Literally straddling the gap between "east" and "west," Turkey has been a major player throughout the history of the world. At one point ruling a vast swath of the Middle East and contending with the major political forces of Europe, Turkey has influenced much of the region. Today, it continues to make headlines for its important location and the diverse forces that attempt to find balance across the narrow Bosphorus strait.
If you find yourself wanting to learn more about Turkey and immerse yourself in the language of this perpetually significant country, you may decide to learn Turkish abroad. Though not one of the most widespread languages of the world, there are plenty of options and opportunities for students -- both in Turkey and in nearby countries. Language students from around the world continue to flock to Turkey and Turkish-speaking countries for the opportunity to gain a greater understanding of both the language and cultural impact of the Turkish people.
The most common way to learn Turkish is through a small language institute. However, some universities will also offer courses.
Many of the major universities in Turkish-speaking countries offer language instruction as part of a study abroad curriculum. If you study abroad in any subject there, you will likely have a chance to add Turkish lessons to your course load. These courses will have tuition based on the cost of being a student enrolled or studying abroad at the university, and will probably allow you some support in other academic areas or housing options.
Taking a course at a language school will allow you to focus solely on learning Turkish, and costs may be more reasonable or lower than tuition at university-affiliated courses. This is a great option for students who are living or spending time abroad in a Turkish-speaking country, but aren't necessarily enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate degree program.
Where to Go
You may be surprised to learn about opportunities to learn Turkish abroad. Naturally, there are many options within Turkey, but several other countries may provide you the educational opportunities you're looking for. Here are several locations where you can consider studying Turkish.
Istanbul: The Turkish capital draws travelers and students from all over the globe, and makes an excellent base for Turkish students studying abroad. Both universities and private language schools provide a wide array of language courses, ranging from daily to weekly frequency.
Ankara: Lead by Ankara University, many study abroad programs allow students to learn Turkish alongside other subjects in the inland town of Ankara. The city is increasingly popular for study abroad placements but off the beaten path enough that you'll feel a real sense of cultural immersion.
İzmir: Located south of Istanbul along the eastern shores of the Aegean sea, İzmir is another popular spot for students who wish to learn Turkish abroad. Less frequently visited and more immersive, language schools here will allow you to take lessons from the classroom and apply them the minute you leave it.
There are a variety of countries outside of Turkey that have large Turkish-speaking populations where you can also find Turkish language programs (though likely not with as many options or offerings). Some of the most popular include countries like Cyprus (where Turkish is one of two official languages), countries such as Macedonia, Bulgaria, and Romania (where Turkish is a recognized secondary or minority language), or Germany (where the largest population of Turkish people live outside of Turkey). There may even be options for you to study Turkish abroad in other countries you haven't thought of yet!
Planning Your Trip
Depending on the nature of your studies when learning Turkish abroad, the amenities associated with your course will vary.
For students enrolled in university-affiliated courses, it is quite likely that you will have housing options provided for you as part of the course. Given that most students study abroad from a home campus, be sure to check with yours for specific details. Students who choose to study Turkish independent from a university will likely be required to find their own housing.
Scholarships & Costs
Again, these vary based on the institution you're learning Turkish at: universities will likely have higher costs for enrollment, but may also offer scholarships (these may also come from your home campus), whereas private language schools are potentially lower cost with fewer scholarship options. Be sure to research each program you're considering to know the specific details of tuition and financial assistance they offer.
No matter what type of Turkish language course you enroll in, it is likely that you will need a visa for the time spent studying. Students enrolled in a university course (especially one affiliated with a degree program back in their home country) will likely be eligible for a student visa, whereas those traveling independently and wishing to learn Turkish may need to look at other visa options. Be sure to consult your local foreign office before you enroll, to make sure you meet all necessary visa requirements.
Far and away, the most popular spot to study Turkish abroad is in Istanbul, which may present safety concerns for students who haven't visited Turkey or aren't familiar with the social and political systems there. Be sure to consult our guide for planning your travels or studies in Turkey to learn more about determining if this is the right course of study for you.