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If you are new to Turkish, you may be a bit surprised and even intimidated by its form and structure that are very different from English or the Romance languages. But once you get its logic, you will love how well-structured and rational this language is! One tricky thing about Turkish though is that even though its letters may look the same as English (with cute little dots on top of some of them), their pronunciation is VERY different. This is why it's really important that you learn how the words sound before you see them on paper and let your brain trick you into pronouncing them the "English" way. Start by listening to spoken Turkish and learning simple every-day vocabulary in context. Don't worry too much about proper grammar yet (it will come later!), but get a feel of how the language sounds and how the basic phrases are used in realistic conversations. Resources below will be a good place to start - pick two or three of them (your learning will progress much faster if you tackle Turkish from several different angles rather than just one), and try to spend at least an hour a day working on them! Many of these tools can be used on the go, making it easier for you to fit learning Turkish into your schedule. 

Audio tools

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Pimsleur is the best tool for beginner language learners I found so far (especially for a language like Turkish where the options are quite limited compared to Spanish or French). The Pimsleur method is based on 30-minute audio lessons (best done daily) that get the learner to listen to simple conversations and repeat acquired phrases at specific intervals after being prompted by the instructor. Without even noticing, you are learning and retaining full sentences that you can use pretty much from Day 1. Instead of simply memorizing words and phrases, you become truly engaged in the lessons and can never be a passive listener. By regularly repeating what you are hearing (before even seeing how the words are written), you also learn proper pronunciation (a huge plus!). Quizzes and short exercises at the end of each lesson help you visualize the material learned and practice it. Their mobile app works great on the go, and you can easily do your daily lesson when exercising, doing housework, taking a walk, or traveling to the office. I've found this to be an excellent app to start conversing in a language very fast, and a great first step in your language-learning journey. Try if this tool is right for you through a 7-day free trial! 

 

TurkishClass101 (available through a mobile app Innovative 101) is one of the more comprehensive online options for Turkish learners that I've come across. It offers short video and audio lessons organized in "pathways" that are easy to follow and progressively guide the learner through different aspects of vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation. The lessons are mostly 5-10 minutes in length (easy to complete on a short break or during daily commute), and offer real, applicable language that you will be able to use in your daily life. Besides audio and video lessons (quite entertaining and engaging), this resource offers flashcards, quizzes, vocabulary lists, and various pathways to take the learner to the desired level. It's also good at breaking down grammar, ensuring that the learner gets a comprehensive overview of the language (instead of memorizing long vocabulary lists). The lessons are narrated by native Turkish speakers and can be played at varying speeds, giving you an extra bonus of hearing different accents and slowing down the dialogues if you find the narrators to speak too fast! And the monthly subscription fees are very affordable. 

Learn Turkish with podcasts

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Podcasts are another great way to learn and improve a language. Their main advantage is that you can listen to them on the go - when you are doing chores around the house, exercising, driving or going to work. Some of them are really entertaining! And you get to hear real people having actual conversations on different topics, training your ear to a variety of accents and introducing you to vocabulary on many different topics. I usually listen to podcasts on Castbox.fm (a free podcast player that has a good mobile app), but you can listen to podcasts on many other platforms (e.g. iTunes, Spotify, etc.)

My favorite Turkish podcasts for beginners are Let's Learn Turkish and TurkishClass101 (mentioned above). Both are really good for beginners and have short episodes that are easy to go through. Turkish Tea Time is another fun choice for beginner learners. This one goes quite slowly, but the explanations of the pronunciation and use of words are excellent (and the presenters make lots of jokes that will help you remembering the words you learn). All three start from the very basics (hellos, alphabet, basic introductions), and get progressively more advanced. 

Master Turkish pronunciation

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The way Turkish sounds is one of the loveliest things about this language, but imitating its sounds for a Westerner can be really tricky (and will make your jaw and lip muscles hurt!). Don't get discouraged though - there are a few really good resources on the web (many of them - free) that help you listen to authentic Turkish pronunciation and practice it. 

