Well, you may know that Turkish hospitality is amazing but will find that you are made even more welcome if you do try to speak just a few words of Turkish. So have a go …
Even learning to pronounce words properly, which isn’t too difficult, will mean you can at least ask the way to somewhere. If you use English pronunciation on Turkish words, you will simply not be understood 95 % of the time. And I didn’t just make that number up; it’s from extensive academic research of the topic …
There are some other relative easy things about the language too. It’s very regular and verb conjugations are every logical.
But the tricky things (for us) are that’s it’s none European and so the word order and syntax is totally different to English.
You can get a long way on a bit of vocab and basic requests. If you are planning to go into any of the more remote parts you should give it a try.
There’s no way I’m going to even try to teach anyone this tricky language that’s taken me a few years to get to even basic grips with but here are a few tips which I think you can probably apply to any new language.
1. Read every word aloud to yourself, slowly at first and repeat ad nauseam. Then do this a lot more.
2. Get a teacher as soon as you can (sağol Betoş). Read aloud to them during every lesson. http://easyturkishforbeginners.wordpress.com/one-to-one-lessons
3. Learning new vocab is dreary and as soon as you can find a dual language reader the better. Even if you are looking up every other word and it takes for ever to read a page, the words will sink in this way. Flash cards suck. I found the FONO books very useful. Read it to yourself aloud, again and again.
4. Get a “Teach Yourself Turkish” book. The Pollard one is very useful and not overly grammatical in style.
So you can follow it even if you are not a linguist – like me. Play the recordings and repeat them aloud to yourself.
5. There are plenty of Apps out there. I like TR Pretati and the thinkdiff Turkish Dictionary. I used Accelastudy when I was a beginner. Repeat everything out aloud.
6. I have found the free versions LiveMocha and Busuu very useful and subscribe to the latter one. You can do plenty of speaking practice on these and you will assessed for free by native speakers. How good is that!
7. The language exchange websites have been a bit disappointing. I have managed to exchange emails and chat (on Skype) to a few native speakers but you often run out of things to say. It’s better to have some structure to this but it’s hard to find a student who is prepared to consistently work at it. When you do, your speaking will really improve (sağ ol, Özlem).
8. Do something every day – build it into your daily routine – even if it is only for 10 minutes. You need need a structured approach as well though.
9. You’ll make the fastest progress if you are able to immerse yourself in the country and avoid speaking English – though of course this is not very practical for most learners to do.
I’d been learning the language for a few years and thought I was progressing well as I could read simple passages. But I’d neglected speaking practice. As ultimately this is what most learners want. Hence I’ve laboured this point here. Speak it at every opportunity you have.