In this TEFL Turkey blog, you will learn how to help your students overcome problems with pronunciation, articles, prepositions, and relative clauses. Knowing what these are will enable you to recognize them when they occur and develop ways of helping students overcome such problems.
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TEFL Turkey – Problems with Pronunciation
There are sounds in English which have no equivalent in Turkish. Unfortunately, these appear in some of the most common words. The /θ/ and /ð̠/ consonants, for instance, do not naturally appear in Turkish and cause constant problems with words such as through and the. Another issue is that /r/ is always pronounced in Turkish, leading to seemingly over-pronounced Rs when speaking English, such as waterrr and doctorrr. Conversely, /w/ does not appear in Turkish, leading to confusion of the pronunciation of words containing either /v/ or /w/ in English. Consonant clusters, such as spr-, rarely appear at the start of Turkish words, making vocabulary like spring a pronunciation nightmare for students (typically you will hear something like si-prink). Turks nevertheless place great importance on correct pronunciation, so activities using the phonetic alphabet go down well (Read: Teaching Pronunciation Activities).
TEFL Turkey – Problems with Articles
Turkish has an indefinite article but no direct equivalent of the definite the. Correct use of the definite article is a long and painful process for Turkish students. The best way to approach this tends to be the way that it is addressed in the major course books, i.e. through a series of applicable rules. Turks get upset at their failure to master what they perceive as a basic aspect of English, despite the actual complexities of article use. Whenever articles come up as a grammar point in a course, a good approach is to take your time and add extra practice activities that reinforce the grammar rule being taught, such as the use of the with rivers and oceans but not, generally, with cities and countries.
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TEFL Turkey – Problems with Prepositions
This is another aspect of English that perturbs Turks who perceive it as a fundamental part of grammar that they find somewhat difficult to get to grips with. The problem lies in the fact that there is one preposition in Turkish that serves the role that in, on and at do in English. Therefore, there is often confusion about which one to use and you can expect to see them mixed up. As with articles, the best solution again is to do as is done in course books, but take it slow and steady, supplementing with extra activities that give more chances to practice. Work steadily and regularly on prepositions of place and time in particular.
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TEFL Turkey – Problems with Relative Clauses
The subject-object-verb structure of Turkish means that the way relative clauses are constructed in English is totally alien to students. When you introduce these clauses in grammar classes, you will find that students will work through the exercises and then never use them again unless really pushed to do so. After teaching relative clauses, look for opportunities to return to this grammar point as frequently as you can later on in the course. Take simple steps to insure regular review of relative clauses. For instance, ask students to find examples in any reading text you do in class. Alternatively, ask questions that require the use of a relative clause in the answer. For instance: ‘What’s the name of the person who did a certain action in the text?’ or ‘What’s the name of the country where this took place?’ (Read: Teaching Grammar in Turkey).