Language is an indispensable utility which facilitates peoples lives. Human beings use languages to communicate effectively and understand each other well. In our rapidly changing world, many people learn and speak other languages apart from their mother tongue.

Majority of the people who learn a foreign language generally prefer English as a second language. Turkish learners are also in favor of learning English. They consider English as a relatively easy language to learn compared to other languages. However, there are certain difficulties Turkish learners come face to face while learning English.

In this essay, I am going to explain what the basic language learning problems of Turkish students are and discuss the ways how an English as a second language (ESL) teacher can help Turkish learners achieve better.

One of the basic problems which come into the picture while learning English is that Turkish people encounter a nearly completely different language structure (mentioning this В here is slightly irrelevant) and many learners begin to be prejudiced against about English language. Some learners think that they will never get to know English.

To be prejudiced against someone or something is actually an important challenge and to change the idea that English is a difficult language to learn is really a hard job to deal with. As Einstein says, it is harder to crack a prejudice than an atom.

Teachers of English from Turkish origin have crucial responsibilities in order to eradicate prejudice and facilitate learner’s acquisition of English language. Teachers should always encourage learners and give the impression that they can be successful if they study regularly and efficiently. They should also take learner’s desires, needs and developmental stages into account.

Another reason why Turkish learners face some language problems while learning English is that language is a living thing like a human being. Learning a language is not an easy task and requires hard study and continuousness. Learners should always practice the foreign language and use it in their daily lives to be good at English. This point is actually an important problem for Turkish learners because many Turkish learners find it difficult to speak English fluently and they generally do not understand what they hear or listen.

This is partly because learners do not practice English in real life. They mostly prefer to speak Turkish and avoid practicing English. As a result of not practicing English, learners naturally have language learning problems.

Some educational theories give much importance to practice in language learning. For example; constructivists are on the belief that people learn a language through communication with their environments. They adhere to the idea that social interactions are essential part of language learning. English as a second language teachers have a big responsibility at this point. They should always encourage learners to practice the language and give opportunities to express themselves in English.

Another problem is that English and Turkish are from different language family (plural) and their grammar and syntax (structure of sentences) vary greatly. For example; verb is generally at the end of the sentence in Turkish. However; verb comes directly after subject in most cases in English.

There is one grammar subject matter called articles in English, whereas Turkish language does not include such a grammar subject. English and Turkish differ in some tenses, too. English has present perfect tense which many English language learners from Turkey usually find difficult to understand because there is no present perfect tense or something similar to this tense in Turkish.

There is also one subject area that Turkish learners have great difficulty in comprehending. There are phrasal verbs in English and they are sometimes really confusing for Turkish people to understand because meanings of the verbs may change completely according to particles (generally prepositions) which come after verbs. For instance, go means В«move from one place or point to another, travel a specified distanceВ» but go off has totally different meanings. Go off may mean:

  • (of a gun, bomb, or similar device) explode or fire (of an alarm) begin to sound.
  • (informal) become suddenly angry; lose one’s temper.
  • (chiefly British English) begin to decompose; become unfit for consumption.
  • informal (chiefly British English) begin to dislike.
  • go to sleep.

English as a second language (ESL) В teachers need to follow important teaching strategies to teach the subjects which Turkish language does not include such as present perfect tense and phrasal verbs. They will probably encounter some learners who will have great difficulty in understanding these complex subject matters.

Firstly, teachers should present brief and concise information to learners about what they are going to learn and explain them that Turkish does not have such a grammar topic. Then, teachers should encourage learners to understand the topics and they can arrange some learning activities such as group projects and presentations which are prepared by learners.

Teachers should also give feedback to learners in order to provide full understanding of the subjects. As mastery learning theorists advocate, all students can learn if they are given enough time and taught properly. That is why, teachers of English should be decisive, patient and organized to urge all students to learn these complex subjects.

In conclusion; languages are very important for an effective communication and understanding each other. English language is much more important because it is a world language. Many people around the world communicate and understand each other thanks to English language. So, a lot of people make an effort to learn English language and speak it fluently. Many Turkish people also try to learn English but they encounter certain problems while learning English.

To be prejudiced against the language, not practicing the language in their daily lives, different grammar and sentence structures of Turkish and English are the leading difficulties for Turkish learners. In order to overcome these difficulties, ESL teachers have a big responsibility and they play an important role in teaching English language. They should use different teaching technics and methods. They should also benefit from teaching and learning theories so as to provide learners with full understanding.

Mustafa (English Language Teacher)


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