18 Steps to Learn Turkish for Beginners

By OptiLingo • 14 minute read

Best Way to Learn Turkish for Beginners

How to Learn Turkish in 18 Simple Steps

Turkish is an awesome language. And with 80 million speakers worldwide, speaking it fluently will definitely benefit you. But, how do you go about learning Turkish? What are your first steps toward fluency? Turkish for beginners can seem very daunting. That’s why we came up with this ultimate guide for how to learn Turkish. You can easily achieve fluency. Just follow these 18 steps for the best way to learn Turkish fast.

How Long Does It Take to Learn Turkish?

There’s no number for how long it takes to learn a language. It really depends on you. Your motivation, native language, and the language learning method you use. But, if you’re an English native speaker, you can use the US Foreign Service Institute estimates as guidance. Turkish is a Category IV language, which should take 44 weeks or 1100 hours to master. 

What this estimate doesn’t account for is you. Your drive and enthusiasm go a long way to reaching Turkish fluency faster. And, if you follow the 18 steps below, you’re bound to master the Turkish language much faster.

What Are The Benefits Of Learning Turkish?

There are countless benefits to learning a foreign language. But, there are a lot of reasons why you should learn Turkish. These are just a taster of the many benefits of learning Turkish:

  • Boost Your Career: Speaking a second language looks great on a CV. You’ll be an asset to your company, and you’ll have a chance to earn higher pay too. Since Turkish is unique, you can really stand out in the workplace with your Turkish knowledge.
  • Travel Easily: Turkey is a beautiful country with a rich culture. From exotic markets to stunning beaches, Turkey is a paradise for those who journey beyond the European borders. Knowing the Turkish language will make a night-and-day difference in your own travels. Talking with the locals will no doubt solve any issue you may have.
  • Strengthen Your Brain: Bilingual people have a better fighting chance against dementia and Alzheimer’s. So, to improve your memory, learning Turkish is a great exercise.

18 Steps to Learn Turkish for Beginners

With these 18 steps, you’ll surely reach Turkish fluency. And you can do it on your own. Reach Turkish fluency fast from the comfort of your home. After these, you’ll know exactly how to learn Turkish for beginners.

Turkish for beginners

1. Find the Best Way to Learn Turkish for You

Here are some of the most popular options for how you can learn Turkish. All of these are great. But the best way to learn Turkish is with the method that works for you. Enjoy your lessons and progress fast with any of these:

  • Join Classroom Lessons: This is perhaps the most traditional way of learning a second language. A classroom setting can prove to be an easy way to learn the Turkish language, but finding the time to attend classes can be problematic for those with busy schedules. And your classmates can also slow down your progress.
  • Hire a Private Tutor: One-on-one learning can definitely be beneficial, especially if you’re eager to master how to learn Turkish quickly. But, be prepared to pay a lot of money for these lessons.
  • Buy a Textbook: You can learn Turkish by yourself, even if you’re a beginner. And if you want clear grammar lessons to guide your journey, textbooks are great for that. But, if you feel like they’re old fashioned and outdated, don’t worry. We saved the best way to learn Turkish for last.
  • Download a Turkish App: Language learning apps are extremely convenient. You can carry your lessons in your pocket, and access them anytime. The best apps will also be built on scientifically proven methods, so you can rely on them to lead your lessons. And also, apps are also much cheaper than any of the other options.

2. Master the Turkish Alphabet

The first step of learning Turkish for beginners has to be learning the alphabet. Luckily, the Turkish alphabet looks very familiar to native English speakers. Turkish uses Latin letters, so its alphabet is almost the same as English. Almost …

There are a few letters that are slightly different. Ö, ü, and ç are some examples of these special characters. These accents and modifications are there to show you that you need to pronounce them differently. That’s because Turkish is a phonetic language.

3. Beginners Should Read Turkish

Turkish is incredibly easy to read. Since it’s written phonetically, each letter corresponds with one sound and is pronounced separately. There are 29 letters in the Turkish alphabet. There are no double consonants in Turkish. And there are only a few irregularities. Some easy reading rules you should look out for are:

  •  Vowels with an umlaut work as they do in German.
  •  Ş is ‘sh’.
  •  Ç is an English ‘ch’.
  •  C is an English ‘j’.

Learning to read Turkish early on gives you a great advantage. You can read newspapers, Turkish blogs, and textbooks that much faster.

