Category Archives: Resources

A collection of English resources designed specifically for Turks learning English. Everything from free reading and speaking opportunities to our favorite English language movies shot in Istanbul! Enjoy.

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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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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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Reading Turkish Commute

Apr 24, 2013 By Tags:, , ,

İngilizce Öğrenmek: reading for Turkish professionals

In our first İngilizce Öğrenmek post we suggest weekly English reading.

Many of you are motivated to learn English because you are working for American or European multinationals. Whether you travel abroad or host colleagues, reading is vital to improving your spoken English.

In our İngilizce Öğrenmek series we will focus on providing resources for Turkish students learning English. We will focus on easy to access resources, found online.

For many of you, it is important both to speak English and be knowledgeable about topics that your foreign colleagues discuss. We are often asked for suggestions on what to read. Below you can find a list of our favorite weekly English reading. These English reading resources are great for those who want to stay up-to-date on global affairs, from an English language perspective.

These suggestions are our personal preferences. We have found through experience that many of our working students are far too busy to read novels. Yet, it seems that even for our busiest students, articles are easy to fit in during the daily Istanbul commute.

#1 The Economist: English reading for Turks working in everything from finance to politics

It may be cliche to suggest the world famous Economist, but for a busy professional, it’s a great weekly read. It covers politics, books, science, finance and of course, economics. It can be read cover to cover by an Upper-Intermediate English speaker in about two to three hours. Many people criticize the magazine for not taking strong editorial positions. Yet, there is no denying that a front-to-back read of the Economist is a great way to both stay up-to-date on current affairs and practice reading English. In addition, the magazine is written in clear, everyday English and a lot of the content is available for free online. Following @TheEconomist on twitter can also be a fun way to read articles (let them pick for you).

#2 The Atlantic: English reading for Turks working in American companies

Although more American-focused and liberal-leaning than the Economist, the Atlantic is still a great reading resource. We recommend the Atlantic for our more Advanced students because the language is more varied than the Economist and many articles are longer. Articles cover a wide array of topics, from current events to city planning. The best part about the Atlantic is that their entire content is available online either through or their well designed mobile apps.

#3 Associated Press mobile apps: English reading for Turks with long commutes

The Associated Press mobile apps are our favorite news applications available on tablets and smartphones. They elegantly mix text and photos so that reading is engaging. We often recommend them to our Intermediate and Pre-Intermediate students, as the articles are short (its a news wire) and the visuals make for great word recognition. The Associated Press is global and covers all aspects of current events. Our favorite part? The apps are completely free.


We hope these ideas have been helpful. We would love to hear your suggestions for weekly English reading material for busy Turkish professionals!


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