Learning Turkish in a Kurdish Home

By | on 13th December 2010 | 5 Comments

turkishflagmapLearning Turkish is no easy task for the normal person let alone for someone who has dyslexia and struggles with English, never mind a new language. On a recent visit to our family for Kurban Bayram (Eid), I found one of the main topics of discuss for the week was my progress in learning Turkish.  I have the basics and I can get by and I can just about work out what most people are saying to me.

I don’t have a lot of confidence in speaking Turkish yet as it takes me a bit to translate what I want to say from English to Turkish and back again and only practise and time will improve this but I am determined to learn and become fluent in Turkish.

My family’s origin is Kurdish and at home especially the older members of the family including my Husband speak mainly Kurdish in the house.  Which is fine in general as I can understand the difference when Turkish or Kurdish is spoken, but the complications kick in when my Mother in Law speaks with me.

I always help when we are at home and spend a lot of time with my Mother in Law, we tend to communicate with a lot of pointing and Mum trying to explain the best she can in Turkish but mainly she tends to speak in Kurdish to me.  This of course cause’s me great confusion, when she asks for something like a fork or knife she will use the Kurdish and it wasn’t until my Father in Law decided to help me learn, by picking up certain items and asking me what they were, to great amusement to everyone I gave the Kurdish meaning and not the Turkish!!

As the week went on and the family had gathered one evening, the topic returned to my learning of Turkish, I tried in vain to follow what was being said and then my husband commented on something and the whole room erupted into laughter, I laughed to just to be polite and left the question of what was said till later.

Once everyone had departed and we had sometime to ourselves I asked my husband why people were laughing about me.  My husband said well my family are discussing ways to help you to learning Turkish and I pointed out that how can she improve her Turkish when we are all sitting here talking in Kurdish.  Well I suppose you had to be there to find it funny but at the time it was.

By the end of the week my Turkish had improved slightly and my confidence to speak had grown, Kurdish is spoken in the home, but my lovely family now always speak to me with Turkish and bit by bit I am improving.  Hopefully one day soon in the future I will be wondering how I ever struggled to speak Turkish!!

For more on Learning Turkish, visit my website Learn Turkish

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5 Responses to “Learning Turkish in a Kurdish Home”

  1. I still struggle with the language even though I have been here for nine years. How fluent I am depends on the company I keep. If there is just me and my husband we always speak English as his English is more or less perfect. We are both lazy in that aspect.

    If I stay with the mother in law, the Turkish improves. when I work full time in the summer for my Turkish employers, it gets brilliant because I feel I am able to express myself without fearing of looking stupid. Since packing up work at the end of summer, I feel my Turkish has got worse. Can never win!!!

    With hindsight, i would of learned Turkish when i was seven!!

    • 26th February 2011

      Kerry Arslan Reply

      Hi Natalie I wished I had learned Turkish instead of German but even that’s not great. It really is practise and confidence the more I speak less nervous I get and the better I get. Its the structure of the sentences that sometimes trip me up and all the little endings.

  2. 16th January 2011

    Carole Reply

    I’ve been learning Turkish on and off for 2 years since I met my hubby. I find it so frustrating! I’m now having private lessons with a friend, with a lovely Turkish lady. We concentrate a lot on conversation which is exactly what I need. I’ve found in the last year that my understanding as improve dramatically. But I still need the confidence to speak more in company.
    My hubby doesn’t help that much, he speaks English to me most of the time. I’m sure if he spoke Turkish more I would be more confident. But after talking to my friends who have Turkish boyfriends/husbands this is quite common.
    On a positive note, now that I can understand more and can hold some degree of conversation, my mother in law tends not to talk about me, in front of me, with her friends when we visit the village. So that’s a bonus!

    • 26th February 2011

      Kerry Arslan Reply

      I know what you mean about talking English my husband is an English Teacher, so it is so easy for us to speak English all the time. I am improving and the Ladies in our block invite me over each week for tea and gossip and slowly I am starting to understand a little more each time. It’s my turn this week to host them my first time so it should be fun. They even offered to make the food. I might not speak the lingo but I can cook and bake Turkish so hopefully they are in for a surprise. I am lucky that my mother in law doesn’t speak about me in front of me and they always do their best to include me. You are lucky to find a teacher, it’s not easy learning from your partner bit like him teaching you to drive. But with baby on they way it’s my mission to be fluent in Turkish before it’s old enough to notice 🙂

  3. 23rd October 2015

    Bob Beer Reply

    They say you are really making progress when they stop saying “Oh, you speak Turkish so wonderfully!” and start correcting you. 🙂

    I would love to know Kurdish actually. I have several Kurdish friends and they have taught me some, but they are all from different areas so they use different words for things. Sort of like trying to learn English from a Londoner, a Scotsman and an American southerner at the same time. You’re lucky to have a consistent source to learn from!

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