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Educating in Basque, living in Basque

Urtzi Ruiz de Azua, who has been awarded a PhD by the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country, has produced a new questionnaire to measure language attitudes towards Basque.

The teacher Urtzi Ruiz de Azua has studied the attitudes of Statutory Secondary School students towards Basque as well as what motivates them to learn the language. In his view, the questionnaires used up until now have yielded a limited picture. That is why he decided to create a new questionnaire to measure language attitudes. As it is a questionnaire that combines cognitive, affective and behavioural aspects, it is possible to gain a more complete picture. In this work he sought to highlight the importance in educating society in appropriate language attitudes. Urtzi Ruiz de Azua is a Basque philologist. He has been teaching Statutory Secondary Education and 6th form students for many years and is concerned about the attitude and motivation of many of these youngsters with respect to Basque. Ruiz de Azua has pointed out that it was in fact this experience which prompted him to carry out these measurements and to see, to a certain extent, what the reality is. He realised that there was no questionnaire that reflected the three-dimensional structure cited by the most up-to-date or main theories. In fact, the questionnaires that had existed until that moment only measured the conduct of the individuals. “And to describe the attitudes, three dimensions need to be taken into consideration: the cognitive, the affective and the behavioural,” adds Ruiz de Azua. “So we created and validated this JLG questionnaire especially for this piece of work to measure the language attitude towards Basque.” The questionnaire measures the cognitive, the affective and the behavioural aspects of each student and helps to obtain a more complete picture. Together with the language attitudes, he also wanted to measure the academic motivation to learn Basque, and for this purpose used the CEAM II questionnaire. Finally, the AUDIM questionnaire was used to quantify academic self concept. Self concept analyses the concept we ourselves have with regard to our academic achievement. The current theories on motivation defend the idea that academic self concept is one of the main elements in motivation. Each student filled in three questionnaires. What is more, in order to measure the students’ academic achievement, data provided by the schools on the results obtained by the students in the subject of Basque have been used. The results used were the ones obtained in the exams closest to the date on which the students were asked to complete the questionnaires. The importance of education According to Ruiz de Azua, the results show that “there is a direct, positive relationship between the language attitude towards Basque and the motivation to learn the language, self concept and academic achievement.” Sure enough, “the students that display a better language attitude towards Basque are more academically motivated to learn it, have greater academic self concept and achieve better academic results.” Ruiz de Azua has added that even though the results appear to a certain extent logical, “when you come up with a questionnaire, you need empirical proof to confirm that the degree of reliability of the questionnaire is sufficient.” To validate the JLG questionnaire, the SPSS and LISREL statistics programs were used; in Ruiz de Azua’s view, “the results obtained from the statistical analyses conducted using these programs provide a high degree of reliability.” Through these questionnaires and other sociodemographic variables analysed in the thesis in question, the author highlights the importance of the D model in education [Basque-medium education with Spanish as a subject]. He adds that “the students who enrol for the D model in education are the ones that display more positive language attitudes towards Basque; by contrast, those enrolled in the A model [Spanish-medium education with Basque as a subject] are more negative. In short, the author of the thesis stresses the importance of educating society in positive language attitudes to be able to drive forward the normalisation of Basque, and adds that the whole of society has a part to play in this education. The author Urtzi Ruiz de Azua-Ormaza (Bermeo, Basque Country 1974). Graduate in Basque Philology, he currently teaches in Statutory Secondary Education and 6th form studies. He wrote up his thesis entitled DBHko ikasleen euskararekiko jarrera linguistikoak, motibazioa eta errendimendu akademikoa (“Language attitudes, motivation and academic achievement of Statutory Secondary Education students with respect to Basque”), at the University Teacher Training College in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Basque Country (UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country). His thesis supervisors were the lecturer and vice-chancellor Xabier Etxaniz-Erle and the lecturer Arantzazu Rodríguez-Fernández. He had the help of the UPV/EHU’s PSIKOR research group to prepare the questionnaire on academic self concept.