Immersion is the best way to learn Turkish
Immersion is without question the best way to learn Turkish. The true immersion experience means performing all, or at least most, of your daily activities in Turkish instead of your native language. Typically this can only be done if you're actually living in Turkey.
Immersion isn't easy. It demands that you push yourself to your language learning limits and constantly live outside your comfort zone, but it's also for these reasons that immersion is so effective.
When done right immersion can be the most efficient and effective way to learn Turkish.
Unfortunately though, most of us don't have the luxury of living in Turkey for several months just to learn Turkish. So does that mean that we're out of luck?
While you may not be able to travel to Turkey right away, you can design your own Turkish learning program. With the advent of the internet there are more opportunities and tools to learn a foreign language than ever before.
What you'll learn in this post:
Polyglot Benny Lewis shares his thoughts on immersion without traveling. You can check out more about his method for learning languages here.
While it may have not been true 15 or 20 years ago, there are some viable options for learning the Turkish language without traveling. Which option is better for you will depend on your level and learning needs.
In this article we'll outline the needs at each stage of learning Turkish, and we'll recommend some practical resources to help you learn the language no matter where you are on your journey.
We should probably talk a little about inputs and outputs.
Inputs & Outputs (why they matter)
There are four aspects of language learning: reading, listening, writing, and speaking.
Four Parts of Learning Turkish
Of these four options two are inputs: reading and writing; and two are outputs: writing and speaking. You will need to develop all four skills to become fluent in Turkish.
But you'll need a different amount of practice for each depending on your level.
When starting out in the language you'll need to work a lot more with inputs rather than outputs. This is because it's difficult to start speaking and writing Turkish if you haven't learned any of the language yet.
This doesn't mean that you shouldn't speak or write when you're a beginner. On the contrary. we recommend you start doing both right away, even if you can only form small phrases. It's just that at this level the inputs should have most of your attention.
Turkish is far from the most popular language for native English speakers to learn. As a result there are less options than there are for other more popular languages. Even so, as a beginner you do have some good tools to work with.
The important thing at this level is that you're learning the basics of grammar and vocabulary. The courses we recommend here reflect that.
3 Turkish resources for beginners
5+ minutes a day
Duolingo is the best known language app, and for good reason. It's proven to be an affective way to learn basic grammar and vocabulary in a game like setting. Their Turkish course features grammar explanations before each lessons. Best of all its free!
From $4+ per month
15+ minutes a day
Turkishclass101 uses primarily audio lessons in a podcast format. It has flashcards, vocabulary, and word sheets. The podcast is a great way to learn grammar, vocabulary, and work on pronunciation.
It's also an excellent way to develop listening and reading skills (podcast transcripts are available).
From $6.95+ per month
15+ minutes a day
Babbel features lessons in a quiz based format. Lessons are separated by course categories which include things like difficulty level and specific aspects of grammar.
Babbel works well as a supplement for your daily Turkish learning, and it's good for learning the foundations of the language.
After the beginner phase you will want to increase the amount of outputs in your regular language learning. By this point you should start to see your vocabulary and ability in the language grow, so you want to start practicing everything you've learned.
Listening and reading will still make up the majority of your practice. Make sure you regularly increase the difficulty of the materials you use to listen and read. You don't want to get complacent. There's still a lot of Turkish to be learned.
It's critical that you start to practice having conversations with real Turkish speakers at the intermediate level.
While your conversational skills probably won't afford you the ability to jump into just any conversation with any person; you should be able to hold a conversation with a trained teacher or someone who's had experience working with students of Turkish.
If you live in or near a major city it's likely that you could find a native Turkish teacher or tutor. If you can't though don't worry. There are plenty of suitable online options for find a teacher too.
Turkish resources for intermediate learners
30 minutes a day
Pimlseur is a completely audio based course. It's centered around a call-recall-response method that helps you practice responding in Turkish.
Pimsleur strikes a great balance between inputs and outputs (it's the only audio course I know of that does this). It's also a great tool for improving your Turkish pronunciation.
$6+ per hour (varies between teachers)
30 minute or 1 hour lessons
An intro video from one of Italki's Turkish teachers.
Italki is an online market place that connects language learners with language teachers for one-on-one language classes via video or audio chat.
You can connect with language speakers from around the world and practice your speaking skills. Italki is one of the only sites out there that provides lessons with professional native Turkish teachers.
*with a purchase of $20 or more. After your first purchased lesson a credit of $10 will be added to your account
At this level of Turkish everything really starts to get fun. At the advanced level the emphasis is much more on rounding out your abilities. You want to practice Turkish every chance you get with native speakers, media, tv & movies, and anything else in Turkish you can get your hands on.
This us where you finally find your feet in the language and are free to run with it. The danger of plateaus and complacency is highest at this level. Make sure that you keep challenging yourself to speak better and to speak about an array of difficult topics.
While you now have the ability to hold your own in most conversations with native speakers it may still be beneficial to have an occasional lesson with a professional teacher.
Your teacher can pinpoint the areas you need to work on. They can also help with the trickier parts of the language like idioms, common figures of speech, and slang.
3 Turkish resources for advanced leaners
Write posts in Turkish and post them to Lang-8 to get feedback from native speakers. It's one of the best ways to practice your writing, and it's free! This site is simple to use but very effective.
Speaky is a free online language exchange where you can meet and practice with language learners from over 180 countries. Practice with Turkish speakers over video, audio, or text chat. Just remember to help them with their English too!
$12+ per hour (varies between teacher)
30 minute or 1 hour lessons
A Turkish teacher from Verbling
Verbling is a site similar to Italkli. While it doesn't have the selection of Turkish teachers Italki has, Verbling favors teachers with experience and certification, so their overall quality of teachers is a little higher.
If you haven't figured it out by now, there are a lot of options for those interested in learning Turkish. Which ones are right for you will depend on your level and specific needs in the language.
Remember that more any course or app, the greatest language learning asset you can have is a love for the language. Don't let the stress of trying to find the "perfect course" keep you from diving in and savoring the language learning experience.