7 helpful hints for learning Turkish

All this help, and more, comes as part of the package if you learn with me – http://www.forlang.com/turkish

When you are a new student of Turkish, and you have studied the alphabet and perhaps learned a few words, it can sometimes feel as if you’ll NEVER get it ….

This is partly because as English speakers we have no familiarity with Turkish. We all know at least a few words in Spanish, French, German and other languages, but Turkish?

You may also feel that it’s difficult when you think of how many students manage to learn English, with all its irregularities and quirks. There is a good reason for this! Remember that in almost every country, people are exposed to English at an early age, from songs, films, TV, news, through work, the internet and so on. We are not similarly exposed to Turkish, and it’s very probable that you’ve never even heard it spoken unless you’ve been to Turkey ….

So – how can you begin to familiarise yourself with what is a very unfamiliar language?

Here are some ideas:

Listen whenever you can. If you are in Turkey, then go to a cafe, order your çay (in Turkish, of course!) and just listen to conversations all around you. Pretend to read a book if it makes you feel less conspicuous! You may not know what is being said but you will begin to recognise the sound and rhythm of the language. Depending on your level, of course, you should begin to pick out simple words such as evet, hayır, sağol, merhaba, kahve, şeker … etc. As you improve, you should be able to get the ‘gist’ of the conversation.

For those learning in their own country, if you have a book and CD, or just an audio course, then listen as often as you can, even if just for 10 minutes at a time. I provide my students with lots of audio materials as they are such a valuable help in learning. It could be during your lunch break, coffee break, or perhaps you could listen in the car while driving to and from work. Just as important as listening, of course, is repeating what you hear and trying to copy the pronunciation, stress and rhythm. You might want to do this in private at first!

Be consistent with your studying. It’s far better to devote 15 minutes a day to learning a new language than to try and cram it into two-hour session once a week. Most people find it easier to break something up into short pieces, so you don’t get frustrated or overloaded with new information.

Revise, revise revise! When I give homework, I always recommend doing it again from a blank copy perhaps a week later. Also, keep a files of blank copies of everything we do in the lesson, so you will build up a large store of materials to revise.

Learning new vocabulary is vital, even when you are able to speak basic Turkish. You can go a long way with basic structures if you have a wide vocabulary. Always carry a small notebook and note down any new words. Try to add at least a few words every day.

Reading is also important, and when you are in Turkey you will have an endless supply of free reading materials! country. While walking around and sightseeing you will have lots of opportunities for reading practice -menus, advertisements, billboards, signs on shops, banks, street signs – all of these are excellent, up-to-date practice materials, often with helpful visual clues.

Finally, speaking … most students, of any language, find this the hardest thing. It’s natural to fear this – nobody wants to feel foolish because they are using the wrong words, or are pronouncing words incorrectly, or that the other person won’t understand them. However you shouldn’t be afraid to try. Turkish people are enormously pleased when someone attempts their language, and as long as your pronunciation is reasonably accurate you will be understood. (Once you have learned the alphabet and the standard pronunciation of each letter, it does not change – so you can read and say any word.) Don’t worry at this stage about getting the correct word order.

If you choose to learn Turkish with me, I provide more tips on effective learning, plus materials for practicing all of the above – http://www.forlang.com/turkish

© turkishtutor.wordpress.com 2011

About turkishtutor

Experienced and Cambridge certified teacher of English and Turkish. Lived and worked in Turkey and New Zealand, now back in the UK and teaching online for the past 5 years.
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