Turkish Tutor is a listening module based on video excerpts/clips from a popular, long running Turkish TV show Bizimkiler that represents everyday practices of typical Turkish people. There are twelve lessons in this module and the language depicted in each lesson is centered around the daily lives of residents in an apartment building in Istanbul. The main structure of each lesson includes a) a description of the scenes (the number of scenes vary in each lesson); b) the video excerpts/clips taken from the show; c) multiple choice comprehension questions for each scene; d) general exercises for the whole lesson; and e) a glossary with sound files.
The materials designed in this module provide culturally and linguistically rich information for learners who wish to gain insights into Turkish culture and language
Type of Material:
Authentic video excerpts/clips
Latest version of Netscape and Explorer browsers help viewing of this module. Installation of Quicktime is a necessity. You may also need to download Turkish keyboard and fonts. (Instructions for equipping your computer with suggested technology are provided in the Help section of the module).
Identify Major Learning Goals:
This material attempts to increase learners listening comprehension and cultural awareness through the use of authentic exchanges among native speakers of Turkish.
Target Student Population:
Adult learners of Turkish at upper-intermediate or advanced level who plan to interact with Turkish speakers or aim to better understand common everyday speech as spoken among native speakers of Turkish.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Some proficiency in Turkish is required. Although the content of each lesson focuses on a simple language function (such as greetings, welcoming, leave-taking etc), understanding the linguistic exchanges that surround each target function demands a certain level of (upper-intermediate and advanced) grammatical and lexical knowledge of Turkish language.
This module provides rich pragmatic knowledge of the target language and offers good insights into the lives and cultures of ordinary people in Turkey. It is an excellent resource for learners who wish to get the flavor of what Turkish people value in their interpersonal relationships and what cultural codes they attend to while conducting their daily lives in formal and informal situations.
This site identifies a clear and specific learning goal: listen and learn (see the introduction section of the module). It attempts to use the auditory and visual symbol systems of television to aid learners in drawing inferences from the information presented about the target language and culture. In addition to these symbol systems, by using contextualized language, this site provides learners with an excellent opportunity to hear the target language in meaningful contexts.
The lessons are not based on a lexical or grammatical progression. Instead, topics and functions provide the organizing principle in each lesson. To increase learners awareness of the conversational conventions used in various situations, each lesson is structured around a theme (such as greetings, welcoming, story telling, leave-taking etc) presented through a variety of very brief video excerpts that explore the same theme in different settings (home vs office) and in different situations (formal vs informal).
Each lesson stresses global comprehension and follows a fixed structure that involves (1) a pre-viewing activity which acts as an advanced organizer and prepares learners for the comprehension process; (2) viewing activity which introduces the target language and culture to the learners; (3) a post-viewing activity that includes comprehension checks in multiple choice formats. General lesson exercises and glossary are the additional features attached to each lesson.
Despite its richness in content, the module includes some cultural and linguistic references that are even difficult for advanced learners of Turkish to understand. The existence of numerous conversational phrases, idiomatic expressions, slang words or contractions coupled with the transient nature of the video excerpts (pace and continuity the quick rate of scene and character change) make it difficult for learners to grasp meaning. The glossary and the slow paced audio clips below the video excerpts somehow act as trouble-shooters, but they do not provide adequate contextual or linguistic clues that aid comprehension. This material would be more learner-friendly if it was accompanied with external links or tutorials on these problematic aspects of the presentation.
Another feature of concern with this site is related to the lack of a clear organizing principle in the way comprehension questions were formulated. For example, the designers attempt to make the order of questions in line with the order of actions presented in each clip rendered redundant questions that do not necessarily assess comprehension. Instead of assessing the learners understanding of what they listened to, these questions measure learners knowledge by inviting them to recall specific information about the scenes. If testing listening comprehension is the goal of this module (this is what the designers of this module state in their home page), then using Blooms Taxonomy as a framework may be helpful to include questions testing the ability to draw inferences from spoken language as well as the ability for explicit understanding.
In addition to the redundancy of some questions, a closer scrutiny of the questions and answers in the Exercises section reveals an inconsistency in language use. For example, in some exercises, the prompts are in English and the alternatives are in Turkish, while in others, both the prompts and alternatives are in English. If this switch in languages is a necessary one, an explanation about the reasons for it should be provided.
Finally, although the exercises provided in each lesson are interactive, the language of feedback is monotonous, resembling the kind of feedback provided by Skinners Teaching Machines in the 1950s. For example, for every correct answer, the learners receive the command True! and for every incorrect answer, they receive the command Wrong! A more encouraging and less monotonous way of providing feedback can be achieved through the addition of comments (e.g. Sorry, try again! or Correct, well done!) to the feedback prompts.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
The TV show used in this module is a popular one that has been around since 1989. It is an excellent selection that does a good job of displaying positive cultural associations and norms for which Turkish culture or Turkish people are known. Even though the excerpts are very brief, they are engaging and they include material that is not readily accessible in standard textbooks. As a result, this module is a valuable addition to the limited number of already existing resources that pertain to the teaching of Turkish language and culture.
This module is useful for student independent study and it also has the potential for use as a teaching resource. Clear, simple and straightforward instructions in the tutorial section offer strategies to help learners proceed easily through this module independently. When used as a teaching resource in class (with or without audio), it may lend itself to cross-cultural comparisons and provide a source for valuable classroom discussions.
Categorization of each lesson by level of Turkish proficiency and addition of external links that deal with the aspects of the target language and culture displayed in the clips would strengthen this modules use both for independent study and classroom instruction.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
The quality of the audio and video excerpts is excellent; there is no distracting background noise. The information presented on the screen is brief and easy to read; it requires only one scrolling. The site allows exercise materials to be printed for learners who like to view texts that are stable and permanent. Help section in the site provides excellent guidance in technical support.
Better use of colors would make the module more appealing.
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