How I’m Learning Turkish

Since October 2018, I’ve been learning Turkish at Hacettepe University TOMER which I’m glad I got the opportunity to join. In this blogpost, I’m talking about the things I do other than attending my classes at TOMER and doing my homework to learn the language better.

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  1. Speaking:
  • Practicing Turkish speaking is something easy to do when you live in Turkey, especially since the majority of Turks does not speak English. Being in Turkey makes it possible to make conversation everywhere, you can ask where the nearest supermarket is (even if you actually know where it is), practice pronouncing the names of fruits you’ve just learned while at the bazaar, and just speak to everyone around you..
  • Last semester, I attended a speaking club managed by the International Students Club at Hacettepe a few times, and a few weeks ago I started attending a speaking club at TÖMER three times a week.

2. Listening:

I started by downloading short children movies and videos (like Calliou). I also watch Turkish movies and series, at first I used to watch them with Arabic subtitles, but now without any.
In addition, I also listen to documentaries, politicians’ speeches and TEDx talks which I sometimes find with Turkish subtitles on Youtube.
In addition to some Turkish songs.

2. Reading:

  • Books: At first I used to practice with children book, some I had with Arabic translation, but then they got too easy.

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I started by reading Frans Kafka’s letters to Milena. It was so hard for me I couldn’t understand much without a dictionary. I would open both my Arabic and Turkish copies of the book, Google Translate and start reading. It was, of course, very hard for me because I had just finished the beginner level, nor did I know much grammar rules nor much vocabulary.

I decided to take a break from that book and begin with something easier that I would actually enjoy reading. I bought Diary of A Wimpy Kid (Turkish version) which I enjoyed as a kid (English version). This I read in the bus, metro, before sleeping without the need to check the meaning of every other word. Some words I do not understand, I would highlight them to check their meanings later, and I would write down phrases that I myself could use while speaking and writing.

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  • I really read anything and everything. Newspapers, brochures, articles… Sometimes I would read quickly highlighting words and phrases I do not understand to check later (like when I read on buses), but sometimes I would sit on my desk and study the article with GoogleTranslate near by.

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  • I follow a few on Instagram accounts like this, this and this.

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  • I used to read short poems from this list on the bus. They are also translated to English.
  • On this agenda that I don’t use as an agenda, I write down random sentences that have caught my attention. I later read them.

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3. Writing:

I’m a person who likes to write. In Turkish, I write about anything and everything. Sometime diary entries, sometimes movie and book reviews, sometimes I describe cities I go to and people I meet, I sometimes write speeches (i.e: speech given by a general to his army, speech given by a politician before the elections…), sometimes letters (i.e: letter from a sick man to his mother, letter from Kafka to Milena, letter from a young girl to a friend, letter from a customer to Steve Jobs…) and sometimes I write essays, about anything from winter to school uniforms to mosques, literally whatever comes to my mind. Generally no one corrects what I write, but someone a native (teacher, someone from HelloTalk or a friend) would correct it.

4. Vocabulary:

I keep a wordbook where I write new words and phrases and their meaning.

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At first I used to make simple flashcards to learn basic vocabulary and phrases.

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Later on as I started level A2 and through B1, my flashcards looked more like this:

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  • I used to use Tinycards which I find fun and helpful.
  • I recently bought this

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Applications I use:

Things I will work on doing inshallah:

  • Write down a list of a few words everyday and try to use them in conversation. I read about someone who was learning Japanese, whenever he learned a new word, he tries to fit it into his next speech with a native.
  • I still speak in Arabic and English with some Arabs and friends. I should quit this.
  • I been looking for a word-search book for weeks but I can’t find one. I hope I will soon, it will definitely help with learning new words, plus I love word-searches.

This is what I’m doing to learn Turkish, but I think the best way to learn any language is to practice practice practice. I think what’s helping me most to learn Turkish is that I live in Turkey, love the language and of course, Hacettepe TÖMER.

While some friends who have previously learned Turkish or are learning it did not like the language, Turkish is a language I find beautiful and majestic. I’m still learning the language, I am yet not very comfortable speaking in Turkish, but I know I’m getting better and hope I’ll be good enough soon.


If you have any other tips or recommendations I would love to hear from you in the comments below 🙂

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