Type of site
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lernu! is a multilingual, Web-based free-of-charge project for promoting and teaching Esperanto. The name Lernu comes from the imperative form of the Esperanto verb lerni, meaning "to learn". The site is run by E@I, an international youth organization, which started as a working group of the World Esperanto Youth Organisation.
The site's content includes various tools for learning Esperanto, such as exercises, games, dictionaries, grammatical overviews, an examination system and a multimedia library with books, music, voice-narrated stories and videos. The site also provides communication services such as an instant messenger, discussion forums on various topics, and news about Esperanto events. Esperantists and Esperanto organizations can advertise their activities and services on the website.
Statistics show the website being visited nearly 75 thousand times per month. Most of the visitors come from Europe, South-East Asia and both Americas. In May 2011, the site recorded its 100,000th registered user.
The lernu! project was first proposed at the first Esperanto@Interreto (now E@I) seminar in Stockholm, Sweden in April 2000, and was developed in October 2001 at the second seminar of E@I, also in Sweden (in Uppsala). In July 2002 the project received monetary support from the American Esperantic Studies Foundation (ESF), and work on the website started in August of the same year. It was publicly launched on 21 December 2002 and from then on has been supervised and developed by E@I with the ESF support and the help from many individual supporters and assistants:
Mark Fettes from Esperantic Studies Foundation and I discussed the idea in 2000 at the UN conference in New York City, but only in the beginning of 2002 the first concrete project proposal was made, and we presented it to ESF at CALICO the same year. Several months later we made a sketch and in December 2002 the first version of lernu! was launched.— Håkan Lundberg, one of the project’s initiators
During four years of the project's development, a great number of people contributed to it. The ‘core team’ (which changed partially throughout the years) was responsible for the overall supervision and development of lernu!. It was assisted by several designers and programmers. Dozens of translators used a specially made online translation system to make the website available in more than 20 languages. Today, a large number of language tutors and course assistants provide learning aid to the users of the website by checking and commenting on their exercises, corresponding with them in their native languages. New courses and other resources are continuously added.
The project has passed through several stages of evolution, and is currently in its sixth version. In Spring 2006 the site was radically updated, receiving a new design and a number of new features; this latest online version has not yet been published on disk, however.
The content of the lernu! Web site has been released on CD several times, with additional material such as music, software, and other courses not published on the website itself.