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A Conversation with Marcel Leereveld: Part 1 January 7, 2010

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What years did you teach at CGS?
From 1961 till 1981, 21 years.
 

What subjects did you teach?
First only French, later also German, Indonesian, and Esperanto.

What did you do when you left CGS?
I left, because I had the retirement age. The next year I taught for a
year at Wesley College, and after that spent 6 months each year at Wesley
organizing their yearly summer and spring seminars (each two weeks) for
Matriculation students for five years. They came from various schools in Victoria, and at the end I had to organize 1260 students and employ 30 teachers. After that I got even busier, writing articles on linguistics and books about Esperanto, and organizing exams and summer schools for the Esperanto movement. The last few years I have been on an international committee looking after the “purity” of Esperanto during its adaptation to new technical terms. I spend every day a few hours on my acre garden,
also.

How did you get interested in Esperanto? When did CGS start teaching it?
I learned Esperanto by radio lessons, in Holland. That was in 1934. I
became very active, visiting international congresses, and using Esperanto
for political purposes as well (for example, under a false title I managed to send a monthly anti-Soviet magazine to Esperantists in Russia). Through
Esperanto I, with wife and two children, migrated to Australia, and later
traveled extensively through the world, with the help of Esperanto.
Esperanto was introduced into C.G.S. in my last year there.

Were there many schools teaching Esperanto when CGS began teaching it?
Only a few in Australia, but many in some other countries, for example China, where it is in several universities.

There were great hopes that Esperanto would become popular world-wide and help people in different countries communicate better. Has that goal been realized?
It has, for those who have learned it.

Esperanto never really took off in the US. Why not?
Because the newspapers never talk about it. Every summer a university in
San Francisco organizes an international summer school in Esperanto. There do not need to be many Esperantists, for with the ones there are, that is enough for me to have contacts and to socialize internationally.

We all remember the CGS Language Labs – sitting in the little booths with headphones on. Was that the common way to learn languages at the time or was it a new method (for its day)?
The l.l. came in my second year at CGS. It lasted ten years. At that time
several North American schools were using them, but in Australia only the
RAAF. Ours was sent over from the U.S. The only problem with l.l.’s is,
that only teachers with a strong discipline can use it. We did not have
many of them at CGS.

What have been some changes in the teaching of languages today? How has technology helped?
Technology has helped quite a bit, but the main change has been to try to
teach a foreign language in the way that one learns one’s native tongue,
and to introduce playful ways to make it more pleasant. I use both
systems, but believe more in the old-fashioned way of learning a language
consciously.

Do you remember any students that stand out from our years?
Too many I remember, too many stood out, to mention them now. But from the beginning of the l.l. till the end John Benwell was my faithful helper spending a huge amount of time helping me, mainly technically.

Whatever happened to some of the other language teachers from that period such as Mr.Berkelmans, Mr. Astate, and Mr. Machota ?
I know nothing about what happened to Mr. Berkelmans and Mr Astate. I
have met a few times Mr. Gamon. Mr. Machota retromigrated to Spain (his
wife’s wish), and set up, in Murcia, a private school (I once visited him
in Madrid). Both Mr. Berkelmans and Mr. Astate lacked the discipline to
use the l.l.

What do you do these days?
Visiting grandchildren and great grandchildren, looking after my large
garden, and writing about linguistics, esp. on Esperanto, and working for
the Esperanto movement. And looking after my wife who looks after me!

Coming soon: Part 2, in which Marcel candidly talks about his interaction with other CGS teachers!

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Comments»

1. Cameron - August 9, 2013

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