Tuesday, May 10, 2011

WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT interviews Rumi Forum

The Washington Diplomat

Excerpt from full article that explores the new and growing language courses in Washington DC including our Turkish language classes
...."Basically we recognized a demand, and we thought with our background and the fact this organization was founded by Turkish Americans, we could play a part in bringing that to the Washington, D.C., area," Celik explained. "Turkey is on the rise in terms of global attention so a lot of people are wanting to improve their understanding of Turkey. And the best way to do that is through Turkish language and culture."
So far, around 40 to 50 students have completed the intensive program, which includes eight four-hour classes per month, over a two-month span. Currently, 20 students are enrolled in classes held at the Rumi Forum offices in downtown D.C.
Though it's still small, with a single teacher, Celik is optimistic that more people will be attracted to the classes once word gets out. He points out that learning Turkish at the Rumi Forum focuses on more than just the language — it teaches about traditions, norms, etiquette and even food.
"I think they really appreciate that — it's more than just pen and paper classroom. We really do encourage students to pick up on all aspects of Turkish culture as that's what will help them," Celik said, noting the forum recently organized a Turkish dinner for its students.

SOURCE:   www.washdiplomat.com

Saturday, May 7, 2011

[Preparing yourself for success in language learning] Creating an environment conducive to learning

Last week, you learned that everyone processes new information in different ways, and that being aware about how you best learn is helpful when planning your Turkish studies.

Once you discover your personal learning style, you are halfway to the finish line. The next step is to create a learning environment that properly reflects your personal learning style. When you take the time to set up a viable learning environment, you make it easy to study. That ease can affect how you feel about learning which can lead to increased motivation and success in reaching your learning goals.
Creating a study space

Even in the smallest of living arrangements, we can usually find a place to commandeer for a special purpose. I have seen many a meditation corner or a reading corner in my friends' houses, so why not a study corner?

Create your own study corner as a direct reflection of your personal learning style. If you need a soft comfortable chair and low lighting or if you need a small desk with a hard straight-back chair -- set it up. If you need music in the background, make sure that you have music ready to go -- whether it be in the form of a stereo setup or an mp3 player on your desk. Adjust the lighting, furniture, sound/silence to offer you an optimum learning environment. If you are a morning person, try to do some studying in the morning before you get into your day; if you are a night owl, plan to get in some study time before you go to bed.

In addition to altering your physical environment, make sure that your method of studying reflects your personal learning strategies. If you are a visual learner, have text and pictures on hand to read/look at while learning; consider keeping a blank pad of paper to doodle and draw on or on which you can paste images. If you are an auditory learner, working with audio lessons or audio/visual materials will help your valuable study time to be that much more productive.

The bottom line is that the more carefully and consciously you set up your learning activities and learning environment, the faster you will reach the success you desire.
Finding the time to study

One of the biggest complaints I hear from my clients is, “I don't have the time to study.” But, if you think about it, we adults always tend to find time for the things we love to do -- even when we have “no” time.

In this busy world, many of us tend to be over extended in our work and social life. We “want” to learn Turkish, but we just “can't find the time.”

One of the first things you want to do is to make an honest self-assessment. Do you really want to learn Turkish? Many times we want the end goal (a second language, money, a skill), but when we hunker down and honestly contemplate it, we might realize that while we want the goal, we really don't want to go through the hard work of obtaining that goal. So ask yourself a question, “Do I really want to embark on this journey?”
If the answer is yes, then you have to find the time.

Sit down with yourself and think about the things you must do- no matter what. I'm sure a couple of things came up such as eating, sleeping, hydrating yourself, but if you think harder you will come up with going to work/school, paying rent, cleaning your house- the list is very personal. Now consciously add “learning Turkish” to the list and do it! Think of it as a contract that you will not breach. Make sure you study a little bit every day. Aim for a minimum of 15 minutes. You will find that some days you'll spend more time, but strive to at least meet the minimum.

If you are truly over budgeted on time, then use that 15 minutes to review information you already “know.” Practice the alphabet by spelling words you know; practice numbers and vocabulary by counting and/or naming things in your home; jot useful phrases onto blank index cards and run through them as quickly as you can- time yourself, make it a game!
Visualization technique: Putting yourself in the zone

A fun technique for getting you ready to learn is called visualization. The phrase “in the zone” is a colloquial saying that refers to when a person's entire being (intellectual, physical, emotional and spiritual) is harnessed to make possible the ultimate state of facility, confidence and joy while pursuing a desired goal. In psychology, the term flow is sometimes used to describe the efficient flow of brain energy and focus that leads to success. To get in the zone and to increase the flow for learning Turkish, consider trying the following visualization technique:

In this exercise, you will be practicing the basics of brain engagement that start with complete diaphragmatic breathing to get you in the zone for learning Turkish. The goal is for you to create a vision of your highest level of desired Turkish success while feeling a sense of relaxed, yet energized cognitive focus and an emotional state of confident contentment.

Find a comfortable seated position. Relax your body. Close your eyes. Imagine your highest level of Turkish success while breathing in deeply through your nose and smiling in a relaxed manner. Imagine letting go of obstacles to your learning while breathing out through your nose. Repeat this breathing pattern five to 10 times each day to develop the brain chemicals to get you ready to achieve your highest level of Turkish learning.

While this technique may come off to some as “new age,” rest assured that scientists have found that visualization techniques such as the one I propose here have physiological effects. That is, when you are relaxed, alert and content, your thoughts directly affect brain neurochemistry and therefore shape future thoughts and subsequent actions -- including learning.

