Editor’s note: the below post is from the introduction by Jeannette Okur to the Her Şey Bir Merhaba ile Başlar textbook and supplementary materials that she recently published with COERLL. This introduction carries a CC BY-SA license.
Hoş geldiniz! This set of openly licensed curricular materials is meant to guide learners from the Intermediate to the Advanced proficiency level in Turkish communication skills, while increasing intercultural communicative competence. Her Şey Bir Merhaba ile Başlar’s four units encourage learners to use the Turkish language to investigate, explain and reflect on the relationship between contemporary Turks’ socio-cultural practices, products and their perspectives on family, love and marriage, the environment, social activism, art, film and politics.
Her Şey Bir Merhaba ile Başlar is aligned with the ACTFL standards for Intermediate- and Advanced-level communicative skills and intercultural proficiency descriptors, and also reflects the University of Texas at Austin’s Department of Middle Eastern Studies (and my personal) commitment to blended instruction and the Flipped Classroom model.
One main premise of Her Şey Bir Merhaba ile Başlar is that learning a foreign language should focus on learning language in use. Thus, all activities are guided by real-life, plausible language situations: How would native and non-native speakers use the vocabulary, grammar and sociolinguistic rules in everyday contexts to make sense of what others tell them and to make
Another important premise is that curricular materials designed to help college-age or adult learners progress from the Intermediate to the Advanced proficiency level must:
- Move from the personal realm to the societal realm in terms of content, vocabulary, text forms and discourse.
- Provide regular opportunities for practice of the language’s “building blocks” (new vocabulary and grammar structures) and for higher order thinking tasks.
- Balance the four communicative skills.
- Balance seriousness and fun!
A final premise is that culture and language are fundamentally intertwined, and that culture is not a separate skill set to acquire, but rather the foundation of all language use. My colleagues at COERLL and I also believe that there is no one “target” culture, but rather that communities have a variety of subcultures, with different life experiences, practices and preferences. Therefore, we expect that the process of “learning Turkish” involves discovery about ourselves, our own cultures and assumptions as well. In the Her Şey Bir Merhaba ile Başlar units, learners will find multiple opportunities to reflect on their own perspectives as they strive to understand the viewpoints reflected in the varied Turkish examples they encounter.
Each unit will:
- Introduce learners to culturally and socially significant phenomena in Turkey today in order to hone their cultural analytical skills through tasks that foster reflection, comparison and articulation of findings.
- Introduce learners to a variety of authentic print, audio and audio-visual materials aimed at native Turkish audiences, guiding them to use (and reflect on) the reading, listening and viewing comprehension strategies needed to understand these Advanced-level texts.
- Engage learners in active recognition and repeated practice of new vocabulary and grammar items.
- Guide learners through practice of oral and written discursive strategies specific to the Advanced proficiency level.
For more information:
- Access the Her Şey Bir Merhaba ile Başlar project page, where you can download a PDF, access the Google Docs, and get a link to purchase the book
- Read more about the units’ pedagogical design in the User’s Guide
Dr. Jeannette Okur has coordinated the Turkish Studies program at the University of Texas at Austin since 2010. Drawing upon extensive experience teaching not only Turkish, but also German and ESL, she continues to develop new curricular materials for Turkish language instruction at the Novice, Intermediate and Advanced proficiency levels.