Friday, February 25, 2011

2nd Turkish Olympiad Took Place in the Nation’s Capital

WATCH THE VIDEO - it's great !

2nd Turkish Olympiad Opening from on Vimeo.

The event, sponsored by the American Turkish Friendship Association (ATFA) and the Mid-Atlantic Federation of Turkic American Associations (MAFTAA) was held at the Langley High School in Virginia. Contestants from North Carolina, Maryland, Kentucky, Virginia and Delaware competed in different categories including singing, poetry recital and folk dance.
Speaking at the ceremony, Hon. Gerald E. Connoly of Virginia’s 11th Congressional District reminded that Turkey is a very important friend and a long-term ally of the US. Cong. Connolly, greeted the audience by saying “İyi Akşamlar”, which is ‘good evening’ in Turkish. Noting that he has been living with Turkish residents of Virginia for a long time, Cong. Connoly stated that the events like Turkish Olympiad are the best indicators of the friendly relations between the two countries.
Faruk Taban, the president of the MAFTAA, mentioned the significant importance of Turkish schools and Turkish cultural centers around the world to introduce Turkey along with publicizing the Turkish language.
At the end of the jury’s evaluation, Gabrielle Harris was announced as the winner of the singing competition. Greensboro Folk Dance team was awarded first in folk dance category with their performance.
Along with around a thousand spectators, journalists, authors, musicians, community leaders and political figures was also among the audience.
The finalists became the candidates to represent the nation’s capital in 8th International Turkish Olympiads, to be held in Turkey between May 26th and June 10th,  2010.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Helpful hints for learning Turkish - HDN

Helpful hints for learning Turkish

The decision to move to another country is often done with a healthy dose of blind passion, just like falling in love, so that it’s only later that one realizes the pitfalls of one’s decision, if any. Moving to Turkey must have seemed like a great idea for many, that is, until they realized they just had to learn Turkish to integrate and enjoy the country more.

That’s when it gets interesting, to say the least. With the Turkish lexicon having so little crossover with most expats’ languages – which are often Indo-European in their roots and not Turkic like Turkish – even remembering the word for “thank you” can be difficult for most, not to mention pronouncing it.

It’s easy to fall into a mood of despair and feel like “I’ll never learn this language! It’s too hard!” But do not despair, make yourself a “nescafé,” grab a “sigara” if you need one, de-stress and read the helpful hints below which, if practiced regularly, will have you able to converse in light conversation sooner than you can say Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

Listen 1: There are two parts to this because it is so important. Learning a language is primarily about listening and repeating what is said, like a parrot. We’ve all seen how babies and toddlers do it. At the age of 3 they are learning a handful of words a day. There is no reason why you can’t do the same. Often as a language learner, you can be caught up with what you want to say and saying it correctly with the result that you haven’t actively listened to the person you’re speaking to; so haven’t heard exactly how they said what they did. By listening intently, eventually, you catch not only the gist but also the separate words that were said and hence will be able to repeat later when you need them.

Listen 2. If you have a CD of Learning Turkish, which is recommended, put it on every morning for half an hour while getting ready for the day. If you don’t have that, switch on some talk radio. Getting used to the sound of the language is very important. It’s like exercising that part of your brain, as we would a part of our body. For the first month or so it will seem like one big sound with no words distinguishable but as you learn some vocabulary alongside, suddenly you will have moments of “Eureka!” as you spot some familiar words amid the blanket of sound. The payback from this exercise is enormous, for not only are you absorbing the sounds but also the rhythm and intonation of the language, which become important in time.

Speak. This may seem obvious but it is often the thing that the learner most resists for fear of sounding silly. The next time you feel like this, just listen closely to the English your Turkish compatriot spoke to you and hear how mixed up their verb tenses, grammar, syntax and so on is. Do you or they care? Of course not, you’re having a conversation, not a language class; so it’s primarily about communicating with each other – and enjoying it. At a later stage of learning, ask your friend to correct you as you speak, this will speed up your learning process.

Be patient. This can’t be stressed enough. It takes quite a while for the brain to absorb and reproduce the new sounds, especially with Turkish since they are completely unrelated to your mother tongue. You will understand the basics after a time, yet still not be able to speak; that is very frustrating, but bide your time. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Give yourself at least three months to be able to speak sentences that make grammatical sense!

Master the basics. To help yourself enjoy the chitchats that you may have during the day, try to familiarize yourself as much as possible with all the main greetings, requests for things, responses to common courtesies and so on. Your confidence will receive a boost when, for example, someone suddenly responds to your “Nasılsın?’” with “İyiyim, sen nasılsın?” You’ll be skipping all the way home and inspired to continue the slog.