So far, you have discovered how you learn best, how to create an environment that supports your goals and how to find the time and the motivation to proceed. Next week we will explore short and long-term goals as well as how to find, make and use various language-learning resources so that you get the most out of them.

Monday, May 2, 2011

[Learning Turkish] Setting goals and using materials

When learning Turkish, it’s important to have goals set out like a road map so that you can make sure you are heading in the direction that you want to go. When you set every action, activity and study material next to your goals, you will know immediately if that particular activity will keep you going in the right direction. Prior to setting your goals, consider what you want to learn and how long you want it to take.

It’s a good idea to be as specific as possible. “I want to be fluent” is very ambiguous -- what do you mean by “fluent”? Speaking correctly? Speaking quickly? Having a reduced accent? It may be more helpful to say, “In six months, I see myself having a conversation with a native speaker comfortably.” You could even narrow that down to “having a conversation about (fill in the blank).”
Long-term goals

Long-term goals are those you set to attain six months or a year. Set them, keep them in mind, but don’t obsessively dwell on them; staring at the top of a huge mountain can be very unmotivating, whereas planning to tackle the mountain one day at a time will make the task less daunting. When it comes to undertaking something as huge as learning a foreign language -- especially Turkish with all of its postpositions -- consider taking on the learning one short-term goal at a time.

For example, if your goal is to have a comfortable conversation with a native speaker, you’ll want to make sure that every step you take will lead you to that goal; that is, you’ll need it keep it in mind. However, if you compare where you are now relative to the end goal on a daily basis, i.e., dwell on it, it can feel like an impossible feat and lead you to give up.

That is why it’s important to set the end goal and then immediately set short-term goals that will lead you step-by-step to the fluency you desire.
Short-term goals

Short-term goals help you take the baby steps you need to inch toward your long-term goals. Today you might set the goal of memorizing a few common phrases or even pieces of phrases that you could use when speaking with others.

For example, it might be enough for one day to learn how to say, “On Monday, On Tuesday, etc.” (pazartesi günü, salı günü, etc.). Later you can expand that to “Pazartesi günü ne yapıyorsun?” (What are you doing on Monday?)

At your next study session you might decide to watch part of a favorite movie in Turkish to practice your listening skills. Again, it’s not necessary to understand every utterance. If you can understand one sentence or phrase -- that’s great. Listen to it again and again until it becomes second nature to you.

As you expand your vocabulary into phrases, try using them in a variety of different situations to practice them. Ultimately, having a repertoire of common phrases will lead to your long-term goal of fluency.

The next thing you need to do is to make your learning more interactive. There is nothing more boring than trying to do grammar exercises in a book or to memorize vocabulary that you will never use.

As you work with language books, take the time to jot down the phrases that seem most applicable to your daily life -- that is, those phrases you feel are useful. Keep in mind that we communicate in phrases, not individual vocabulary words. So, if you see a vocabulary word that you think will be helpful, try putting it into a useful phrase so that you can use it more readily.

For example, the word “tuz” (salt) can be very useful. But can you imagine a conversation in English where you pointed at someone and said, “Salt.” They would probably get the message, but it would feel awkward and may even be misinterpreted. However, “Tuz alabilir miyim?” (Can I have the salt?) would work perfectly.

If your vocabulary doesn’t come pre-packaged in little phrases, check with a native speaker to see how you can use it. As you become comfortable using that phrase, play around with it. Ask for a fork or a knife or a glass -- the combinations are endless.

If you are an audio learner, ask your native speaker friend to record the sentences you want to say. Listen and repeat as often as you can.
Audio recordings

Some Turkish language programs come with audio recordings. First, listen to these recordings as they were intended. Did they come with an exercise? Try to do the exercises as they were written. When you go back to the same material (remember, it is repetition that will help you on the road to fluency more than anything else), try making it into a dictation practice where you try to write down exactly what you hear. Practice spelling difficult words out.

For more advanced spelling practice, pretend you are spelling the word on the telephone. Much like we say, “That’s C as in Charlie, E as in echo,” etc., Turks use cities. So if you want to spell out your name (as I often do), you need to know that Brooks is “Bursa, Rize, Ordu, Ordu, Kayseri, Samsun.” For the complete alphabet go to http://www.radyoamatorleri.com/fonetik-alfabeler-t208.0.html (By the way, I have also heard, “Bursa’nın Besi, Rize’nin Resi,” etc.)

When listening to conversations, try to copy the intonation of the speaker as well as the pronunciation. (Again, investing in a recording device can come in handy here.) There is a song to every language and, believe it or not, many native speakers process the song of the language with equal importance as the words themselves. News and weather broadcasts offer real-life examples of dramatic Turkish pronunciation. Another way to learn the music of Turkish is to listen to your favorite English speaking movie dubbed in Turkish. Because you know the storyline, it will be easier to focus on the intonation patterns rather than the translation. Finally, listening to Turkish music allows you to practice intonation patterns with the assistance of music that will guide your pronunciation while reinforcing vocabulary terms.

Once you know what you want to accomplish over the next six months to a year, and break the goal into smaller steps, consider the materials you have. Use the ideas and examples presented in this article to help get you on the road to your language learning success.

The next step is to find learning partners, instructors, programs, or other means of advancing your current knowledge of Turkish. It’s so easy to learn Turkish without spending a lot of money -- a great deal of language-learning resources are at your fingertips. Next week, we will explore some of those resources.

SOURCE: http://www.todayszaman.com/news-240506-learning-turkish-setting-goals-and-using-materials.html

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