It’s been two weeks since I started Basque classes and it has been quite the roller coaster ride! I knew it was going to be zaila (difficult) but I had no idea just how difficult.
My classes are Monday and Wednesday morning from 9:00-11:00 am. The school I go to is actually the same school I taught at 5 years ago when I came back to Spain, La Escuela Oficial de Idiomas or in English The Official Language School. These schools are set up and run by the Spanish government all over Spain and encourage the learning of languages (primarily English, French, and German). But in The Basque Country they also offer Euskara (Basque) classes as well as in Cataluyna they offer Catalan. Classes are offered during a normal course year (October-June) at an incredible price (only 70 euros!) It’s a great way to start to learn a language or get some more practice with one you already know. And at the end of the course you can take an official exam to get a title of language proficiency (they love these here in Spain).
So why did I decide to learn Basque now you might ask? Well, I’ve been saying for about 5 years that I was going to start classes and give it a go. And 5 years later I’ve never done it. I hate leaving things unfinished and I figured it was now or never. Plus, my hubby has made such a huge effort to learn English and I knew it was my turn. It’s only fair to make half the effort he’s made in learning my mother tongue.
So there I went to my first day of Basque class feeling quite confident because after 5+ years of living here I have picked up some things. I already knew how to introduce myself, the numbers 1-10, some colors, how to order coffee (very important!), and some general vocabulary. Well, let me tell you that my confidence was quickly shot down when I realized that even though this was supposedly an introductory level class (“level zero” I kept hearing) I was completely lost…like an octopus in a garage as they say in Spanish.
I came home the first day and was eagerly greeted by the hubby with questions of “How was it? What did you learn? What did you do? Tell me all about it!” I just looked at him and told him I was never going back. I didn’t understand anything and that it was much too hard. Of course, we both knew that wasn’t true.
Since that first day it’s gotten easier. Well, I don’t think easier is the correct word. Tolerable is a good word. I am confused every day by something and I make the hubby practice more than he wants. Just when I think I understand something in class Txoltxan, the teacher (pronounced Chol-chan), starts something new or adds in a new element and I’m confused all over again. 2 weeks in and we are still on the verb “to be” in the present simple and we’ve also learned a few adjectives and question words. Seems easy, right? Let me tell you it’s not. It’s completely backwards from Spanish and English. Want some examples? Here you go:
To introduce yourself you say:
Ni Season naiz
which literally translates to:
I Season am
But of course means:
Lovely, isn’t it? Want another more complicated example?
Nolakoa da neska hori?
which literally translates to:
How is girl that?
What is that girl like?
And it gets much more complicated in the negative and third person plural and so on. Phew! The worst part is that I know that this is the easy part. It only gets harder from here on. But I made a promise to myself that I would do it for one year. After that, well we’ll see!
Here’s some pics of my homework and notes to get an idea of what the words look like: