Showing posts with label language learning. Show all posts
Showing posts with label language learning. Show all posts

Friday, May 23, 2014

A Fete for Fulbrights and Friends

 My Turkish Breakfast
If someone were to ask me what I did this last weekend, I could only reply "have breakfast." Besides the uplifting breakfast I had at Olga's on Sunday, I also held a small 'Fete for Fulbright Scholars and Friends' on Saturday.
Three incredibly dynamic young women
who inspire me:
Dr. Öykü Üluçay (she is Turkish),
Caitlin Nettleson, an American
about to finish her Fulbright year,
and Cassandra Puhls,
a Fulbrighter interested in
international education policy.
When I was young, it was always older people who inspired me. Lately, I've been finding it's the twenty-somethings (including my own children) who are touching my heart and filling me with hope for the future.

In Istanbul, I realized I knew several young Fulbright Scholars. I wanted to celebrate their excellence and give them an opportunity to meet or see those who are from a different year than theirs, plus introduce them to a few other dynamic young people who also inspire me. Not all of them could come. For example, one of them was getting married that day. 
"The Fulbright Program, including the Fulbright-Hays Program, is a program of highly competitive, merit-based grants for international educational exchange for students, scholars, teachers, professionals, scientists and artists, founded by United States Senator J. William Fulbright in 1946. Under the Fulbright program, competitively selected U.S. citizens may become eligible for scholarships to study, conduct research, or exercise their talents abroad; and citizens of other countries may qualify to do the same in the United States. 
The Fulbright Program is one of the most prestigious awards programs worldwide, operating in over 155 countries. Fifty-three Fulbright alumni have won Nobel Prizes; seventy-eight have won Pulitzer Prizes. More Nobel laureates are former Fulbright recipients than any other award program. 
The program was established to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries through the exchange of persons, knowledge, and skills." ~ from Wikipedia, May 21, 2014 
I was grateful for a spectacular Spring Day
so we could enjoy the garden.
American Fulbrighter
Abigail Bowman,
and her Turkish friend
Mert Tuncer.
Fellow Iowan Abigail Bowman graduates this June with her M.A. in Ottoman History from Sabancı University here in Istanbul.

When Abby was in 7th grade, she had to write a paper on a revolutionary or a reformer. Her uncle suggested the founder of the Turkish Republic, Atatürk.

Abby's paper and presentation made it all the way to 8th place nationally in America's National History Day competition. The Atatürk Society of America was so thrilled that this young student honored their leader, they sent her to Turkey to experience the country when she was a 9th grader. A lifelong interest in Turkey began to grow.

Anybody who knows Turkey can imagine how Turkish people respond to Abby when she says she wrote a paper on Atatürk in 7th grade.
I was so happy Fulbrighter
Elizabeth Rocas could come.
She brought her visiting American
friend from the States, Jacqueline.
Fulbrighter Niko Dimitrioğlu
 and Elizabeth Rocas
discovering they both speak Greek.
What else does Niko speak?
English, French, Uyghur,
Afghan Persian (Dari),
and Manderin Chinese.
Visiting Texan Shane Largo
represented another
inspiring young American
living here in Istanbul
but unable to make it to breakfast:
her daughter
Katy Herrera.

These young Fulbrighters who are sent out into the world to contribute to, explore, research and develop expertise in different countries are such a wonderful investment in America's future. Frankly, it is such a strategic investment. What could save America more money on wrong moves internationally than subject experts who can advise policy makers on given countries and cultures?

You'd think that would be an easy sell in Washington D.C. You'd be wrong. America simply does not invest as much as other countries in its international experts, even much smaller countries like Russia! For example, the Russians have over 16 ambassadors with more than five years of experience, the Americans have none! (Political scientist Ian Bremmer, Twitter, May 2014).

Salon puts current funding for the Fulbright program at around $234.5 million a year. Next year, a $30 million cut is proposed.

There is no constituency to argue for increasing the funding, save the alumni. The Fulbright Program doesn't create any jobs at home. It doesn't result in hefty contracts for American corporations. 

So this blog post is a message in a bottle to my fellow Americans. When I read about how the Fulbright program funding is in trouble, and I know the quality of the people who go through the program, I want to share with my fellow Americans a wish to keep this program not just alive, but growing.

It seems like common sense to invest in folks who understand other countries and cultures deeply via a non-militarized way. Intercultural exchange is a way to promote a more peaceful and prosperous world. I ask Americans to support continued, and even increasing, funding of the Fulbright program from now until the future.

