The Most Useful Tips to Learn Turkish
If you like watching soap operas, you probably want to learn Spanish or Turkish. Yes, Turkey is another country that’s famous for its fascinating TV shows. As a Turkish woman, I’ve met people who want to learn Turkish because of our series. The good news is: You can do it!
In many ways, learning Turkish is similar to learning other languages. As a result, you can use these suggestions for any language you want to learn. Today, we will discuss some of the best strategies for learning Turkish. I must warn you, I will not talk about having flawless grammar. I work as a copywriter and a social media manager, and in my experience, only the professionals know the specialized grammar rules. Relax, Turkish can look different, but every language is easy to learn if you enjoy it. If you keep reading this, I know you can do it.
Your first step must be to stop thinking about everything in English, Spanish, or what your mother tongue is. I will explain the differences more in the next section, but understanding Turkish will be much harder if you try to find similarities. I consider this is the most common mistake in learning a language. Instead of this, embrace the differences.
General Information About the Turkish Language
First, say hello to the new letters like ı, ü, ö, ç, ğ, ş and say goodbye to x,w, and q. I will add a link to the Turkish alphabet here so you can learn how you pronounce them. We have 29 letters, including eight vowels and 21 consonants. Our grammar is quite different than English. For example, our verbs are always at the end of the sentence. Also, we don’t have the verb “to be.” We use suffixes for having the meaning of it. Let me give you an example to make you understand better.
For example, I am a writer. To say this in Turkish, I would say “Ben bir yazarım.” In this sentence, “ben” means “I,” “a” means “bir,” and “writer” means “yazar.” You can also see that the word “am” is the “-ım” suffix at the end of yazar. If I wanted to say, “you are a reader (sen bir okursun),” you can guess that “you" means “sen,” “a” means “bir,” “reader” means “okur,” and “are” is the suffix “-sun” in this example. It likely looks too hard now, but you will get used to it. In my example, I made a verbatim translation. In Turkish, we usually won’t even write or say the word “a” (bir) in these kinds of sentences. You see, even one sentence can have so many differences.
Turkish is a Ural Altaic language, just like Korean, Japanese, Mongolian, and more. Linguists believe that Turkish has had several periods of its life from the beginning to the present day.
According to some researchers, the roots of the oldest version of Turkish were seen 300 years before Christ. Before Islam, Gokturks and Uighurs had the most famous early-Turkish literature, such as Orkhon Script from 8 AD.
Today, almost 220 million people speak some languages from the Turki family. In Turkey and Northern Cyprus, Turkish is the official language, and 83 million people speak it as their mother tongue. This makes Turkish the 20th most common language in the world. For example, you can easily travel to North Macedonia if you know Turkish. When I visited North Macedonia, I felt like I am home. It was partly related to my grandmother’s family who immigrated from North Macedonia, but the main reason was that so many people speak Turkish perfectly.
Now you know the primary points about Turkish. You can study the grammar and the alphabet, and when you learn the basics of it, you can easily improve your Turkish learning process with my suggestions.
1. Watching Turkish TV Series Help a Lot
If you like soap operas, you can find so many Turkish TV series! Our shows are incredibly famous in some countries. I remember that I felt surprised when my foreign friend talked about some Turkish series. Even I didn’t watch some of the ones he described! They are a great way to immerse yourself because our shows are so long, like 90-120 minutes per episode. Can you imagine how many Turkish expressions you will hear during this time? Here are the best TV series for you to improve your Turkish listening skill:
I want to start with a sitcom because I like sitcoms the most. Avrupa Yakası is one of the best Turkish sitcoms ever. You can see our family structures while having a good laugh. In Turkey, almost everyone has different lifestyles, and Avrupa Yakası presents this diversity successfully. It is a great show to learn about Turkish people and Turkish language, and laugh a lot. I am not sure if you can watch it with English or Spanish subtitles, but it’s worth trying.
