Usona Esperantisto № 2021:1 (jan-feb)

Esperanto, Passport to the Whole World

In this installment of el la arĥivo we travel back to 1996, when a pair of articles announced ELNA’s long-anticipated video course, Pasporto al la tuta mondo—an enormous and remarkably ambitious project led by Lusi Harmon.

The videos and their accompanying learning materials were originally available only on DVD and CD, but today they can be accessed for free online. (See links below.)

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For five years now ELNA has planned to prepare a course in Esperanto for television. Recently the planning firmed up, the text was written, rewritten, re-rewritten and polished; and everything is now ready (except for the money) to push ahead with the project.

Esperanto, Pasporto Al La Tuta Mondo will be suitable for educational or cable television and is directed to adults, including students at the high school and university level. It consists of 15 half-hour lessons, using the direct method of language teaching so that the same tapes may be used anywhere in the world.

We want the lessons to have a sort of timeless quality, so that they may be used unchanged for many years. We want the lessons to have a continuing story line, which will hold the interest of the students. And—we want the lessons to be amusing.

The main actors are the six members of the Bonvolo family. Georgo, a Greek philosopher; Filiso, a classic ballerina; Roberto, a professional long-distance runner; Jolando, a race-track jockey; Heleno, an avant garde sculptress; and Donaldo, an adolescent but genius-level British- style judge. The family members wear unusual costumes, and act in original and unusual ways. They are, after all, characters which we have invented; characters with universal appeal. In that way the course will not easily become dated.

The Bonvolo family is very interested in international cultural relations and during the course of the lessons experience many contacts—by mail, telephone, home visits, foreign visits and even ESP-visits–with foreigners equally fantastic and idiosyncratic in action. After many amusing meetings and partings all of the actors, major and minor, joyfully come together in the last lesson at an international convention.

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Besides using the direct method, the lessons are structured on several other important methods of instruction such as dialogue subtitles, pattern phrases, word lists, pictures, maps, designs, and computer-created light effects. The video will be made digitally, in order that it may be later adapted to CD-ROM and interactive instruction. Workbooks are planned in Esperanto and the national languages to accompany the video courses.

Our team has already produced a 15-minute promotional video, which presents the project and is designed to help collect the necessary money for this audacious project.

We invite the collaboration of the various national Esperanto organizations and/or individuals in the forthcoming creation of workbooks for the courses in the various national languages. The aim is that those collaborators themselves print the workbooks and copy the tapes without cost (or we will furnish at cost) for local use in those countries. This project is truly international, and the Bonvolo family hopes to create Esperantists throughout the world.


The 15-Lesson Videotape Course in Basic Esperanto

The course was conceived and written by Edwin Grobe. Each lesson is thirty minutes, making the total course length seven and a half hours. The direct method of instruction is used, meaning that the material on the tape is all in Esperanto. In some scenes the actors interact in a family framework, without directly involving the TV audience, while in other scenes they look and speak directly into the camera, interacting with the TV audience. Some lessons make use of both methods.

Costumes: Each member of the family dresses according to his or her professional role, and throughout the entire film wears the same costume, whatever the dramatic or social situation. The costumes, which include wigs and makeup, are somewhat burlesque-style, almost clownish; and define the personalities of the characters.

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Subtitles: The important words and phrases are not only heard, but also seen in the form of subtitles.

Scenario: After the Bonvolo family is introduced, several lessons feature visits by various foreigners who are hosted by the family. Various family members befriend or even fall in love with some of the visitors and regret their having to leave. Some family members even threaten to leave the house and run away to live with their new friends and lovers. Family unity is at risk. The family deals with the threat to its unity by deciding to take part in an international convention where they can again meet their departed friends. Lessons feature the execution of various strategies to raise the money needed to attend. The final lesson celebrates their success.

Grammar covered: Alphabet, numerals; nouns, -o and -oj endings; Adjectives, -a, -aj ending; Calendar, Clock; Verbs, -as ending; Accusative, -on, -ojn, -an, -ajn endings; Prepositions; Suffixes and prefixes; Combined words; Adverbs, -e ending; Imperative, -u ending; Past tense, -is ending; Future tense, -os ending; Conditional, -us ending; Recapitulation. (These are only the major themes. Additional themes will also appear in the various lessons.)

Financing

Each lesson costs US$20,000. We aim to collect at least $80,000 by spring 1997. At that time we will film the first four lessons, and will distribute copies to everyone who has pre-ordered them. Pre-orders can be purchased for $75 for the four, or at $250 for the 15 lessons. At that time we will set up a new campaign for additional financial support to enable filming the next lessons. It is our intent to produce the entire series within three years. The money we collect through pre-orders will greatly help; but they won’t be enough. Therefore to finance the entire project we must seek the help of generous patrons, individual or groups. And that we are courageously, even audaciously doing here. We hasten to add that neither ELNA nor the Esperantist working staff receive any monetary profit from the project. Our work is entirely voluntary and unpaid. Our first wish is to provide to the Esperanto movement professional teaching materials.

All 15 lessons of Pasporto can now be viewed for free on YouTube. The accompanying exercises and texts are available as free downloads in our online store.