TEFL Success Stories – Part 26

Nihat – Turkey

Turkey is a strange country. On one hand, she is one of the biggest natural open museums in the world with Hegia Sophia, Ephesus, antique theatres, and the other ruins of all the ancient civilizations that dwelled in here. Being located in Eurasia, she bridges Asia and Europe and is also surrounded by three seas (Mediterranean, Aegean, Black Sea). She has got beautiful beaches, natural resources like spas and an incomparably beautiful nature. On top of all this the Turkish people regard entertaining guests as a holy mission. On the other hand, Turkey cannot make the best use of these beauties. People have been seriously suffering from an economic crisis for two years. You may think this has affected the English teaching sector in a negative way. “While people cannot make a living easily, how on earth can they spend money on language learning?” you may think. On the contrary, the crisis surprisingly contributed positively to the sector for people that were laid off have learned a lesson: they need to get more and actually working qualifications like English and computers.


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Employed or unemployed, business (wo)men or employees, a lot of people are nowadays taking English courses. There are a lot of successful entrepreneurs in Turkey that follow the technological developments closely and try to catch up with the newest innovations. They have seen that the domestic market is too small for all, so they need to open to the world market. They are using English in their web pages to advertise and/or to import and export.

I’ve been teaching English to Turkish students for 7 years all of which passed in private schools. Private schools in Turkey have preparatory classes during which students are taught about 25-30 hours of English a week.

Turkish students, like the aforementioned Turkish entrepreneurs, are aware of the fact that only if they can communicate in English, they will have an advantage over the other candidates when applying for a job. This encourages them to learn English, which even leads them to go to English courses on weekends or in the evenings. What’s striking about them is their interaction and warm conversations with the expatriate teachers whose main duty, most often, is to teach speaking. To illustrate, I remember a hot discussion between the two people on whether Washington apples or Amasya ones (a city in Turkey) are more scrumptious. Students even brought into the class some apples to add to the discussion. What I am trying to get at is, once you call their attention, they can blow your mind with their participation.

State schools are not as lucky as the private ones, though. Due to the economic crisis the whole country is suffering from, they cannot afford to employ expatriate teachers to teach their students. They have to make do with enthusiastic Turkish teachers of English. Yet, the new policy of the Ministry of Education seems to contribute to the significance of English in Turkish education curriculum. The Ministry is planning to teach first year students in the high schools 20-25 hours of English a week – not 2-3 hours as it used to be. This means more students needing to learn English, and, accordingly, more demand for teachers and English materials. Maybe, as a requirement of the new policy, the Ministry will agree to employ foreign teachers soon. Who knows?

In brief, the status of English in the Turkish Education Curriculum and also in the commercial arena is gaining more importance every day. It is now an imperative that each and every Turkish citizen learn to communicate in this language. If you are a person that loves teaching, that enjoys sharing and dealing with young learners, then Turkey is the right place to be.


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