The Best of Basque

How to learn Basque from scratch

Table of Contents

Basque is a fascinating and unique language spoken in the Basque Country and surrounding regions. Despite its age and uniqueness, Basque is often overshadowed by other more widely spoken languages in the region, such as Spanish and French. However, learning Basque can be a rewarding and enriching experience, as it allows you to immerse yourself in the culture and history of the Basque people.

 

The origin and characteristics of Basque

1280px Basque road signs in Bilbao

One of the most outstanding characteristics of Basque is that it is an agglutinative language. This means that it is constructed by adding suffixes to words to qualify their meaning. Unlike Indo-European languages, such as Spanish, French or English, Basque does not have a common root with other European languages. It is considered a language isolate, meaning that it is not related to any other known language family.

 

Basque is one of the oldest languages in Europe and is believed to have existed long before the arrival of other languages in the region. It is estimated that Basque has been spoken for over 2,000 years, making it the oldest and most authentic language in Europe. Its antiquity and uniqueness make it a linguistic treasure worth exploring and preserving.

Batua Basque: a unified language

Over the years, Basque has experienced great dialectal diversity due to geographical features and communication barriers in the Basque Country. This made the different variants of Basque difficult to understand each other. To facilitate communication between Basque speakers, Batua Basque was developed, a unified form of the language that is taught and used in most formal contexts.

Batua Basque is the result of efforts to standardize Basque and reduce dialectal variation. Although some purists may prefer local variants of the language, Batua Basque has become the predominant form of teaching and communication today. Learning Batua Basque will allow you to communicate with Basque speakers from different regions and better understand the linguistic richness of the Basque community.

Learning Basque: tips and resources

If you are interested in learning Basque, there are several strategies and resources you can use to facilitate your learning process. Here are some useful tips:

    Immersion in Basque culture

    Immersing yourself in Basque culture can be an excellent way to learn Basque. Participating in festivals, cultural events and community activities will help you become familiar with the Basque language and way of life. In addition, you can take advantage of online resources such as television programs, music and movies in Basque to practice and improve your language skills.

    Basque language courses and classes

    There are several options of Basque courses and classes that you can consider to learn the language. You can look for educational institutions, language academies or cultural centers that offer Basque programs. You can also look for online classes, as there are platforms and websites that offer interactive lessons and resources to learn Basque from the comfort of your home.

    Lear Basque App and online resources

    Mobile apps and online resources can be of great help in learning Basque. There are apps such as “Duolingo” and “Memrise” that offer structured Basque lessons and interactive exercises. You can also find websites with free lessons, videos, grammar and vocabulary exercises to supplement your learning.

    Here’s a curated list of apps and online resources recommended by learners and enthusiasts within the community:

    Bagoaz App

    Bagoaz is notable for its user-friendly interface and comprehensive lessons. Although updates have been sparse in recent years, it remains a valuable starting point for those new to Basque, offering a unique approach to language learning.

    Euskara Koldo Online

    For a more structured and level-specific learning experience, Euskara Koldo emerges as a highly recommended online platform. It provides extensive exercises, exams, and resources suitable for learners at all stages of their Basque language journey.

    Ikasten.net

    Linked to the Basque government, Ikasten.net offers courses that are deeply integrated with the cultural and linguistic standards of the Basque Country, ensuring an authentic learning experience.

    Clozemaster

    Though some inaccuracies have been noted, Clozemaster stands out for its gamified learning experience, challenging users to fill in the blanks in sentences to improve vocabulary and grammar understanding.

    AEKeuskara

    For Spanish speakers, AEKeuskara offers a focused approach to learning basic Basque vocabulary, presenting an easy entry point for beginners.

    KuKu App

    Targeting a younger audience or beginners, the KuKu app utilizes language games in Basque, making the learning process both fun and educational.

    IndyLan

    A newer addition to the language learning scene, IndyLan aims to support minority languages, including Basque. It boasts a vast vocabulary and is designed to be engaging, despite occasional technical glitches.

    uTalk
    uTalk offers Basque language learning across different platforms, including Android. It’s praised for its comprehensive content and the inclusion of native speaker audio, which helps with pronunciation and dialect variations.

    Bakarka Course
    For those who prefer a textbook approach and are learning from Spanish, the Bakarka series is an excellent recommendation. With five books and accompanying audio materials, it’s a deep dive into the Basque language and culture.

     

    Language exchange and study groups

    Finding native speakers or Basque speakers with whom you can practice the language is a great way to improve your skills. You can look for language exchange groups in your area or online, where you can practice Basque with native speakers in exchange for helping them with your native language. You can also join study groups or online communities where Basque learners share resources and support each other’s learning.

    Immerse yourself in the daily use of Basque.

    Try to incorporate Basque into your daily life as much as possible. You can label objects in your home with Basque words, listen to music in Basque, read books or newspapers in Basque, and practice conversing in the language whenever you have the opportunity.

    30 Basque words for travel

    If you are planning a trip to Euskal Herria, it is useful to have some Basque words in your repertoire. Euskera is the Basque language and is spoken in parts of Spain and France. In this list, you’ll find 30 key Basque words to help you communicate and immerse yourself in the local culture. From basic greetings and polite phrases to place names and typical food, these words will come in very handy during your adventures.

    Kaixo! – Hello!
    Agur! – Goodbye!
    Egun on! – Good morning!
    Arratsaldeon! – Good afternoon!
    Gabon! – Good evening!
    Eskerrik asko! – Thank you!
    Mesedez! – Please!
    Barkatu! – Excuse me!
    Onartu al duzu kreditu txartela? – Do you accept credit cards?
    Zer da prezioa? – What is the price?
    Non dago estazioa? – Where is the station?
    Nola heldu ahal naiz…? – How can I get to…?
    Hiri-garren mendearen zaharbidea bisitatzeko etorri naiz. – I’ve come to visit the old town of the city.
    Zer gomendatzen duzu ikusgai dagoeneko? – What do you recommend to see?
    Hurrengo autobusa noiz da? – When is the next bus?
    Zer ordu da? – What time is it?
    Zenbat da…? – How much is…?
    Zer janaririk dago? – What food do you have?
    Ezin dut glutenik jan. – I cannot eat gluten.
    Eskerrik asko laguntzagatik! – Thank you for your help!
    Aupa! – Cheers!
    Zer moduz dago zure eguna? – How is your day going?
    Zer moduz dago zure oporrak? – How are your holidays going?
    Zer moduz dago zure bidaiak? – How are your travels going?
    Nola zaude? – How are you?
    Ondo ibili! – Take care!
    Hona hemen! – Here you go!
    Ez dago arazorik! – No problem!
    Agian hurrengo aldiz ikusiko gara! – Maybe we’ll see each other again!
    Ondo pasatu! – Have a good time!

    Remember that learning a language takes time and effort, so be consistent and patient. Enjoy the process of discovering Basque and Basque culture as you progress in your learning. Good luck!

    Author Profile

    Irene was born and raised in Bilbao. She has a deep rooted passion for her country and culture. She has a Bachelors degree in education and has traveled to over 85 countries throughout the world.
    List of professional guides in the Basque Country