Turkish for International Students at Bilkent


There are now 344 full-time international students at Bilkent, a number which has been increasing steadily. Similarly, more and more exchange students are coming to Bilkent. Many of these students will avail themselves of the opportunity Bilkent provides to speakers of other languages to learn Turkish.

Bilkent News spoke to one of the Turkish language instructors, Nurdane Mumcu Öz, a native of Ankara who has been a teacher at Bilkent since Turkish courses were established in 1993. We asked her to offer her insights into why international students are interested in learning Turkish and how this can be successfully achieved.

While studying for her master's degree, Ms. Mumcu Öz took up a position at Ankara University's TÖMER language school teaching Turkish to international students, the majority of whom had come from the Turkic countries of Central Asia. It was during this period that she discovered her love of teaching Turkish, which she describes as being no longer just an occupation but something that has become an integral part of her life. Subsequently, she joined the Turkish Unit at Bilkent.

Ms. Mumcu Öz noted that since she has been teaching at Bilkent, the number of international students learning Turkish has steadily increased, with present students coming from countries as far away as Ecuador and Indonesia. While many of these students learn Turkish for a variety of reasons related to their studies, such as gaining a deeper insight into Turkish history, archaeology or some other academic discipline, many others learn it simply to make life in Turkey easier.

Ms. Mumcu Öz further observed that many international students, particularly those from non-Turkic countries and those who do not already know a second language, may initially be intimidated by the structure of Turkish. This can be overcome by making classes more enjoyable for students and using English when appropriate to clarify a point. Ms. Mumcu Öz insists, however, that an absolute minimum of English be spoken in her classes. She notes that international students will find it next to impossible to learn Turkish without immersing themselves in Turkish culture and making a conscious effort to increase the amount of Turkish they use in their daily communication throughout their stay.

Ms. Mumcu Öz says many of her students, in the course of their study at Bilkent, have become proficient in Turkish, which as a result has enriched their experience of both Turkey and Bilkent, giving them insights into aspects of Turkish life and culture that they otherwise would not have had access to.

Basic, intermediate and advanced courses are offered and are open to all international students; the courses can be found coded under "TURK" on STARS.