the Lojban vocabulary far more than individual words. Topics to understand include the construction of new words and determination of their formal definition, analysis of meanings, and the interactions between words in complex expressions.)
  8. Do you plan to teach Lojban? If so, to which of the above types of people? (Most likely, you need to master those skills that your students need. You also need a certain amount of fluency, as described in 3. above, in order to quickly invent a good example when someone is having trouble. If you are planning to teach children, you need to concentrate heavily on the most basic and common structures and vocabulary. On the other hand, the author and others taught the first Lojban classes with only a minimal, non-fluent, command of the vocabulary and grammar.)
  9. Do you plan to use Lojban in linguistic research? (If so, you probably should learn a variety of grammatical forms, and minimize vocabulary unless your research will significantly require it.)
  10. Now that you have focussed on your goals for using Lojban, consider the most important question: What do you expect to accomplish toward your goals before finishing this book? How much time will you spend in this pursuit, and with what intensity?
No language textbook can teach everything about a language to you. Some textbooks are more effective than others for particular skills, or for people with particular backgrounds. How much you achieve in a course of study depends on how long the course is, and how intensely you study. Language study, in particular, requires much practice, preferably with others. Set realistic goals, so that you gain confidence at your successes, and not disappointed when progress seems slow. People do not learn languages overnight. You took years to learn English; if you practice a couple hours every day, you might be fluent in Lojban in several months. Most people, though, will skip days of practice entirely (while we might wish otherwise) or spend only a little time on those days when they do study. If your expectations are reasonable, this becomes less of a problem. Continue your learning efforts and you will eventually reach your goal. Reading this book and doing the exercises is not enough to learn Lojban. Not only must you study the vocabulary, you must use Lojban. If you are in a class or study group, try saying a few sentences every session. Don't worry about making mistakes; everyone else will too. In fact, it is almost obligatory that you push your knowledge of the language to the point where you make mistakes as often as possible. That is how you will learn.

Many people believe that adults have particular difficulty learning new languages; that only young children can become fluent in a new language with ease. Actually, the only proven difficulty adults have in learning languages is speaking with a native accent. Otherwise, your greater understanding of the rules of even one language give you a strong advantage over children in learning other languages.

On the other hand, children aren't afraid to make mistakes. Listen to any young child speaking her/his native language and you will hear mistakes in nearly every sentence. As children grow older and gain more experience in the language, they make fewer and fewer mistakes. To learn any language, including Lojban, you must lose your adult self-consciousness, and learn like a child. You'll learn much more quickly and will speak fluent and error-free Lojban within a few months. In learning Lojban, do not be afraid to make mistakes. You will learn from those mistakes, just as children do, and more quickly master Lojban.

In addition, adults have more responsibilities than children, and find it more difficult to sustain long-term effort at learning. Adults also have higher expectations of themselves, and get discouraged more easily. A child does not expect total mastery of a language in a few months. After leaving formal school, most adults find it difficult to pursue even a single course of study for more than a few months. Recognize your limitations, but take pride in your progress. You will find yourself capable of expressing far more in Lojban in a very short time than you can in comparable effort in learning any other language.

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Last modified: Mon Jun 27 23:10:37 PDT 2005

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