COVID-19 has promoted Basque learning online

Euskara. Kultura. Mundura.


In the face of the coronavirus global health emergency, the education system has made great efforts to adapt to online platforms. The Etxepare Basque Institute has done the same with the Basque language and culture courses it manages worldwide, both within the framework of the Euskara Munduan programme and in the case of university readerships.

One of the objectives of the Euskara Munduan 2020 programme, in charge of Basque language teaching at Basque Centers abroad, was to train Basque teachers from Europe and America to offer online classes. With this aim, two pilot sessions were launched in the Basque Center networks in both Madrid and Washington, with the participation of 8 and 29 students respectively. The pandemic, however, has radically changed the landscape: most Basque Centers and universities around the world have closed their face-to-face classes, forcing all of them to move online.

Currently, the majority of Basque Centers and Universities continue to teach Basque language and culture using various platforms. Several Basque Centers and Universities in the United States, Germany, Argentina, Chile, France and Canada are already offering online classes, and others, including Tokyo, Barcelona, Mallorca and Mexico, have launched online Basque courses and are waiting for students to enroll.

Garbiñe Iztueta, director for the Promotion and Dissemination of Basque language at the Etxepare Basque Institute, is optimistic: "The COVID-19 crisis has led us to rethink the process of teaching and learning Basque and Basque culture. We have already seen the enormous value of flexibility and creative capacity in the face of technological challenges. Emphasis on the relationship with and between students has proven fundamental in the learning process and, therefore, it is time to identify and work on these relationships in new ways through the screen."

The teachers based abroad are working hard to teach online. New tools such as Zoom, Skype or online platforms through the universities are being used. Imanol Oteiza, reader at the University College Cork in Ireland, points out that "Moodle is a great tool" and he is using it to complete his work material. On the other hand, Ziortza Gandarias, reader at Boise State University, has opted for Zoom: "This platform is being very useful, and students love it".

In addition, new methods and materials have been created for teaching and evaluating student work. For example, the reader from the University of Chicago has decided that she is not going to evaluate by exam and has created a blog to evaluate the work, where students can upload their audiovisual projects. Furthermore, the reader at the Goethe University in Frankfurt has created games to learn Basque with online applications.

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