IbrahimAbi

How's Your Turkish? A Discussion of Our Experiences in Learning the Turkish Language

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

Not bad... I have no problem with future and past tense. What confuses me is some of the forms of verbal nouns. Like

"Oraya park etmeme söylediler" (they told me to park there) or

"Oraya park ettiğimi söylediler" (they told me I parked there) or

"Oraya park edeceğimi söylediler" (they told me I am going to park there).

I understand it, but it still takes my brain too much time to process it, so I sometimes have trouble keeping up with what a Turk is saying. Not to mention the completely different word order.

Sometimes I can read a paragraph, or listen to one, knowing that I have been taught all of the words, and the grammar. But I get left behind. I assume eventually the synapses will re-wire themselves! And I need lots of practice. It still takes me a lot of time to read a newspaper article, and I still can't quite follow conversations on Turkish TV.

I am going back to private lessons starting tomorrow... I am determined to become fluent in this language!

How about you? And how's your Turkish, everybody?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I get by, can make myself understood in most situations, and can get the drift of a conversation. I never really had lessons, we live too far from town and they tend to be intensive courses. Being British we also have problems with the names of tenses, future perfect, past imperfect, pluperfect etc means nothing to me even in English. My wife works hard at Duolingo each day and it is helping her. The other issue we have is that most of the Turks that we meet each day do not speak correct Turkish, or in full sentences either. For example the recent 'Iskan Bariş' is also referred to as 'Imar bariş' or 'Af' by others.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've taken several courses, but I end up having the same basic conversations, and forget what I've learned. I've always done well academically but not with Turkish. Eventually the Russian and middle-eastern students get way ahead of me and the teacher starts teaching to them, while I am only able to scribble notes as quickly as possible, understanding nothing, then going over them more slowly at home. A very inefficient way for me to learn, I think.

The last course I went to, I was told I passed, then was given the book for the next level. The first part was a review of the previous course. And I quickly found that I had forgotten a lot of it already. So I took some time off to go through everything all over again hoping to get it to stick better in my brain.

So I am starting private classes again today, four hours a day, four days a week. I am watching Turkish television every day and will at least try to read the front page of a newspaper every day, with my trusty Turkish-English dictionary. I've at least gotten from it taking me 30 minutes to work through an article to 15 minutes! Same with me regarding the grammar, I never really learned what all of the grammar terms meant, even in English.

The next time somebody asks me how long I have lived in Turkey, and I tell them, and they say "you've been in Turkey for that long and you still don't speak Turkish?" I think I might punch them in the nose. :blowup:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was just going to ask you that question Ken,  and I'm not worried cause I'm too far for you to punch me in the nose... I have never lived in Turkey for longer than 2 months, and I can express myself more or less decently. However, I don't understand what anyone says to me! I used to understand my ex, but only cause he had limited and repetitive vocabulary....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In my class yesterday we went over some of that.  He explained a lot of ways that Turks say things differently than is in the books. Of course nobody pronounces perfectly every vowel and syllable... Yesterday he said something I didn't get. Parts of the pronunciation of the sentence, spoken at normal speed, were so silent that I had to kind of just know they were there from the context. Or something like "ne yapıyorsun?" means "what are you doing?" but people also use that for "how are you doing?" and they pronounce it like "napıyon?"

When I asked a friend once how his Turkish was, he said "it's pretty good, if the Turk knows how to talk to me." So I think if a Turk has studied a foreign language, they know they need to slow down and speak clearly. But a Turk who hasn't, doesn't do that. I had to have a talk with my cleaning lady a few times to explain to her that I was not deaf, because she thought her shouting was helping me to understand her better.

Thankfully it turns out that I have a real first-class teacher. I've spent a lot of time learning from books and recordings, and have taken Turkish at a university level (Turkish I and Turkish II), and I've attended  several in-classroom courses. But this teacher has education specializing in the learning of language (Linquistics? I didn't ask him specifically yet), besides his training as a teacher of Turkish to foreigners. He has also learned English, so he is very familiar from a practical standpoint about issues involved.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not to mention the constant mood music... if somebody walks across the room it requires mood music.

