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Archive for the ‘Language’ category… my new business!

Our site for Turks learning English!

Our site for Turks learning English!

After years of teaching English to Turks in both language institutes and more recently, in a private school, I finally decided that it was the right time to take hold of the English-language education opportunities that now exist in Turkey

Teaching English to Turks has always been big business and there are plenty of well-known private language institutes that cater all type of English to students of each level of proficiency. However, together with my business partner we’ve decided to concentrate on offering quality English conversation classes via the Internet, to get Turks speaking. In a recent post on my new blog, where I discuss the dormant nature of Turks learning English, I briefly outline the opportunity we see to ‘kick-start’ the dormant English resource that already lies within Turkey today.

This is a very exciting time to be involved in English-language education in Turkey. As household broadband increases across Turkey and more and more citizens possess tablets and smartphones, education is ready for disruption. It’s clear to us that the physical classroom will become less relevant and Turks will have access to better teaching. Why put yourself through a hellish commute after work when you can chill at home, sit back with a cup of tea and log in via your computer?

So for Turk learning English we’ve built

We’re proud of it. We thinks it’s giving the boost of confidence and increased motivation required to Ingilizce öğrenmek!


Turklish – önce ve sonra

A very long time ago. Many years before humans wrote the first grammar book…

If Turkish is your mother tongue, then you might have difficulty with ago, earlier, before, after, in, and later.

These words can be adverbs, conjunctions, prepositions and adjectives. Here I look at the most basic errors by Turks and provide a couple of examples to explain how you can use the idea of sonra and önce in English.

Of course, this small article cannot explain every use of these words… but I think it might help a few of you.

Ago, earlier, or before?

How do you express this idea in Turkish: Üç gün önce sinemaya gittim.

You can use ago or earlier. Ago would be more common.

I went to the cinema three days ago is natural spoken English

I went to the cinema three days earlier is also correct, but possible more formal.

For example:

 - He left three days ago.

- He left three days earlier.

Don’t use before.

In the two sentences above, ago and later are adverbs.

Says it all really.

Says it all really.

How to use before

Next, how do you deal with: Sinemaya gitmeden önce kahve içtik?

To express this idea in English, you need to understand that önce joins two events. So before is the correct word to use:

- We drank coffee before we went to the cinema, or

- Before we went to the cinema we drank coffee.

In these examples, before is a conjunction.

Don’t use ago or later.

After, later or in?

Üç gün sonra sinemaya gidiyoruz.

Here, you are talking about an event in the future. The only correct word is in:

- We’re going to the cinema in three days.

And, üç gün sonra Istanbul’dan ayrılacak.

- He’ll leave Istanbul in three days.

What about this?

Üç gün önce Istanbul’dan ayrıldı.

This is something that happened in the past, so the correct word is ago.

- She left Istanbul three days ago.

Don’t use later.

But, if you are talking about an event that happened before another event in the past, then you need to use later or after.

For example:

Istanbul’a geldi. Üç gün sonra ayrıldı.

He arrived in Istanbul and left two days later.

Again, later is an adverb.

How to use after

After is both an adverb and a preposition in English

Biz geldikten sonra ayrıldı.

He left after we arrived.

Yemekten sonra sinemaya gidiyorum.

I’m going to the cinema after dinner.

In the first example, after is an adverb.

For the second example, after is a preposition.

I know that advanced learners and native English speakers might disagree with me, but the idea is to make the use of the words a little easier.

Any ideas or comments?

Note: I’ve also now posted this post on my new site for Turks Learning English!

Arabic lessons commence

From the wall of the old mosque in Edirne, Turkey.

It seems like a natural idea to attempt the native language of the culture in which you are living. In fact, I cannot imagine spending a great deal of time in a foreign country and not speaking the local language. It’s be frustrating. The thought of not being able to shout back at a shopkeeper who once again stuffed up my order, well… let’s just say life flows better in my direction when I speak the local tongue.

Travelling of course is different. It’s hardly common sense to tire over unaspirated bi-labial consonants in Malayalam because you plan to navigate the backwaters of Kerala or immerse indulge yourself in Ayurvedic treatments in Thiruvananthapuram. Even those Lonely Planet phrasebooks featuring natty photos of burqa-clad wheat threshers won’t see you scaling heights in Aramaic dialect as you perspire about Syria, although it does acknowledge your resourcefulness and cultural sensitivity.

Additionally, English is firmly established as the lingua franca of the jaded jet-set, the indigent nation of backpackers and, especially, of any person working in tourism from Vang Vien to Peunto Arenas. English may even one day take over from Thai in the land formerly known as Siam. There’s no need to learn how to say ‘thank you’ in Thai, primarily because it’s a hideous sounding language to anyone but Thai nationals, and secondly, Westerners who speak Thai raise my suspicions. And fears.

That I mastered French easily comes down to the fact that the Gallic spirit is a worthy opponent in arguments and general conversation. I refused to be a passive participant. In Turkey, my skills at chattering away in Istanbul’s finest dialect meant taxi drivers were cognisant of their inability to take me via a scenic route. I was a local. I talked a lot and saved cash too.

Something I'd like to be reading, in the native tongue, sometime between now and my death.

Here in the good ol’ UA of E, fluency in Arabic among expatriates might be an irrelevant goal. My first greeting in Arabic to the taxi driver who slung my suitcase in the trunk received a cool, ‘I’m not Arab’. But rather than tell him of his need for the indefinite article, I placated him by telling him how much I’d enjoyed Pakistan. Though he was from India.

That first introduction to a fully English-compliant workforce has been a massive source of disappointment. I want exoticness. I want Dubai’s inhabitants to astonish me with sibilant trills and pharangeal consonant clusters. But no. Instead I get nothing more than the enervating, ‘Yes, sir. I can be taking you there immediately, sir’. Or from my smart-mouthed housekeeper, ‘I not finish ironing today too much cleaning dirty bathroom’. Attitude aside, and quelling my desire to physically discipline such insolence, the futility of enrolling in Arabic is clear. Tagalog or Urdu would be more useful.

Still, I’m not one to give in to common sense so I’m not leaving Dubai until I can read and write Arabic. To this end I paid the requisite fees last month and am currently attending lessons twice weekly with the very capable and elegant Ms Amira, at a language school situated just a short walk from my apartment. Monday and Thursday afternoons I begin storing any available phelgm for use in the evening class. And it appears to be working.

Though I sound as staccato as I once did in Spanish classes many years ago, I’m back where I should be and it feels good to be learning again. I can spell out words on street signs despite not understanding what is being advertised or stated. This gives me great happiness. I can write the alphabet and I no longer care that the Arabic vowel system looks exceptionally complicated. I’m making progress.