Three steps I use to learn a lot of Turkish vocabulary
1. Old-fashioned pen and paper
Every time I hear or see a new word that seems interesting or important, I copy it onto a folded piece of paper that I keep in my pocket dictionary. If I run into a language-interested friend, I will sometimes pull the paper out and talk about the new words.
2. New technology (Anki+Tureng)
When my folded paper is completely full on both sides–once or twice a week depending on how much I am pushing myself–I sit down at the computer and enter all the new vocabulary into Anki, a digital flashcard system.
As I enter the words, I use Tureng, an awesome online English-Turkish dictionary, to check that I have the right idea about the word. Tureng has a lot of colloquial language, idioms, and technical expressions, which I am always happy to catch. I also use this time to follow up on questions (‘Is sinek ‘fly’ or ‘mosquito’?’) and hunches (I bet I can directly translate ‘Now what?!’), again with Tureng.
Note: For me it’s key to focus on the word as much as possible at this phase, the entry phase, because if I do a really good job, then it will basically stick. Doing a good job means considering if I know similar words, wondering if the word came from Persian or Arabic, thinking about how I might use it, and saying it out loud or at least mouthing the word.
3. Review, review, review
I try to review my digital Anki cards every day, which means I review 140 items. Honestly, Anki is so easy and fun that it feels like a game, and it take less than 15 minutes to go through them all. I’m amazed at how often in conversation I consciously pull a word that I have reviewed some time in the last week.
Note: You can use flashcards to review grammar, too. I have been stuck on how to say things like, “When I come back…” and “When I don’t write…” so I loaded up a bunch of flashcards with these little chunks. After much practice, the Turkish grammar comes more fluidly, and I can apply the rule to other pronouns and verbs as well.
Why it works for me
After wondering how to retain all these new words and considering different methods, this routine just fell into place. I guess it works because it is easy to maintain, it’s kind of fun (I love the Anki flashcards–it’s like a game), and it’s relevant–I’m only learning words that I have come across in my day-to-day living. I like the idea that when I return to Canada, I can continue at least Step 3, and maintain all the new vocabulary that I’ve learned.