May 16, 2013 By Tags:, ,

How to express ‘izin almak’ and ‘izin vermek’ in English

izin almak

The concept of ‘izin’, often translated as ‘permission’ or ‘consent’ in English, is a word with a wide range of meanings in Turkish.

In this post, the second in our ‘In English, how to express… ‘ series, we’ll look at the most common ways in English to express the concepts of ‘izin almak’ and ‘izin vermek’.

If you prefer a video lesson, why not check out our Ingilizce Dersleri video library. We have a series of great lessons in a video format.

First, let’s look at a few ways to express ‘izin vermek’.

To allow

The verb ‘to allow’ makes it possible for someone to do or not to do something:

The boss allowed me to take the afternoon off to see the doctor.

The government would not allow him to enter the country.

You’re not allowed to speak during the exam (Note that ‘to be allowed’ is a commonly used in English).

The phrase ‘to give permission’ can be used in a similar way, though it is usually used for a specific time or event, and it is more formal than ‘to allow’:

The boss gave me permission me to take the afternoon off to see the doctor.

The school gave her permission to take the exam again.

The IT department would not give him permission to access the files.

The verb ‘to let’ is very common in English. It is used to allow something to happen by giving your permission’:

When I was young my parents wouldn’t let me stay up late.

My boss let me take the afternoon off to visit my father in hospital.

They let me take a 10-day vacation in August.

Can you let me in? (i.e. Can you open the door?)

Now let’s look at ‘izin almak’.

In English the simplest way to express this concept is with ‘to get permission’.

I couldn’t get permission to access those files.

He got permission to leave work early so he wouldn’t miss the plane.

We got permission to enter the building after we showed some personal ID.

Note: Don’t use ‘to take permission’. It’s Turklish and not natural English!

I took permission to leave early.

I got permission to leave early.

They allowed me to leave early.

They let me leave early.

They gave me permission to leave early.

Now it’s your turn!

For each situation below, form a sentence using each of the verbs.

For example:

You want to attend a conference on Friday. You ask your boss but he says that you have to work.

(to allow) He won’t allow me to attend the conference.

(to give permission) He didn’t give me permission to attend the conference.

(to let) He won’t let me attend the conference.

(to get permission) I didn’t get permission to attend the conference.

1. You made an appointment to see the doctor at 3pm tomorrow. Your boss agrees that you can leave work at 12pm.

2. You asked your mother if you could go to the cinema with your friends tonight. She said ‘no’ because your grandparents are coming to visit.

3. Your best friend arrives in town tomorrow afternoon. You haven’t seen him in three months so you ask your boss for a day off. She says ‘no’.

4. You want to borrow your dad’s car to drive to Ankara tomorrow. He say’s that it’s fine. as long as your drive safely.

As always, please let us know what you think and if there are any other topics you would like us to cover!

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missing in English

May 13, 2013 By Tags:

How to express Kaçırmak in English

The concept of ‘failing to do what you planned’ … as in kaçırmak: uçağı kaçırdım, dersi kaçırdım, randevuyu kaçırdım, can be tricky for Turkish students in English.

This is the first post in our category ‘In English, how to express …?’ where we discuss language concepts that our Turkish students often struggle with in English. Today, kaçırmak.

For example:

  • You couldn’t get to the conference in Ankara because the plane was delayed, or maybe you couldn’t meet your friends because you got stuck in traffic for hours and hours…
  • Sometimes, because of bad weather, heavy traffic, too many appointments or just maybe even because of laziness, life does not go as planned. You cannot do everything in your diary.

This post provides the English to express yourself when you:

  • Fail to do something that was planned, such as a lesson
  • Arrive late for a bus, train or aircraft


1. When you have something planned in your diary, but you are not able to do it, or failed to do it, you use ‘to miss’.

For example:

  • On Wednesday morning you had a doctor’s appointment at 10am. You were in traffic until 10:50am When you arrived at the doctor’s clinic, it was no longer possible to see the doctor.
  • You missed the doctor’s appointment (because you were stuck in traffic).
  • Or, your homework was due yesterday at 5pm. You give the homework to your teacher the following morning.
  • She did not accept the homework because you missed the deadline. (You failed to hand in your homework on time)


2.  When you arrive late for a bus, train or aircraft, you also use ‘to miss’

For example:

  • Your plane departed at 15:10. You arrived at the airport at 15:30.
  • You missed the plane.

Now your turn! Practice ‘to miss’:

Look at each of the scenarios and use ‘to miss’ in a sentence:

For example:

Question: Umut’s flight to Ankara left at 6pm. He arrived at the airport ay 6:15pm because of bad weather.

Answer: Umut missed his plane because of bad weather.

Your turn

1. Murat couldn’t attend his biology exam because he was sick.

2. Kaan didn’t go to his dentist because he got stuck in traffic on the F.S.M. bridge.

3. The outdoor concert started at 20h00 but Aslı didn’t attend because the weather was terrible.

4. The snow was so heavy that Yiğit couldn’t drive his car to go to the meeting in Levent.

5. The plane left for Bozcaada at 12pm. Unfortunately, Pınar got stuck in bad traffic and she didn’t take the plane.

6. The lesson started in Beşiktaş at 6pm. Ali was still in the office at 6:50pm!


A little note about Turklish:

Don’t say ‘He didn’t catch the lesson’. It is not natural English in this situation.

Say, ‘He missed the lesson’.

Keep in mind, that if you prefer video learning exercise we have a library of video learning exercises waiting for you in our Ingilizce Dersleri section! These videos are available to you at all times and are a great compliment to written exercises and live conversation classes.

As always, please let us know what you think and if there are any other topics you would like us to cover!

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May 11, 2013 By Tags:,

How to say ‘hoşlanmak’, ‘sevmek’, ‘nefret etmek’ in English.

love-hate in turkish


For many of our students the concept of like, love, hate and can’t stand in English can be a bit tricky compared to ‘hoşlanmak’, ‘sevmek’, ‘nefret etmek’ in Turkish.

Most of our students know how to use ‘to love’ and ‘to like’.

In positive statements:

  • I like chocolate.
  • I love chocolate!
  • I like her very much.
  • I love that new video game.

In questions and negatives statement, ‘to like’ is more commonly used:

  • I don’t like my new teacher
  • Do you like shopping?
  • I don’t like carrots.
  • Do you like her new boyfriend?

For questions and negative statements, you can use ‘to love’ if you are talking about a person:

  • Don’t you love me?
  • I don’t love him anymore

However, if you are not talking about a person, don’t use ‘to love’. Instead, use ‘to like’.

  • I don’t love cleaning the house
  • I don’t like cleaning the house
  • I don’t love swimming
  • I don’t like swimming

Also, if you really don’t like something or someone, you can use the expression ‘can’t stand’ or ‘to hate’.

To hate should be used carefully. It is a strong verb and you should be careful when you use it to talk about your own opinions, and especially about people:

  • I hate chocolate…is generally acceptable
  • I hate studying… if ok too
  • I hate her… is a very strong and negative statement

Avoid using the verb to hate until you are a more advanced speaker.

Most English speakers use ‘can’t stand’

For example:

  • She can’t Istanbul traffic
  • I can’t stand her brother, Mehmet
  • He can’t stand the smell of kokoreç
  • I can’t stand cleaning the kitchen!

If you use ‘can’t stand’ with a verb, that verb has to take the +ing form (this is the same as to like, to love and to hate)

  • I can’t stand being here!
  • I can’t stand waiting any longer.
  • I can’t stand talking to him!

Keep in mind, that if you prefer video learning exercise we have a library of video learning exercises waiting for you in our Ingilizce Dersleri section! These videos are available to you at all times and are a great compliment to written exercises and live conversation classes.

Look at each of the following things and people.

Then, use each verb once to make a sentence.

For example:

Blue cheese (a thing)

1. (to love) My mother loves blue cheese.

2. (to like) I don’t like eating blue cheese.

3. (can’t stand) My sister cant’ stand blue cheese.

4. (to hate) Many people hate blue cheese.

The President (a person)

1. (to love) Many people love the President.

2. (to like) I like the President.

3. (can’t stand) The opposition parties can’t stand the President.

4. (to hate) Some voters hate the President.

Now try #1 to #7 below!

1. English grammar

2. İşkembe

3. His new wife

4. Tattoos

5. Erik

6. Galatasaray

7. My English teacher


Let us know what you think and whether this was helpful. As always, let us know if there are any topics you would like to see covered!

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May 08, 2013 By Tags:, ,

Top 5 online English resources about Turkey

online English resources

Turkish map

Discussing Turkey, its history and current affairs in English is important for our students.

For our Turkish students who travel abroad or who host foreign colleagues in Turkey, conversations about Turkey are bound to happen. Reading about Turkey in English can also be extremely motivating as there is an immediate sense of relevance and understanding. For these reasons, we’ve decided to list our favorite online English resources about Turkey. These resources can easily be incorporated into a weekly reading routine, which should include a balance of local and international topics.

#5 Cornucopia Magazine: beautiful magazine focusing on history, culture and travel

Cornucopia bills itself as a “magazine for connoisseurs of Turkey” and it delivers. The magazine includes well written articles about Turkey’s history, travel destinations, culture and food. The magazine has been going strong for 20 years and has three print issues per year. Online there is a significant amount of content available for free, and a constantly updated blog.

#4 Journal of Turkish Weekly: politics and journals

The Journal of Turkish Weekly is a great source of academic articles about politics and current events in Turkey and the wider region (Middle East, Balkans, Caucuses), and it is updated daily. It is published by a leading Turkish think tank, based in Ankara, the International Strategic Research Organization.

#3 Reuters: up-to-date current affairs

For any Turk who likes big topics in current affairs, the Turkey page of Reuters US edition website offers several well-written thought-provoking articles each week that are bound to stretch your mind and vocabulary.

#2 The CIA World Factbook: get your facts right!

Even though it’s written by the US government, and the CIA no less, the CIA World Fact Book has a vast array of information located in its country profiles. It’s a great way to get your facts straight on everything to do with Turkey including geography, demographics, government, the economy and politics. The Factbook is kept meticulously up-to-date and is a wonderful source of facts about all 196 of the world’s nations!

#1 Travel Guides

Online guidebooks such as the Lonely Planet, the Rough Guide, Wallpaper City Guides and Frommer’s offer a great way to learn about Turkey’s key sites that have attracted visitors for centuries. These guides also contain concise historical sections, restaurant recommendations and are a great source of information on logistic matters such as public transport and entry requirements. You can easily become the knowledgeable guide that foreign visitors to Turkey dream of! Much of the content is available for free on their websites.

 As always, let us know what you think and what other topics we should cover!



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May 03, 2013 By Tags:, ,

İngilizce Dersleri: Saying ‘tavsiye’ in English

İngilizce Dersleri: the fourth post in our series where we offer easy, everyday solutions to challenges that Turks have with the English language.

Recently in a lesson, a student was talking to me about a restaurant that he thought I should go to and said, ‘I advise you.’ This error is a a common mistake for Turks learning English. In Turkish ‘tavsiye etmek’ would be used in this situation.

In Turkish, tavsiye is used in situations where in English you would find both to recommend and to advise or even you should.

So, how do you express tavsiye in English? It depends on the formality of your situation. Generally speaking, there are three options.

1. Advise for very formal and very important information. Common in written English.

‘I strongly advise you to stop smoking.’

‘They advised her against coming alone at night.’

‘She advised him to take the 17h00 flight so he would arrive at the meeting on time.’

2. Recommend for formal but less important statements in spoken English.

‘It is recommended that you sleep at least seven hours each night.’

‘I don’t recommend that restaurant. The food was terrible.’

‘I recommend him highly.’ (my doctor, this candidate)

3. Should + verb is the least formal in spoken English. This is the form you will hear and use most.

‘You should eat some. It’s delicious!’ (the cake, the pie)

‘You should visit it!’ (that restaurant, the new art gallery)

‘You should see it.’ (that film, the new TV series)

‘You should come.’ (to Madrid with us next week, to the cinema tonight)

Your turn!

Keep in mind, that if you prefer video learning exercise we have a library of video learning exercises waiting for you in our Ingilizce Dersleri section! These videos are available to you at all times and are a great compliment to written exercises and live conversation classes.

Look at the examples below and try to think of a response for each one using the word in brackets. For each exercise, a. is the most formal, and c. the least formal situation.

Here’s an example (we’ve completed the responses for you in bold):

You have gained 10 kilograms during the last year.

a. Your doctor says ‘I advise you take change your diet and take regular exercise’

b. An article in the newspaper states, ‘Doctors recommend at least 20 minutes of vigorous exercise each day if you want to lose weight’.

c. Your friends says, ‘Mate, you should lose some weight!’

Now, think of some responses for #1 to #3:

1. You are stressed, overworked and have not taken a holiday in three years.

a. What does your doctor tell you? (advise)

b. What does your colleague say to you? (recommend)

c. What do your friends suggest? (should)

2. The new James Bond film is released and it receives great reviews.

a. What does a movie critic write so that people go to see it? (advise)

b. How do you tell your boss to see it? (recommend)

c. How would tell a friend to watch it? (should)

3. Your mother eats a lot of sugary and unhealthy food.

a. What would a nutritionist tell her? (advise)

b. What would the salesperson in the health food shop tell her? (recommend)

c. What would her best friend tell her? (should)

Did you find this helpful? Let us know what other topics you would like us to cover!



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Top Four Ways to Practice Speaking English in Istanbul

Our Turkish students often complain that outside class, travel and work, they do not have enough opportunities to speak English.

For our students who want to practice speaking English, it does not help that the native English speaking population in Istanbul is quite spread out. Although there is a concentration of expats in Cihangir and Nişantaşı, the community is thinly spread across a vast area on both the European and Asian sides of the city.

For expats, this thin concentration can be the exact reason why moving to Istanbul is attractive – its easy to access that authentic foreign experience they search for. But for Turks looking to practice their everyday English with native speakers, opportunities might seem few and far between. For this reason we’ve assembled a list of great, and largely free, opportunities for Turks to practice their English right here in Istanbul – and hopefully have fun and make friends in the process too!

#4 – Offer a conversational practice exchange

Many expats in Istanbul are trying to learn Turkish. A great way of practicing your English is to offer an exchange. Find an expat you get along with, and meet up for çay once a week to practice speaking with each other. If you need inspiration for conversation, this can be achieved as easily as bringing along a local newspaper or magazine and discussing articles. There are a number of ways to find your co-student – to start you can try expat forums such as Expat Blog, Expat Forum or Merhaba Forums.

#3 – Join an expat club or meet-up group

There are a number of active expat organizations in Istanbul that organize meet-ups such as the very global InterNations. Signing up is easy, and they typically have multiple events per month. InterNations is certainly not exclusively for expats, and is a great forum for personal and professional networking.

#2 – Join an expat sports group

Not only is it a great way get fit and get outside – but joining a running group such as the Hash House Harriers is a great way to practice your English with like-minded athletes. The Hash House Harriers typically have some form of a social event (brunch or drinks) after runs. Most of these clubs have different levels of practice so don’t be intimidated if you didn’t have the opportunity to keep fit over the winter.

