If you have always wanted to learn Turkish, you’re nowhere near alone; tens of thousands of people study the language every day around the world. And it’s no wonder! Turkish is a language that captures a rich and complex culture and history.
But you might have a lot of questions about why you should learn Turkish or what it takes to get started — or why it’s even worthwhile at all. The good news is you can rest assured that learning the Turkish language is an effort worth undertaking. With the right tools and technology to guide you in your journey, you’ll see your efforts pay off in so many ways.
Basic Turkish Lesson For Beginners
Why Learn Turkish?
Learning any new tongue is a challenge that can open up your mind to new perspectives and help you connect with all types of people across boundaries of land and language. When it comes to learning Turkish, these reasons are especially true.
To start, if you know the Turkish language, you open yourself up to a world of Turkish speakers. There are roughly 78 million people on Earth who speak Turkish as a first language, and millions who speak it to some degree as a second or third language.
You’ll obviously find Turkish all over Turkey, where it’s the official language and home to the vast majority of the language’s native speakers. But you might not know that there are whole populations of Turkish speakers scattered throughout Western and Central Europe in places like Germany, home to about 1.5 million Turkish migrants, and the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland and France. As you head a bit farther east, you’ll find Turkish speakers in places like Greece, Cyprus, Serbia, Albania, Macedonia and Romania. And there are also hundreds of thousands of Turkish speakers in the Middle East and Central and Western Asia in places like Iraq, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.
You might want to learn Turkish for its links to other world languages. Turkish, a Turkic language, is closely related to all of the other languages in the same family, like Azerbaijani, Uzbek, Kazakh, Turkmen, Kyrgyz and Uyghur, among dozens of other languages throughout Eastern Europe, Siberia and pockets of Central Asia. If you ever want to learn the other Turkic languages, there’s no doubt that if you learn Turkish, you’ll have a learning advantage right from the start, as the languages share similar vocabulary and grammar structures that make them somewhat mutually intelligible with one another!
Benefits Of Learning Turkish
Picking up a new skill can help you express your creativity, stimulate your mind, and discover new sides of yourself along the way. Learning a new language like Turkish is no exception! Here are just a few of the many ways you can make a positive impact on your life if you learn Turkish.
- Learn Turkish For Travel — When the spirit of adventure strikes, don’t let language barriers hold you back. When you have Turkish in your back pocket, you have a passport to many new corners of the world. Learning Turkish not only means you’ll be able to navigate new cities by reading road signs, menus, and train tickets; it also lets you connect with the new people you meet there. It’s often said that the best way to explore a new place is through the eyes of a local, and learning Turkish lets you branch out of tourist hotspots and into the real world as the native speakers see it. Whether it’s the streets of Istanbul, the beaches of Çeşme or the caves of Cappadocia, you’ll be more equipped to venture off the beaten path and explore all the Turkish-speaking world has to offer when you have Turkish in your linguistic repertoire.
- Live The Turkish Language Abroad — Whether you’re looking to enroll at a foreign university and have a more alternative college experience, find a job at a hostel that lets you hit the tourist hotspots by day and work at night, or retire in a place with a slower pace of life, living abroad is hands down the best hands-on approach to getting the most immersive language experience possible. By placing yourself in an environment where you’re obligated to speak Turkish, you’ll fast-track your journey to fluency. Your life can take on new twists and turns when you move to an unfamiliar place, and there’s so much of the Turkish-speaking world to explore. When you learn Turkish, you open up a gateway to a robust, colorful, and novel life adventure!
- Build Your Business Turkish Skills — Today the world is more connected economically than ever before. The sweeping tides of globalization mean that companies and organizations today are operating across international borders and boundaries. If you’re a professional looking for ways to stay competitive and current in the global market, learning Turkish is a no-brainer for success. Learning the Turkish language is a fantastic way to connect with colleagues in other countries, score new clients, build strong relationships with Turkish-speaking partners and investors, and to show off the multicultural, international, and inclusive nature of your brand.