Read. Every day, as you go about your business, read everything you see. Read the shop signs, road signs, the signs for 10 percent off on washing products, the menus, the leaflet you were just handed, the advertisements, the packaging on your food and anything else. It helps familiarize you with how the language looks as well as making you familiar with your surroundings. Buy children’s books that you are already familiar with from home, such as classic fairy tales. Watch movies with Turkish subtitles. Make sure your dictionary is well thumbed by constantly looking up words you don’t know and writing them in your little notebook, that, as a language learner, you should always be carrying.

Study. Yes, the boring truth about learning a language, like mastering an instrument, is that you have to hide yourself away quite regularly with your exercise book and dictionary and just practice and master the basics. The Internet can be hugely helpful in this area. These are two sites that are highly recommend: .

Last but not least, thank your lucky stars that Turkish uses the Latin alphabet today and not the Arabic one! Your work is halved, at least!

Kolay gelsin!

*** Kate Fennell speaks native Irish and English; fluent French, German and Russian and passable Spanish, Italian and Turkish.

SOURCE: Hurriyet Daily News

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A much loved friend of Turkish learners gets a facelift

A group of foreigners living in Turkey attend a Turkish language class in Ankara.

2010 seems to have been a year of rebuilding and restoration in İstanbul. The several efforts starting a few years early to renovate some of the city’s best-loved monuments gained speed, focus and, most importantly, a budget as the city became a European Capital of Culture.

I guess I first noticed the sea-change in attitudes to old buildings in the fall of 2009 when I took some foreign visitors to the Hagia Sophia and was absolutely delighted to see the work then under way on the outer buttresses. The plaster and bright paint that had been added in misguided enhancements to the building towards the end of the 20th century were being painstakingly removed, revealing the most magnificent original brickwork underneath.

At that time, of course, the inside of the church-turned-mosque-turned-museum was scarred by the scaffolding so necessary for the interior renovations, but this too was dismantled at the beginning of the year to reveal the nave and dome in all its glory, including a newly renovated archangel.

Arguably the most outstanding restoration in 2010 was that of Sinan’s İstanbul masterpiece -- the Süleymaniye Mosque. Although not quite as marvelous as his later work in Edirne, this mosque is an amazing example of the architect’s genius.

It also was given a special place in the cultural heritage of the country by Yahya Kemal Beyatlı, who wrote a famous poem about prayers on a religious feast day at Süleymaniye. The poet describes the mystery of the footsteps of hundreds of people coming together in the early hours of the morning “under our own dome, the sky,” and imagines the curtain of time rising over the ghosts of nine centuries of the faithful who have trod the same path every religious feast day morning. So it was fitting that the reopening of the newly restored mosque should coincide with the first religious feast day of Kurban Bayramı.

Another of Sinan’s works being given a facelift as a result of 2010 financing is the Kılıç Ali Paşa Mosque at Tophane. Once a week I pass by on my way to Karaköy, and I have watched the external progress on the dome, as old sheets of metal have been replaced with gleaming new ones. In eager anticipation I wonder what the scene will look like once the corrugated metal fencing is taken down.

Just a quick scan of the 2010 website shows many more buildings that have been renewed in the year. Not just mosques: bridges, clock towers and even the historic Hasköy Mayor Synagogue have received a little bit of the 2010 stardust. A banner over the motorway invited İstanbulites to visit the renewed Otağ-ı Hümayun. Curious about this, I did a little research and discovered it is an old building on the Yıldız University campus, named after the old sultan’s tents, which now is potentially a wonderful location for exhibitions and events.

Not all of the 2010 changes have been publicly funded. Closed for a long period, the Pera Palas Hotel opened with its newly restored face in September. The style and elegance of the Orient Express era is alive and well in the center of old İstanbul. I have always loved the dramatic elevator, with its velvet lining and cast metal frame, and am enthralled every time I see the sedan chair in which visitors -- maybe merchants, lords or ambassadors -- were carried up the steep hill from the Galata Bridge to the hotel. It was a delight to see these survive the refit, in pride of place, along with the fascinating chairs in the patisserie with their hoods to protect the modesty (or anonymity?) of female guests.

Marble has been re-polished, wood and glass restored, and much of the hotel is vastly improved. Some parts, however, are a slight disappointment, with a restaurant named after Agatha Christie, but otherwise resembling a bland 21st century hotel dining room....[CONTINUED BELOW]

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