Speak no Turkish, hear no Turkish in Istanbul café as teacher seeks to improve English language skills

January 31, 2010

Speak no Turkish, hear no Turkish in Istanbul café as teacher seeks to improve English language skills - Turkish Daily News

The top floor of Konak Café’s three-storey building in Istanbul’s historic Süleymaniye neighbourhood is crowded with students, idlers and opportunity-seekers. Everything is Turkish about the place in, except the language used to communicate. Speaking Turkish is “totally forbidden” at the café run by a young English teacher who wanted to give Turks a chance to practice English in their home country, Turkish Daily News reports.  The teacher opened the café to help students who are familiar with grammar rules, but have difficulty explaining their views orally. “It is a place for them to improve their speaking skills without having to go abroad or compromise leisure time in their lives,” said Altan Çarıkcıdoglu, who runs the café.

According to the 31-year-old teacher, improving language skills requires consistent practice rather than a temporary visit abroad, which may last just three to six months. “Some people go to Britain or to the United States to improve their spoken English,” Çarıkcıdoglu said. “However, they are unaware that they will lose their skills within a certain period of time if they do not speak English after they return home.” The café offers several tools to help clients use English as they are engaged in their activities. Each table has an English-Turkish dictionary and music video clips with subtitles are projected on the wall all day long. The café also has a small bookcase with English-language books for readers of every level. “You can listen, you can speak, you can watch. Everything we do here is in English. I cannot imagine a better way to learn language at home,” said Onur Turk, a fresh Istanbul University graduate. The café does not impose a regular system or timetable, as a language school does and visitors learn grammar rules spontaneously as they repeat a sentence and see when and how it is used, the Istanbul newspaper said. The café, however, is not only a meeting point where people gather to improve their language skills, and serves as a social network hub It uses its page on Facebook, the Internet social-networking site, to inform visitors about special sessions or discussions, held at 3 and 6 pm. every day and are open to the general public. “The teacher announces a topic over the Internet the day before a discussion session and those who are interested in the topic get ready for it,” said Neşet Tüter, a 24-year-old industrial engineer.


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About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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