I invite you to follow the Empty Nest Expat blog on Facebook!

You might also be interested in reading:

Talking about "My People, Iowans," to the Travel Junkies

Why the Obama Presidential Library Should be Built in Springfield, Illinois

President Obama in Prague!

"We are here because enough people ignored the voices who told them the world could not change" 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

My first Scrabble game in Turkish!

Look Ma!
I can play Scrabble in two languages!
My Turkish teacher is so clever. Just when she can feel her class of students running out of steam, she brings out a Scrabble game. Instantly, the men in my class sat up at competition. They had never actually played a Scrabble game before; they didn't even have the context of Scrabble in their native language to get them started on this beloved word game in Turkish. I, at least, had played the game plenty of times with enthusiasm in English.
Here is my very humble list of Turkish words in my first Turkish game: lale, maç, tel, kır, taksi, genç, kez, dolu, kanat, aşk. A Turkish as a Second Language speaker has to start somewhere!
 As I was silently lamenting that I couldn't put an 's' on the end of a word and make it plural, I thought, "wait a minute, Turkish is a language of agglutination. It is suffixes upon suffixes - that should make for super easy Scrabble." But my Teacher said "no, that would be too easy. You can't use past tense either." There were other "rules" differences too. She didn't score a word both up and down if you made one that had that possibility.
My score was 83. In English, I average over 300. No one got a triple word score. Turkish doesn't have a 10-point Q, but it does have a J worth 8 points and a Z worth four points. My Arabic-speaking friends wanted to next try the game in English, their second language.  I wondered if there was Scrabble in Arabic. Can you imagine?
So I can score better and faster, I'd like someone to create a backward dictionary in Turkish so I look up words by what letters they end with, not start with.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Days of Wine and Roses and Tulips: Wine Tasting at the Four Seasons Sultanahmet

 It's Tulip Time in Istanbul.
 The whole city is bursting with tulips - 4,000,000 of them.
These are in the courtyard of the Four Seasons Hotel Sultanahmet.
 My friend, Yasemin, had gathered a group for
wine tasting and divine cheeses -
a regular Friday night event
at the Four Seasons.
 Quince marmalade, olives, and fresh melon
with assorted breads and cheeses
displayed and assembled
to create our light repasts.
It was a treat to see friends -
in a momentary break from
weeks of intensive Turkish lessons.
Last night's tasting featured Italian wines:
Pinot Grigio Venezie IGT Blush, Ardesia 2011
Nero D'Avola IGT Sicily, Cataldo 2011
Cavalcante Sangiovese Di Toscana IGT, Baroncini 2011
Chianti "Messere" D.O.C.G. Baroncini 2011
I enjoyed the full-bodied Sangiovese and Chianti best. 
Danish blue and a smoky
Cergiz cheese were the most fabulous -
because they were the boldest.
Afterwards, we went to the roof
to enjoy the view of the Hagia Sophia on one side.
And the view of the Bosphorus
and the Four Seasons courtyard
on the other.
This Four Seasons Hotel used to be a coed prison.
It housed political prisoners
who were imprisoned after
the military coups in the 1980s.
 It is better to be in Istanbul
now, not then,
during these days of tulips and wine and roses.
Photos courtesy of Yasemin Erdem and Ibrahim Turco.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

"I am Listening to Istanbul"

"I am Listening to Istanbul"
by Orhan Veli Kanik
I had a young Turkish teenage friend who was supposed to be learning English from me, but he was just as much the teacher, as he delighted in bringing me weekly linguistic treasure from his culture. We fell into the habit of each bringing each other one masterpiece from our native language every week. Of course, while his authors were Turkish, I had to read his offerings in English.

If you want to deepen your love of your own culture and language, try to narrow down your favorite creations to one masterpiece a week. It's hard! I shared Rudyard Kipling's poem "If" and my young friend said "If -- playing on the title -- If -- you believe there are men like that, you'll be single forever!" I had to laugh.

Then I shared another favorite: Teddy Roosevelt's "In the Arena." He liked that one. And yet another wonderful poem to share was "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost because my friend felt such delight when he instantly understood the metaphor at the end. "Invictus" by William Ernest Henley with its famous last two lines, and "Ozymandias" with its sly message against pride were hits. It was especially fun for me to pull out as many inspiring masculine poems as I could find and still I hadn't even yet cracked open the poetry books of Robert Service or shared Jack London's short story "To Build a Fire." 

