Depending on where you live, there might be courses going on in your area or local clubs that can help you practice. Contact ELNA to find out about clubs near you. ELNA lists many local clubs on their web site.
If there are no courses offered in your area, you could still travel to any of the Esperanto courses offered world-wide. There is a famous Esperanto program in the US, called NASK, or the North American Summer (Esperanto) Courses. NASK offers several weeks of intensive instruction in Esperanto. NASK is wonderful because it provides an immersive, international atmosphere. It attracts students and teachers from around the world, which encourages participants to speak in Esperanto. Outside of the classroom, students and teachers spend time together in the cafeteria, in the dorms, on excursions, and in evening activities, so the immersion continues through the whole program.
If you can't make it to a course, there are still books, online courses, and computer programs that you can try.
Online and Correspondence Courses
Lernu! is now the ultimate site for learning Esperanto online, and will probably make all the other online courses listed below obsolete. Lernu! has text and exercises for several courses, often with audio, and you can click any word in the lessons to have its definition appear in the searchable dictionary in a corner of the page. In another corner is an instant messenger where you can talk with other people online, to ask questions or just to chat. There are flashcards for building vocabulary, an online grammar, and Esperanto music to download along with the lyrics, which you can also click on to see the translations in the dictionary. It's an attractive and full-featured site, that we highly recommend. Check it out!
If you want to try a computer program for Windows, then try this program from Brazil called Kurso de Esperanto. It has been translated into a dozen languages, including English. The Kurso has sound files to help you practice pronunciation and plenty of music and multimedia to make the lessons fun.
ELNA offers a postal course call the "Free 10-Lesson Postal Course". When you contact ELNA for information on Esperanto, they send you the first lesson (just a one page pamphlet), and you complete the exercises and send it back and a tutor will correct it and send it to you with the next lesson to try. There is now an email version of this course, which you can sign up for online. You'll get the email address of a tutor who will check your work and answer your questions and so on. The complete text of the course is download-able from this Australian website. If you finish that, there is a follow-up intermediate course called Gerda Malaperis that you can also get a tutor to help you with.
Another popular online correspondence course is called Esperanto Viva!. This course was developed in Britain and uses real readings from the Esperanto community to give students a taste of how Esperanto is used.
ELNA, with the help of AATE (the American Association of Teachers of Esperanto), also offers correspondence courses based around the Jen Nia Mondo textbook and cassettes. For a small fee, students receive the books, the audio cassettes, and a personal tutor to help them through the course.
Otherwise, if you'd like to check out a book from the library or buy a book from your local bookstore, there are a couple that we would recommend.
The Teach Yourself series of language books includes an Esperanto book. It has a dozen lessons with dialogues that you can read and exercises to complete. You can also buy the book bundled with cassettes of people reading the dialogues. The Teach Yourself series also includes an Esperanto dictionary, which is a decent dictionary for a beginner. The text of the dictionary can be found online, too, at sites such as TravLang.
Another interesting book is David Richardson's Esperanto: Learning and Using the International Language. The first third of the book is history of Esperanto, the second third is a dozen short lessons on Esperanto, and the final third (or more like half) is a collection of short readings to help you practice reading Esperanto.
Finally, you can download a short textbook on Esperanto from the webpage of the MIT Esperanto Society. Some years ago, a student in the club wrote his own textbook to use to teach classes for the club. It's a short, rough booklet, but it's free for download.
Hopefully this gives you a place to start. If you want more information about anything mentioned here, or if you have other questions, please email us!
ELNA also maintains its own list of ways to learn Esperanto.