Resources for Learning Basque

Basque+sentences+written+on+notebook+paper

Euskal Kazeta

Many people are working on learning Basque

Many people want to learn Basque. Often, individuals who learn they have Basque blood are interested in connecting to their heritage by learning the language. Others are fascinated by the fact that Basque, referred to as Euskera, Euskara or Eskuara, is Europe’s oldest living language. Here 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.”

What is the Basque Country?

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.

The words Zer Moduz? Oso Ondo
“Zer Moduz?” means “How are you? and “Oso ondo” means “very well.”

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. 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 or perhaps 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 benefited 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 in Euskara, and Twitter will translate the tweets for viewers. They can read posts on social media in different languages. They can watch YouTube videos in Euskara.

The government of the Basque Autonomous Community (Euskadi) in Spain dedicates a percentage of its annual budget to promoting the language, through many different programs. However, many of them 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 offers online classes every semester. Their classes were in person until the pandemic, so they began offering online classes in Fall 2020. The demand was overwhelming. They have continued with the online classes, which mostly follow te academic calendar of a fall and spring class. The museum’s online classes.

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.

MORE ON LEARNING EUSKARA

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

A Basque-American’s Journey to Learn Euskara

Learning Basque – Why Immersion Works

Learning Basque at an Immersion School in the Basque Country

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.

More Videos and Songs to Help You Learn Basque

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. 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. You can add the app to your phone to keep it handy.

More Online Resources

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, Santa Barbara Basque Studies

University of Chicago Basque classes

Radio

Basque Music Radio programs in US

EITB Podcasts in Euskara


In this video, people explain why they want to learn Basque.