One masterpiece he shared with me from Turkish culture was the poem by Orhan Veli Kanik, "I am listening to Istanbul." My young friend read it to me in English. Now I think I know enough of the original language, I am going to try and learn it in Turkish. Maybe there are other poems I should try. Is there a more beautiful context for learning language?

"I have come to love English." my student said at the end of our time together. We ran out of weeks before I ran out of masterpieces.

The time we get to share with someone is so short, whomever it may be. I am so grateful for that experience.

Whom are you sharing with that brings you joy? Be grateful to share this moment. Appreciate it with enthusiasm, even if only to yourself.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Turkish baklava, the male kind

Like the box says:
Turkish baklava
One day, my Turkish teacher explained to our class that if a man had a beer belly, it was affectionately nicknamed "Turkish muscle" or "Turkish balcony."
Later, she told my class that if a man had a prominent six-pack on his abdomen, it was "Turkish baklava." I didn't quite get the metaphor until I say this photo. I can just imagine all of the movie scenes: "would you like to come back to my place for some baklava?"

Monday, January 7, 2013

Five Most Popular Posts From 2012 for the 'Empty Nest Expat' Blog

I didn't get to blog as much as I wanted last year because I devoted many hours of my time to learning Turkish. Still, I increased my number of posts from the year before. Here are the top five most popular posts written in 2013:
"Hürrem," the leading character
 of the show 
1. Ready to Try Some Turkish TV? Watch one episode of "The Magnificent Century"
This soap opera is must-watch TV in Turkey and surrounding countries. The Turkish Prime Minister has threatened to ban it for focusing too much on the Sultan's bedroom, and not enough on the Sultan's time on the battlefield. The Prime Minister's threats of censorship, of course, just increase popular interest.
Maiden's Tower on the Bosphorus
2. Time Out for Turkish
This post shares my Turkish language journey and some of the internet resources I have used along the way in my early days of learning. The irony is, now that I've finally paid to attend a traditional classroom, my learning is exponentially faster! It turns out you can't beat a real teacher walking you through the grammar.
3. Breaking the Silence on Street Harassment in Istanbul
Single women travellers are one of the largest growth segments in travel. I tried to point out the cost to countries and local businesses when women don't feel safe on their streets.
Here we are discussing Murakami
4. Discussing Books with the Global Minds Book Club
When I explain the idea behind the Global Minds Book Club as people from around the world discussing books from around the world, everywhere I go, people get excited. They love that idea! And once you've discussed a book with an international group, it can seem a bit tame to only discuss a title with only people from your own country. Challenge your thinking!
Global activist Eve Ensler
She doesn't look away
from the world's worst situations
5. VDay 2013: One Billion Women Rising Globally & .... Dancing!
In 2012, I acted in my first play "The Vagina Monologues" to support Eve Ensler and her amazing, amazing work on behalf of ending violence against women. I loved the experience, the time I spent with the women in the cast, and I look forward to doing my part in Eve Ensler's next big project: #1billionrising which happens next month. I hope you'll participate too.

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You might enjoy:

Most popular posts for the 'Empty Nest Expat' blog for 2009

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Discussing Books with the Istanbul Global Minds Book Club

I was proud to moderate
George Orwell's brilliant book
"Animal Farm"
at Global Minds Book Club
One of the Istanbul-based groups advertised on the Internations expatriate social network that attracted my attention was the fairly new “Global Minds Book Club.” I love reading and discussing books and have belonged to several book clubs over the years. The organizing mission of this group was to read books from all around the world and discuss them with people from all around the world who were currently residing in Istanbul.
Sinan, second from left,
moderated our discussion
of Harper Lee's
"To Kill A Mockingbird"
Global minds discussing global books: what an exciting idea! That was different than most book clubs organized in our home countries which feature friends of similar demographics discussing titles that are often targeted at that demographic. Those can often be a “great minds think alike” club.

