Turkish Culture, Language
This is a guest post by my friend Ozge Seckin Polat who is an EFL instructor at university in Istanbul and currently located in Arizona. She has M.A. in Teaching Turkish as a Foreign Language (TAFL) and specializes in that field. You can follow her colorful blog here and Twitter account right here.
The word “globalization”, defined as the removal of borders among countries, has led people from different nations to communicate with each other. As a result of this touch, they have begun to show an interest in each other’s languges and cultures. Moreover, learning at least one foreign language has gained importance. For instance, the European Union adopting the concepts of “multilingualism and multiculturalism” encourages its citizens to learn new languages.
Turkish is one of these languages which has been learnt popularly in recent decades -though it dates back to ancient times-. In Turkey and also in other countries, it is taught at universities or some private courses for different reasons. For example, in Turkey the students are generally from Europe and neighbouring countries. They come to Turkey for their higher education, and before starting their departments they learn Turkish in prep classes at their universities. Moreover, some learners come to live in Turkey for marriage, bussiness etc. and this becomes their reason to learn it.
Another geography that Turkish is actively taught in as a foreign languge is the United States. Being quite far from the country where it is spoken, specifically I mean Arizona, have you ever wondered why people learn Turkish there? This week, having a wonderful experience of teaching Turkish at the University of Arizona, I asked the students about their reasons for learning Turkish as part of a research I’m currently studying on. Firstly, the most important factor is the department of Middle Eastern Studies. Most of the students in the Turkish classroom are the member of this department and because of their future studies they want to focus on, they need to visit Turkey, do research there, and on account of that they learn Turkish. One of the students whose father is Turkmen wants to learn it beause many people in the family speak the language. On the other hand, one is learning it since the government is hiring Turkish speaking diplomats. Apart from these, there are a few students who are personally interested in Turkish culture without any reasons in terms of research or a job opportunity.
As an individual speaking Turkish natively, and also as a researcher of Turkish as a foreign language, I got really excited by the results, and when I turn back to my job as an English instructor in Turkey, I have some good news for my students who have some difficulties in learning English and who are always saying “offf hocam yaa! Why do we have to learn their language and why aren’ t they learning ours??”