My wife and I visited Turkey for the first time over 5 years ago.
Not long after, we were on an airplane with a handful of suitcases, an overflow of excitement, and not a single word of Turkish. We decided to move to the beautiful city of Izmir on Turkey's western coast, known for it's laid back culture, green hills, and seaside views. I has hoping to use my background in teaching English and my wife and I's experience in photography to make a living.
We knew from day 1 that we really wanted to learn the language and culture, and thankfully we knew another foreigner in our city who was willing to help us out. He made some fliers saying something like "We want to learn Turkish. No English necessary. No experience necessary". He walked around our town door to door with those papers until a guy at a local cafe said he'd meet with us. He also gave me a huge binder full of ideas from some method called GPA.
The first day of "lesson", we showed up with a bunch of stick figure drawings in a bag. I pulled out a few and looked at him.
He looked back.
Eventually, he pointed to the picture of a guy and said "adam". I nodded. Then he pointed to the picture of a girl and he said "kadın". I nodded again. Then he said something like "skfjlkdssjfkdlajfkl?". I didn't nod this time. He pointed to the guy again and said "bu adam." I nodded again.
We met like this for a few hours everyday and slowly, I began to actually understand him. With a little more time, I even began to speak Turkish. A few months into this process, I thought to myself "I should probably get a little bit of formal training," so I enrolled in a local university class for Turkish language learning.
I was stunned by what I saw.
Even though the other students had been in country significantly longer than I had, and even though they knew the grammar points forward and backwards, it seemed like no one there could actually speak Turkish. My teacher laughed at me for speaking "street Turkish," but also complimented me for my accent, speaking fluency, and comfort with the language.
The thing is, I don't really consider myself a gifted language learner. In fact, I tend to understand new grammar and concepts slower than most of my foreign friends and it takes me longer to learn vocabulary. The reality is, the majority of students in that class are smarter than me and more naturally gifted than me. However, what I learned in that class (which I got out of as soon as possible) was that learning a language is a lot like hitting a baseball. You can study it, read about it, learn about it, know everything there is to know about it- but that doesn't mean you can go out and hit an 85 mph fastball.
"What I learned is that learning a language is a lot like hitting a baseball. You can study it, read about it, learn about it, know everything there is to know about it- but that doesn't mean you can go out and hit an 85 mph fastball. "
Learning languages requires real immersion, active engagement, and native dialogue. it requires more than studying vocabulary, reading grammar rules, and memorizing phrasebooks. This realization was the starting point in my desire to create an amazing online language program that utilized a natural learning approach. I poured myself into studying functional language learning methods like GPA (the growing participator approach), The LAMP method, cluster learning, spaced repetition and more. I'm now convinced that if you really want to learn Turkish quickly and thoroughly, immersing yourself in interactive natural speech is the way to go.
Fast forward a number of years and we are happily running the Turkish Language House.
LET US BE YOUR SECRET WEAPON FOR REAL TURKISH FLUENCY