|ROUNDTABLE STATEMENT (369 words) |
A constant challenge I face in teaching modern and Ottoman Turkish is the insufficiency of materials. Compared to the sources available a decade ago, a number of new textbooks and exercise and activity booklets have appeared and been quite helpful, but they are still far from sufficient in number and variety. Sources for elementary-level Turkish courses are relatively common, but numbers go drastically down as the language level increases. Updated textbooks, activity and exercise books with enough cultural information, communicative and performance-based activities, and supplementary materials are rare for advanced Turkish and almost non-existent for Ottoman Turkish.
As a presenter in this roundtable session, I would like to share my experience with materials I use to supplement textbooks and modifications I resort to according to the needs of my students. For example, the profile and background of students, as well as the languages they already know, make a considerable difference in their learning processes. I have been using grammar and exercise materials that I created for all four of my classes: elementary, intermediate, advanced, and Ottoman Turkish. Bringing instructional handouts together and adapting the sources at hand have become easier, more practical, and functional for me over the years. Hardship remains, however, in testing and evaluating progress. The ideas and tools that I use in my courses vary, but I primarily aim at equipping students with a strong command of grammar—believing that only then the skills and knowledge students need to succeed in daily life, work environment, and academic research can be built.
Sources such as newspaper articles, news-media links, short documentaries, cartoon strips, popular songs, and street interviews have proven to be particularly helpful in developing and designing teaching materials. As a language instructor, I have been utilizing media with an increasing frequency and try to incorporate them as early as possible in my classes. Watching people from all walks of life—different social, geographical, educational, gender and age groups—speak introduces students to various dialects, vocabulary, gestures, and pronunciations. I always prepare media transcripts with grammatical and cultural notes, which not only serve as exercises for listening and reading but also teach students many social aspects of Turkey even before they set foot in the country.