Turkish Language Classroom

610 words | 3 page(s)

During my time in the Turkish language classroom, I felt a sense of ease about learning a language with which I have little familiarity. Because of this, I went into the class apprehensive about what I was going to experience. However, the teacher of the classroom established a comfortable and safe environment in which students felt comfortable orally practicing and making mistakes, something that I think should be emulated in every language classroom. I overcame my apprehension and quickly immersed myself in trying to learn what I could of the language. The material was initially difficult to grasp, because although the sentence structure seemed to be the familiar, the pronunciation was not. Because this seemed to be a consistent point of apprehension amongst my classmates, the primary focus of the class was exposure to the oral and written language. Though this was the primary focus, I think what I enjoyed the most about this class was all of the cultural and historical information I learned about the Turkish language and Turkish people.

Throughout the course, the instruction was very clear and concise, though I believe the teacher did not anticipate how much reviewing would need to be done throughout each lesson. There were many times when the class would work in small groups or partner situations to practice speaking skills and pronunciation, only to have to go back to a full group setting and realize that we had been practicing incorrectly. In spite of our mistakes, the teacher never seemed exhausted with our Western tongues. The combined activity of talking to others and listening for the pronunciation and offering correction made me feel accountable for my own pronunciation, but I believe it also made my written skills better since the written language is mostly phonetic. I realized that more I focused on pronunciation in my speaking skills, the less spelling errors I was making. This was probably the greatest lesson that I learned.

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I always intellectually knew about the correlation between speaking and writing skills, but this was the first time that I experienced that correlation and actively recognized it. Working with other students and their pronunciation skills improved my own writing and spelling skills. In turn, I was able to help other students more effectively since I was getting a better grasp on the material. I also noticed that there were many students who had a strong preference for either writing or speaking the language, but not many who enjoyed both. Those around me who enjoyed writing the language seemed hesitant to make pronunciation errors in front of others despite the casual and inviting feel of the small groups. I think if I were the teacher in this scenario, I would try to pinpoint those students were and give them a specific role in the group that may involve more writing or taking dictation from the group. This way, those students who are uncomfortable speaking still gain the benefit of hearing other people pronounce words and of deciding which pronunciation is correct, or as was often the case in Turkish, less incorrect.

Overall, the experience of trying to gain some Turkish language skills was beneficial. I was able to make notes of what it was like to start from the beginning of language learning and actively look for strategies and teaching styles that worked and appealed to me as both a language learner and teacher. The strategy of making students feel comfortable enough to make as many mistakes as they need to in order to gain as much practice as possible was invaluable and experiencing the connection between speaking and writing skills was one I will not soon forget.

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