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Tömer Turkish Language Course. Student complaints....
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ghost



Joined: 30 Jan 2003
Posts: 1299
Location: Saudi Arabia

PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2003 9:24 am    Post subject: Tömer Turkish Language Course. Student complaints.... Reply with quote

ESL foreign teachers in Turkey should be careful before deciding to study at Tömer because unless they are prepared for a particular kind of teaching, they would probably be wasting their time and money.

Case in point: The Tömer level 2 course in Antalya is problematic.

1. The class is a mix. of 'real' level 2 students and 'false' level 2 students. The 'false' level 2 students include German Nationals who possess a Turkish parent (in Germany or Turkey) and have had tons of exposure to the language already. This makes it difficult, obviously, for the 'real' level 2 students to follow. The reality of the situation is that the pace of the lessons is too fast for the 'real' level 2 students because they are unable to follow the rhythm of the 'false' level 2 students.

2. In Ankara, the level 1 Tömer course was grammar based (as per. all Tömer courses) but did include a blend of conversation, writing, films and other language learning type situations.

In Antalya, unfortunately, the level 2 course is entirely grammar/drill based and over half the students are not able to follow in part because of the fast pace, and also because of the difference in level between the 'false' level students who already possess a huge advantage over the 'real' level 2 people.

For the past 4 days, for example, for 4 hours per day, all the students have been learning are 'Emir Kipi' (commands) in Turkish language. It is all very well to learn some commands, but to spend 4 days on command systems is surely not a balanced way to learn a foreign tongue. It is also very boring.

3. The grade school approach to learning. This is what happens at the Antalya branch. The Turkish teacher writes some rules on the board (at present all to do with 'emir kipi' and exceptions to the rules, positive commands and exception keys - istisna - ). Following this the students go to the board, one by one, and conjugate the verbs and commands for all to see. This goes on for hours and hours. And some of the students find this problematic for two reasons. Firstly they are intimidated about showing possible faults on the board for all to see, and secondly they do not have enough time to assimilate what they are learning.

4. Homework sheets have been given for the students to complete at night which have absolutely no relation to what the 'real' level students did in their first or previous Turkish course. This is a big problem which will attempt to be resolved in the coming days, but as this is Turkey, chances are nothing will happen and the students will have to grin and put up with the system.

5. Conversation, or the lack thereof. In language learning one needs a balance between grammar and conversation. At Tömer the sum total of conversation in one day's class is about 3 mins. (yes 3 minutes!) at the beninning of class when the teacher asks the students how they are.

In summation: The Tömer course might be ok for the analytical/grammar based language learner. But for those learners who have grown up in environments in which the 'communicative/whole' language approach is used, they will most likely learn very little at Tömer.

The above can be observed with regard to nationalities. At the present Tömer 2 course, some Russian students are excelling, with the Germans in close pursuit, but the North American and British students are finding the course extemely challenging and frustrating. One venerable British gentleman of advanced years simply got up during a class and told the Turkish teacher that he was not learning anything. It was impossible for him to follow. He walked out and did not return.

Tömer makes little or no concessions for those who are not able to follow the pace, because the pace is always geared to the strongest learners, many of whom are false beginners, including those from countries where 'Turkic' family languages are spoken (Kazakstan, Türkmenistan, Azerbaijan, and even Mongolia...). The students who have learnt languages in the past with a more communicative approach are out of luck at this Institute. It is basically a sink or swim situation.

Fact: a substantial number of Tömer students simply do not finish the course. The money they pay up-front is not re-imbursed, of course.

Think hard before signing on. If you have Turkish friends who speak no English, you have a much better chance of learning the rudiments of the language in a relatively short time (3-8 months). Supplement this with a key grammar book of your own and you will be better served in all likelihood.


Last edited by ghost on Wed Nov 05, 2003 4:31 pm; edited 1 time in total
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 11710
Location: Ultima Thule

PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2003 9:35 am    Post subject: complaints Reply with quote

More complaints from "ghost" ?
Why doesn't he tell us about that restaurant where he was served a suspect kebab ? Or the girlie bar where he didn't like the girlies ?

