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You are in: Stoke & Staffordshire Features »
Esperanto - alive and well in Staffordshire
Esperanto Memorial in Staffordshire
The Esperanto memorial
Esperanto - hold on, isn't that some language which someone invented and which never quite caught on?

Paul Gubbins tells us more about Esperanto in Staffordshire...
:: Web Links»

Esperanto Association of Great Britain
The official web site of Esperanto in Great Britain

Your Experiences of Esperanto
On the BBC Voices site

Wedgwood Memorial College
Find out more about the WMC

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites.

:: Facts »
Esperanto is a constructed language which was developed about 100 years ago as a second language for all peoples.

It is considered politically neutral, belonging to no nation or political movement.

The language is apparently quickly learned - possibly 4 to 10 times faster than a typical national language.

Esperanto is spoken in almost every nation in the world.

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Have your say

I wonder how many people realise that, tucked away in Barlaston, is the headquarters of a national association with links all round the world.

I'm not talking about some pottery company employing hundreds of people or, come to that, any other vast industrial concern.

What I'm referring to is the office and administrative centre of Esperanto-Asocio de Britio which, in English, is the Esperanto Association of Britain.

Hold on. What's Esperanto … and why's it in Barlaston, in the grounds of Wedgwood Memorial College?

Well, quite simply, Esperanto is a language.

International Language...

Actually, it's the international language … much easier to learn than Spanish, French, German or even English.

It's easier because it was designed to be easier (no irregular verbs or having to think if a word is masculine or feminine - remember all that nonsense from school?).

People boast about designer jeans and designer shirts.

'Designer'
Esperanto speakers have a designer language … and are proud of it, because it gives them friends and contacts all over the world.

But wait a moment. No-one speaks this language… I thought it had died the death, along with coal fires, black-and-white TV and soggy railway sandwiches?

Wrong.

Type the word 'Esperanto' into any computer search-engine and see how many sites come up.

I got over two and a half million when I tried … not bad for a language supposedly no-one uses.

And, talking of the internet, it's entirely possible to learn Esperanto on-line (many new esperantists have discovered and mastered Esperanto in this way).

Okay. So what's Esperanto doing in Barlaston?

Well, the Esperanto-Asocio de Britio was based for many years in London.

A few years ago the association decided to sell its premises (the building was costing a lot to maintain) and use the money to convert an outhouse at Wedgwood Memorial College.

Long history

The college was chosen because it has a long history - since 1960 - of running Esperanto courses.

Esperanto House

Now the association has a new office, with a bookshop, and a modern home for the Esperanto library.

The library also doubles as a conference room, and above the office and library are three bedrooms bearing the names of eminent esperantists associated with the college.

Among them includes Horace Barks, the former Lord Mayor of Stoke-on-Trent, who helped set up the first Esperanto courses at Wedgwood Memorial College.

Centre of the world

That's why Barlaston - at least for British esperantists - is the centre of the world.

It's at the centre because, by joining Esperanto-Asocio de Britio, they have links to other Esperanto associations, including the international 'umbrella' organisation Universala Esperanto-Asocio which, among other things, arranges a major Esperanto gathering held each year in different country.

If you're at Wedgwood Memorial College call in at Esperanto House (it's next to the part of the college known as Estoril).

You'll receive a welcome from Viv O'Dunne, the office manager, who will tell you about Esperanto and give you details of courses and other information.

International links!

And, who knows, you might soon be exchanging emails with other Esperanto speakers in Austria, Hungary or Poland.

Some may even come from further afield, such as Brazil or China, and you might even make arrangements to go and visit them.


Contact details
For more information about Esperanto, contact either the Wedgwood Memorial College at wedgwood.college@staffordshire.gov.uk or the Esperanto Centre at Wedgwood Memorial College at eab@demon.co.uk.

Or telephone the Wedgwood Memorial College on 01782 372105.

The Wedgwood Memorial College address:

Wedgwood Memorial College
Station Road
Barlaston
Stoke-on-Trent
ST12 9DG

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