I knew it would be a different type of book club when the first meeting I went to started with shots of melon liquor. While we may not have educational diversity (many members have graduate degrees) we do have national, religious, racial, ethnic, tribal and sect diversity.
Stalwart members
Matt and Işil
For the Turkish people who come to the meetings, it is often their first book club experience as there is no tradition of book club discussions in Turkey. There are many reasons for that. Widespread literacy is less than 100 years old in Turkey due to the change in alphabet. Stories in this part of the world are often shared orally rather than on the written page. The idea of discussing art, culture, politics, and life in a good-natured way with all kinds of different people that one doesn’t know very well is often considered a new and very foreign idea, especially when the premise is that the discussion takes place over a book. I tip my hat in appreciation to people of all nationalities who come to the club to discuss a book in English, frequently their second or third language.
Clarence Nartey, Founder
Global Minds Book Club
leading our discussion of
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's
"Half of a Yellow Sun"
Clarence Nartey, the man from Ghana who started the “Global Minds Book Club” is uniquely suited for the role.  As a marketing manager for a multinational corporation he has traveled all over the globe in his professional roles with visits to 20 countries (Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Togo, South Africa, Singapore, Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia,Vietnam, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, India, Turkey, UAE, France, UK , Spain and Israel), sometimes living in a country for a month at a time, and other times living there for a couple years. I remember when I got my first emails from him detailing how the group was organized, what we were reading, and when. I thought “this is MBA-level organization for a mere book club.”  Joyfully, our book club is both relaxed - often meeting poolside or in a picnic venue, and organized within an inch of its life!
We met under the gazebo
at my place
last summer to discuss
Haruki Murakami's
"After Dark"
We frequently meet in our different homes. This has prompted our members to travel all over Istanbul and gets us into neighborhoods we would not have a reason to visit otherwise. The club has become so successful that Clarence has considered dividing us into two groups, with a meeting simultaneously held on each continent. There are over 240 people on the email list, with around 15 responding positively that they will come, and a usual 8-10 actually making it. Not bad considering that coming to a discussion can involve up to a two-hour trip each way as people cross continents!
We were supposed to go swimming
after this meeting
but the discussion was so good
we never got in the pool
Clarence says, “what thrills me about reading now is not the act of reading a book, but now reading a book, organizing friends to share it and using the book as a springboard to elicit multiple and diverse perspectives from fellow readers.”  He has done that so beautifully and created such a lively community of book lovers here in Istanbul . Wanting to extract every bit of value from the experience, he has also asked the members to donate the books after the discussion to interested libraries or groups to help them broaden their reading horizons too.

Eventually, even the expatriates we rely on the most, like Clarence, must leave. That’s the nature of the expatriate experience – a short time together of meaningful intensity.

He has told the Global Minds Book Club that within a month or two he will be transferred to the continent of Africa. He is excited about returning to his home continent, but oh, will we miss him! In keeping with his tradition of stellar management, Clarence already has his replacement “Global Minds Book Club” organizer lined up. 

Our reading list to date:
Global Citizens - Mark Gerzon ( non-fiction)
Little Bee / The Other Hand - Chris Cleave (fiction)
Tipping Point - Malcolm Gladwell ( non-fiction) I joined here
Life of Pi - Yann Martel (fiction)
To Kill a Mocking Bird - Harper Lee (fiction)
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - Jonathan S. Foer (fiction)
After Dark - Haruki Murakami ( fiction)
The Gambler - Fyodor Dostoevsky( fiction)
Animal Farm - George Orwell (fiction)

The White Tiger -Aravind Adiga (fiction)
Catcher in the Rye - J D Salinger (fiction)
Shah of Shahs- Ryszard Kapuscinski (non-fiction)
Half of a Yellow Sun -  Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (fiction)

 This book is easily my favorite discovery through the club!
Future Titles:
New York Trilogy - Paul Auster (fiction)
Cairo Modern - Naguib Mahfouz (fiction)
Sammarkand - Amin Maalouf  (fiction)
Homage to Catalonia - George Orwell (non-fiction)
Do you have an expat book club? Or a book club devoted to reading international titles? What has made it fun? Do you have a book recommendation for our club that your group enjoyed?

You may also like these posts:

Making Expat Friends Through Internations

Africa Day @ Global Minds Book Club

All my posts on books


Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Review of LiveMocha.Com : The Internet's Largest Language Learning Website

This review originally appeared as a guest post on the Everyday Language Learner's Blog. Thanks to language coach Aaron G. Myers for his encouragement! You can go to the original review on Aaron's blog for additional user feedback on Do you have experience with I'd love to know how it has worked for you!

I’m an American expatriate bursting with enthusiasm to get out and experience our globe! When my two children graduated from high school, I saw that as my opportunity to see and hear the world from alternative points-of-view by moving overseas. I sold everything and moved to Prague, Czech Republic. Now I’m living in Istanbul, Turkey. I enjoy it so much I’ve decided to put down some expat roots and learn the local language.

