So you want to learn Euskara…

[Note: The following blog entry is a re-post, along with a few modifications, from EuskoCat. I will start this blog by transfering all old content first before uploading new entries, as I don’t want any new readers to miss out on earlier posts, especially this one, which will give you the resources to start learning Euskara!]

When I finally decided that I was serious about learning Euskara, I decided to search for a way to learn the language while at the same time not have to resort to eating ramen noodles for the rest of my life. I decided to do a little research into the methods people use to learn Euskara and here are some you can try out:

  • Euskara in the Basque Country – This could very well be the most expensive option for people living outside of the the Basque Country, however if you choose this route you will have the benefit of a total immersion in the language as well as the culture. There are many euskaltegiak (Basque Language Centers) all over the Basque Country and you can choose between public and private adult schools.
  • University courses – As far as I know, there are only two Universities in the United States that offer courses in Euskara. The first is Boise State University which offers a Basque Studies Minor and Certificate and the the second is the University of Nevada-Reno which offers a Basque Studies Minor both in-campus and online.
  • BOGA programBOGA is an online program designed to teach adults Euskara and to provide them with a knowledge base sufficient enough to pass the EGA (Euskararen Gaitasun Agiria)- which is a proficiency test and mandatory for anyone who wishes to work for the Basque Government. The BOGA program is, compared to the first two methods, quite affordable as the current tuition is $50 per semester and it comes with the support of a teacher whom you can email questions to as well as have Skype conferences with (to practise conversation and pronunciation).
  • Self-study books – There are a few books out there designed to help students learn Euskara and they range from the simple: Beginner’s Basque by Wim Jansen, to the more complex: The Basque Language: A Practical Introduction by Alan R. King. When I first started learning about Euskara, a number of people told me it would be sheer madness to try and learn it by myself, however I don’t think it would be wise to discredit all of the self-study books. I think that some could be used an introduction to the language, especially if you are not completely sure if you want to seriously pursue it or not and it can also be used to supplement your current program.

I am currently making use of the BOGA program as my main resource for learning Euskara. I chose it as the $50 per semester fee along with the online access was a great fit for me because it wouldn’t burn a big hole in my wallet and it wouldn’t require me to have to lose time for work.

The program itself is entertaining as it is filled with interesting sketches, exercises and tests. However, it also has its flaws, the major one being its propensity for crashing for a few hours. I also find that the explanations in English sound quite unnatural at times, as if it were translated into English by a non-native speaker and although that can easily be ignored, it can sometimes cause a bit of confusion. But I firmly believe that even with those flaws, it can be a very useful tool.

I am also studying Euskara through a book called Bakarka I: Método de aprendizaje individual del euskera by J.A. Letamendia. This teaches Euskara (or Euskera as it is called in Spanish) through the medium of the Spanish language. I find that whenever there is any concept or grammatical rule that I cannot quite understand when explained in English, I need only read it in Spanish and it suddenly becomes clear.

That’s it for now! On the next post, I’ll be talking about how music can very beneficial to any language learner. Aio!

15 thoughts on “So you want to learn Euskara…

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  3. Jesus Mejia

    Hi! Im mexican and am trying to learn the lenguage but here in Mexico there isnt too much interests in learn the Euskera and I will like to know where and when is the cours of Euskera that youre talking in this article??

    Thank you very much!

    Jesús Mejía.

    1. Isabel Zialcita Post author

      Hola Jesús!

      Are you referring to BOGA, the online course? It goes by semesters, and if you email Izaskun (click this link and it will take you to about the program. Her email address is at the bottom), she can tell you when the next semester begins. It will cost $50 per semester and you pretty much take it at your own pace, although it is highly suggested you spend at least 3 hours studying every week.

      I hope that helps. If you have any more questions, feel free to ask!

    2. Leire

      KAIXO! Hello!

      If you want to learn Basque, don´t waste your time and join eikasi(dot)com !! Or put in contact with me. The best way to learn Basque online !

      See you soon!

  4. Edouard

    Arratsaldeon Isabel,

    Zure oharrak bikainak dira. Benetan. Milesker anitz (Eskerrik asko).

