Can you introduce yourself briefly and tell us a little about your background?
I am Eylül and I am the Turkish FLTA this year at IU. I got my BA in 2015 from Boğaziçi University in İstanbul to become an English Language Teacher. After I graduated, I was hired by the Ministry of Education to Şanlıurfa Hilvan Vocational and Technical High School and worked there for a year and a half. In the meantime, I pursued an MA degree at Anadolu University’s English Language Teaching Department. Eventually, I got a teaching position there and moved to Eskişehir. After the program here at IU, I will go back to my teaching job at Anadolu University School of Foreign Languages.
How many sections of Turkish language are you teaching?
We had three different levels of Turkish classes in the fall, and this semester we still have the same three levels (Introductory, Intermediate and Advanced Turkish). I teach and assist with all of them. I work with Dr. Sibel Crum most of the time. In addition to that, I am conducting weekly conversation hours and movie nights as well as preparing cultural presentations about interesting places in Turkey, such as Kapadokya, Göbeklitepe, Eskişehir and many others. In the Fall Semester, I was also grading and giving weekly feedback on the 4th year Turkish students’ papers.
What classes are you taking here at IU?
Last semester I took English for Academic Purposes with Professor Friedman in the Department of Second Language Studies (SLS). I also took Less Commonly Taught Languages with Professor Schleicher along with all the other FLTAs. This semester I am taking Phonology with Professor Darcy in the SLS department and Global Narratives with Professor Kousaleos.
Is this your first time visiting the United States? If so, what are your thoughts?
Yes, it’s my first time in the States. Although I never thought of Bloomington when I was planning to apply to Fulbright, Bloomington turned out to be pretty nice for me. My whole experience has been incredibly great so far thanks to you guys. The people from the department are so unbelievably helpful, and the FLTAs in our cohort are friendly too. I think we found ourselves a little family here. I also got a chance to visit a few different places in the States during my stay, both more touristy and less touristy places. Just like every country, the United States also has its own unique culture and colors. Overall, I love being here among you guys.
Is there anything you miss from Turkey that you haven’t been able to find here?
Well, actually there is not much I miss and cannot find here, apart from some food items, like “kokoreç” or “midye.” Other than that, since there is a strong Turkish presence in Bloomington, I don’t really miss anything specific. Also, I am aware that I will be here for only a year, so I am trying to immerse myself in pure American culture as much as I can.
What is your favorite thing to do at IU so far (when you're not teaching or taking class)?
Honestly, I love being here on this campus. I come to the campus every day and spend more than 12 hours on campus. My two favorite spots are the library and IMU. I love seeing people studying and reading or just hanging out. When I am not studying or teaching, I try to attend workshops, talks, or other activities that inspire me.
Do you think learning the Turkish language is difficult for a native English speaker?
I don’t think so. It all depends on how motivated the students are and how well the instruction supports that motivation. Just like with any other language, Turkish needs a lot of dedication; however, Turkish uses the Latin alphabet and the grammar itself is pretty logical. I have actually observed the growth of our students this year, and I have to say I am quite impressed by how much they learned by the end of the first semester. I suggested they watch lots of Turkish movies, TV series, and do extensive reading in Turkish to support their growth throughout the summer holiday if they cannot go to Turkey or at least be in a Turkish-speaking environment.
Is there anything you would like our readers to know about Turkey?
I wish I could tell you everything about our country in just one paragraph, but it has such deep roots in history that it is impossible to cover it all. We have great food, beautiful people, an extensive taste in literature, unbelievable nature and amazing history. I think everyone should try going to Turkey at least once in their lifetime. It has been on the main migratory routes for many centuries, and it is not only ours. What is called Turkey today has remnants from almost all cultures, nations, religions and languages, so it is all of our history! I would be thrilled to host anyone from Bloomington when I go back to Turkey, so start looking for a plane ticket, guys!