Aşk-ı Memnu is another very famous series, and millions of people have seen it, both in and out of Turkey. I remember the times I read the novel, maybe 15 years ago. It is an old story from 1901. The family structure is so different than now, but I remember the subject impressed me a lot. It’s about a young woman who is married to an old man. They live with his children from his first marriage, and a relative in the same mansion. It is a forbidden love story that makes you think so many things at the same time. Even if the book is too old, everything happens in the current time in the series. I believe you can add English or Spanish subtitles easily.
Muhteşem Yüzyıl is an extremely popular Turkish series. It’s about Suleyman the Magnificent, one of the best emperors of the Ottoman, and the woman he fell madly in love with, Hürrem Sultan. It is an interesting love story. You can see when a man loves a woman, he can do so many things for her. I remember I read one of the poems of Suleyman the Magnificent, dedicating to Hürrem Sultan. It is incredibly romantic, even at present. The only negative part of this series is that all of the characters use old words and expressions from time to time. I believe that you will still enjoy watching the series, and you’ll learn a lot. To sum up, the series shows so many historical events based on reality, and of course some fictional ones too. The good news is that you probably have the option to use English or Spanish subtitles.
I also want to recommend some Netflix Turkey content that you can easily watch with any subtitles: The Gift, Love 101, Rise of Empires: Ottoman, The Protector, and 50m2. I only watched The Gift, and if you love mystical stories, it is a good choice.
2. Listening Turkish Songs is Another Immersion Technique that Can Work
You may already know Tarkan, our most famous singer ever. We love him and are so proud of him. I love him as a singer, but also as a human. He has a very kind and generous heart that I respect a lot. If you have not listened his best songs, you can listen to these: Ölürüm Sana, Şımarık, Kuzu Kuzu, Salına Salına Sinsice, and Gül Döktüm Yollarına. All of them are great.
I also recommend you to listen to Teoman’s songs. His accent is flawless, just like Tarkan, so these suggestions are perfect to get familiar with Turkish. Kupa Kızı ve Sinek Valesi, Gönülçelen, Senden Önce Senden Sonra, Ruhun Sarışın, and İki Yabancı are my favorites. After you improve your listening skill, you can keep listening to them or give chances to other famous artists like Yaşar, Sertab Erener, Levent Yüksel, etc.
If you want to understand the meaning of the lyrics, you may Google it, and you can read some good translations for some of them. Unfortunately, Google Translate can't help you a lot with that. Our sentences have connotations and idioms that are too hard to guess. That is why immersion technique is essential for improving, right?
3. Plan a Trip to Turkey, and See that Everyone Will Support Your Learning Process!
I have visited six countries, and I love all of their cultures with all my heart. Every culture has some unique traditions and features that fascinate me. But some of them were more significant. I can talk about so many unique parts of Turkish culture, and I wrote about it. As you can read in my last piece, hospitality is our most important part. We love our guests a lot! As a tourist, you can experience that so many people will try to help you with anything. They can talk to you for hours if you tell them that you want to practice your Turkish. We adore the foreigners who speak Turkish!
Here are some places where you can come and fall in love with Turkey. If you want a summer holiday full of beaches, Ölüdeniz, Antalya is one of the best seas you can ever see. If you want to be filled with history, İstanbul is the best choice, and İzmir, my hometown, has history and beaches. Do you want to take a deep breath and enjoy seeing forests everywhere? Then go to the tens of uplands in the Black Sea Region and feel like a drunk with the highest oxygen. Wherever you visit, you can tell someone that you want to practice your Turkish speaking skill. Then, be ready to be pampered. We will be ready to talk to you, even if you are just a beginner.
You may hear that Turkish is too hard, but don’t let the negativity affects your perception. I saw lots of foreign people that speak Turkish so well. One of them was my taekwondo tutor. As a Korean man, he married a Turkish woman years ago, and after a couple of years, he started to speak flawless Turkish. He is just an example. Thousands of people do it, so can you!
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