How do I learn my 4th language in my 3rd language?
October 13, 2009 12:51 PM   Subscribe

LanguageLearning Filter: I'm about to start taking Turkish classes (my fourth language) in German (my third language). Any tips on how to make this a beneficial experience for all my languages?

I took an intensive Turkish course in English this past summer, moved to Berlin and wanted to keep on with the language at my German university, where I was placed into third semester (B1 level).

On the one hand, I'm pretty excited! Germany's relationship to Turkey is the entire reason I decided to learn Turkish, so it will be cool to learn it in conjunction with Germans, and see what sort of bizarre jokes Germans make about the Turkish language.

On the other hand, I'm terrified! I've only been studying German for four years. So although my German is pretty good, I still often feel like I'm doing English-German translations in my head when I speak, and am pretty self-conscious about speaking in public.

Reading and understanding my Turkish-German textbook is okay (although sometimes I have to break out my Turkish-English dictionary because the German isn't cutting it), but today at my oral Turkish placement test I had a few moments where I felt like I was doing a three-way translation and floundering.

So, HiveMind, has anyone else had this experience of learning a new language in something that's not your mother tongue? Do you have any tips or tricks?

Should I make Turkish-English flashcards or Turkish-German flashcards, or Turkish-English/German flashcards? When I take notes on grammatical points, should I take them in sloppy German or good English? What haven't I thought about that I should be thinking about?

(Extra bonus question: Do you have any cool bilingual Turkish-German music I should be listening to?)
posted by besonders to Writing & Language (3 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I initially learned Romanian in Hungarian, which (at the time) I couldn't speak as well as you can German, plus - given its non-Indo European status - is pretty impossible to guess at. Still, I managed, and it may not be as hard as you think. In fact, it may be easier, since your "default" language is a bit faulty, which may allow you quicker entry into Turkish. But I'd:

1) Learn all the German words for parts of speech and grammatical concepts.

2) Make notes in good German. If you can't, use English. Basically, use what's going to really make sense, starting with the language it's taught in. It's fine to use *both* - and I frequently look back at notes and see a weird mix of languages, though my ultimately goal is always to make notes in the language I'm learning as soon as I can.

3) Find a buddy in the classroom who's fluent in English and kind enough to assist when problems arise.

4) I'd go with Turkish / English-German flash cards. When I make flash cards (these days for Hungarian and Romanian mostly), I add on the translations in German or French or Italian or Spanish too, if I don't recall them right away. No need to be purist about it, kill two birds with one stone!
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 1:21 PM on October 13, 2009

I'm learning Turkish too, so can relate somewhat, though admittedly not in a third language! I found that when learning multiple languages, it was good to dedicate days to each one, though I'm assuming you're completely fluent in German. I think it would be beneficial for you to do Turkish-German. If German is your everyday language, you're going to need to be proficient in switching from it to Turkish.

As for Turkish-German music, Mustafa Sandal is the obvious choice. His popularity amongst Turkish-German youth means that he's dabbled in some German language mixes - "Aya benzer" comes to mind.

İyi şanslar!
posted by ryanbryan at 12:57 AM on October 14, 2009

Thanks, both of you!

Dee--I actually want to learn Hungarian in the future. So that's pretty awesome. And I'm following your advice with flashcards.

ryanbryan-- Bugün Mustafa Sandal'i dinledim ve çok güzel buldum. Çok tesekküler, ve kolay gelsin!

(Ahhhh Turkish characters, you will be the death of me.)
posted by besonders at 4:39 AM on October 19, 2009

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