- Use Language To Train Your Brain — Building any new skill is a surefire way to expand your intellectual horizons. Learning Turkish is an especially sound way to keep your brain flexible and nimble, especially as you grow older. Picking up a new language involves making connections between words and what they represent, taking apart and putting together grammatical structures, spontaneously speaking and thinking on your feet, sticking with a challenge when it’s frustrating and confusing, and a whole lot of active listening. There are few better ways to exercise your mental muscles than by learning Turkish.
- Immerse Yourself In Turkish Culture, Unfiltered — Learning Turkish opens you up not only to a better understanding of the language itself but also of the arts and culture of the world that speaks it. To read the literature of decorated Turkish-speaking writers like Elif Shafak and Orhan Pamuk is to engage with the language in some of its most beautiful, melancholic and colorful expressions. Through the lens of Turkish you get a more active immersion in more contemporary Turkish-language media like podcasts, radio shows, audiobooks, and TV shows. The stories and recipes of culinary staples like shish kebabs, the dialogue of famous Turkish films from directors like Nuri Bilge Ceylan and Ertem Eğilmez and the lyrics of classic and popular Turkish songs by artists like Barış Manço, Zeki Müren and Sezen Aksu all become accessible to you when you learn the Turkish language. And if you’re from a family with Turkish-speaking elders and ancestors but you don’t know the language yourself, learning Turkish is an excellent way to connect with your heritage.
Learn Turkish Basics: Turkish Lesson For Beginners
Learning The Turkish Alphabet, Turkish Spelling And Turkish Pronunciation
Turkish underwent a major series of reforms in the early 1900s after the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the creation of the Turkish Republic, where Modern Turkish was born, replacing the Arabic script of Middle Ottoman Turkish with the Latin script used in today’s Modern Turkish.
Even though Turkish uses an alphabet familiar to many English speakers, when you look at Turkish spelling, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. There are actually 29 letters in the Turkish alphabet, six of which — ç, ğ, ı, ö, ş and ü — aren’t in the English alphabet. All those diacritic marks in a word like güneş gözlüğü (“sunglasses”) and undotted ı characters in a word like kâğıt (“paper”), for example, can seem very daunting! But luckily, Turkish pronunciation isn't always as hard as it seems.
In Turkish, each letter is pronounced one and only one way, meaning that reading Turkish is very phonetic, unlike English. (Think about how a non-English speaker might struggle with words like “cough,” “colonel” and “knight.”) So it can become quite easy to look at a Turkish word you’ve never seen and know how to pronounce it.
Another element of Turkish pronunciation that makes it a bit smoother to grasp is a phenomenon known as vowel harmony, which means that words feature vowels that are articulated either in the front of the mouth or in the back of the mouth, helping the pronunciation sound smoother and more consistent. It’s a rule you’ll get to know much better as you learn Turkish.
Don’t worry if you can’t master Turkish spelling, a typical Turkish accent or the trickiest of Turkish pronunciations right away; it takes time and practice! The best way to remember these rules is just to practice over and over, especially by reading texts out loud. Watching Turkish TV, movies or YouTube videos or listening to Turkish-language podcasts, radio and film can certainly help you master Turkish pronunciation and sound like a native Turkish speaker.
Because Turkish and English belong to different language families, there isn’t a lot of overlap in their vocabularies. This means you’re going to have to learn a lot of new words that have Turkic roots, and it might take some extra time and practice.
Though most words in today’s Turkish are of Turkic origin, the biggest foreign influences come from Arabic, French and Persian. There’s also a handful of words of Italian, Greek and even English origin, meaning you might be able to pick up on the meanings of some words just by looking at them — like the adjectives akademik and organik, the nouns müzik and stadyum or the number milyon, for example.