 

Forvo is a genius site where you can hear pretty much any word pronounced in Turkish by a native speaker. It also has a list of essential phrases (great for beginners!) with pronunciation links. TurkishClass101 mentioned above also has a great comprehensive guide to Turkish pronunciation. 

 

Listening to the words and phrases read by native speakers early on will help you train your ear and vocal cords to Turkish sounds. Listening to Turkish music and watching TV series in Turkish (there are quite a few on Amazon Prime or Netflix) will also slowly accustom you to hearing and understanding Turkish, and will improve how you sound when you speak Turkish!

Recommended books for learning Turkish

As much as the new technologies are fun for learning a language, good old traditional books are still a necessary and valuable resource for any language learner. If you want to solidify your knowledge and progress, you should have: 

  • A good  grammar book (I recommend G. L. Lewis' "Turkish Grammar" (by far the most comprehensive Turkish grammar ever published in English)

  • A good phrasebook ("Lonely Planet Turkish Phrasebook & Dictionary" by Arzu Kurklu is great)

  • Frequency Dictionary showing the most frequently used words in Turkish, so you can focus on learning the words that will be most useful to you ("A Frequency Dictionary of Turkish"). It provides a list of core vocabulary for learners of Turkish as a second or foreign language and gives the most updated, reliable frequency guidelines for common vocabulary in spoken and written Turkish. Each of the 5000 entries are supported by detailed information including the English equivalent, an illustrative example with English translation and usage statistics. 

  • Fiction in Turkish: you can start from "Short Stories in Turkish for Beginners" from Olly Richards mentioned above. 

My favorite place to get Turkish books is BookDepository.com - ​an excellent online bookstore that has a great selection and free shipping worldwide! 

Recommended mobile apps

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While there are dozens of mobile apps available for language learners (and I've tried many of them in search of the most user-friendly and effective), my favorites are still Busuu and Memrise.

 

Memrise is my preferred app for expanding vocabulary in the early stages of learning a language. They use the spaced repetition method to get you to repeat words before you are likely to forget them. Their app feels like a game, as you are prompted to choose the right answer from multiple choices, translate words from English to Turkish and back, and do speed rounds of vocab tests. You also compete with other users for top scores (making it easier to stick with the app and encouraging you to do more every day). Memrise has a free version, but even their annual subscription is very affordable (if you get the right deal, it can be as low as US$ 30). 

Busuu is a good app for learning Turkish grammar in addition to useful vocab. The lessons are structured around levels (From A1 to B2) and a daily lesson can take as little as 5 minutes. Another cool feature is the opportunity to have your exercises checked and corrected by native speakers. It can be intimidating in the beginning, but once you get over the initial shyness, it's quite a great feature. 

 

Recommended resources for intermediate learners

Glossika is a fun and really effective tool to absorb Turkish patterns and speak Turkish naturally without memorization. It uses full sentence practice in context, meaning that your vocabulary, pronunciation, and grammar acquisition is more natural as you are working with full sentences rather than individual words. This tool is perfectly adapted to intermediate learners, when you have a grasp on the basic grammar and sentence structure. 

Beelinguapp - This fun app helps you learn Languages with Audiobooks and Music. The app (available for iPhone and Android) shows the exact same text in two languages, side by side (and the second language doesn't have to be English!). At the same time, it is an audiobook, and with its unique karaoke reading, you follow the audio in the text on both sides. The texts go from fairy tales and news, to science papers and novels; and new ones are added often. You can listen to a native speaker narrate at your preferred speed (even with your phone locked or while offline) and take tests to assess your comprehension. This is definitely one of the more fun apps for intermediate learners, and it makes learning entertaining as you are reading and hearing real stories and songs.

 

Recommended resourcs for advanced learners

Coming soon! 

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Sat on the Rocks
Meditation by the Sea
Leaf
Happy Hiking
Fall Foliage
Bridge Over River