On foreign language learning I think that if you have any experience in foreign langauge pedagogy the best way is to get yourself a book and a teacher. Do it one to one. Why do you need a class ?
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ghost



Joined: 30 Jan 2003
Posts: 1299
Location: Saudi Arabia

PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2003 4:25 pm    Post subject: Tömer language class problems Reply with quote

Complaints are justified when students fork out substantial sums of money to take a foreign language course.

Taking one to one lessons in Turkey (as suggested by Scott) is prohibitive from a financial point of view with rates averaging around $25 U.S. per hour or equivalent.

Today the students voiced their complaints to the Turkish language teacher. The basic complaint was that the course is solely a grammar course with an almost total absence of communication practice given by the teacher. In fact the teacher merely hands out work sheets with dull grammar drills for the students to write in class. In addition to this are the previously mentioned whiteboard fill in the blanks set up by the teacher. The teacher just sits at her desk. Sometimes she leaves the room, but not before warning the students (all adults) to be quiet, as if we were in grade 8.

When one student tried to explain that language learning should incorporate a balanced approach with communicative practice to the forefront, the visibly miffed Turkish teacher simply replied that unless we are able to do the grammar drills perfectly we will not embark on conversation. The teacher was then reminded that research shows that communicative language learning with ample doses of conversation is most likely to yield success for students wishing to gain communicative competence in a foreign tongue. But unfortunately the obstinate teacher would not budge from her position. The teacher then told some students in the class that if they cannot follow her method, they should move back down to Tömer 1 course!

One American student began to cry at the end of the class from the stress of being incessantly drilled by the Turkish teacher, who evidently lacks human and empathy skills. Others wish to withdraw from the class. This might prove difficult, as Tömer historically does not provide refunds for students withdrawing from courses.

As every day goes by, I repeat my warning about taking the Tömer course. It is high stress.
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yaramaz



Joined: 05 Mar 2003
Posts: 2338
Location: Not where I was before

PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2003 9:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ghost, about a month ago we had a brief discussion about the value of learning from a backpacker vs a 'real teacher' (in regards to work permits), implying that my BA and TEFL were backpackery and a BEd was required to really teach properly. You cited Tomer as an example of the right kind of teachers, the trained teachers...the real ones who knew what they were doing and who could be trusted to teach in the most effective manner.

Interesting.

My students are still very happy with my classes and have told me that they have learned a lot of relevant language skills in the past few weeks. I've noticed a marked improvement too. They are more relaxed and confident in their conversational abilities. I'm technically a backpacker, I guess, but I'm a settled one who has stuck around for two school years doing a really good job.
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FGT



Joined: 14 Sep 2003
Posts: 761
Location: Turkey

PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2003 10:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tomer has both good and bad teachers. The "course" as such is entirely dependent on the teacher. Many years ago, I joined a Tomer course with three other EFL teachers who all had lived in Turkey for between 1 and 3 years and all had some Turkish but not necessarily the same things.
We were lucky enough to be a sufficiently odd bunch that the head of Turkish at Tomer in Izmir taught us himself. He was excellent and we learnt a lot.
At the end of that course, I was the only one who opted to continue and was given a different teacher with one other, different, fellow student. The new teacher worked very much along the lines outlined above by Ghost; basically: here is a photocopied worksheet - complete it, we won't do anything else until you do.
I pointed out to the teacher that we were repeating what I'd done before but (she told me) she was new and had to follow a set routine. After a week I went to the head of department (my ex-teacher) and talked to him about it and was allowed to leave without paying the fee (for the second, incomplete, course).
My opinion of Tomer is, therefore, that occasionally you will find a talented, experienced, flexible teacher; but the norm is otherwise.

As far as one-to-one classes are concerned: usually this can be done on a quid pro quo basis without any expenditure. Often a valuable learning experience for both parties, as you exchange not only language but teaching tips.
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Mike_2003



Joined: 27 Mar 2003
Posts: 344
Location: Bucharest, Romania

PostPosted: Thu Nov 06, 2003 6:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Private lessons aren't expensive. I paid a guy about $6 an hour. Basically I studied a lot of the grammar myself, picked up vocab from newspapers and TV, then used the lessons to practice what I had learn in conversation. He was suficiently knowledgable about Turkish grammar to explain any grammatical points I had got stuck on.