When it comes to unfamiliar Turkish vocabulary words you will need to learn, there’s no wrong way to master them. Some people prefer to use flashcards to learn vocabulary. Others find success with the sticky note method, asking a friend to quiz them on a list of words or something else entirely. It’s up to you!
Basics Of Turkish Grammar
Like in English, there is no gender classification in Turkish, meaning you don’t have to deal with learning the often arbitrary system of grammatical categorization that exists in many other world languages. The language even uses the same word for “he,” “she” and “it”! Pronouns are often left out anyways, as the verb ending usually indicates who’s doing the verb action. You’ll likely be relieved to learn, too, that Turkish has no articles — the words “the,” “a” and “an” that can cause learners a lot of trouble and confusion in other world languages.
Though there are some easy parts of Turkish grammar, you’ll find that Turkish grammar has some more complex elements that might prove tricky for some native English speakers. For example, the word order of Turkish sentences most often follows a subject-object-verb pattern, as opposed to the subject-verb-object order that’s typical in English. And one major trouble spot for many new learners is that Turkish is an agglutinating language, which means its words essentially grow longer as suffixes are added to a root word to indicate verb tense, negation, plurality, and more. As a result, whole sentences and thoughts can be conveyed by one word, which on the surface can appear very complicated — take yaramazlaştırılamayabilenlerdenmişsiniz (“you seem to be one of those people who is incapable of being naughty”), for example — but you’ve just got to approach them one sound at a time.
As you learn Turkish, you’ll get to know the rules governing how Turkish verbs, nouns and other parts of speech behave in certain situations. It’s all part of the process of learning Turkish grammar!
Basic Turkish Phrases And Turkish Greetings
To speak like a native Turkish speaker, there are certain must-know Turkish phrases and expressions that will help you navigate your way through a conversation.
The best place to start, of course, is with “hello”! There are many greetings in Turkish to choose from, the most common of which is Merhaba! (“Hello!”). This greeting is appropriate in almost any context, so it’s a safe bet to use in most situations. With peers and close friends, selam (“greetings”) is a popular option, too. There are even special greetings for guests and visitors, like hoş geldin for a singular visitor you know familiarly or hoş geldiniz for a group of guests or one you know more formally.
For more time-conscious greetings, günaydın (“good morning,” or literally, “the day is bright”) is great if it’s before noon. After noon passes and before evening starts, you can opt for tünaydın or iyi günler, both of which can be translated to “good day.” And after the sun sets, iyi akşamlar (“good evening”) is a classic option.
As you learn Turkish, you’ll get familiar with basic Turkish phrases like Ne haber? (“How’s it going?”) and Nasılsınız and its more casual form Nasılsın? (“How are you?”), to which a classic response is İyilik, senden? (“Good, and you?”). If you’re meeting someone for the first time, you’ll want to talk about who you are and perhaps where you’re from. To introduce yourself in Turkish, you can say Benim adım X (“My name is X”) or Ben X (“I’m X”). To find out other people’s first names, you can ask Senin adın ne? (“What is your name?”) in a more familiar context and Sizin adınız nedir? if you want to be more formal.
To say goodbye in Turkish, you have a couple of options. For more religious Turks and in more formal situations, you’ll often hear the person leaving say Allah’a ısmarladık! (“May Allah keep you safe!”), to which a common response from the person staying behind is Güle güle, something like “Leave with a laugh,” or hoşça kalın, which can be translated as a regular old “goodbye.” You can shorten this one to hoşça kal for a more casual goodbye with a singular friend. Other ways to say goodbye include Görüşmek üzere! (“See you soon!”) and Yarın görüşürüz! (“See you tomorrow!”).
There are many other useful conversational Turkish words, phrases and expressions you’ll get to know as you learn Turkish, from evet (“yes”), hayır (“no”), bakar mısınız (“excuse me”), lütfen (“please”) and teşekkürler (“thank you”) to X nerede? (“Where is X?”) and İngilizce konuşabiliyor musun(uz)?, or “Can you speak English?”
