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Christian and Elisabeth, practicing Euskera online from Chile and Argentina thanks to Mintzanet

02/15/2016

Christian Etxeberria from Chile and Elisabeth Etchegaray from Argentina
Christian Etxeberria from Chile and Elisabeth Etchegaray from Argentina

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Christian Etxeberri is a Chilean radiologist living in Santiago and learning Basque at the capital's Euzko Etxea. Elisabeth Etchegaray, is from Argentina and is a Basque teacher at the Basque Club in Azul.  Both have learned Basque in their respective countries, and without ever stepping foot in the Basque Country but they practice every week via Skype with the Mintzanet platform.  “For me it is like fixing a broken chain,” Elisabeth says. 

Donostia-San Sebastian.   It isn’t easy to learn Basque outside of the Basque Country, but for the last 25 years, many members of clubs in the Diaspora have been able to do so thanks to classes as part of the Euskara Munduan program and their local Basque clubs.  Nevertheless, to learn a language well, you have to practice it and speak it, and so that is where Mintzanet provides them with great help.

The system is free and very easy: anyone wishing to practice Basque contacts others via Skype who know Basque and who are ready to spend a little time speaking to them in Basque.  Both users meet online and practice Basque, usually once a week.

Linking the chain

One of the people that uses Mintzanet is Elisabeth Etchegaray, who is currently the Basque teacher at the Azul Basque club.  She started learning Basque 12 years ago, “In the beginning, I went to face to face classes that were taught at my club.  Later, I learned on my own and in 2008 I started using HABE’s program.”  Afterwards, she heard about Mintzanet and she enrolled for conversation practice.  “Mintzanet is a great way to assimilate all that you have learned, and especially for those of us who live far away.”

Today, Elisabeth participates in Mintzanet as a “bidelagun” (someone who needs the practice) as well as a “bidelari” (one who helps others practice.) She has three friends: “First Montserrat in Barcelona. We are both learning Basque and even though she has a better level than me, we help each other out. The second is Joxe Mari, in Lazkao, who corrects my error, something that I really appreciate.”  The third is Josette, from Uztaritze: “For me this is special because she doesn’t speak Spanish and I don’t speak French.  Additionally, some words in Iparralde are different and so I often have to use a dictionary.”

In addition to learning, Elisabeth is also teaching Basque at the club in Azul: “It is like fixing a broken chain.  There is a missing link between my grandparents’ generation and myself.  I love Basque and getting to know more about the culture through language.”

Making friends on Mintzanet

The experience of Christian Etxeberria in Chile is similar.  His family had totally lost contact with their Basque origins, until the day he discovered and began to write his last name with a “tx.”  He started to go to Basque classes at the Euzko Etxea in Santiago in 2012, and in two years he achieved a good level.  They proposed that he train to become a teacher through Euskara Munduan by HABE, and he accepted.

Today he combines his studies with his work as a radiologist.  I use Mintzanet to practice Euskera.  “It isn’t possible to learn a language only with books and exercises.  You have to speak it,” he explained to EuskalKultura.com.

Christian’s “bidelagun” is Izaskun in Lazkao.  “She is a Basque teacher and works in an ikastola.  She is very nice and she always encourages me to improve my Basque.  I have improved thanks to Mintzanet and Izaskun.  I encourages everyone who wants to learn Basque to enroll. It is an opportunity not only to learn Basque, but also to make friends.”

How to enroll?

It is easy to begin using Mintzanet.  All you have to do is go to their website: www.mintzanet.net and read the section What is Mintzanet?, where it explains how this free platform works.  To enroll, click here.



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