Why should you learn Turkish now?
Esra Schoop, a Teaching Fellow in Turkish at COL offers a compelling insight into why it's a good idea to learn Turkish now...
There are lots of wonderful reasons to learn Turkish and visit the beautiful country. Here's a round-up of the top ones:
1. Travel and Holidays
Turkey is one of the most popular destinations for British travellers: over 2.5 million UK tourists visited Turkey in 2019 alone! Besides sunny beaches along its Aegean and Mediterranean coasts, Turkey displays a very varied character across its many different landscapes with many cultural and natural and, not to forget, culinary attractions. As a result, there is a significant number of British expats who decide to choose Turkey as a permanent residence. Knowing Turkish makes it significantly easier to interact with Turkish people. Turks are generally very interested in foreigners but will mostly be unable to speak to you in English. With any level of Turkish, people will be amazed about your language skills, and you may discover aspects of the country which would otherwise remain difficult to access.
2. Turkey: A country steeped in history
Turkey is a country with a deep history which has often proven very influential across Europe and Asia. Its rich historical heritage is preserved in numerous remains and monuments across the ages, starting with the Neolithic period (e.g. Çatalhöyük), and continuing into the Bronze Age (Troy, Hittite Empire), the Graeco-Roman (Pergamon, Ephesus), Byzantine (Hagia Sophia) and Islamic periods (Blue Mosque).
Currently (and still counting) 19 sites in Turkey have been attributed UNESCO World Heritage status. All these sites (and many more) are easy to visit and usually accompanied by museums with extensive background information for those who wish to learn more!
3. Modern Turkish Culture: from popular TV shows to world-class writers
Turkey has a significant cultural sector with a particularly active art scene in Istanbul (music, theatre, film etc). Several Turkish writers, such as Orhan Pamuk or Elif Şafak, have won international fame. It is well worth to try and read some of their work in the original. There is also a rich (and growing) body of Turkish arthouse films which are only occasionally translated into other languages.
Turkey has also become a very successful producer and exporter of TV shows which have gained a large community of followers abroad. Are you a soap opera aficionado? Start watching a Turkish series to see love and intrigue unfold on the shores of the Bosphorus!
4. Turkey is one of the major economies in the Middle East
Turkey is a large country with a modern, fast-growing economy which is one of the most significant in the Middle East. Britain is one of Turkey’s main export and import partners. The political and economic significance of Turkey may make Turkish an attractive choice to learn, especially if you have a professional interest in this region.
5. Turkish language: both an intellectual challenge and not-too-difficult to learn
Turkish is not an Indo-European language and has a number of grammatical features which will be unfamiliar to you. For example, the word order is quite different from English. Many grammatical forms are expressed by adding (often multiple) endings (suffixes) to the main words of a sentence. While this will keep you on your intellectual toes, the good news is: Turkish is a very logical language and there are very few grammatical exceptions. If you have learnt one rule, it will apply almost everywhere (very unlike English, for example)! Once you got your head around how Turkish works, you will realise that it is not a very difficult language to learn!
A side effect of learning a language from a different family (Turkish is an Altaic language) is that it will make you think about and understand your own language better!
Did you know that learning Turkish will not only help you in Turkey? It's estimated that around 200 million people worldwide are Turkic speakers! Closely related languages are spoken in Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. There are also large communities of Turkish-speaking minorities in many countries. Maybe you even have a Turkish-speaking neighbour?
Interested? Our beginners Turkish classes start this October.