When you learn these Turkish phrases and hundreds more like them, you’ll be better able to communicate with native Turkish speakers with ease.
Ways To Learn Turkish
There is no right answer when it comes to how to learn Turkish — or any new language. With so many options for your language journey, it’s no surprise that choosing a learning style or method can be overwhelming!
Of the many people who speak and study Turkish as a non-native language, you’ll find folks who have used all sorts of resources to learn the language, some free, some fairly cheap, and some more of a financial investment. There’s no right combination, and it’s up to you to decide which methods work best for you to learn Turkish.
What's The Quickest And Easiest Way To Learn Turkish?
You’ll find that the fastest and easiest way to learn Turkish is the way that offers you the least amount of friction — so if you can’t stand shuffling through textbook pages or you get bored flipping Turkish flashcards, you might want to stick to a method that’s more exciting or engaging. Knowing yourself is key to success. Here are just a few of the ways to learn Turkish quickly:
- in a __classroom setting__ or with one-on-one instruction from a __Turkish teacher or tutor__
- with paid or free online __Turkish courses, classes, software or apps__
- with __Turkish media resources__ like __podcasts__, __playlists__, __books__, __movies__ and __TV shows__
Learning Turkish In The Classroom
The Turkish language is studied in school systems and universities around the world. Turkish classroom learning is often the most popular option for learners in grade school or university settings. It allows more intensive, regular study with feedback from teachers who know the Turkish language and can correct mistakes as they happen and teach content in an interactive way. Depending on how large a class is and how engaged the teacher is, learning in a classroom might be a less personalized experience, but having other students to talk to and practice with is a valuable resource for a learner of any language.
Though full-time students make up a large proportion of Turkish classroom learners, plenty of adults enroll in Turkish classes, too. Many cities and communities offer free or fairly cheap language classes, and you’ll be very likely to find them in popular languages like Turkish. Though a full-time job might limit your schedule, a commitment to a once- or twice-weekly Turkish class after work or on the weekends can really improve your Turkish language skills in a measurable way.
Learning Turkish With A Turkish Tutor
Private Turkish tutoring offers a more tailored learning experience than traditional classroom learning with many of the advantages. Having a skilled Turkish tutor at hand who can help you perfect your pronunciation and work with you closely on the aspects of Turkish that cause you trouble is a great way to improve your skills fast — without a teacher needing to split time and attention among multiple students. And Turkish tutoring doesn’t have to be inconvenient at all; many sessions can and do take place over video call instead of in person.
But the often steep costs of such individualized instruction can be a barrier to many learners. Well trained master Turkish tutors often charge high hourly rates for their lessons, so finding a top-quality, budget-friendly option can be challenging.
Software and Online Turkish Courses
There are many top-notch, expert-designed online Turkish courses and programs that run from reasonably priced to very expensive. They allow you to learn Turkish on your own time and are often more interactive and engaging than many free courses and resources. Plus, many of the best products out there are constantly updated with new, fresh material, so you can get the most relevant Turkish learning experience available.
Can You Learn Turkish For Free?
All of the above options have one thing in common: they cost money. For those learners who want to be more conscious of their budgets or are okay with spending more time finding and working with more cost-effective content, there are still plenty of options to learn Turkish for free or for cheap!
Free Online Turkish Courses And Apps For Learning Turkish
There’s no shortage of free Turkish courses, apps and content you can find on the web and on your phone. From Turkish grammar wikis to online forums and Turkish classes, you’re sure to find hundreds of options that might do the trick. Some of them are better than others in the ways they’re organized and how thoroughly they explain new concepts, so take them with a grain of salt.
Be aware that the tradeoff of a free product is that it usually sacrifices quality. Much of the content that’s in free apps or that’s scattered around the web comes from user-generated translations that are rarely verified and are often inconsistent or riddled with errors. These lessons often focus on writing and reading without much of a way to improve listening and speaking skills. And be wary that free interactive Turkish lessons like these can often be basic, poorly designed, messy, rigid, and just downright boring — not to mention littered with ads.
