How To Learn Basque: The Best Methods
The Basque language is one of the most unique languages in the world, spoken by over 700,000 people in the Basque Country region of Spain and France.
Not only is it the only language isolate in Western Europe (meaning it isn’t related to any other known language), but Basque is also said to be the oldest language in Europe, a language spoken long before Indo-European languages arrived on the continent.
These are just some of the things that make the language so fascinating.
Yet, despite all of this, Basque remains relatively unknown compared to most Western European languages, and it can thus be challenging to know where to start when learning it.
Resources for learning are limited, and there are few native speakers outside of the Basque Country itself with whom to practice.
But don’t despair!
In this post, we’ll go over some of the best methods for learning Basque, both online and off. You’ll then be able to choose the approach that best suits your needs.
Find a good Basque course
This should be the first step in your journey to learning Basque. A good course will introduce you to the basics of the language and give you a solid foundation on which to build further knowledge.
Basque courses are usually structured in a way that gradually introduces new concepts, starting with simple grammar and vocabulary and moving on to more complex topics as you progress.
Basque courses come in all shapes and sizes. Your learning style, the amount of time and money you have, and even your location will all play a role in which course works best for you.
In-person Basque courses/classes
Taking an in-person Basque course is a great option, when available. There are several advantages to learning in person, such as being able to ask a teacher for clarification and practicing speaking with other students in class.
Not to mention, you’ll be surrounded by the language, which will help with immersion.
There are a few things to keep in mind, though. In-person courses can be expensive, and due to Basque’s limited geographical spread, chances are you won’t be able to find a course where you live.
The Etxepare Basque Institute website offers a good overview of currently available in-person Basque courses around the world.
Online Basque courses/classes
If you can’t take an in-person course or if you want to supplement your learning, taking an online course is the next best thing. Online Basque courses are usually more affordable than in-person courses and offer more flexibility in terms of scheduling.
You’ll still be able to learn from a qualified teacher and have access to other students for practice, but you’ll be doing it all from the comfort of your own home.
As with in-person courses, however, good online Basque courses are hard to come by. Learn Basque via Skype by Language Life School is a pretty good option, and with 1-hour-long group lessons as cheap as €6.50 each, it won’t break the bank either.
Use a Basque digital program or app
Basque digital programs and apps are a great way to supplement your learning or to use as a standalone method, especially if you’re a self-starter.
Unlike courses, which usually have a set structure, digital programs and apps give you a bit more freedom to learn at your own pace and focus on the topics that interest you most. They offer gamified and interactive learning experiences that can make learning Basque more fun and engaging.
Basque digital courses usually come in the form of an app or online program that you can download to your computer or phone. Some are even available offline, so you can use them anywhere without eating into your mobile data.
Basque apps and programs are more plentiful than courses, and a lot cheaper. Some work on subscription models, while others you can buy outright.
The following companies offer digital courses in Basque:
uTalk has a 60-topic Basque course that covers pretty much everything you need to know to get by in the language. A 12-month subscription to their Basque course is only $49.99 ($4.17 per month).
(Use our link to get 20% off the uTalk Basque course.)
Cudoo is an online learning platform with a wide range of language courses, including Basque. Their 131-lesson Basque course is only $24.99.
Udemy has a small selection of affordable Basque courses for absolute beginners.
Memrise is a program primarily focused on vocabulary building. It has several Basque courses for learners at all levels. They’re all free, and some of them even include audio.
Check out our post Where To Learn Basque: The Best Courses, Classes, And Apps for a list of the top Basque language-learning programs.
Find a Basque-speaking partner or tutor
One of the best ways to learn a language is to practice it with a native speaker. If you know someone who speaks Basque, ask them if they wouldn’t mind helping you out with your learning.
If you don’t know anyone who speaks Basque, there are a few ways to find a language partner or tutor.
Tandem is a language exchange app that connects language learners from all over the world who want to learn each other’s language. It’s free to download and use.
italki is an online language learning platform that connects language learners with native-speaking tutors from all over the world. You can find Basque tutors on italki starting at $6 per hour.
Use Basque study books
If you’re the type of learner who likes to have a physical book in your hands, you’ll probably find that using Basque study books is a helpful way to learn the language.
While not as interactive or fun as digital courses, study books can be great for self-study and are usually very comprehensive. They’ll break down things like grammar and sentence structure in a way that’s easy to understand, and they’ll give you plenty of practice exercises to test your knowledge.
Check out our list of Basque language learning books.
Consume Basque media – TV, movies, and reading material
Basque TV and movies are a great way to immerse yourself in the language and get used to hearing it spoken. They’ll be difficult to understand at first, but will become easier the more you watch.
YouTube is a great place to find Basque TV programs. The EITB (Euskal Irrati Telebista) channel has a wide selection of Basque shows and news programs that you can watch for free.
Check out our list of the best Basque-language movies to watch on Netflix and Amazon.
Reading Basque literature or books in Basque is another great way to improve your language skills. Start with children’s books if you’re a beginner, and work your way up to more challenging material as you become more proficient.
We’ve put together a comprehensive list of some of the best Basque children’s books for beginners to start with, so have a look if you’re interested.
You might also be interested in this awesome website we discovered called Ikasbil, which is jam-packed with Basque articles and stories, all of which are graded by level, from A1 – C1.
This is a great resource if you’re looking for reading material that’s both interesting and appropriate for your level.
That was a lot to take it! But we hope that you now have a better understanding of what it takes to learn Basque.
The best approach is to combine some or all of the methods we’ve listed above, as each one offers something unique that can help you in your journey to becoming proficient in Basque.
Once you get started, the most important thing is to keep at it and not get discouraged. Learning a language takes time, patience, and perseverance – but it’s definitely worth it in the end!