How is learning Esperanto different to learning other languages?

I once had an interesting conversation with a former student of mine, who won a regional foreign language competition in French. I congratulated her on her achievement and she surprized me with the reply: “You can not learn French. It is a waste of time. You have to live in the county and feel the language. If you start learning it, then you will never reach the language itself, you wil not be able to use it, because you will spend all of your time memorizing rules and exceptions. and you will always get them wrong, because there are simply too many of them.”

There are also some differences to learning other languages. Becasue Esperanto has a highly regularized grammar without any exceptions, it is possible to learn Esperanto with a more “brain-centered”, rational approach. Many grammatical problems or questions (if not all) can be solved by reasoning them out. Many national languages have, some more, some less, very irregular rules and there is much more memorization required than in Esperanto. Often it might be more efficient to visit a certain country for several months to years to properly learn the language by immersion, than to study the language from a book. With Esperanto a high level of proficiency can be reached using traditional learning methods.