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Language Acquisition Turkish: Beginners 1


Admission requirements


Course description and teaching approach

Beginning Turkish I & II are designed for students who are interested in learning Turkish as a foreign or second language and have little or no previous knowledge of Turkish grammar and vocabulary. Through a communicative approach with all four skills (reading, writing, speaking and listening) integrated, it emphasizes basic oral communication skills and micro-sociolinguistic rules of conversation in Turkish without underestimating the role of grammar. Turkish has an agglutinating structure, which means that students will learn to attach multiple affixes to a stem to form individual words. It also has a sentence structure with a more flexible word order than Dutch does; so, students will also learn the discourse rules that govern this flexibility. Reading activities are solely based on authentic texts to provide early access to naturally-occurring language tailored for students’ needs and interests. Speaking and listening activities underline real communicative events with information gap. By the end of the second block, students will have developed an elementary to pre-intermediate proficiency level of Turkish grammar and vocabulary as well as basic communication skills (A1), and will have become ready to take the next level (A2).

Course objectives

Grammar: Turkish does not use an overt copular verb (e.g. to be), but it does indeed have copular sentences. Students will develop an understanding of this structure in the present and past tenses. Other basic constructions include but are not limited to the simple present and simple past tense, present and past progressive, existential constructions and the locative case, possessive construction and the genitive case, some postpositions to mark time and manner of events, noun-noun compounding, verbs that inherently assign dative and ablative cases, directives an the optative, comparatives and superlatives, specificity and differential object marking (accusative case).

Vocabulary and use: Students will learn a wide range of basic vocabulary items, such as numbers, occupations, countries and nationalities, verbs denoting everyday activities, kinship terms, various adverbs of time and manner, food names and classifiers, various adjectives needed to describe people, places and things, and complex verbs commonly found in Turkic languages that involve a bare noun and a simple verb. Students will also learn some basic situationally-bound utterances, such as the ones we need when we introduce ourselves, ask about people, places and things and describe events.

Spoken interaction: We will emphasize spoken interaction since language is primarily for interacting with people. By the end of the course, students will be able to introduce themselves, ask and talk about personal information, describe people, places and things, talk about daily activities and hobbies, ask and talk about past events, give directions, talk about wishes and desires, describe events and compare and contrast people, places and things.

Listening: Students will learn to recognize Turkish lexical and sentential stress, understand commonly used words and expressions when speakers speak carefully, recognize Turkish vowels and consonants and distinguish between minimal pairs that include problem sounds for Dutch speakers (e.g. [ɯ]), recognize two-way and four-way vowel harmony in Turkish, follow simple directives and understand the relationship between words in simple, commonly used sentence structures.

Speaking: By the end of the second block, students will have learned to form simple sentences, wh- questions and yes/no questions with appropriate intonation and stress. They will also have mastered the Turkish consonants and vowels including the ones that are potentially difficult for Dutch speakers to produce. (Luckily, there aren’t many of these.) We will focus on Turkish vowel harmony rules throughout the semester because almost all Turkish suffixes with only few exceptions follow either the two-way or the four-way vowel harmony

Reading: Students will read short texts to look for information, understand the main idea, recognize the order of events, understand the relationship between words in a sentence, understand descriptions of people, places, things and events. Some short texts include but are not limited to signs, forms, timetables, descriptions, short biographies and autobiographies, menus, recipes and newspaper articles. We will be using a number of extra authentic materials to supplement our textbook.

Writing: By the end of the second block, students will have learned to fill out forms with personal information, write post-cards or other short texts where they introduce themselves, their families and friends, make daily schedules and shopping lists, give a recipe, and short descriptions of events.

European Common Framework goals after fulfilling Beginning Turkish II:

Listening: A1a
Reading: A1
Spoken interaction: A1
Spoken production: A1
Writing: A1

Required materials

The main textbook is Yeni Hitit Yabancılar için Türkçe Ders Kitabı 1 (TÖMER Ankara Üniversitesi Yayınları) for both blocks. We will also be using a number of extra materials to supplement this book. The extra materials include grammar and vocabulary exercises, reading activities based on authentic texts, writing activities, listening activities, guidelines for spoken interaction in the classrooom. You will be given hard-copies of these materials. Soft-copies will also be uploaded to Blackboard, under “course documents.”

Beginning Turkish I
Lectures: 45 hours
Assessment: 5 hours
Class preparation: 45 hours
Homework assignments: 45 hours
Total: 140 hours

Course policies

Class participation is extremely important in learning a language. It is even more important in learning a language for which the classroom context is the main source of input. You are therefore required to attend every session. The percentage of absence may affect your grade. In case you have to be absent in order to observe any religious holidays during the semester, you must let the instructor know within the first two weeks of class through email. Assignments or projects are expected to be submitted on time. Deadlines will be enforced strictly with exceptions like documentation from a hospital or athletic/academic excused absences. Mobile phones and electronic devices are allowed only if they are used for classroom purposes, such as when using a dictionary app.

Assessment method

To be allowed to sit for the final exam for both Beginning Turkish I and Beginning Turkish II, students must satisfy the following skills requirements throughout the courses:

  • Quizzes: 30%

  • Creative project: 20%

  • Homework assignments:50%

Students who achieve at least 60% of the above skills requirements may register for the final exam, which counts for 100% of the course grade.

Quizzes: At the end of each module, you will be given a written quiz. Each quiz will take about 30 minutes and cover topics of grammar, vocabulary and communicative interaction from the relevant module.
Homework assignments: You will be given a number of homework assignments during the semester. These will be based on both previous material for review and on future material to prepare for the next module.
Creative project and presentation: You will be asked to do a mini project on a topic of your own choice for each block. You will be asked to submit this to me in written format and also present it in class orally. More on this project is to be announced on a separate handout.
Final exam: There will be a final exam at the end of each block. These exams will be in two parts, a written part which includes grammar, vocabulary, use, reading and listening, and an oral part which includes speaking and spoken interaction