Every year people from around the world come to the Basque Country to learn Euskara at live-in Basque immersion schools called barnetegis. Students from the Basque language and culture readerships sponsored by the Etxepare Basque Institute at university campuses around the world can study at the Aurten Bai barnetegi in Amorebieta. Barnetegis are also organized in Argentina by the Euskara Munduan program, which handles the Basque language classes at the International Basque Centers. All them have found a way to get through this COVID-19 pandemic year by moving online.
But how can you do a barnetegi online? The Federation of Basque Entities in Argentina, FEVA, and the Etxepare Basque Institute-Euskara Munduan program are working hand in hand to make this year’s online barnetegi as much like the face-to-face program as possible. About five hours of classes a day will delivered in digital format via the Schoology learning system from 18 to 25 July. The program is still in the preparation stage.
This barnetegi, held every year at a different Basque Center in Argentina, in both winter and summer, has one main goal: to turn Basque language students into future teachers who can keep the Basque language alive in South America. Each group follows a four-year training program, including a total of eight full-immersion experiences. The new group, consisting of 32 students from Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay, began their training in January 2020. In July they were slated for their second barnetegi experience, a phase that is usually key in teacher training. When the program moves online, the 32 students will be divided into two groups, each led by two teachers. There will also be special guests and cultural activities to try to replicate the excitement of face-to-face interaction.
Students at in the Aurten Bai barnetegi will have a similar experience. Every year, about 25 university students from around the world enjoy two weeks’ free room and board while immersing themselves in Euskara. This year´s online course will have a maximum of 10 students. Classes will be held every morning from 13 to 24 July between 9:00 and 12:00am. If more than ten students sign up, there may be two groups, in which case the second one would be in the afternoons, between 1:00 and 4:00pm. The course will be led by a teacher from the Amorebieta barnetegi, who will follow the regular face-to-face methodology as much as possible in class. This course will be designed for students at basic levels (A1.2 and A2) and, unlike the Argentinean barnetegi, the aim will be exclusively to learn Basque.