As Aaron G. Myers is also an Istanbul, Turkey resident, it wasn’t long before I ran across his Everyday Language Learner’s blog. Aaron coaches people from all over the world on self-directed language learning. I started his free ten-week journey of emailed inspiration, resources, and advice on how to do just that. In Week Two, he recommended a resource for language-learning that was new to me: LiveMocha. Since LiveMocha billed itself as THE largest language-learning website on the internet, and it was free to boot, I immediately started an account.

The best thing about the site is its intuitive design. There is no mystery to how to work the site, everything is clearly labeled and easy to figure out. When I logged in, I could immediately switch the site to English and choose between working on my language courses, exploring the culture of my new language, or practicing Turkish with native Turkish speakers. Livemocha offers over 38 possible languages, with 12 million registered users, from 196 countries. The website itself is just five years old!

The genius of the design is using social networking to help people learn languages. Native speakers of one language grade the work of people trying to learn their language. That favor is reciprocated when the ‘teachers’ become students in the language of their choice! Native speakers will not only grade each other’s work, they will offer tips to understand the grammar, and practice speaking live.

LiveMocha courses are divided into three sets of five lessons. I like this. It reminded me of marathon courses. Marathon runners don’t like one long, linear course instead preferring short distances with lots of turns that add up over time. It helps the runner visualize not the entire path, but just the next step. I chose as my first course, Turkish 101, on March 7, 2011 and finished the entire 51-set of Turkish lessons in four courses on January 24, 2012. I was always excited to see what the next lesson would be and to finish a set. Those steps, repeated over and over, made it all seem so doable.

Each individual lesson began with up to 40 Turkish words or phrases. The large number of new phrases and words surprised me, because I had been taught in my TEFL teacher’s certification course, that a language lesson should never be more than eight words, as eight is the maximum a student can remember from each lesson. Maybe online lessons are different, I don’t know. I remembered them.

First I would learn the words devoted to a theme, say “clothing,” and then immediately get quizzed on them via a review session, a listening session, and a reading session. Frequent quizzing has been shown to aid short-term retention. I liked getting all of those answers right! Each lesson required me to do a writing and speaking sample. I would always put that off because they were harder to do. Finally, to complete the lesson, I would take the quiz on that individual lesson. It was fun to take the quiz multiple times and track my improvements in time. How quickly could I finish it?

I can think of four very easy improvements to the site. I was asked by users to be friends in language-learning, but finding someone to grade your samples and be possible language-learning partners seemed so random. Sure, other users would rate us on our teaching ability (I had quite a bit of ego in my 100% useful rating) but toward the end I happened upon a teacher whose answers were truly more complete and educational than others. Sure enough, his profile showed he had been recognized as a Top 10 Teacher in Turkish. Why doesn’t the site show us exactly which teachers are rated highest so we can pick them? I found my favorite teacher when I was on my last five lessons. Finding him earlier would have increased my trust of the site.

Another feature I would add to the site is to not make students guess at the pronunciation of a passage. While I would learn terms or words in a lesson, for the speaking practice attached to each lesson (usually a whole paragraph), I would often have to go outside the site to figure out how I should pronounce the words. It would be so easy to have other users actually create a sample hand-crafted audio for us to mimic. Instead, I inputted my sentences into Google Translate to figure out how to say them.

Users could criticize a phrase in a useful tip left for those learning. This was not always helpful. The lesson would try and teach a phrase and the sidebar featured someone saying, “we don’t say that!” When someone has a specific criticism of the lesson, I think site administrators should use that criticism to change the ‘slide’ and then delete the teacher’s tip. It would be one more way to create a friction-free site.

One area that I did not explore well because I didn’t see the benefit of it was flash cards. Why would I use a flash card set, when there existed a beautiful lesson with visual and audios that I could access again and again? Why would I even try someone’s top-rated flashcard set? Since we all had the exact same opportunity to create flashcards based on the lesson, I couldn’t see how someone’s flash cards could be more interesting than the lesson itself. That was not self-evident.

Lastly, I would ask LiveMocha to put verb work closer to the front of the courses. Even after 51 lessons, I could occasionally pull off a small conversation. However, I would characterize what I knew as words and phrases that were the building blocks of future conversations. I believe if verb work was closer to the front, people would be able to make sentences faster.

I remember the weekend I started to understand the signage around me. I remember the weekend I had my first 10-minute conservation with someone at the bus stop. It’s exciting to become more comfortable in a second culture and examine new ways of thinking about my world in a second language. Thank you, Aaron, for the recommendation. Thank you, Live Mocha, for getting me started in Turkish. I was sad to finish my last lesson and I wished for more and more lessons.

What better recommendation is there than that?