#1 – Attend a professional event / join a professional organization

Depending on your chosen profession, there may be a great opportunity to combine networking in your field with practicing your English. At a recent CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) event we noticed that there were several expats in attendance eager to chat with locals who could speak English. Of course, this depends on your field, and its level of expat participation – but it’s certainly worth looking into.

If joining an organization seems daunting, why not attend one event first? Most professional organizations allow participation by non-members if you send an email requesting permission. The best part? The English topics you will discuss are in line with the topics you want to practice for professional purposes.

Other ideas:

  • Yoga studios in Cihangir, Etilier and Nişantaşı are full of expats and visitors. Why not ask someone for a post-workout coffee?
  • Istanbul is quickly becoming a destination for international artists – galleries, openings, film festivals, concerts and more tend to be well attended by by expats
  • Expat theater
  • Check out the very informative Yabangee Blog for a full calendar of expat oriented events in Istanbul

Let us know your thoughts and if you have any ideas!




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Harbor at Bozcaad

Apr 29, 2013 By Tags:,

“Why can’t Turks speak English yet?” They can…

Turks are learning English, but are they speaking it?

The whole world is trying to learn English, and Turks are no exception. As a teacher in Istanbul on and off for the last seven years, I have heard this question often from both foreigners and Turks: “Why can’t Turks speak English yet?”

Last year Güven Sak answered this in a short informative article in the Hürriyet Daily News. After several observations regarding the state of English in Turkey today, he bemoaned the lack of skilled English teachers and relevant education to train educators. It got me thinking.

Despite the obvious ongoing need for more well-trained teachers fluent in English, there is something else worth noting about Turks and their collective knowledge of English. For many, after years and years of English lessons at both school and University, the learning curve plateaus, then stagnates. Turks learning English put down their grammar books, complete their last gap-fill activity, and start life in a professional career. English simply sits unloved and abandoned in the attic.

Turks speak English: a dormant resource

To me, this is an enormous waste of a great resource. Among my adult students, almost all of them had watched their English stagnate and decline, never put into use during their professional career. For some there has been the odd holiday abroad when they could sputter a few questions to ask directions in Rome or Miami, though in general spoken English was a downhill slide once working life commenced.

The majority of my Turkish students, and especially those who had pursued careers requiring professional qualifications, continued to be more and more exposed to authentic English. My students who worked as doctors would attend seminars conducted solely in English, while those in engineering kept up with the latest developments through academic journals. Listening and reading, the passive skills of language, overtook the active. Turks could read and listen to English: they just couldn’t speak it. English conversation was frustrating and often an embarrassing situation for them, and their self-confidence plummeted when they spoke English to a native-speaker.

It’s a widespread issue. Turkey now has a huge number of citizens who in fact possess ‘dormant English’, a good understanding of the language that is, simply, asleep, unused and atrophying. It didn’t take much for me to realize what could help awaken it, and fast.

How to kick-start this dormant English in Turkey?

Internet use in Turkey is on the way up. Household broadband penetration is at 40% and rising. Turks are  becoming more confident about purchasing online. Turkey’s economy continues to perform well and thus economic opportunities are increasing for many citizens.

So why not seize this opportunity? Reawaken the English within Turks without waiting a generation for new teachers to be trained? With the Internet, why not give Turks access to English conversation classes with native speakers? There are a number of providers of online English lessons, offering easy access to native English speakers. For any Turk with a broadband connection, an exhausting evening or weekend commute to a physical classroom is no longer required. Let’s reactivate this passive knowledge and make English an active skill for the growing number of Turkish professionals who need global language and communication.

The Internet can’t provide a solution to all the challenges facing English language education in Turkey today. However, by leveraging the technology and communications infrastructure already in place, we think there’s an immense opportunity to fast-track the English that currently sits as a unused resource within the Turkish population. We’re already seeing great results. Motivation, higher self-confidence, and improved spoken English!

Are you an EFL educator in Turkey or a Turk trying to kick start your dormant English? Let us know what you think?

