Turkish Grammar in Practice - Book Review
By Professor Roberta Micallef, Boston University
Turkish Grammar in Practice by Yusuf Buz is a new reference and practice book for those either studying Turkish on their own or taking an elementary or intermediate Turkish language class. Yusuf Buz has a background in teaching English as a second language and among others has authored a textbook titled English Grammar aimed at Turkish learners of English. He started teaching Turkish as a second language after moving to the U.K. which inspired him to write this book.
Turkish Grammar in Practice consists of 114 two-page units, each on a grammar topic with the explanation on the left-hand side and the exercises on the right-hand side. Verb tenses are generally divided into three units: positive, negative and question. A dedicated website that offers online listening, grammar and vocabulary exercises is also available to those who purchase the text. Turkish Grammar in Practice aims to teach its users the most commonly used 1900 Turkish words. Each unit reinforces vocabulary already taught and introduces new expressions or vocabulary. Each one of these 1900 words and a few extras are included in the very useful 1932- word vocabulary list toward the end of the book. The extra words are interjections such as “ aha” which are commonly used in Turkish but may not be immediately comprehensible to the Turkish learner. In addition, the book includes a 15-unit section titled “Grammar Essentials.” These units do not include exercises but simply provide explanations for concepts important in reading and writing Turkish such as expressing polite offers and requests and similes. A full answer key is provided at the end of the book. The exercises provided are very useful in practicing grammar points, with realistic sentences, dialogues and readings as the learner acquires more vocabulary. The grammar essentials are nicely illustrated and provide good examples about how to appropriately use expressions such as “tam sana gore,” which helps those learning Turkish sound authentic.
Instructors and students taking a Turkish language class will find this book a useful and helpful supplement to classroom activities and exercises. If a learner’s main goal is oral communication a grammar in practice book even one that includes over 2000 sample sentences and 3000 practice questions and is accompanied by online listening exercises will not suff ice . However, if the students’ primary goal is to read and write Turkish, then Turkish Grammar in Practice and its accompanying website will indeed help them achieve their goal.
The organization of Turkish Grammar in Practice is unique. A Student Grammar of Turkish by Nihan Ketrez, for example is organized progressively with increasingly difficult grammar concepts that allow for the development of gradually more complex language skills. Starting with “The Sounds of Turkish,” the student using her book progresses to “Relative Clauses,” and then to the finer points of Turkish that allows one to sound authentic. Turkish an Essential Grammar by Aslı Goksel and Celia Kerslake begins with a unit on “The Alphabet and Pronounciation” and by the end of the book has reached units on “Adverbial Clauses” and “Conditional Sentences,” ending with a unit on “Conversational Features.” Yusuf Buz takes a different approach. Turkish Grammar in Practice begins with units on “The Alphabet” and “Vowel Harmony,” and “Consonant Mutations,” but then progresses to three units devoted to the “olmak,” which he translates as “to be.” The “to be” verb in Turkish is rather more com plicated . The first unit presented is titled “olmak fiili (geniş zamanda)” or in English, “the verb ‘to be’ in the present tense.” The present tense with aorist is not presented in earnest until much later in the book, unit 22 and yet the simple past and the future tense which are simpler to teach and learn do not appear until units 37 and 45 respectively. Grammar explanations are not provided but this is not a book about grammar but about practicing a languag e. A student could jump around or an instructor could assign units to accompany their own syllabus as best fits their needs.
Students studying on their own will appreciate the fact that instructions and explanations are given in English and that the Turkish example sentences come with English translations. The grammar point emphasized in each unit is presented in practice sentences with color coded examples and translations. For example, in the unit on the simple past the learner would come across an example such as: Yeni bir araba aldım and its translation, I bought a new car.
The book is nicely presented with colorful, appropriate and contemporary illustrations. Turkish Grammar in Practice will be of interest to instructors looking for grammar exercises to supplement classroom instruction. Instructors who want to dedicate class time to communication rather than grammar exercises may well find the exercises with the translations and answer key useful to assign to students. This book is an excellent practice book would useful, easy to grasp exercises that will allow the student to learn how to use various expressions, tenses and other aspects of grammar. The student who wants to learn to use Turkish grammar in order to read or write rather than in order to understand the workings of Turkish grammar will find this book useful.