LANGUAGE LEARNING IN TURKEY CAN BE FUN !!!

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Language learning in Turkey can be fun!

Turkish is a member of the Turkic branch of the Altaic family of languages.  Nearly 150 million people spanning from Western China to Eastern Romania speak the Turkic languages. Modern Ottoman Turkish spoken by nearly 70 million people is the official language of Turkey. It has heavy borrowings from Persian and Arabic languages, as well as some European influences. However, in recent history Turkish has been purging from itself the Arabic and Persian words, replacing them with truer Turkish words, or with western counterparts.

In 1928, the Turkish government replaced the Turkish Arabic alphabet with a Turkish Latin alphabet. This action has helped aligned and continues to push Turkey towards the west. With such a rich language, culture, and people (over 150 million people speaking some form of it), Turkish certainly is an important language to learn.

There are several ways a language learner can learn the Turkish language or any language for that matter.  These methods range from taking university courses, to following the lesser-known LAMP method. Here is a quick run down of different ways to learn any language, including the Turkish language:

            ·         Universities

University classes perhaps offer the easiest and most often followed of all the forms of language learning. It is debatable whether it actually teaches you the language fluently.

However, it might just work for you. It is appropriate for those who desire to have accountability in their learning process. Those who work well in a class structure should use this method. However, you should be aware of the down sides of taking university classes.  They focus primarily on reading and writing the language. Spoken and comprehension is often neglected in the class setting, making the student great at reading, but helpless in understanding a native speaker, or communicating with a native speaker.  In addition, class sizes are often large and impersonal, leaving the student very little one on one time. In Istanbul, two universities offer language classes.

o        Istanbul University offers a year of school for about $800. 

o        Bosporus University offers a semester of classes for about $2,400.

Istanbul University seems to be the better deal, especially where money is important. Other advantages to taking university courses are the ability to apply for a year student VISA, ability to take advantage of University facilities, ability to meet students and mingle with Turks. 

            ·         Language Schools

Language schools, similar to universities, focus on teaching language. Often language schools have smaller classes, and during the summer months, they have 4-week intensive classes. While language schools vary between each other, one that stands out is Ankara University’s language system called Tomer.  Several years ago Tomer split from Ankara University and became its own independent organization.  In Istanbul, there are several independent Tomer schools.  There is one in Taksim, and one in Kadiköy.  There are other locations as well. They have 8-week and 4-week classes.  Prices for the classes vary from $250 for the 4-week courses to $450 for the 8-week courses. Often you can get discounts. The system is similar to the universities.  You will not see as many Turks, as Tomer is often done out of a university setting. Class sizes are often smaller.  You can get a student VISA if you apply for several months of Tomer courses at one time.

·         LAMP Method

The LAMP (Language Acquisition Made Practical) method is a little known, but is a powerful method in learning languages, especially in places where language classes do not exist. It focuses on building language in relationships rather than formal language class settings. It focuses on conversational and comprehension of the language first. If you are one of those who can make themselves work on a language without the accountability of a teacher or class, this method is for you. In LAMP, the learner is in fact the language teacher. The learner works with native language speakers, learning form, function, and pronunciation of the language.  This is not a good way to learn a language for those who cannot make themselves focus on the task of language learning.

·         Language Partner

One of the more interesting and fun ways to learn a language is to find a language partner. A language partner is often a native speaker that you pay to help you two or three hours a day. On average 5 million Liras ($3), an hour is a fair wage (August 2002 prices). Be sure to select a language partner you work well with, and your average Turk agrees they have a good Turkish accent.  You do not want to end up speaking a dialect. In addition, it is important that you distinguish between a language helper and a language teacher. Your language partner is not a teacher (Teachers may charge as much as $15 an hour or more). They do not create the lesson plans, the learner does. You use them as you would a book. You can record their pronunciation on tape so you can practice later at home, go through a language book with them as you to help you follow a lesson plan, or you can have your language partner travel throughout the city with you explaining cultural antidotes. You can do many things with a language partner. You can try out several things including getting a book to use with your language partner. There are many books out there. The Language Partner method is similar to the LAMP method, however you may use language books to supplement your learning and to help you create lesson plans. Whereas the LAMP method assumes these tools are unavailable.

All of these ways of learning a language are good in their own way. Often they over lap and the learner can use more than one style to learn the language fluently both grammatically and conversationally. It is important for the language learner to know how they learn, and if their goal is to learn a language grammatically correct, conversationally correct, or both.

About the Writer

Mark Stephan is in full-time language learning in Istanbul, Turkey. Having studied almost a dozen languages, Mark is using the above-mentioned Language School system, the University system, Language Partner system, and LAMP method together in different amounts to learn the Turkish language . If you have any questıons about the Turkısh language or learnıng languages, feel free to contact me vıa emaıl.

Mark Stephan

 

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