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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.

TurksLearnEnglish.com 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: www.ted.com

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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Apr 26, 2013 By Tags:, , ,

İngilizce Dersleri: ‘önce’ and ‘sonra’

İngilizce Dersleri: this series offers easy, everyday solutions to challenges that Turks have with the English language.

If Turkish is your mother tongue, you might have difficulty with ago, earlier, before, after, in, and later. These words can be adverbs, conjunctions, prepositions and adjectives. Here we look at the most basic errors by Turks and provide a couple of examples to explain how you can use the idea of sonra and önce in English.

İngilizce for Turks: Ago, earlier, or before?

How do you express this idea in English: Üç gün önce sinemaya gittim.

You can use ago or earlier. Ago would be more common.

I went to the cinema three days ago is natural spoken English

I went to the cinema three days earlier is also correct, but more formal.

For example:

 – He left three days ago.

He left three days earlier.

Don’t use before.

In the two sentences above, ago and later are adverbs.

İngilizce for Turks: How to use before

Next, how do you deal with: Sinemaya gitmeden önce kahve içtik?

To express this idea in English, you need to understand that önce joins two events. So before is the correct word to use:

We drank coffee before we went to the cinema, or

Before we went to the cinema we drank coffee.

In these examples, before is a conjunction.

Don’t use ago or later.

İngilizce for Turks: After, later or in?

Üç gün sonra sinemaya gidiyoruz.

Here, you are talking about an event in the future. The only correct word is in:

We’re going to the cinema in three days.

And, üç gün sonra Istanbul’dan ayrılacak.

He’ll leave Istanbul in three days.

What about this?

Üç gün önce Istanbul’dan ayrıldı.

This is something that happened in the past, so the correct word is ago.

She left Istanbul three days ago.

Don’t use later.

But, if you are talking about an event that happened before another event in the past, then you need to use later or after.

For example:

Istanbul’a geldi. Üç gün sonra ayrıldı.

He arrived in Istanbul and left two days later.

Again, later is an adverb.

İngilizce for Turks: How to use after

After is both an adverb and a preposition in English

Biz geldikten sonra ayrıldı.

He left after we arrived.

Yemekten sonra sinemaya gidiyorum.

I’m going to the cinema after dinner.

In the first example, after is an adverb.

For the second example, after is a preposition.

I know that advanced learners and native English speakers might disagree with me, but the idea is to make the use of the words a little easier.

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, let us know if this was helpful, or any other topics you would like us to cover!

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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 theatlantic.com 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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Time for culture-specific online language learning: English tailored for Turks.

TurksLearnEnglish.com 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 TurksLearnEnglish.com, 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 TurksLearnEnglish.com 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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