That’s not to say these Turkish resources can’t be helpful! But it’s important to know how and where to fill in the gaps in your language learning journey when certain content isn’t enough.
Learning Turkish With Native Turkish Speakers
Tandem learning is a technique where two people who speak different native languages meet up to help each other learn, swapping roles as teacher and student. For example, if you spend one hour teaching a friend who’s a native Turkish speaker something about English, he or she would then spend the next hour teaching Turkish to you. This is an effective method when both people are able to commit significant time and thought to the partnership, but keep in mind that not everyone is a good teacher. Explaining why your native language works the way it does is often easier said than done; you might understand English grammar subconsciously and use it flawlessly all the time but not be able to explain to a Turkish person or Turkish speaker the rules that govern how you’re supposed to use that grammar.
Immersion Turkish Learning
Turkish immersion programs or some form of immersive Turkish language travel are definitely the most extreme and intensive ways to learn a new language, and they’re not for everyone. (They’re also not technically free if you count airfare to a new place and all the costs of living associated with wherever you go.) But without a doubt, immersing yourself in a new culture and a place that doesn’t speak your language and surrounding yourself with native Turkish speakers will force you to make rapid progress in Turkish or another target language as you struggle to communicate and understand those around you.
Of course, you’ll want to start with at least a little foundation in a new language before picking up your life and plunging yourself into a completely foreign locale. Using resources like Babbel, language textbooks and Turkish classes, and practice with Turkish native speakers can all help you prepare before you make a big transition through Turkish immersion.
Useful Turkish Media To Learn Turkish For Free Or Cheap
When you don’t have access to Turkish classes and teachers or even native Turkish speakers, there are still plenty of Turkish media resources to help you get on your way to fluency in Turkish. Most of them can be accessed for free online or from a library or found for very cheap — or even through a subscription for a streaming service like Netflix or Spotify you’re likely already paying for!
Books To Learn Turkish
If you like to read, you’ll find a whole range of literature written in Turkish that can help you master the Turkish language. There are thousands of Turkish books that make great learning resources for beginner and intermediate Turkish learners, from collections of reinterpreted classic folk tales like Nasrettin Hoca Hikâyeleri, ideal for beginner learners, to longer, more substantive reads like the postmodern historical fiction novel Benim Adım Kırmızı, best for intermediate to advanced students of Turkish.
Using books to learn Turkish is a great way to sharpen your reading skills and to understand how the Turkish language is used in a whole wide range of contexts, from historical fiction to fairy tales to personal essays to collections of short stories to nonfiction and everything in between. Reading books in Turkish helps you move at your own pace, and you can stop to consult a Turkish dictionary if you need extra help along the way. Keeping a language journal of unfamiliar Turkish words and expressions helps you build your vocabulary. Plus, you can get some extra speaking and Turkish pronunciation practice by reading the book aloud.
Learning Turkish With Audio Lessons, Turkish Songs And Turkish Podcasts
There are many online Turkish audio lessons you can find that can teach you the basics of Turkish vocabulary and grammar without needing to look at a page or a screen. Turkish audio lessons are great for multitasking; you can listen to them in the car or in the background of another activity, like commuting to work, cooking dinner or taking a walk in your neighborhood.
Similarly, Turkish podcasts and Turkish audiobooks are a great way to learn passively while you do something else that requires your visual attention. Luckily, there are lots of audio resources to pick from, and many of them are free. Turkish podcasts like Let’s Learn Turkish are great for beginners and intermediate learners who want to practice vocabulary and grammar topics in an easy-to-follow format, and others like Açik Bilim (“Open Science”) are better for advanced learners who want a more technical dive into science topics in Turkish.
