Basque: The Basque language in education in France (3rd Ed.)

Anna Fardau Schukking (Editor), Katharina Thomas (Editor), Jan Ybema (Editor), Charlie Robinson-Jones (Editor), Beñat Lascano

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Abstract

Basque and its status in education in France

Despite its centralist tendencies and focus on French as the only official language of the republic, France has, especially over the last 30 years, adopted laws, decrees, and regulations that allow for the inclusion and expansion of Basque language education. Thus, the choice of learning Basque or in Basque can be made in the Northern Basque Country or Iparralde (the French part of the Basque Country), even though it is not a mandatory part of the curriculum at any level. Basque is spoken by approximately 20% of the population of Iparralde, and, at the time of writing this dossier, around one third of all pupils were following Basque language classes (48% in pre-school, 40% in primary school, 23% in secondary school, and 5% in vocational training), most of whom through bilingual, fully or partially immersive education. The number of pupils following these types of education has steadily increased over the last few decades, even though, at the same time, the number of productive French-Basque bilinguals has decreased. The introduction of Basque into a school’s curriculum mainly depends on the proportion of parents demanding such a step.

Basque in educational research

The Interuniversity Department of Basque Studies in Bayonneis the only place in France that offers a full university programme in Basque Studies, with specialisations in language, literature, and civilisation. This department is attached to the University of Pau and the Pays de l’Adour and the University of Bordeaux Montaigne, where a doctorate in Basque Studies can be obtained. In the academic year 2019/20, there were 20 students following a trajectory to obtain such a doctorate. Recent research projects have focused on the challenges of French-Basque bilingual education and on adult learning of Basque.

Prospects for Basque in France

A pro-active language policy is crucial to counter the slow but steady decline in the daily use of the Basque language in Iparralde. There is general public support for an expansion of Basque language education, which should be monitored and analysed through research, but the political will and financial means to do so are limited. Ideally, Basque education should become part of the general curriculum in all schools at all educational levels, at least as a language course or, better still, in the form of bilingual education. The availability of trained Basque-speaking teachers, already a matter of concern, would then deserve even higher priority.

Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLeeuwarden/Ljouwert
PublisherMercator European Research Centre on Multilingualism and Language Learning
Number of pages74
Edition3rd
Publication statusPublished - 01 Feb 2023

Publication series

NameRegional Dossier series
PublisherMercator European Research Centre on Multilingualism and Language Learning
ISSN (Print)1570-1239

Keywords

  • Basque
  • France
  • language education
  • minority languages
  • multilingualism
  • multilingual education

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