Esperanto is a human language invented by Dr Zamenhof in 1887, designed to be the International Language. Zamenhof envisioned a world where everyone spoke, proudly, their national language and were bilingual and could speak the International Language to communicate with others. Thus Esperanto is easy to learn, with only a few grammer rules.
While not as widely spoken as Zamenhof hoped, Esperanto is spoken by people in more than 200 countries and is especially popular in Eastern Europe. It is useful for people who want pen-pals or for travellers. Esperantists can get lists of addresses and contact information of other Esperantists through the Esperanto Passport Service. More than 1200 people in 79 countries have signed up to host travelling Esperantists. Travellers get a local contact and free or very cheap lodging.
Because Esperanto is so easy to learn, some folks feel like it can be catalyist for social change, allowing workers around the world to communicate. The SAT is a progressive rognization, which uses Esperanto as an organizing tool.
The easiness to learn also makes it useful for students who must pass launguage exams. A student can become fluent in Esperanto in a year or less. Free courses exist on-line at Lernu.net, or you can sign up for a free correspondence course, or, if you call 1-800-ESPERANTO, Joel will be happy to help you find a class in your area. If you can round up some friends and a location, the Esperanto League for North America will find you a teacher who will come to you and teach you for free.
There is a weekly Esperanto conversation group that meets Thursdays 6:30 - 7:30 at Original Pollo's at 100 Shattuck in Berkeley and this coming weekend is ELNA's summer open house and Icnic, Sunday July 11th, 10:00am- noon at ELNA's offices, which are located at 5712 Hollis St., Emeryville. Then, at noon until 4:00 pm is a Picnic at the Emeryville Marina.