One Month Language Mission: B1 Turkish

Inside the Hagia Sophia

Back in 2007, when I was living in France, I went on a trip to Turkey. I flew into Istanbul for a day, traveled to Izmir & Bergama, took a bus over to Denizli & Pamukkale, and finally flew back to Istanbul, where I stayed for a whole week.

Simply put, it was one of the best trips of my life.

Turkey is an amazing country. The people were all engaging and welcoming. And I had a lot of opportunities to use the Turkish that I had been studying. In fact, speaking what little Turkish I did know is one of the few reasons my wife and I managed to make our flight out of the country.

Turkish has always been a personal favorite of mine. I don’t know why, but it feels so poetic. Sometimes I will get so excited about a Turkish word or grammar pattern that I try my hand at writing poetry IN TURKISH just to explore that feature.

But for some reason, after coming back from Turkey, I didn’t use the language that much. And after moving back to the States, I haven’t ever lived somewhere with much of a Turkish community. That pretty much sapped my motivation to keep up the language, and I let myself forget most of what I had learned.

Until now.

For the past month, I have been reviewing my old Turkish materials. I have an old copy of “Teach Yourself: Turkish”, which I believe to be a fantastic work – it’s the same copy I took with me to Turkey in 2007. And I have been going through the chapters again, relearning vocabulary.

After finding an old set of Turkish Flash Cards I had made (I was all analog in 2007), I have been doing all my new vocabulary in that same box of cards — ALL BY HAND.

But for the past month, my goal has been rather unfocused. I simply decided I wanted to relearn my Turkish. That’s not very clear, and it’s hard to aspire to or use as a motivation. But at this point, with half of the book behind me, I’m not that far from where I was on my trip.

Now it’s time for a clearer goal

All year round in Seattle there are cultural events at the Seattle Center called Festál. And on October 17th & 18th (a little under a month from now) they will be hosting TurkFest 2015!

I will be there. I even planned an event for my local Polyglot Meetup, to go on the 18th.

My goal is to speak Turkish at a B1 level by the time I go to the Festival so that I can have some meaningful conversations in Turkish while there.

How will I do it?

I think that a one-month goal is best broken down in to week long mini-goals & sprints. So I can take some larger ideas and break them down into smaller pieces. My larger needs are as follows:

  1. I need to finish solidly learning the material in my TY:Turkish book (8 chapters). It’s a great resource, and the vocabulary is well curated to me particular interests and topics of discussion.
  2. I need to start having regular conversation ASAP. I have been remiss in not trying harder to have Turkish conversations, and I’m going to explore iTalki, HelloTalk, and Speaky to see if I can get any good language exchanges going. And those conversations will inform me of my other vocabulary and grammar needs, and I will use that to supplement my vocabulary.

So for my first week I will accomplish the following:

  1. I will learn all the vocab and grammar from 3 more chapters of my TY:Turkish book
  2. I will find at least 3 language partners and have at least 3 hour long exchanges (That’s 30 minutes in Turkish and 30 minutes in their requested language)
  3. I will write another blog post at the end of the week detailing my progress and laying out my next set of mini-goals

Honestly, I think that reaching a B1 level in one month is possible, but that it might be a bit difficult. My Turkish isn’t all that good, and I would say it’s somewhere between A1 and A2 right now. (A1 speaking, A2 reading). But an unreasonable goal helps you get creative in reaching that goal.

I’ll still be posting about language learning techniques and other language related materials, which I hope won’t hinder my progress too much (since this isn’t my job, and I’m already devoting my free-time to this).

If you have any advice or resources, I’d love to hear about them. If you live in the area, drop me a line. (and join my Polyglot Group!)

Tell me about your language goals. Do you have any one month, two month, or even just ongoing language missions at the moment? Let me know in the comments!


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