Friday, January 25, 2013

Turning Over a New Leaf with My Turkish

I'll admit, I'm not the greatest at self study.  I have always enjoyed class structure and I find that I learn a lot with the motivation of class performance behind me.  With language learning it was no exception, my formal Turkish class did a lot to push me forward in my Turkish speaking and comprehension.  Yet this past semester I was working solo and, well, I didn't do much.  I tried, but I ended up devoting most of my energy to this blog instead - no complaints from me - I love writing on this blog.  However, I was a little disappointed with my speaking ability on this last trip to Turkey.  I had hoped I would be a little more conversant, but perhaps I just need more time and practice.

So I have been thinking about how to integrate more Turkish into my everyday life without having to actually sit down and study with pen in hand.  Aaron Myers talks a lot about these types of learning strategies over at the Everyday Language Learner blog, and a lot of his guidance helped me while I searched for appropriate Turkish learning materials in Turkey.

First, I wanted something I could read in Turkish, but perhaps with an accompanying English translation.  Dual language books are hard to find, and the ones I have found online are pretty pricey.  I think I found the best and cheapest option - and available to all that fly Turkish Airlines - the free in flight magazine.  Turkish airlines is a probably the best airline I have ever flown - internationally and here in the US.  The food is tasty, the seats are comfortable, and they give lots of free comforts to their travelers.  Their magazine is also high quality with many travel articles, interviews and Turkish recipes.  Bonus for Turkish learners - everything is in both Turkish and English.

Another great dual language resource is the Turquoise Diaries Blog as the author writes everything in English and Turkish!  What a wonderful idea.  I hope to one day be able to do the same. 

Next, I wanted to have listening material that I could pop into my car and radio at home.  We ended up browsing through a media store in the Istanbul airport before our flight and found some last minute treasures.  I ended up buying a set of 9 CDs of Turkish pop music.  I'm not a big "pop" music fan, but the lyrics are usually pretty easy to understand and it's great music for driving, and I've also found, for cleaning house.

I had hoped to also find a few good Turkish movies to bring back on DVD, but I found a cheaper alternative.  Actually, H. found a great way to keep watching all the Turkish documentaries we were enjoying while on vacation.  TRT has a website where you can watch all of the TRT channels and listen to public radio.   We became a fan of the TRT BELGESEL channel for all the great shows about travel and history in Turkey, but the other channels are great for Turkish news, children's shows and series also.  Note: if you are in Turkey this will not work for you - but lucky for you, you can just turn on the TV.  For us, watching through the internet is the best possible situation, since neither of us actually own a television anymore and we refuse to pay more for cable than all the other utilities combined. 

To watch TRT live online, just follow this link:

You can also find other Turkish television shows at Dizi Izle

Well, I'm not sure that watching the occasional Turkish television, or listening to Turkish pop music and reading a few articles will really take me to the next level in Turkish, it's at least a good step forward.  I'm also trying to think of other ways to incorporate more Turkish into my daily life.  I've started going back and really studying the Turkish Word of the Day and accompanying phrase that is delivered to my inbox everyday.  I've posted some post-it notes around the house and labeled furniture to learn some basic vocabulary.   I'm also going to really push myself to converse in TURKISH with my Turkish fiance - it may sound so easy, but we've become accustomed to speaking in English and it is a bit of a challenge to switch to Turkish.

For those of you living in Turkey or studying Turkish, what helped you to improve your Turkish?  


  1. I am so amazed at your alternative strategies here - you put my efforts (almost nil) to shame. I am also more of a "better at learning with structure" person. I think the Turkish airlines mag is a super idea - and glad to be linked to this new blog! I have had less luck with music and shows, but while on the tenure track, didn't have time for much of that...

    You are really preparing yourself well for life in Turkey - will you be moving to Turkey just after your marriage - or after school finishes for you both or???

    1. It's hard to follow through with all my language learning plans - I really need to develop the habits. I'm actually signing up for some Turkish tutoring this semester to try to develop a habit of studying and to be held accountable for my improvement!

      The music so far has worked out really well and I've put a few discs in the car, which helps. I also tried to listen to some Turkish language CDs in the car - I'm through them all now and I learned some silly phrases, but H. swears that they helped me with flawless pronunciation of certain key phrases. Problem is - I fool people with my pronunciation at the beginning of conversations and then they start speaking rapid-fire Turkish with me and I'm lost. :-)

      I understand, it's hard to find time for TV (Turkish or otherwise) with so much going on and so many good blogs to read! We usually watch something on the weekend and that's about it.

      Learning the language is really important for me right now, especially since I would like to teach in Turkey and the number of English-teaching institutions are few and far between. We plan on moving when I am done with my PhD (hopefully another 2 years if all goes well)

      I hope I'm doing the right things to prepare - I'm so happy to be involved in this blogging community and to have such correspondence with like-minded people like you!! It has really helped me open my inner and outer eyes and really notice things about myself, about Turkey, and about the different cultures.


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