IbrahimAbi

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

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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?

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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.

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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:

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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....

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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.

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Sounds great Ken, sounds like you have found a good one. We need to do more, too. I would like to watch more Turkish TV but I cannot stand the overacting.

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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.

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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..... 

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@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.

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