5 Tips to Learn Turkish

Giulia Bei - Italy - İstanbul University - History of Art
There is a very interesting saying in my mother tongue, Italian. If someone does not understand you even though you are speaking very clearly and simply, you say “Che parlo turco?”, or “Am I speaking Turkish?” to express our surprise at not being able to understand each other. Based on this, you can understand how difficult Turkish is perceived as a language in Italy. This perception certainly affected me and gave me pause when I first thought ‘I want to learn Turkish’ and I decided against it. Because at that time, Turkish was such a difficult language in my mind that even if I were to learn the language, it wouldn’t go beyond being able to ask for bread at a market. It turns out, it really is possible to learn Turkish with the right motivation and approach! I would like to share 5 tips that will give you the motivation to learn the language based on my own experience:

1) Make Turkish a part of your life.
You may be studying at TÖMER, or you may be learning Turkish by yourself with the idea of studying in Turkey in the future. No matter what you do, don’t just study Turkish in class. Continue to learn after class. Buy a book and keep it with you at all times. As you come across new words, write them down. Consider it not as an effort but as an adventure in language learning.

2) Experience Turkish culture.
Try to keep your interest and motivation in Turkish high by learning about Turkish culture. Don’t forget that culture is not just about what is written about in books: it is music, art, cinema, folk dances, traditional crafts, cuisine, literature... It is everything.

3) Learn to express yourself in a simple manner.
We all feel comfortable speaking in our native language. The problem is that sometimes we also continue to seek this comfort in a foreign language that we have just started to learn. As a result, we sometimes avoid expressing our thoughts when we cannot form sentences to express our thoughts exactly. To avoid this, thoroughly consider what you really mean in your head and think about how you can say it in the simplest way, with the words and language you already know. You can be sure that most of the time the thought we want to express is easy, we complicate it ourselves.

4) Expose yourself to Turkish as much as possible.
The grammar you learn in lessons, the words learned from texts are just a part of learning the language. Because learning a new language means gaining a new way of thinking. For this, exposing yourself to Turkish in your day to day life is very beneficial. In practice, you can try: Watching Turkish TV series/movies with Turkish subtitles, setting your phone's language to Turkish, making Turkish friends or speaking Turkish as much as possible with your Turkish course friends. The fact that your friends are foreign is not very important at this point, the important thing is to gain fluency, that is, to be able to talk without overthinking.

5) Give yourself time and accept the mistakes you will make.
The most important thing in all this is to be patient and not get frustrated with yourself if you do not achieve the desired result immediately. Especially if your native language is very different from the language family to which Turkish belongs, it is very normal for you to have difficulty learning it at first. Always be proud of your progress, no matter how small! Also try to normalize making mistakes when writing and talking. Because in this life you learn by making mistakes.