Resources for Learning Turkish
In the United States, Turkish is among the many Less-Commonly Taught Languages. As a result, it can often be difficult to find adequate resources for those attempting to study the language. I figured I would share a list of resources that I have found useful in my studies.
I have only used one textbook series thus far, so I can only speak to it in terms of quality. However, I’ll mention a few others for reference.
Elementary Turkish by Kurtuluş Öztopçu - This is one of the only English-language textbooks for Turkish out there, and from my experience it has been a worth-while purchase. In terms of content and style, it’s nothing to compare with the offerings from the educational publishing giants: no fancy, staged-looking stock photos on glossy paper or literary excerpts. But that is not to say that this is not a quality textbook: the grammar explanations are concise and understandable, and there are a good number of exercises for each unit. Just the fact that there are vocabulary lists and that grammatical concepts are scaled from least to most complex makes this a learner-friendly series, with a familiar format that doesn’t take much getting used to. However, there are a good number of partner or small-group activities, which are not much use to independent learners.
Elementary Turkish by Lewis Thomas - This is practically the only other option out there for English speakers looking to learn Turkish. I had the opportunity to take a peek in the book (which is a very thin paper-back volume) and it is pretty quickly noticeable that the information inside is dated. Still, it is a less-expensive resource and much of the information should still be usable. That said, it should be noted that this is not a textbook in the sense that most students will be familiar with,rather more of a grammar book.
- Bonus: Kurtuluş Öztopçu also publishes an Elementary Azerbaijani.
Learn Turkish Online by Panagiotis Georgalas is home to the world’s tackiest rainbow-dolphin-Bosporus graphic, but also an incredible array of helpful online activities with answer-checking and explanations. This is a great tool for putting your understanding of grammatical concepts to the test, and even includes information on Turkish culture. Definitely something worth taking a look at.
The Global Language Online Support System is a resource provided by the Defense Language Institute, which teaches a select few army personnel languages critical to the interests of the US. Take that as you will, the site is an invaluable resource for Less-Commonly Taught Languages. There are listening and reading comprehension exercises for most levels, and even some specialized language exercises, for example regarding security or science. Also potentially of interest to Turkish learners are exercises in Turkmen, Azerbaijani and Uzbek (all Turkic languages).
Princeton University Turkish Resources is a source for some useful elementary-level readers, which are surprisingly hard to come by. A glossary is included alongside each reading for quick reference. Audio readings of the stories are included as well.
Verbix Turkish Verb Conjugator is another useful tool for checking verb conjugations.
Last but not least for the web resources list, I’d implore anyone interested in the Turkish language to back the Turkish Language and Usage project over on Stackexchange’s Area 51. The Stack model works so incredibly well with language questions, and I use german.stackexchange.com every day. I would be so happy to see a community open for Turkish!
Surprisingly, finding a quality Turkish-English dictionary online is pretty difficult. Here are the ones that I have found helpful.
TurEng has a pretty interface and produces a good number of hits for most search terms, even including categories for each entry.
Dict.cc English-Turkish Since I use (and love) Dict.cc as my primary German-English dictionary, it is also the first dictionary I consult for Turkish-English or Turkish-German queries. That said, the Turkish-English dictionary is pretty bare-bones at this point (I think there’s something like 5k entries at the moment), but since it is a user-contributed dictionary it is constantly growing.
WordReference English-Turkish while WordReference’s support for non-romance languages has, in my experience, been poor, it seems like their English-Turkish dictionary is actually pretty useful. WordReference is in my opinion the premier Spanish-English resource, with an especially active forum with plenty of specialist translation questions. The Turkish language forum has about 5k threads, which is paltry in comparison to the +700k in the Spanish-English forum but still a good resource.
Sözlük.net is alright, but it can be hard to distinguish the contextual use of the various listed entries.
There are plenty of software suites out there for learning Turkish (including the usual suspects, i.e. Rosetta Stone and Livemocha), but I have never had much success with these tools, so I will refrain from listing those here.
Anki is one of the most important aspects of my study of Turkish. It’s a well-known flash-card software that is based on the concept of spaced repetition. Turkish is the first language that I have completely studied in the traditional flash-cards and grammar exercises method, but so far this has been a real hit for me. I use Anki to create and study the vocabulary from my textbook, and have incorporated the AwesomeTTS (Text-To-Speech) add-on to automatically generate spoken pronunciation guides for each card.
While previously I hinted at my gripes with Rosetta Stone-style language learning suites, I would encourage everyone interested in learning some Turkish to keep an eye on DuoLingo’s Turkish for English Speakers incubator, which hopefully will see the light of day sometime soon. DuoLingo is one of the few apps I’ve used that really seemed to broach grammatical concepts rather than simply having users repeat phrases ad nauseum. In the interim, one intrepid user has posted an elementary Turkish course with over 40 hours of content that seems quite impressive.
There are probably a million more things that I am missing, but all of the sudden it’s 2am. I’ll try to add on here as I come across useful things - and please share your own favorite resources too! İyi eğlenceler!