Do you sometimes wonder what you can do to learn Turkish better? As with any other language, the answer is easy. If you want to improve your listening skills and gain fluency in Turkish, you need to immerse yourself as much as you can in the language.
The best way to do this, of course, is to spend a long time in Turkey. That way, you will be forced to use the language every day for shopping, getting around, and socializing. However, if you can’t afford to leave your job and move to a different country, there are still lots of things you can do from home to expose yourself to the language.
Watching Turkish TV series with or without English subtitles is a practical and efficient way to boost or freshen up your Turkish level. On the one hand, you get to listen to native speakers of the language for hundreds of hours (it turns out Turkish shows are usually longer than American ones!). On the other hand, you get to practice the language while doing something fun and exciting, which makes the learning process all the more interesting.
Below, you will find 4 essential Turkish TV series that you can binge-watch to improve your Turkish while you soak in the Turkish culture.
Ertuğrul (Resurrection) – 2019
Do you sometimes wonder how to get on with your life after Game of Thrones? It might seem an unlikely place to start, but the answer might lie somewhere in Turkey. Resurrection, an epic Turkish TV historical drama about Erugrul, founder of the Ottoman Empire, is usually referred to by both fans and reviewers as the Turkish GOT for a reason. Fast-moving and action-packed, Resurrection mixes history with fantasy to create an epic viewing experience that will have you at the edge of your seat.
The good news for language learners is that although Ottoman Turkish was a combination of Turkish, Persian, and Arabic, the language used in the show is plain, modern-day Turkish, which makes it easy to follow the plot. Besides, even if you don’t understand every word, the show’s thrilling plot twists and striking visual effects will keep you interested in the story all the same.
Some expressions you will learn while watching the show are:
Eyvallah: Literally meaning “I thank God first”, this is a phrase Turkish people use when they want to express their gratitude to another person.
Hamdolsun: This one can be translated as “Thanks to God” or “I praise God”, and you can use it to show that you feel blessed after a lucky turn of events.
Ata: In Turkish, Ata is a masculine given name meaning “ancestor” or “forefather”.
Beni Böyle Sev (Love Me as I Am) – 2013
Are you in the mood for simple storytelling and contemporary settings? Then, this tender romantic comedy might do the trick. A tale as old as time, this is a light but touching story of the love between a poor girl and a rich boy.
Focusing on the younger Turkish population, Love Me As I Am is set on a university campus and offers plenty of examples of what modern youngsters speak like in contemporary Turkey. Also, because it is at heart a story about love, friendship, and family, you’ll get to hear lots of words and phrases related to relationships and romance.
Since the show deals with everyday stuff and is largely driven by character development rather than wild plot twists, this is an overall easy show for beginner to intermediate students and a great opportunity to immerse yourself in modern-day Turkish youngster culture.
Some of the vocabulary that will appear repeatedly on the show includes:
Binbir Gece Masalları (A Thousand and One Nights) – 2006
If you like fairy tales that take place in modern settings, this lush Turkish TV series is the perfect choice for you. It tells the inspiring story of a widow who struggles through the hardships of life in Turkey as the single mother of a child who has leukemia.
Accompanied by a gorgeous classical score, A Thousand and One Nights shows lovely views of Istanbul, including its architecture and nature, making it a must-watch for people who want to visit this city and want to know which places to visit.
From a linguistic perspective, this Turkish TV series is an easy watch because the variety of Turkish used throughout is gentile or standard, i.e. the kind of accent spoken by the elite in Istanbul, which is the one you might have learned at language schools or in private courses.
This is a list of common greetings that appear in the show:
Müsadenizle: If I may / With your permission / Excuse me
Nasılsınız: How are you doing?
Rica ederim: Please don’t mention it / Not a problem
Medcezir – 2013
Medcezir, a Turkish word that literally means “tidal”, tells the story of a humble boy with a tragic and difficult family background named Yaman. This Turkish TV series follows Yaman’s journey as he fights to overcome his complicated past and gain the love and respect of the woman he loves, Mira, who comes from a wealthy, conservative family.
This is an extract from the script:
—Anne, ben hiçbir şey yapmadım. (Mom, I didn’t do anything.)
—Erkek kardeşin ilk seferinde aynı şeyi söyledi. Biriniz bile düzgün olmayacak mı? (Your brother said the same thing the first time. Won’t even one of you be decent?)
So, here they are. Four excellent Turkish dramas for people who love learning while having fun.
After you’ve finished watching these four shows, what will you do to keep on learning? At Listen & Learn, we strongly suggest language-lovers take a course with a native Turkish speaker. Explore our Turkish courses or contact us on our website and get a personalized lesson plan based on your needs and current skills!