Tag Archives: Turkish


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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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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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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Time for culture-specific online language learning: English tailored for Turks. is excited. We’ve now launched our online English language classes, designed specifically for Turks. For our first post, we’ll explain a little about who we are, what we’ve learned thus far and what we hope to achieve.

Our story is simple. After teaching English to Turks in the traditional bricks-and-mortar classroom, we, the founders of, realised there was opportunity to bring together our knowledge of teaching English to Turks with the benefits of an online setting. As you probably already know, English-language education in Turkey is a big business.  As you are probably also aware, online language education is a rapidly growing part of the wider ‘EduTech’ movement.

Our idea is simply to tailor online English lessons for Turkish native speakers, and we believe this ‘culture-specific’ approach to English language education has linguistic, cultural and motivational benefits. As founders, we have first-hand knowledge of teaching in Turkey, though we think a ‘culture-specific’ approach could work for any group of people sharing a strong common identity.

What do we mean by ‘culture-specific’ classes?

The Internet now provides access to English language lessons to anyone who has a decent Internet connection and a laptop. Livemocha is a successful example of an education start up offering language classes (and has recently been in the news for merging with Rosetta Stone). They offer everything from free ‘community’ exchanges between members to structured courses that can be purchased, and it’s not just for English – they teach a variety of languages.

For the most part, Livemocha is not culture-specific. Any given online class can contain students with vastly different languages and cultures.

Our approach for Turkey will be different. We are launching online English classes that contain only Turkish speakers, and teachers who have experience teaching to Turks.

Three primary advantages to culture specific online language lessons: Linguistic, Cultural and Motivational.

Linguistic advantages

It’s clear to anyone who has even the most basic understanding of Turkish, or to a teacher who has taught Turks, that Turkish exhibits some peculiar qualities.  When a classroom contains students with a common linguistic background, students’ needs are similar if not the same; the time saving is obvious. One student’s mistakes are relevant to all participants and this holds true for vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation. Likewise, there are innumerable common mistakes to all Turkish speakers that make entire lessons on ‘Turklish’ an enjoyable and relevant learning experience.

Particularly beneficial is that students assist each other. A student with slightly higher verbal proficiency might assist with vocabulary, while another helps improve his classmates’ pronunciation. The classroom becomes a collaborative experience in which students become educators and where teacher-interference is reduced.

Cultural advantages

Turks, like many cultures, possess a strong identity. As a teacher of Turks for several years, I’m able to make some personal observations about the average Turk learning English.

First, Turks are not particularly confident students; however it’s very easy to motivate them. They are warm, friendly and love to tell an anecdote. Turks of all ages form an strong attachment to their teacher. Turks exhibit a wide range of (interesting) emotional responses in the classroom. The average educated Turk possesses a large body of received knowledge, which can sometimes inhibit the expression of an individual opinion…

Each culture can probably be described with a similar set of phrases. My point is that a collective set of values or behaviors work well if shared in the same learning environment. When a student group is homogenous a teacher can act more effectively. Cultural knowledge helps promote a comfortable class environment and to avoid discomfort and tension.

In Turkey, certain topics remain off-limits, from a cultural perspective. A teacher needs to encourage and motivate Turks, yet be careful not to belittle them in front of their peers, and to accept that self-discipline cannot always be expected. Turks may speak bluntly to another person but take offense when spoken to the same way. They love humor in lessons and Turks are a lot of fun to teach. As with linguistic issues, what is culturally relevant or irrelevant to one student is probably the same for all.

Motivational advantages

Most significant are the benefits of talking about issues of interest to Turks. Most Turks participate eagerly in discussions about the current flurry of Istanbul infrastructure works and the 2020 Olympic bid. Turks spend an inordinate amount of time with their families and they are happy to describe family events, which often make up part of each weekend.  It’s evident that a student needs to be interested in the topic at hand to maintain motivation, so also developed theme-based lessons rather than a curriculum, which allows flexibility during lessons to adapt instantly to student needs and desires.

So far, we’ve found that the culture-specific online classroom is a relaxed environment where students are ready to share. For a teacher with at least some knowledge of the students’ language and culture, it is also less time-consuming to make corrections that are often relevant to everyone present. Best of all, Turks seem as engaged in online lessons as in a physical classroom, and very much able and willing to build a positive learning relationship online.

We encourage discussion and look forward to hearing your ideas and comments!

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