Reflections

Most of the insight that I have gained into the language acquisition process has been mentioned in a previous post. To summarize and expand upon some of my previous mentioned points, I am still not entirely convinced by the total immersion method often recommended for beginners. Immersion classes and, the associated, “forced conversations”, which are efficient over the long run, can frustrate 1) the shyest students in the case of complete beginners; 2) intermediate learners whose exposure to the language has primarily involved reading and/or grammar translations methods. I would advise anyone planning summer language study to immerse themselves heavily in the language before departure and drill their listening skills with comprehensible inputs (see Stephen Krashen’s Theory of Second Language Acquisition, and for listening based language methods, I wholeheartedly recommend Glossika).

My goals have been largely surpassed. As planned, I am now capable of reading intermediate level texts in Turkish with little difficulty. Most interesting is the progress that I have made in listening and speaking abilities. Thanks to the methods recommended above, and many hours dedicated to listening to Turkish, I am capable of watching relatively straightforward TV programs such as cartoons with little to no difficulty. Likewise, I am very confident in having small talk with native speakers.

My newfound skills in Turkish will be at the heart of my academic career. In the near future, I am planning to use it in two ways. 1) Next spring, I will put these skills to the test since I am spending the semester at a University in Turkey. 2) My comprehensive examination in May will have me engage with academic and non-academic literature in Turkish and debate nuanced points of scholarship. Regarding my further Turkish studies, my program is currently rigorously organized as follows for five days out of seven: 1) Watch 20mns of television in Turkish in the morning, without subtitles (usually something rather simple such as cartoons). 2) One hour of intensive reading every morning, divided between 30mns of folktales in modern Turkish and 30mns of folktales in Ottoman Turkish (this hour is dedicated to engaging cautiously with more difficult texts) 3) 20mns of extensive reading in the evening, usually something simple such as comics or newspaper articles on simple topics (sports, general news etc.).