Club teaches free Turkish classes


Photo: William Deaton/Iowa State Daily

Ozlem Karakaya teaches Turkish to her class Wednesday, Sept. 26, in Town Engineering.

Katherine Marcheski

One culture group on campus has begun offering, for the first time, free language classes for students and community members.

Members of the Turkish Student Association, a student-based club at Iowa State, are voluntarily teaching Turkish three days a week to any interested participants.

Nichole Engelhardt, senior in kinesiology and health, said she has learned a lot in the last three weeks of taking this class.

“I went to Turkey this summer for two months, and I wanted to join so I could continue learning the language,” Engelhardt said. “It’s a good offer to take them up on, and I hope to go back to Turkey, this time knowing more of the language.”

On Mondays and Wednesdays, students are instructed by two teachers from the group, and Fridays are designated for conversational and practice time. 

“It’s a great opportunity,” said Kavitha Nambisan, graduate student in English. “It’s not exactly an easy language to find classes for, so this is a good experience.” 

Nambisan also likes the setup as a stress-free class.

“It’s nice — it takes the pressure off of learning a language just to pass a test because you’re trying to save your GPA or just trying to take language credits,” Nambisan said. “It’s more practical and efficient.”

Anywhere from five to 15 students come each session. The class begins with the instructor greeting the students, asking them to respond to her questions and requesting them to greet each other as well. The structure is similar to any other college course and has a professional manner and setting.

“Students want to be here, and they want to learn,” said Aysel Saricaoglu, graduate student in English and Monday night’s instructor. Saricaoglu is a member of the Turkish Student Association and was asked to instruct one day a week, along with other members, in order to form the Turkish class.

“I have experience in the past teaching Turkish to younger students, and it was very hard, so I was a little hesitant, but I decided to do it for a semester,” she said.

Saricaoglu said it is a necessity for the language to be shared and taught here at Iowa State.

“There is a group of almost 70 Turkish students here, and people are seeking to learn the language, so why not offer it?” Saricaoglu asked.

The instructors are all actual teachers as well, and follow a syllabus and the suggested pattern of lessons from a textbook.

“It helps us have an order of what topics to teach, but we are not teaching textbook Turkish,” Saricaoglu said. “I studied English for a number of years in Turkey, and realized I had learned textbook English. Many of the students want to travel to Turkey, so our goal is applicable and conversational Turkish, so they can communicate and have conversations here on campus or in Turkey.”