I had a theory that the better I understood written Turkish, that is, if I could read and understand Turkish writing, it would help me to compute the spoken language and thereby speed up my comprehension. I was completely wrong. Reading Turkish is one thing, hearing it is another. And nobody sounds like the hundreds of recordings I have listened to. While I seem to have a more advanced understanding of vocabulary and grammar, my comprehension of the spoken language is still near the beginner level. My teacher will be working with me on this. He's going to give me a few Turkish serials to watch.  He also introduced me to a rather cool learning tool.

www.lyricstraining.com

It features Turkish music (and music in other languages), based on category. It has subtitles in Turkish. It also has a "game mode" where the music plays a line, but in the subtitles it has a blank for one of the words in the line. It gives you four multiple-choice answers for what the word is. The object is to sharpen the ear for listening to spoken (or in this case, sung) Turkish. It is an app which can be downloaded for smart phones, but can also be viewed on the web at the URL above.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's been 15 years now since I came to live in Turkey, at first with very limited Turkish picked up from my husband.  Being used to the way he spoke, I found it difficult understanding the way other Turks expressed themselves.  I hesitated to answer the phone for fear I wouldn't be able to grasp what they said, & even now I have to ask them to slow down & repeat. Never did take formal lessons, but I constantly keep my dictionary nearby (now very dog-eared!).  In the early days we watched soapies (dreadful storylines, but at least they spoke slowly). The dramatic pauses between speaking gave time to figure out the meanings.  I tried to read the newspapers & gradually started understanding things.  Listening to the news is more difficult when they speak too fast. I try crosswords & have learned meanings of words in that way (some aren't even in the dictionary!).  Nowadays, I get by not too badly, but could always be better. 

I guess I'll just keep absorbing it as necessary, for as long as I'm here. :)  At least I'm not alone, hehe..... 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Meral I'm surprised also that even after so many courses of various types I've taken, I often can't understand anything people are saying. Then again I also meet Turks who have studied English for years, and worked around English-speaking people, and I sometimes can't understand their English because of mispronunciation. So at least that makes me feel better! I also wonder when people say they are "fluent" in Turkish, if they really are fluent, or if they are just saying they are fluent.

@IbrahimAbi It "works" on my computer and on my smart phone, however I am seeing that the "game" function doesn't seem to work on my computer. I am clicking on the "go to web" option when I first enter the site. Then I select the language as Turkish, then use the beginner game mode.

It plays the video to the end of the first line of the lyrics while displaying the same line in the subtitle. Then it pauses. There is a blank space in the subtitle.

In the smartphone version, which has an app to download, the app then has four multiple-choice options displaying four words... you have to select the word that corresponds to the blank space, which you heard. Then the game moves on like that to the end of the song.

But apparently it doesn't work that way in a regular internet browser. You can watch the video with the subtitles (which has a blank space for one of the words) but there is no multiple-choice section below it. So apparently the "game" mode for it doesn't work properly unless you download the app.

My teacher introduced me to another cool tool. We were on some site watching a Turkish TV show. It had English subtitles. You could instantly go back several seconds and listen again while reading the subtitles. again. You could also slow down the video so they talked slower.

I didn't get the URL for the site he was on (using a smartphone), and after I came home I found the same TV show on YouTube but there were no subtitles, apparently we were on some other site. I just sent him a message asking him to send me the URL for where this was. I am awaiting a reply.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's improving. The Turkish courses everywhere seem to be assigned official "levels," like A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2. Because I had been taking self-study courses for some time before the private lessons, I had a good grasp of the grammer and a descent vocabulary, so we went all the way from A-2 to C-1 in one course... but because I haven't had extensive conversation, my comprehension isn't up to par. So I will continue to work with LyricsTraining.com and the Turkish movies with Turkish subtitles.

