North American Basque language teachers meet in Boise
Euskara. Kultura. Mundura.
Over the weekend of 18 and 19 March, North American Basque language teachers met at the Boise Basque Center and Basque Museum. Organised by the Etxepare Basque Institute and NABO (North American Basque Organizations), the event was part of the Institute’s Euskara Mundua programme. Kinku Zinkunegi, Euskara Munduan coordinator, was present at the meeting.
Since 2018, the Etxepare Basque Institute has overseen Euskara Munduan. The objectives of the programme include subsidising Basque language classes taught in Basque schools worldwide, promoting teacher training, providing teaching materials to Basque schools, and organising Basque language exams beyond the Basque Country.
The instructors leading the weekend training were head representative Ziortza Beldarrain; Edurne Arostegui, Education Program Specialist for the Boise Basque Museum and Basque language coordinator for NABO; Nere Lete, professor of Basque at the University of Boise and Kinku Zinkunegi, Euskara Munduan programme coordinator.
“Holding this meeting has been very encouraging. In recent years the number of students has decreased so the holding this event is a good sign. It’s also very satisfying for NABO and its new leaders and managers. Little by little they’re moving forward,” explained Kinku Zinkunegi.
The instructors involved in the event met on Friday at the Boise Basque Center and continued the teacher training course over the weekend. Ten teachers from Washington, California and Boise took part in the course, focusing on teaching methodology and the use of basic materials provided by the Euskara Munduan programme.
The teachers exchanged experiences from their daily practice in language Basque teaching and identified available resources. The course leaders presented the basic Euskara Munduan teaching modules and made study materials available to use in Basque schools.
The North American Basque teachers taking part in the course are not professional language teachers but have studied Basque and speak the language. Zinkunegi applauds the teachers, adding that "they work with more complicated groups than at conventional euskaltegis [Basque language schools operating in the Basque Country]. These groups are usually made up of students of different ages who have different reasons for learning Basque, and who learn at different paces. All of this complicates how classes are run and progress.”
In addition to the North American Basque teachers, there are also teachers who travel from the Basque Country to the United States. The head of the programme pointed out that native speakers are a great asset to the local teacher, but they eventually return to the Basque Country and the American teachers go back to their respective homes and places of work.
Zinkunegi stressed that this year´s meeting was a turning point. “It has been a success to have brought together ten Basque teachers in the United States. The challenge for next year is to create our own teacher profile in North America and to strengthen and consolidate the group – much like what has been done in South America,” added Zinkunegi.