The chance to spend a couple of hours conversing on varied subjects with a native speaker was extremely valuable in consolidating what I had learnt and improving my confidence. All without breaking the bank.
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ghost



Joined: 30 Jan 2003
Posts: 1299
Location: Saudi Arabia

PostPosted: Thu Nov 06, 2003 9:19 am    Post subject: Tömer teachers Reply with quote

What was said was that most people in most situations stand a better chance of learning from a trained teacher than an untrained one, and that still holds true.

Unfortunately, the teacher we have at Tömer teaches in a very 'old style' way, and essentially appears to be lazy, because she just hands out grammar work sheets or problem drills to be completed by the students. She then just sits there and does not do anything. When after a long interval the students are asked to read their answers, she openly criticizes those individuals who have not completed the answers correctly.

This morning the Japanese nationals who are taking Tömer 1 with the same teacher told me that the course is very difficult for the same reasons that were mentioned previously. Furthermore, imagine the situation for the poor Japanese. It is a 'double whammy' - because they are learning a language that has a lot of pronunciation variations because of the different vowel sounds. The Japanese have a lot of trouble with the differences between ı and i, o and ö, u and ü. They are out of luck, because in order to pass the course they need to master these differences on the written and oral exams.

Also, when learning grammar rules it is important to understand fully what is going on. At Tömer the teacher we have speaks only Turkish, so you can understand the difficulty we have with some of the rules...which can never be explained properly, because the teacher is unable to explain them in English. In many countries in Asia, for example, the English teachers work alongside native speakers who explain the rules to the students.

The Tömer system, at least at this branch, is like a math course, in that everything you do is cumulative. If you miss one step along the way, you will have problems, because the following steps are related to the previous ones. In math, for example, explanations need to be crystal clear in order for the students to understand and move on. Here at Tömer, many of the students have missed the boat and will never catch up, because the teacher is unable to gear her lesson to the needs of the majority of the class.

The teacher we have here will not budge from her position. Like most Turks, she is only willing to work within her own comfort zone (lazy attitude). She is not receptive to the needs of the majority of the class, and comes into the class with body language reminiscent of someone clocking into a factory shift.
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Mike_2003



Joined: 27 Mar 2003
Posts: 344
Location: Bucharest, Romania

PostPosted: Thu Nov 06, 2003 1:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd knock it on the head, Ghost. It's clearly getting your goat.

Get a copy of "Teach Yourself Turkish", buy a tabloid like Sabah every morning, watch plenty of those annoying chat shows in Turkish (mind-numbingly boring but great for picking up local accents and daily Turkish), and then find a private teacher for a reasonable price.

Turkish is such a logical language that immersion soon makes the rules clear. Once you've picked up a few basic patterns you'll find you can apply them throughout. It's an unusual language for IE L1 speakers, but not really that difficult once you have got your head around the grammatical differences.

Just jump in...

Regards,
Mike
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yaramaz



Joined: 05 Mar 2003
Posts: 2338
Location: Not where I was before

PostPosted: Thu Nov 06, 2003 3:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
The teacher we have here will not budge from her position. Like most Turks, she is only willing to work within her own comfort zone (lazy attitude). She is not receptive to the needs of the majority of the class, and comes into the class with body language reminiscent of someone clocking into a factory shift


Ghost, what on earth are you trying to prove with your generalizations? Most Turks are lazy? I will argue that till the sheep come home. Kindly refrain from your over use of the word 'most' because you use it so often in your posts without any backup proof and I want to know on what you base your judgments.
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ghost



Joined: 30 Jan 2003
Posts: 1299
Location: Saudi Arabia

PostPosted: Thu Nov 06, 2003 4:28 pm    Post subject: Turkish 'take it easy culture' Reply with quote

Yeah...I know the truth hurts. But even some Turks themselves will confess to not having a go ahead attitude about life. Most are just content to live within the comfort zone.

Look at the business habits in this country. You will see 4-5 markets selling products which are the same. The owners (usually men) spend their days sitting outside playing cards and backgammon with their friends. It does not seem to occur to these people that selling the same products as your rivals some 100m away does not make good business sense. These guys just sit and smoke and get fat while playing games most of the day with their friends or watching t.v. You could hardly call that work.