My private teacher is the best I've had so far, he focuses more on my learning rather than exclusively on his teaching, which makes a big difference. Next level is the final level, C-2. He said that includes more conversation and lots of Turkish idioms. One of the reasons I have difficulty understanding is because of the idioms. I worked my way through ten minutes of a Turkish film and wrote down the parts I couldn't figure out and they were mostly idioms.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Learning Turkish isn't easy. It really is a language where you have to immerse yourself in the culture to fully understand it. I never went to classes but I am pretty fluent in Turkish now to the extent that I tend to watch films and the news in Turkish now rather than my native language of English. The way I learned was through practice. Practice, practice and lots of it and then suddenly one day it will fall into place. 

I can see you are already at an advanced stage Ken and very serious about becoming fluent. The best advice I can give is to find as many Turkish people as you can who are willing to listen and to help you develop what you already have and in no time I promise you - you will suddenly start having dreams in Turkish rather than English and then you will know that you have cracked it.

I know its a hard language to learn but I would encourage anyone living here to learn it. Even if most of your friends are ex pats you will get so much more out of your living experience in Turkey.  There is so much you miss if you don't speak Turkish.

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well done as012a2568!  Turkish may be hard to learn, but English must be even harder for foreigners, not just the pronunciation but the spelling & idioms too, so Turkish isn't so bad in comparison really!  I've got to the point where I can sort of follw the news, & also think in Turkish (a bit), but continue to learn the more I mix with Turks.  I think that's the secret.... sink or swim! :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ah, the idioms. a few weeks ago I was trying to understand a Turk. It was just normal conversation. I couldn't understand her. Then an English-speaking Turk explained that she was speaking with idioms. I was surprised that even in such small talk they are used.

Even in English they are used a lot, like Meral's post where she said "sink or swim." An idiom. We use them so often we don't even notice them. But if I was a Turk I might be thinking "what does swimming have to do with this?"

I've finished level C-1 on Friday. I have a week to review everything (which I am doing every day), and I will take my final exam on Monday. I asked what was in level C-2, and the teacher said there would be some more grammar, but that it would focus more on writing and conversation, and Turkish idioms.

I want to make a list of these idioms I learn. When I have finished the course I will publish them!

I have never taken a dance course, but it seems to me learning the language for me has been a lot like learning to dance. Yes, I can memorize the steps, which foot goes where, etc (grammar, vocabulary)... but it takes time and practice for it to come automatically and smoothly.

My teacher noted that I am trying too hard to understand him when he speaks, and probably also when I am watching Turkish TV... I should relax and just let it come (use the force, Luke!).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We also need to be careful about the idioms we use in English if we want to be understood by Turks. I stood in the pharmacy and listed to a Brit explaining that they 'feel a little under the weather'

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not sure if I am going to add anything to this topic, in fact I am more likely to be a job's comforter. My introduction to the Turkish (Türkçe) language was about 1988 when my now wife and I became an issue. On my first visit to Turkey I was introduced to her parents, to my surprise they both accepted me right away. Her father was very frustrated because he wanted to speak to me but couldn't. When we got married in Istanbul he told me I was now a part of the family and must learn Türkçe, I foolishly promised him that when I next visited Turkey I would have learned the language and we would be able to speak to eachothe when we were playing backgammon.

That was a long time ago and I still haven't been able to hold a conversation. Despite attending many language courses and recieving private tuition lessons I am still hopeless. I know several words, their meaning and correct pronunciation but I cannot group them into a usefull sentance.

A friend of mine in England used to say thet when God was handing out languages to different nations, everyone got something they could manage except the Turks who complained that they didn't get a language. God looked around on the ground and hurriedly and gathered up all the letters that had been dropped, put them in a box and told them they now had a language.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

That was a long time ago and I still haven't been able to hold a conversation. Despite attending many language courses and recieving private tuition lessons I am still hopeless.

That sounds like me. I think I just have to study harder than most people. The private courses have helped a lot, I never get left behind and can ask the teacher to stop and clarify things, and I often give him a list of questions we go over the first part of the class. I think for people like me private courses are a must... with the right teacher. And wow, it does take a lot of determination.