    I’am French, 65 and in love with le Pays Basque – Euskal Herria. It’s great to read your advices, your method of learning all the more as I share the same approach: commitment, graduality, diversity, …
    I have discovered Ken zazpi surfing through the Web, on Youtube, and I love them too, now. I bought some CD as well as from others basque singers (kantariak). It helps a lot and it’s fun at the same time.
    Among my books, Bakarka, also, Assimil: Le basque unifié -Initiation-
    Difference with you: I don’t stick any papers on the walls or on the mirrors ! My wife wouldn’t accept it.

    I know the BOGA program, but please, allow me to inform you and your readers that there is a great program on internet and FREE (dohain). It is run by Euzko Jaurlaritza or Basque government of Euzkadi.
    It’s really a great program, with progressive difficulties and assessments on evrey lesson.
    The internet address is:

    1. Isabel Zialcita Post author

      Kaixo Edouard!

      I’ve heard about Assimil but the one I’ve seen is the Spanish version. Is it any good?

      I’ve also heard about the program on Hiru (it’s called Ikasten though, right? and I tried to register at one point but in the registration they were asking for DNI, which of course, as a non-Spanish citizen, I do not have. A method that I use for Catalan ( asked for the same thing but they also give you an option to put something else, like a passport number or a California ID number, and basically any Identity Card’s number. I wonder if the same can be done with Ikasten.

  5. Edouard


    Sorry, my message was interrupted & sent by mistake.
    Anyway, I told you the essential. Go on “” too and improve your euskara (o euskera), mixing the methods.

    Ongi izan
    Gora euskera


  6. Jim Morrison

    Hi Isabel,
    I always look forward to updates on your blog.
    My most succesful approach to learning languages (French, Catalan and German) has always been self-study (Teach Yourself style) books and CDs. So I was thinking about buying ‘Colloquial Basque’. I had a quick look at it on Google Books and I like the look of it. Have you seen it? What do you think of it? By the way, out of interest, how is your Basque coming along. Can you have basic conversations in it yet?
    Looking forward to your next post.

    1. Isabel Zialcita Post author

      Hi Jim!

      Thanks for the support! I still haven’t purchased ‘Colloquial Basque’ although I have heard people say that it focuses a lot on linguistics and it reads very much like a textbook. I think it would be the sort of book I’ll use when I’m a little further along. When I first started learning Basque, I bought Wim Jansen’s ‘Beginner’s Basque’ and it’s a very good tool to get to learn the very basics. Also, if you want to learn it through Spanish, I’d recommend the ‘Bakarka’ series as those are the books I’ve really been benefitting from the most.

      Hmmm… I think that given my level (beginner) and lack of actual conversation practise, I don’t think I can hold a meaningful conversation in Euskara yet… not unless the sentences, topics, and words are limited to ones I have studied. My instructor told me that once I get to around the mid-level, then we can meet regularly on Skype to practise conversations because right now, my vocabulary and understanding of sentence structure is too low for me to be able to follow a conversation.

  7. Jim Morrison

    Ok Thanks Isabel,
    I think I may go for the beginners basque book then, as like anyone else who has never studied Basque before, I need to start from the absolute basics. I think I saw somewhere before that you learnt a lot from the Bakarka series but unfortunately I can’t read Spainsh.
    Anyway thanks again. I will keep my eye on how you get on.

  8. Jim Morrison

    Hi Isabel,
    I ordered Colloquial Basque in the end and it arrived today. I am looking forward to getting started. I am missing your posts. I hope you start up again soon. Although, I can’t really talk; I hardly ever update my blog 😉
    Que vagi molt be,
    Agur, Jim

    1. Isabel Zialcita Post author

      Kaixo Jim!

      That’s great! Did they come with audio tapes? Anyway, please let me know what you think of it. I’ve recently been using Jon D. Patrick & Ilari Zubiri Ibarrondo’s A Student Grammar of Euskara and I’m loving it, especially the section on commonly committed errors. I highly recommend it.

      I haven’t been posting mostly because I would like to leave the blog open for the new bloggers. Once they’re done, I’ll get back to posting. 🙂

      Same here! I need to update the Catalan section of EuskoCat and I really want to blog about learning Swedish as my summer project. 🙂

      Fins aviat!

  9. Leire

    KAIXO! Hello!

    If you want to learn Basque, don´t waste your time and join eikasi(dot)com !!

    They are very good native teachers. And is very cheap.

    I think is one of best way to learn Basque online.


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