Then you see all those guys aged around 40-60 who spend all their time in those ghastly 'Khiritanesi' (tea houses). They waste their days away playing cards and other board games. They occasionally go home to eat some food the wife prepares. This postee once ventured into one of those smoky, deathly, locales to be told by the owner that foreigners were not welcome. You wonder how their wives put up with their lazy attitudes.

If you speak to these 'tea house hedonists' - they will reply that they are 'emekli' (retired) and that there is no work out there. True maybe, but many of these guys have never attempted to learn a skill, whatever that may be. For example, did you know that a Turkish electrician is in high demand in this country and can make more money in a day than a lawyer or doctor makes (yes...around 200.000.000 on a good day!) in a week or more.

It is all to do with the culture here. It is essentially a lazy, time wasting culture. This is not criticism...but just observe and you will see.

Visits to several Universities in Turkey showed one that most students are not ambitious. If you talk with professors who work in most faculties they will tell you that most (yes that word again) students do not push themselves and just do the minimum to get their degree. These students are more concerned with social activities. Many of the students confess to hating reading as an activity.

A visit to Akdeniz University was strange, because it resembled a summer camp more than a place of higher learning. Students milling around in the cafeteria and on the volley ball courts. The library had a small number of students. Great social animals....but study hard and get ahead?

This is not a criticism, but merely observation of the reality of this country and the cultural mores in operation. Why should one admire people who behave in this way? Surely not admirable traits?
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 11710
Location: Ultima Thule

PostPosted: Thu Nov 06, 2003 6:23 pm    Post subject: home ? Reply with quote

Ghost

Do you think it is maybe time to head back to the delights of Ontario ? It seems that you are having negative experiences in Turkey. Maybe time to head home and try something else ?
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ghost



Joined: 30 Jan 2003
Posts: 1299
Location: Saudi Arabia

PostPosted: Thu Nov 06, 2003 7:23 pm    Post subject: Reply Reply with quote

Tömer course finishes December 3, 2003. Following this a job contract has been signed commencing December 5.

It would not be prudent to 'give up' on a country at such short notice after investing so much time to learn the language etc.

The journey through life is like a roller coaster with ups and downs. It is all a learning experience. One has to be philosophical about everything and recognize that there is no perfect gig.
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yaramaz



Joined: 05 Mar 2003
Posts: 2338
Location: Not where I was before

PostPosted: Thu Nov 06, 2003 7:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I actually like the turkish approach to life because it is more relaxed and well balanced--- they take time to sip the tea and smell the roses and have a good chat. They are not lazy, as my adult students have shown me. They have a good mix of dedication to learning and taking time to rest and socialize. The same applies in my Lise, where the kids really do work their asses off to pass their exams and get into university. As well, my friends here who put in 13 hour days, six days a week, can never be described as lazy or unambitious. Don't tell me to observe and I will see---- I've been here a lot longer than you and I have been observing and I see a very mixed bag of characters and ideas and approaches to living.

If you want people who just work work work, go somewhere soulless and money obsessed.

To be honest, I doubt you'd be happy anywhere. You can't seem to find joy in anything. Or if you do, you never write it in your overblown tabloid reports.

Teacher in Turkey Finds Joy in Simple Things! Dave's Cafe Readers Keel Over From Shock!
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Albulbul



Joined: 08 Feb 2003
Posts: 364

PostPosted: Thu Nov 06, 2003 8:15 pm    Post subject: adapting Reply with quote

I think one of the problems many people face when they go to another country is getting used to a very different lifestyle. The way of seeing the world is often different.

In Turkey things are more relaxed. In other countries WORK has become an obsession. "Ghost" is coming from a part of Planet Erath where there is an unhealthy obsession with work. Now he has to learn to give priority to other things. And accept that the Canadian Way is not the only way !
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yaramaz



Joined: 05 Mar 2003
Posts: 2338
Location: Not where I was before

PostPosted: Thu Nov 06, 2003 8:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As far as I recall, Ghost is part British, part French, and only Canadian by choice later in life. He didn't seem to like Canada much either.

I'm Canadian. I like Turkey. A lot. I found Britain to be too work obsessed when I lived there so I left after three insane years. Canada's a lot more relaxed, I think. Turkey's lovely, though it has its rough points--- as does any country.
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