4. Get Familiar With Turkish Grammar

Turkish grammar is very easy to understand because it’s very logical and it only has a few irregularities. The conjugation of verbs is consistent, there are no genders, and there are no articles in Turkish either. I bet you’re a relieved Turkish beginner. But, you still need to spend a little time with Turkish grammar

Vowel Harmony

Turkish is an agglutinative language. This means that you need to take the root of the word and attach suffixes to it. But, to decide which suffixes suit the roots, you need to take a look at vowel harmonies. You’ll hear in the melody of the word. As you’re progressing towards Turkish fluency, you’ll develop a natural feel for vowel harmony.

Verbs And Tenses

A very important part of learning Turkish grammar is mastering verbs. You need to learn how to conjugate verbs in the present, future, and past tense to reach fluency. By committing the most important Turkish verbs to memory, you’ll surely sound like a local when you talk.

Learn Turkish easily, this is how

5. Master the Types of Sentence Structure

While this is part of Turkish grammar, it deserves its own step. That’s because it’s very different from English, and you have to get used to that. English is an SVO (subject-verb-object) language. Turkish, however, has an SOV (subject-object-verb) sentence structure. Let’s take a look at this through a quick example:

  • Mary eats an apple. – Mary bir elma yiyor.

“Mary” is the subject, she’s the one that does the action.“eats” (yiyor) is the verb, also known as the action. And “an apple” (bir elma) is the object, which is affected by the action. As you can see, the Turkish sentence structure puts the object first, and then the verb. This isn’t impossible to master, but it does take a bit to get used to.

6. Get Used to Turkish Suffixes

As I mentioned before, Turkish is an agglutinative language. So, you’ll need to take the parts of Turkish and build the words yourself. You’ll need to look at the root of the verb and add suffixes to signal location, prepositions, and plurality (with vowel harmony in mind). 

Sometimes suffixes change nouns into adjectives. Or they describe a person’s profession. There are a lot of variations, but don’t worry. These building blocks of the Turkish language aren’t impossible to master either. For Turkish beginners, the best advice is to break down the words into the root, and analyse all the suffixes that got piled on. Let’s take an example:

The phrase, “where are you from?” Translates to “nerelisin”. When you break it down it becomes quite simple. Ne-re-li-sin.

  •  Ne = What
  •  Re = Suffix for place
  •  Nere = Where
  •  Li = from
  •  Sin = you

7. Focus on Common Turkish Words

For a beginner, learning Turkish vocabulary can seem like a huge task. Committing thousands of new words to memory is a scary thought. It’s especially scary when you realize that you don’t need to do that. Too many language learners waste time learning unnecessary vocabulary.

What you should focus on instead are the most common words and phrases in Turkish. Because that’s exactly how real Turkish locals speak. They only use 20% of their vocabulary for 80% of their conversation. So, you can access most of the Turkish everyday speech with minimal vocabulary. That’s the best way to learn Turkish and the fastest road to fluency.

If you’re wondering how you can find a list of the most common Turkish words (that 20%), luckily OptiLingo has already gathered them all. By downloading our app you can easily access the most essential part of Turkish vocabulary. Don’t waste time learning unnecessary words, get to fluency faster by downloading OptiLingo!

Let your fluency take off with the best way to learn Turkish

8. Start Speaking Turkish From Day 1

Turkish beginners, listen up. This advice is the ultimate best way to learn Turkish and reach fluency in record time. Not enough language learners do this, but you really need to: start speaking Turkish from your first lesson onwards.

Don’t worry about your accent. Disregard your fear of embarrassment. Don’t even think about not knowing enough vocabulary/grammar rules/ Turkish recipes. Just start speaking. Pronounce everything. Get familiar with the language. Soon, you’ll be comfortable with speaking Turkish. And that’s the true key to speaking Turkish fluently for beginners.

9. Write Your Turkish Lessons Down

Pro tip: when you’re learning Turkish, try to write everything down. This doesn’t just help your Turkish writing skills. It also helps with remembering your lessons and enhances recall time. Handwriting is linked to tactile learning, so it’s an easy and effective memory aid. Whether you write a few key phrases down a few times, or single words, writing things down helps to reinforce the memory.

10. Beginners Should Practice a Lot

As with any language, the best way to learn Turkish is to practice a lot. You need plenty of reading, writing, listening, and especially speaking practice to reach fluency. Find as many opportunities as you can to listen to or talk in Turkish. For beginners, it’s crucial to make Turkish learning an everyday activity.

Fortunately, even if you’re busy, you have time to learn Turkish. Combine your Turkish lessons with everyday activities. Tune in to a podcast while you clean, review yesterday’s lesson on your commute, or listen to some Turkish music at the gym. 20 minutes every day can already yield great results. 

