Learning Turkish can seem daunting but there are easy ways to fast-track your fluency. I think that you can learn the basics in a few months. This is how I was able to learn Turkish by myself in 4 months.
When I first started learning Turkish in 2018, I was in Turkey for a short-term work assignment. During this period I took a 3-month Turkish course. Shortly after, I started with one word here and there. Then I had to go back to Morocco for my graduation.
Now, I moved back to Turkey again and this time not alone, with my husband. I have lost everything I learned 2 years ago. I started asking myself, how can I learn Turkish but this time on my own. Now I can speak Turkish fluently… NO, I am joking. At the moment, I can understand the basic conversation and even speak enough to get by, with a lot of mistakes of course. All of this in only 4 months.
Why should I learn Turkish
I think you would be asking this question if you are a foreigner planning to relocate to Turkey or even coming for a visit.
When I first came to Turkey I had no intention to stay here and I have never thought about learning the Turkish language devotedly.
But I realized how hard it is to survive in Turkey without knowing any Turkish. Let me list a few reasons why you should start learning Turkish if you are planning to come to Turkey.
Reason 1: Turkish is the ONLY spoken language in Turkey
Turkey is a huge country where not much English or any other foreign language is spoken. As a result, foreigners in Turkey are left with one only choice is to learn Turkish.
Reason 2: Turkey is a beautiful country that is worth living in
Turkey is rich with a vibrant culture. By learning Turkish you will be fully immersed in Turkey’s history and its welcoming people.
How hard is it to learn Turkish
Picking up a new language is not an easy task, especially when your mother tongue has nothing in common with the new language. Luckily my mother tongue is Arabic and I speak French and English. This made learning Turkish in Turkey a lot easier. Turkish has a lot of words from other languages mostly from Arabic, Persian, and some other European languages also.
Technology made it easier to learn a new language for FREE while saving your time and money attending traditional Turkish language courses. For me, it wasn’t an option to attend these Turkish courses given that I am working full time and I won’t spend my whole weekend in a class studying Turkish. I had to find easy and free ways to learn Turkish by myself.
The most challenging part about the Turkish language is the unusual alphabet and grammatical structure. Turkish doesn’t follow the classical Subject-Verb-Object structure like English, French, and other languages. It has its own unique rules and grammar with lots of prefixes and suffixes.
Important Facts About the Turkish language
- Turkish has 8 vowels: A,E,U,Ü,O,Ö,İ,I
- It has 21 consents where Q,W, and X are nowhere to be seen. While Ç, S and G are new alphabets
- There are different Turkish language accents and dialects. The difference appears when comparing Eastern and Western Turkey dialects.
- Like all other languages, Turkish has its own slang. But if you are a beginner focus on learning the basic standard form of the language. Then you will start to pick up naturally the Turkish slang from native speakers
- Turkish is a gender neutral language. The word “O” is used for both “SHE” and “HE”
- Vowel Harmony is the art that seems very hard at the beginning
How To Learn Turkish by yourself in easy steps
If you are an expat in Turkey and looking for easy and cheap ways to learn Turkish there are numerous free to low-cost options to achieve your goal.
In this post, I listed only the options that I am using and that is working very well for me. However, these easy ways may not make you fluent overnight. It takes time and practice to get fluent in any language. The good news is Turkish is not hard as some people might claim.
1. Come to grips with the Turkish Alphabet
Turkish Alphabet may look very intimidating at first but trust me, it’s not as hard to learn as it looks. The Turkish alphabet is a version of the Latin alphabet and consists of 29 letters. It has 6 additional letters – ç, ğ, ı, ö, ş, ü – while – q, w, x – are excluded. The alphabet pronunciation is similar to the English one.
2. Duolingo: Learning Turkish online by yourself for free
The best FREE language learning platform out there. It is available in several different languages, including Turkish.
Duolingo‘s teaching strategy focuses on practice and repetition of key phrases and words and its lessons are designed to be short. This App gave me the sense of making real progress.
The language platform includes a language-learning website and a mobile application for free but it also offers a premium service. I personally use the free service and it’s enough for me.
