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Resources for Learning Basque

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Euskal Kazeta
Many people are working on learning Basque

Euskara is the language spoken in the Basque Country, a cultural region in southern France and northern Spain.

Many people want to learn Basque. Often, individuals who have Basque blood are interested in connecting to their heritage by learning the language. Others are fascinated by the fact that Basque is Europe’s oldest living language. In Basque, the language is referred to as Euskera, Euskara or Eskuara. In this article, we offer you a list of useful resources for learning Basque.

Euskara, the language of the Basque people, is considered one of the most difficult languages to learn in the world. This ancient language, which has no known connections to other languages, is organized very differently from English and many other languages. Euskara is an “agglutinative” language, which means that words are formed by adding suffixes to the root component.

For example, in the language of Euskara, etxe means “house.” This definition changes to mean “the house” when you add an “a,” as in etxea. If you add “-ra,” as in etxera, it means “to the house.” “Etxean” means “in the house.”

TO READ: What is the Basque Country?

Euskera was Standardized

The lack of common ground between English and Euskara makes learning difficult for English speakers. Because the language is so old, many modern words have been borrowed from Spanish, so knowledge of Spanish can be helpful. Many dialects of this language existed in the mountainous Basque region, and as a result, the Royal Basque Language Academy, Euskaltzaindia, created a unified Basque known as “Batua” in the late 1960s. Some older Basque speakers, known as Euskaldunak, complained, but academics felt the language would die if it was not standardized. The government of the Basque autonomous community, Euskadi, created in 1979, pushed for a revival of the language, by promoting the teaching of the language. This revival continues today.

Another difficulty with learning the language is that Euskara is only spoken in one small part of the world. A rough estimate is that only 750,000 people, most of them in the Basque Country, speak Euskara, although that number has been growing. As a result, it’s very difficult to find people to practice with. A few people in the global diaspora speak Euskara, most in places with many Basques, like Boise, Idaho and some communities in Argentina. So there’s not many in each location. Basque social clubs in different cities have offered classes over the years, but that only benefitted people who lived nearby.

Technological changes in the world, accelerated by the Covid pandemic, have brought Euskara closer to many. More online classes exist now. People can currently find many videos online in Euskara. They can tweet or post on Instagram in Euskara, and these apps will translate the posts for viewers. People can watch YouTube videos in Euskara.

The government of Euskadi in Spain dedicates a percentage of its annual budget to promoting the language, through many different programs. However, many learning programz have Spanish as the support language. This page is dedicated to helping English speakers learn Euskara. Resources will continuously be added to this page. If you are interested in finding something not mentioned here, please inquire in a comment.


LEARNING RESOURCES

Classes

The Basque Museum in Boise, Idaho offers online classes every semester. Their classes were in person until the pandemic, when they began offering online classes in Fall 2020. The demand was overwhelming. They have continued with the online classes, which mostly follow the academic calendar of fall and spring classes. The museum’s online classes.

Learning Basque - Zer Moduz?
Learning Basque – Zer Moduz?

Udemy Academy offers online Basque classes.

Books

Several good books exist that allow English speakers to learn Basque on their own.

The Basque Language: A Practical Introduction
by Alan R. King
This is a marvelous primer for anyone willing to take on the learning of the Basque language on their own. It’s also a great supplement for someone who is taking classes. Click here to buy The Basque Language from Amazon.

Aurrera! – Volume 1

This textbook is also another easy-to-use textbook to teach yourself. To buy Aurrera from Amazon, click here.

Basque Verbs

Once you’ve made some progress in Euskara, you’ll need to focus on use of the verbs. This manual gives you the verbs. To purchase this verb manual from Amazon, click here.

Dictionaries

The University of Nevada Press has the most comprehensive set of Basque and English dictionaries, created by Gorka Aulestia and Linda White. To buy the English-Basque dictionary from Amazon, click here. To buy the Basque-English version, click here.

READ MORE ABOUT LEARNING EUSKARA

A Basque-American’s Journey to Learn Euskara

Learning Basque – Why Immersion Works

Learning Basque at an Immersion School in the Basque Country

In addition to the resources listed above, there are many other online resources for learning Basque.

Videos

Listening to videos are helpful, but very few exist with English language translations, so understanding what is being said, despite the best efforts, can still be difficult.


This playlist of animated videos of bertsolari Lazkao Txiki are enjoyable and help acclimate people’s ears to Euskera.

READ More Videos and Songs to Help You Learn Basque


A set of lessons fully in Euskera, set in Iparralde, so influenced by the French Basque dialects. Easy to understand if you watch them in order. This is a playlist of the first-year videos.

Flashcards and Vocabulary
Online flashcards for Euskara exist to help learners expand their vocabulary. Quizlet is one of the best applications, because it’s free and easy to use. Once you are in the app, type in Basque or Euskera or Euskara, to find different flashcard sets.

Quizlet – Basque flashcards

Basic Basque vocabulary pdf with English, Spanish, French translation

Translation
Google translate allows you to translate any phrase, website, document. You can add the app to your phone to keep it handy. The app is even more useful, because it can translate conversations and uses a camera to translate text.

More Online Resources

Etxepare Institute’s list in English of many online resources.

Morris Student Plus Basque-English Dictionary

Etxepare Institute’s Resources for Learning Basque

Euskara Expert Larry Trask answers FAQ about the language

Colleges that offer Basque studies

University of Nevada, Reno, Nev. Basque Studies Center

Boise State University Basque Studies

University of California, Los Angeles – Basque classes

University of California, Santa Barbara Basque Studies

University of Chicago Basque classes

California State Bakersfield Basque classes

Radio

Basque Music Radio programs in US

EITB Podcasts in Euskara


Basque Lesson at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington D.C.

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