Verbs / Aditzak

Many believe that the key to learning Basque lies in conquering the auxiliary or helper verbs. Others feel that learning to use the ergative marker with transitive verbs is the biggest mental hurdle for English speakers. Almost all agree that the verbal infixes are a major challenge. But when you learn the verbs step by step, you can conquer them all. Just remember, it took you several years to learn your native language well, so don't be impatient when studying Basque verbs. 

If you are in an urgent situation and all you can remember is the basic verb form or infinitive, then use that. Don't be afraid to speak and use the words you know.

Aurrera! A Textbook for Studying Basque

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Study Tips

Vocabulary / Hiztegia

Vocabulary can be intimidating in Basque because so few words resemble the English we are accustomed to. A strong basic vocabulary is vital to progress when studying Basque. Therefore, we need to use any and all methods that might help us remember new Basque words.

Writing the Basque word 5 times is a good way to start, but many students find all the new words blending together in a mass after an hour or so of this exercise. Change up your vocabulary acquisition with the following methods.

Use crayons or colored markers to write your new words on art paper or butcher paper in large letters. Repeat the word aloud as you do this and alternate saying the Basque word with saying its English meaning.  Example: Write IKASI in big green letters and say aloud, "Ikasi, to study, ikasi, to learn, ikasi."

Invent mnemonic devices (memory joggers) that sound like the word you want to remember. They do not have to be perfect, nor do they have to make sense to anyone else. They only need to work for you. Example: for IKASI, "Eeee, Cassie needs to study harder!"

Get physical to help you remember new vocabulary. Associating an action with the new word will help you "own" the word much more quickly. Example: for IKASI, hold your textbook or notebook in your hands, stand up and pace while concentrating on the notebook, and say aloud, "Ikasi! Study! Ikasi!" Don't be afraid of what others will think. If you must, close yourself in your room for privacy and get physical with your Basque words.

Pick five words a day to sprinkle through your normal conversation. As a beginner, you cannot yet carry on a full conversation in Euskara, but you can drop a few vocabulary words into your speech, then translate for your listeners. Get engaged with your new language. By the end of the day, you should own these words and feel much more comfortable with them. Example: for IKASI, "Hey, it's been fun but I have to go IKASI. I have to go STUDY." 

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