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How to learn Turkish

13th July 2014

Native English speakers can sometimes find it difficult to learn and pronounce Turkish. The English language is so common in Turkey that it can become easy to ‘get by’.

As a native English speaker, you speak the global language and so can travel just about anywhere and find locals who can communicate quite easily with you in English.


Maybe you have picked up a few choice Turkish phrases and find that whenever you try your best to communicate to the locals in Turkish, they then switch to English. This can happen for numerous reasons, one being because the locals are eager to improve their ability to speak English or simply because he or she’s English is better than your Turkish. 


Becoming fluent in any language is no walk in the park, even if you do already have an ear for other languages.


Language difficulties


Turkish is ranked as Category II: Languages with significant linguistic and/or cultural differences from English


And it is estimated that it will take 44 weeks (1100 class hours) to learn the language.


Category 1: being Italian, French - Languages closely related to English


Category III: being Mandarin, Arabic - Languages which are quite difficult for native English speakers


(Source: The Foreign Service Institute (FSI))


Commonly it is children who pick up another language very quickly, and you will find that within a few months a child will become fluent.


Children do not have the same worries as adults, if they pronounce a word wrong they will carry on without embarrassment. They throw themselves into it, making friends, reading books and learning songs and above all they are not afraid of making mistakes.  


Learning Turkish may well be difficult, but that doesn't mean it is impossible to learn, you just require a little commitment and application and confidence.


Here are some tips on improving your Turkish language skills.


Buy children’s books
A simple idea, which will get you started on the basics.


Socialise with Turkish people
Even if it’s stopping to drink cay with your local grocer, it all helps build up your confidence and Turkish speaking abilities. Tell them you are learning Turkish most people will be very supportive and encouraging and can really give you that push you need to actually learn Turkish.


Take a language course with a good teacher
Modern standard Turkish is based on the dialect of Istanbul. With this in mind it is important that you have a good teacher who is teaching you the correct pronunciation, grammar and accent. 


Also taking a language course is a great way to make new friends with other like-minded people who are dedicated to learning Turkish.


Try to learn at least one new Turkish word everyday
It is a good idea to do little and often rather than a lot in one go. Ten minutes every day tends to be more effective and manageable than a longer session once a week.


Use homemade flash cards and keep them in your pocket or use post it notes around your home/office as a constant reminder of the new words you have learnt


Watch Turkish television
You may not understand much of it but it will help you get used to how the language sounds and you may even pick up on the odd words and phrases. 


Turkish TV series are so popular amongst other countries that they are boosting interest in Turkish culture and language.


Don’t be afraid to make mistakes
It’s all part of the learning process; most native speakers will already appreciate you making an effort.


And finally, remember to go back to something you learnt early on. You may well be surprised at how much you have learnt.


Having a greater understanding of the Turkish language will undoubtedly open up many interesting and exciting options and a new social understanding.


 


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