And listening to Turkish songs can be a great learning method, too. With songs, a chorus or group of lyrics is often repeated more than once, giving you plenty of opportunities to hear lyrics over and over. You can find many playlists of Turkish songs on Spotify that are often organized by proficiency level, too, from beginner playlists to more advanced ones.
It’s important to keep in mind that to really master a language, you’ve got to do more than just listening to it; you’ll probably want to supplement audio with ways to practice writing, reading, and speaking Turkish, too.
Learning With Turkish TV Shows And Turkish Movies
Watching Turkish movies and Turkish TV shows is an excellent way to connect with the Turkish language in a fun, engaging format. You can find a lot of good Turkish-language content of all different genres and for all learning proficiency levels on streaming services like Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Prime.
When you’re watching, you can choose to display subtitles in Turkish for some extra reading practice. Try to avoid watching media dubbed in your native language, as you won’t end up hearing any Turkish! If the dialogue is too fast, you can pause what you’re watching to give yourself a chance to process what you’re hearing and look up and write down unfamiliar words. And when you use movies and TV series to learn Turkish, don’t be afraid to break them up into chunks to give your brain some rest.
Learning Turkish With Babbel
The goal of learning any language is to have real-life conversations with native speakers. So a language learning app should be designed to get you to that goal in the best way possible. It’s important to dedicate the time and effort to practicing with discipline, but outside of your own personal commitment, you’ve got to have technology that knows how to help you most effectively along the way.
Luckily, Babbel is designed by a team of language experts, educators, and designers who know all about what it takes to get the most out of learning a new language — so you are guaranteed a top-quality Polish learning journey that’s capable, engaging, and yes, even fun.
Here are the key ways Babbel Turkish lessons are crafted to get you having real-life conversations in Turkish with confidence, and all for less cost per month than your morning coffee.
The Full Spectrum Of Language Learning
Learning a foreign language is an endeavor of many dimensions. It takes a lot of skills and patience to learn how to start speaking on the spot, to write a text to a friend, or to translate dialogue you hear from a TV show in your target language.
We know how to make these elements work together to your advantage. Babbel’s lessons are interactive and cover all the aspects of learning Turkish — reading, writing, listening, and speaking — with multimedia Turkish content to train your ears and eyes. Our speech recognition feature even helps you hone your Turkish pronunciation, too.
Turkish Learning On Your Terms
One of the best parts of learning with Babbel is being able to fit lessons in seamlessly when you want them and where you want them. Our bite-size lessons take roughly between 10 and 20 minutes to complete and can be squeezed into your already busy schedule, whether you’re on your commute or waiting for a pot of water to boil as you cook dinner.
With Babbel, you can pick and choose the topics and themes that are most relevant to you. Taking a trip soon? Brush up on the Turkish you’ll need for travel and navigating new places. Need to sharpen your Turkish for an upcoming business meeting? Our Turkish language courses have you covered.
The iOS and Android apps are fully integrated with the web application. And your progress is saved in the cloud and synced across all devices — so you can learn Turkish anytime, anywhere.
Learn Turkish — And Make Sure It Sticks
What good is committing to learning a foreign language if you’ll forget it before you even have a chance to use it? That’s why your personalized Babbel Review feature is optimized to help you retain the information you’re learning.
It takes advantage of the concept of microlearning, or bringing back information in short bursts to help you hold on to it better. You can practice writing, listening to, and speaking the Turkish phrases, terms and expressions you’ve learned in your earlier lessons to lock them into your brain.
For Turkish Learning, Try Babbel
We’re committed to making sure you get the most out of learning Turkish. We offer a free first lesson in every language so you can get a feel for if Babbel works for you. And if you don’t like it, we have a 20-day money-back guarantee — no questions asked.
Try a free Turkish lesson with Babbel and see for yourself how quickly you’ll be on your way to speaking Turkish with confidence — like you’ve always wanted to!
Check out our other learning topics about Turkish:
Best Way To Learn Turkish
How To Speak Turkish