My Turkish friends often say "you need to go out and find Turkish people to speak with." But I don't think even that will help much, the Turks are very polite and tend not to correct mistakes! My teacher definitely does, then shows me the correct way of saying what I want to say.

I am hoping that after the next course (the final one), watching Turkish TV and reading Turkish will be easier, and a lot less like work, not to mention the conversation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have been reading some of your previous posts on this thread Ken and I have real sympathy for you. You seem to have worked so hard at this Turkish malarkey and are not that much better than I am. In my case I put it down to ageing brain cells and a cluttered mind. Because my wife is native Turkish I tend to give up now, my needs are few and if I can't make myself understood I just give up. I can always get what I want the next time we go out shopping together. I find that I can do just as well with nodding my head, raising my eyebrows, rolling my eyes and waving my hands. Another method is to let them show me everything in the shop or stall untill they show me what I want.

Turks have a much smaller vocabulary than us English speakers and less educated have bearly 30,000 words to work with. If you mispronounce an English word when speaking with an English person they can quickly compensate the slip and understand... not so with a Turk. If for instance you want a pencil/s and hold up a stedledder, they will look at it and shake their head, even though you can see a shelf full of pencils behind them. What they are saying to you is they don't have any stedledders.

After arriving in Turkey to live permanently here I applied for citizenship being eligable having married a Turk in Istanbul, after all the toing and froing chasing the paper chain I was finally summoned to Muģla to attend my interview. My wife was held back in the anti-room and I was ushered through to a large hall, after the hoşgeldin & merhaba I sat down, I was faced with five or six officials, assistant governer, chief of police the fire chief and two more. The head of the board opened the questioning, I just answered bilmiyorum to all his questions, then the police chief asked me if I was a veteran but in English, I said I was a retiree but not yet a veteran. The board fell silent the the cop said 'you're not an American then? They had read UK citizen as USA citizen. The assistant governer had had enough by this time and called for my wife, he gave her such a roasting saying 'you have been married to this man for almost 20 years and not taught him any Turkish, you had better start now' We were both waved out of the room. About three weeks later we had an email to say we had to attend the nufus to collect my kimlik.

....... Who needs Türkçe!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 18/12/2018 at 14:34, IbrahimAbi said:

How is your future perfect in Turkish Ken?

I had to smile at your post to Neil_Denizli.

When I read down your list of English to Türkçe phrases I came to...

Change the bed sheets.............. Çarşafları değiştir

I did wonder what the next line would be.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If I don't say much sometimes people take me for Turkish. The other day in a computer shop I was doing OK and the chap got what I wanted for me. There came a point when he sussed that I was not Turkish, it was at the point when I told him that I did not want a plastic bag, he said it's OK it';s free, I told him it was bad for the environment. At that point he asked my nationality!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My Turkish and Kurdish are excellent.   The Kurdish numbers are:  Yek, du, se,, penc etc etc.    Turkish #s: Bir, iki, uc, dort, bes.   etc.   Dogu, Bati, Kuzey, Guney (East/west/north/south).    The names of the colors are excellent:  Kiramasi (Red), Mavi (Blue), Siya or Kara (Black), sara (Yellow)  (Saralik= Jandice/Hepititis B), Beyaz (White).    I can type 600 more pages like this in Turkish.   It's a very easy language to learn and it has a phonetic alphabet (Can write it easily compared to Arabic).   My slang Turkish is awesome as well.  For example "Avrat" means your old lady or wife.  "Pilic" means I very hot good looking girl.   Ben yermi bes yilden beri Turkce biliyorum (I have known the Turkish language for 25 years).   I own a house in Izmir that has been paid off for about that same time.   I have my Turkish wife's family pay the taxes (Vergi) and insurance (sigorta) on it every year (Her yil).   Turkey is the most beautiful country in the world and I have lived in 10 different countries in the world.   There are a lot of close seconds but Turkey is still my number one !!!   Would love to settle down in Anamur or Alanya, the two most beautiful cities in Turkey.   Later folks and friends (Sonra gorusuruz arkadaslar!)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now