Learn Turkish the fun way

11. Make Learning Turkish Fun

This is possibly the best advice for learning Turkish. Make sure you have fun and you enjoy yourself. If you’re having a blast, you won’t think about how long it takes to reach fluency. You’ll just enjoy the journey. And most importantly, you won’t give up. 

The tips for learning Turkish for beginners that came before are a must. And the tips below are more fun and entertaining ways to practice Turkish. The point is to immerse yourself in the language as much as you can. Listen, read, sing Turkish whenever you can. The more you do, the faster you’ll become fluent. Pick and choose your favorite activities, and reach Turkish fluency easily and fast.

12. Listen to the Sounds of Turkish

Improving your listening skills in Turkish is crucial. That’s how you get used to the sounds of the language. And that’s how you’ll know what the correct pronunciation sounds like. So, take every opportunity you can to listen to Turkish every day. Audio files can fine-tune your ear for the rhythm and melody of the language. Here are a few activities for beginners to start listening to Turkish audio today:

  • Watch YouTube: YouTube is great. Not only is it free, there are also a lot of videos on it. Even in Turkish. Follow a Turkish YouTuber and listen to a real Turkish person talk for an authentic listening experience.
  • Tune in to a podcast: You can reach Turkish radio channels and podcasts online. Try and give them a listen. You can develop your ear quickly, and learn about current affairs at the same time.

13. Watch Turkish Movies and TV

This is a fun way to learn Turkish. If you are serious about learning Turkish, chose a movie, documentary or long speech that you are very familiar with, and then listen to it in Turkish. Do this repeatedly. Soon you will begin to recognize word, phrases, and inflections. If you have a movie you do not mind watching over and over in Turkish, and you understand the version made in your native language, you have a great chance to learn the language quickly.

The Turkish film industry isn’t that prominent. But, Turkish TV definitely is. World-class TV shows and soap operas grace Turkish television. Some popular shows are “The Protector” and “Dirilis: Ertugrul“. They’re well made, exciting, and a great start for easy Turkish lessons for beginners.

Turkish for beginners

14. Sing Turkish Songs

Why study Turkish when you can sing yourself to fluency? Find Turkish songs that you like, and give them a listen. Listening to them over and over again shows you the rhythm and melody of the language. Look up the lyrics to learn more vocabulary. And, for the best way to learn Turkish, sing it yourself.

Don’t worry about being off-key. You’re not auditioning for Turkish X-Factor. You’re learning a language. And singing is basically the same thing as speaking. You get comfortable with speaking Turkish, and your pronunciation will improve too.

15. Bring Turkish to You With Post-Its

You can easily enforce practicing Turkish daily by creating post-it notes. Write down common vocabulary, and stick them on your everyday items. You’re bound to come face-to-face with Turkish in your house. This is an easy trick to remember your Turkish lessons. And it also enforces the handwriting trick I told you about earlier. Turkish for Beginners becomes a lot easier and much more colorful.

16. Make Turkish Friends

Turkish people are known for their kindness and hospitality. And if they find out that you’re learning Turkish, you’ll be their favorite person. They really appreciate your effort and interest in their culture. So, they’ll do everything in their power to help you. Ask them advice on pronunciation, or verb conjugation. Their accents are worth copying.

Turkey is beutiful, it's worth learning Turkish for it

17. Don’t Be Afraid to Make Mistakes

So many language learners are afraid of making mistakes. Fearing embarrassment, offense, or messing up only limits you. Don’t let language learning anxiety limit your success. The more you worry about meaningless hiccups, the longer it will be until you reach fluency.

Keep in mind that you’re learning a language. You’re literally working on understanding a different way to process reality. Expanding your mind. Becoming a better version of yourself and improving your life. That’s awesome! Nothing to be embarrassed or shy about. Celebrate your achievements with confidence. Be proud of yourself.

18. Use the Best App to Learn Turkish

You can combine the best of these ways to learn Turkish by using a language learning app. It’s not just convenient to have your lessons in your pocket. It’s also much cheaper than joining a class or hiring a tutor. Luckily, the best apps to learn Turkish are all built on scientifically-proven methods. So, they’re guaranteed to bring you fluency. And the best of them is undoubtedly OptiLingo.

OptiLingo is effective and brings you to fluency fast. It gives you the most common Turkish phrases, so you learn exactly how the locals speak. OptiLingo also has built-in spaced repetition. This technique helps you remember your lessons. You won’t have to memorize or drill. OptiLingo helps you recall Turkish automatically. Achieve Turkish fluency successfully by downloading OptiLingo today!