The summer barnetegi (Basque internship program) organized by Aurten Bai started last week online. The threat of COVID-19 has brought about the first ever online barnetegi. But students are facging the challenge with enthusiasm and optimism.
This barnetegi, which will last for two weeks, has brought together students of Basque language and culture at universities in countries including Japan, Argentina, Finland, Poland, and the United States. The barnetegi schedule includes three hours a day (at different times depending on the country so everyone can connect at once) featuring Basque classes, listening to talks or watching videos. The students have been divided into two groups, level A1 and A2. They took a break over the weekend and continued with the program on Monday.
Despite the difficulties and fully aware that it is not the same as a ‘real’ barnetegi, the students are coping quite well. Student Anna Saito, from TUFS University in Tokyo, says that "since all classes at my university are delivered online, I am already used to it," adding that "sometimes the lack of connection makes it difficult to watch images and videos." Asked about the nature of the barnetegi, Patricio Zabala, from the University of La Plata, said "I’ve never been to an actual one, but I suppose there’s a big difference between learning face-to-face and online; when you’re on-site you can build other things in every aspect that can’t be created through a digital platform." However, Saito sees the bright side of the situation: "Thanks to the online platform we can participate in classes from anywhere in the world. I like that."
In spite of this, both believe that this initiative will be a great aid to improve their level of Basque. Zabala says he is learning a lot of vocabulary, grammar, reading comprehension and writing; but, without a doubt, they both prefer listening and interaction. "In the videos we watch, people talk fast and sometimes it’s difficult to understand them, but the videos are funny and it’s great listening practice for me," said Saito. For Zabala, on the other hand, the teacher’s talks offer a good opportunity to improve listening comprehension, since "she displays a very wide variety of structures and expressions in her speech."
In addition to the Aurten Bai barnetegi, another similar experience organized by the Euskara Munduan program began last weekend and will go on for 10 days.