Turkey’s foreign language courses ‘insufficient,’ says Boğaziçi University professor

Turkey’s foreign language courses ‘insufficient,’ says Boğaziçi University professor

Turkey’s foreign language courses ‘insufficient,’ says Boğaziçi University professor A Boğaziçi University foreign languages professor has criticized the level of foreign language knowledge among Turkish students, saying the current method of teaching is insufficient. 

While it is good that the age Turkish schoolchildren are introduced to foreign languages has been lowered to conform to EU standards, there are serious concerns about the duration and content of courses taught at school, said Belma Haznedar, a professor in Boğaziçi University’s Foreign Languages Department.

“Turkey has reached EU countries [standards] in terms of the starting age for foreign language education. But it is very important how you give this education. It is not possible to reach a level in foreign language education with a two-hour per week foreign language course in public schools,” said Haznedar. 

She stressed that foreign language education required “consistency” and it was not possible for a seven- or eight-year-old to absorb a language system when they lacked the opportunity to practice that language.   

Haznedar also pointed out that it takes five to seven years to learn a language at a level of academic proficiency and the materials used in such education are critically important. 

“Another critical issue is how foreign language courses are being held, what their content is and the situation of the educational materials used. When we look at the English language textbooks used for second grade in public schools, we see that there is no rational relation between thematic titles taking place in the book ... Of course, books cannot be the only learning materials today, when technology is developing rapidly,” said Haznedar, while also highlighting that textbooks are used regularly by 85 percent of teachers and therefore had to be chosen very carefully.

Hanzedar pointed to a Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) project carried out in several Turkish provinces with over 1,000 English teachers, which revealed that most teachers concentrate overwhelmingly on traditional grammatical education in foreign language teaching, despite the fact that it is not possible for children up to eight years old to analyze grammatical rules.