2 thoughts on ““Why can’t Turks speak English yet?” They can…

  1. Chris

    I mainly teach Spanish speaking students, but the issue is still the same. It’s much easier to remain in your comfort zone than get out their and practice speaking. I think the main thing is that they need to find ways to build their confidence in English and find fun opportunities to use it. That way they can continue to develop their skills without it feeling like hard work.

    1. admin Post author

      Thanks for your response Chris.

      As you’re teaching mostly Spanish-speaking students, do you find that any of the confidence issues come from the culture, or education system of the students? For Turks, we suspect that most of them come through an education system that does not give a very high value to individual thought and expression.

      While education in the country appears to be improving dramatically in many ways, young people still lack confidence after exiting a system where it was important to have memorized a lot of information, while analysis and critical thinking took a back seat.

      Since Spanish-speaking students originate from a far wider geographic range than Turks, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on how motivation and confidence varies between Spanish=speaking regions, if that is indeed the case, and also whether your Spanish-speaking students adapt quickly to online learning.




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İngilizce Öğrenmek: TED Talks for listening skills

In our second İngilizce Öğrenmek post we talk about why we recommend TED Talks as a tool for our Turkish students learning English. Our first İngilizce Öğrenmek post was about weekly reading for Turkish professionals. is a fan of TED Talks. The site is a great way to hear about new and exciting ideas. Better yet, these talks are a truly practical way to improve your listening (and reading) skills. 

Keep in mind, that here at TurksLearnEnglish we also have an entire library of video learning exercises specifically designed for Turks learning English. You can access the library in our Ingilizce Dersleri section!

Why TED Talks is good for Turks learning English

TED Talks presents speeches on a wide range of topics, all of them in English. It’s a simple way to hear good spoken English while also learning about a new and interesting topic, such as the latest developments in medicine or predictions about the future of education.

Another benefit is that the presenters come from every part of the planet, making it one of the best sites to hear every possible accent in English. Familiarity with many accents is a key way to improve your understanding of the English language. And good listening skills means understanding more than just your English teacher!

TED Talks are usually between six to 20 minutes in length, with many around ten minutes. Short enough to watch a couple of times in the same day or even during your lunch break, and just long enough to hear some interesting ideas.

What level of listening skills do you need to understand a TED Talk?

To be honest, most TED Talks will require a second listening for many students of English. There are often a few technical terms used in the speeches, and sometimes the presenter’s humor may not be understood clearly by non-native speakers. The advantage of the Internet is that you can listen to a certain section again, until you understand what is said.

Better still, many TED Talks come with a transcription, which means you can read everything that is said during the presentation. And better again, in some instances the transcription is available in Turkish, so sure, why not listen a few times… and read as you go along? It’s a visual guide to help your listening skills!

TED Talks for Turks in three easy steps!

First, go to the website:

Secondly, click ‘View all tags’ to select talks that interests you. There are many different topics covered so you will find something that interests you: education, language, medicine… even rocket science!

Thirdly, listen to the presentation once. Then, why not try a second time while reading the transcription. At the bottom right-hand corner of the screen, click on the drop-down menu to find the transcription in English, or Turkish (and if it’s available).

TED Talk transcriptions are great for new vocabulary

TED presentations are authentic English and the transcriptions are a wonderful way to see English words on the same topic together at the same time. It helps to learn words together that have some connections. For example, in a speech by Margaret Heffernan, she uses the words and phrases conflict, disagree, fight, head-to-head, provoke, whistle-blower, and to have a fight on your hands. It’s much easier to learn these words together and in context.

Lastly, mimicking is excellent for learning the rhythm and intonation of a language. When no one’s around, it really makes sense to repeat, with a loud voice, phrases of the speakers. It’s truly one of the best methods to improve your pronunciation (just think of all the song lyrics or lines from English movies that you already know).

That’s it. There are hundreds of talks on scores of topics, so start improving your listening skills now!

Let us know if you found this helpful… and why not suggest something for us to write about?





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