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Bertan > The Basque language > Language classes for adults
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Language classes for adults


Each year, tens of thousands of adults flock to Basque academies throughout the Basque Country. It has been calculated that in the Basque Autonomous Community alone, forty thousand people are now studying Basque in one of the public and private schemes on offer. It was Euskaltzaindia, at the request of Rikardo Arregi, that began the first "alfabetatzea" courses. These formed the seed of today's extensive network of "euskaltegis" (or language academies). They provide courses in "euskalduntzea" — Basque as a Second Language (BSL) classes for non-Basque speakers— and "alfabetatzea" (Written Language Skills teaching) classes for native Basque speakers who may need help with euskara batua or with their may not be familiar with the rules of written Basque.

314. The processes of adult Basque Language Learning and Written Language Skills Learning are targeted at people aged over 16, since the younger population falls under the supervision of the education system. 315. Adult Basque language classes are primarily held in euskaltegis. There are also eight Official Schools of Language in the provincial capitals and some larger cities in the Basque Country. 316. The first Basque "alfabetatzea" groups were created in 1965. In 1966, Euskaltzaindia launched the first adult written language skills campaign, at the initiative of Rikardo Arregi, the primary promoter of the scheme. Rikardo Arregi (Andoain, 1942-1969), was a journalist, writer and cultural activist. He began writing as a correspondent for Zeruko Argia and Jakin. He published several wellknown essays and devoted all his efforts to Basque language and culture. He proposed that Euskaltzaindia should create an Written Language Skills (Alfabetatzea) Department, his greatest concern being that people should learn to read and write in Basque. 317. The initiative soon spread and by 1976, there were already over ten thousand students, mostly young people, many in gau eskolas (evening classes for workers and students). The demand for teachers led to an increase in training and education. 318. In 1970, Derio Seminary organised its first summer courses in adult written language skills. Many of those trained in those courses continued to work in education, language and the media. The Derio courses gave as much importance to literature as to the spoken and written language. From 1977, they came under the aegis of the Labayru Institute, to now form an essential part of that prestigious institution, devoted to the teaching, dissemination and research of Basque culture. 319. In 1981, the Basque Government set up HABE (the Institute for Adult Basque Language Learning and Written Language Skills), which was answerable to the Culture Department. With the creation of HABE, Basque teaching and adult written language skills programmes became more official and professional in nature and the output of educational materials gradually increased. A network of public municipal euskaltegis was founded, a common curriculum was established and a record of all the centres giving Basque classes was created. There are now 107 euskaltegis in the HABEauthorised network, with around 1,500 teachers. 320. Students at the euskaltegis also include leading figures from culture, education and research into the Basque language. At one point in 1994, the writer Pablo Antoñana, the researcher Jose Maria Jimeno Jurio and the founder of the ikastolas in Navarre Jorge Cortes Izal were all attending the same class at the Arturo Campion academy (IKA) in Pamplona. Their teacher was the artist Asisko Urmeneta. 321. The methods of teaching and learning Basque have evolved from the early materials used, which were more grammatical, to today's materials, produced in multiple formats with a more communicative approach. One of the most popular schemes are the Barnetegis, total immersion language courses in Basque-speaking environments. 322. 322. The years from 1970 to 1980 marked a decisive period for what are now the euskaltegis. By the academic year 1977-1978, a network of AEK (Written Language Skills and BSL Coordination) centres was already in place throughout the Basque Country, and some centres were already offering a professionalised daytime service: Ulibarri in Bilbao, Ilazki in San Sebastian, Arturo Campion in Pamplona. 323. Poster advertising an AEK course in Basque in Ipes Navarra. 1982. 324. AEK (Written Language Skills and BSL Coordination) was set up in 1976 to unite the efforts of the adult written language skills (Alfabetatzea) centres operating throughout the Southern Basque Country. Their work included research and publication of educational material, teacher training, organisation of cultural activities and campaigns to extend the use of Basque. There are currently 40 centres distributed throughout the Basque Country with nearly 600 teachers, which form part of the authorised HABE network. 325. IKA (Ikas eta ari), is a coordinator of adult Basque-language schools created in 1989, which includes euskaltegis from Navarre and Alava. It has around 4,000 students, and also organises total immersions courses, cultural activities and lifelong learning schemes. 326. Udal Euskaltegiak. Customised learning. As well as the regular classes, the euskaltegis also offer special courses for specific groups, such as company workers, sales personnel, immigrants, associations, parents, circles of friends and senior citizens. There are also self-learning courses available with support from tutors, and group conversation sessions and as a complement, a variety of leisuretime and holiday activities. 327. Boga. The Basque Government's online Basque course. 328. In recent years, a yearly average of 40,000 people study Basque in the various public and private schemes on offer in the Basque Autonomous Community. Typically, students learning Basque for the first time are mostly female and aged over 35.
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