You may also like the post: Time Out for Turkish

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Time Out for Turkish

Maiden's Tower on the Bosphorus

I haven't blogged here for awhile.  It is not because I don't have a million things to say; I do. I have had to choose - between spending time learning Turkish - or blogging. Turkish won. It's not like I have a staff who can help me keep my blog going while I study: gidiyorum, gidiyorsun, gidiyor. The authenticity of my blog is that it is merely me, myself, and I.

I've had so much fun learning Turkish, I've put "learning another language" on my bucket list. Before becoming an "Empty Nest Expat" I was a typical American who could only speak English. I took 7th grade French, but I didn't learn much and never had any opportunity to use it.  These days in America, a child could at least practice his Spanish with a native speaker on a daily basis. Like many in America, I found it hard to justify the time investment of learning another language with only the typical two weeks of vacation each year, usually spent within the continental United States. Take a look at this infographic before embarking on a language journey.

Part of being an "Empty Nest Expat" though is to meet people on their turf and attempt to communicate with them in their language and hear, see and feel their point-of-view. My time in the Czech Republic rid me of the intimidation factor many Americans feel toward learning a foreign language because I met plenty of people who had learned not one, but two, and sometimes three or more foreign languages.  If they could do it, why not me?  This was such a perfect example of the importance of role models in our learning environment. Even though I came from a highly educated environment (my hometown is among the top three American cities for number of Ph.D.'s per capita), I don't often meet Americans who have learned a lot of languages, so it is easy to say and think,"I'll never learn." Nonsense.

America's political climate also encourages America to stay ignorant of the languages and world outside of America.  When I was younger, if a politician made fun of another politician for knowing a foreign language, it wouldn't have occured to me to wonder "why does that politician want to keep Americans afraid of and ignorant of the greater world? Is he afraid we'd all discover that our country is getting outperformed on several metrics?" This downscale English-only attitude may appeal to some aspects of the American public but only furthers to make the nation less competitive globally. Plus, when our citizens don't know other languages, we really do have to rely on our own political leaders for interpretation of events.  It's healthy to have points of interaction with other countries at many levels, including citizen-to-citizen, and not just in our native language.
The first week I was in Turkey, I went to YouTube to look up "10 words of survival Turkish." The two words for "thank you" take six syllables to say. YouTube was censored at the time in Turkey so I found this instead: the 100 most useful words in Turkish. I learned them. My goal was to learn three words a day. Next came this resource, the free part of the website called "Funky Turkish." I've also been using a book called "Turkish in Three Months." I've lived here a year-and-a-half and I'm about halfway through.

The person who has really propelled me forward on my language learning journey is Aaron G. Myers, writer of the Everyday Language Learner blog.  Aaron is a former English language teacher who now is a self-employed language-learning coach. I signed up to take his free 10-week course on self-directed language learning.  I also won an hour of coaching from him through his Facebook page.  These two wonderful educational tools have helped me realize and maintain my own enthusiasm for learning Turkish.

It doesn't hurt that Aaron also lives in Istanbul, and has taken the exact same journey I'm on - learning Turkish! He's created, for example, his own handcrafted audio site for people learning Turkish language to listen to again and again.  It's called the Turkish Listening Library. It would be fun to contribute my own Turkish audio someday.

Aaron Myer's blog and advice are suitable for any language.  He has taught me about fun online language-learning resources that I did not know about. So far, I haven't spent a dime on the Turkish I have learned. I also have invested only the amount of time I would not regret spending on it while living here.

I started with a resource Aaron suggested as part of his 10-week journey: It's the largest language-learning website on the Internet. I first logged on on March 7th, 2011 and finished my final and 51st lesson on January 24, 2012.

Now I am beginning with a second online resource he recommended called which will help me graduate from phrases to conversations. I am still a beginner but I can make myself understood with people who don't know English, even with my rudimentary grammer.

The first year of language learning is the hardest. I watched with interest as Yearlyglot tried to learn Turkish in one year from Italy.  I lived here in Turkey and I wasn't near that fast! At the end of the year, he admitted, "ok, so maybe that wasn't doable." But in watching people learn, I learned too. I also learned not to think of language as something binary: not knowing or flown-blown fluency.  One of my Czech students told me he had a fine vacation in North American on 150 words of English. Getting to that level with online resources is fun and easy.

Did you know, when the creators of Esperanto were looking around the world for a suitable grammar for their newly-created language they chose Turkish grammar as the most logical?  I found that, in itself, motivating!
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