Get started with Duolingo: Each Duolingo course is separated into sections called skills and your progress by completing each set of these skills, which is divided into 5 levels. When starting with learning Turkish, set a daily goal and activate notifications if you want to be reminded.
Choose your learning strategy: Using Duolingo regularly will ensure your progress in Turkish but your learning strategy is up to you to choose. You can decide between finishing up all the levels of each skill before you move to the next one.
The second option is to choose to complete level 1 for all the skills then you move to the next level. A third option is to learn without any strategy at all. This is what I am doing right now.
I don’t like to stick to a learning strategy as I feel more comfortable doing what I like. Sometimes I only pass level 1 to unlock the next skill and sometimes I make sure to get the skill to level 5 before moving on. So it’s up to you.
Don’t stop there: Once you finish each Tree you will get a golden owl but you should continue until your whole tree is gold. Duolingo is a great beginner source of Turkish language learning but don’t stop there. You should look for other learning resources as well.
3. Check these Turkish YouTube Channels
learn Turkish by yourself with TurkishClass101.com: a great YouTube resource for learning Turkish. The channel has different Turkish learning series that cover different aspects and levels of the language.
TurkishClass101.com shares videos that are simple, short, and enjoyable. I highly recommend you to check this channel to boost your Turkish.
Language animated: The best way to learn Turkish or any other language is by making it fun and interactive. Language animated uses short animation videos that go through the basics of Turkish. The channel covers about 30 languages but has a large corpus of Turkish lessons.
4. Practice with Turkish native speakers
Communication is the key to speaking any language. You can never speak a language by only studying it, no matter how hard you study. Studying Turkish helps you improve your vocabulary and grammar but it won’t help you to speak. What helped me improve my level in Turkish in a few months only is PRACTICING.
I live and work in Turkey. Therefore, every now and then I find myself using one of these words or sentences I have learned in Duolingo. If you are living in Turkey practicing Turkish will be a lot easier since Turkish is the only language you hear daily.
However, you can still join conversations and communities with Turkish native speakers using virtual platforms. I recommend 2 language exchange apps that I have used in the past.
Italki : Is a global language learning community that pairs students and teachers for 1-on-1 online language lessons. Italki has 5 million students and 10,000 high-quality teachers.
With Italki, you can connect with language partners or book a lesson with a teacher for as little as $10 an hour. In addition, you can learn at your own pace and schedule.
HelloTalk : Is a free Language exchange platform that connects you with more than 18 million native speakers of different languages from all over the world.
The great thing about HelloTalk is that you get to meet and talk to real people. So when you are learning Turkish, you can find people that are interested in learning your native language and get the conversations going.
5. Watch a lot of Turkish series and movies
All of the things I mentioned earlier are very important and efficient when it comes to learning a new language but they can be REALLY boring. Learning from movies and series is the only way I never felt bored or overwhelmed. Turkish series and movies helped a lot in my language learning progress and you know what I even wrote a post where I listed my favorite Turkish series and movies to watch on Netflix.
6. Use Turkish study books
Let’s be honest language learning books are not that useless in learning a new language. They actually help a lot in building a language base and structure in our minds. Yes, it takes more time but it works. Here are my favorite Turkish learning books. Pick one or two and see which one works for you more.
- COMPLETE TURKISH (Beginner to Intermediate)
- THE DELIGHT OF LEARNING TURKISH
- Istanbul Complete Set Turkish Language Course Books 5 Books for Beginner to Advanced Levels: A1 A2 B1 B2 C1 and C1
- Turkish Language Beginner level Course Book for Foreigners with Workbook
Tip: Take a Turkish level test online if you think you should not start from level A1.
6. Stay Motivated
Learning a new language can seem very difficult. That’s why keeping motivation and focus is very important for all the learning stages. I personally remind myself of the reasons I decided to take this adventure whenever I feel down about learning Turkish. I try to make the learning fun by choosing what I want to learn about and something that I enjoy.
Happy Turkish Learning
I hope you’ve been able to take some inspiration from this Turkish learning plan! Feel confident that you can learn Turkish and remember that there is no set strategy to do that. As long as you are committed to achieving your goal you will, no matter what the circumstances are.
Learning about other’s people experiences encourages you to put your plans into action and that is what you should do now after reading this post 🙂