KUALA LUMPUR, (Bernama) — “Love, ancient and modern classic”.
These are the three simple words to best describe the Turkish language, according to Nur Afifah Nasir, 27, on her learning journey studying the language.
The primary school teacher in Pasir Gudang, Johor, said her passion for the language has not faded and in fact sparked her interest to relearn the language starting early January last year.
Found her new “love” at the Kuala Lumpur Yunus Emre Institute (KLYEE), Nur Afifah said the Turkish language is “somehow unique and rather very engaging to learn, as well.”
TURKISH DRAMAS AND FILMS
“My passion for the language was nurtured and developed during a Student Exchange Programme in Turkey which I joined back in 2016.
“After a year, I returned to Malaysia and entered a local university with the burning desire to learn the language as an elective course.
“As I have been out of practice for a few years, I decided to enroll into the institute this year. Its online programme rekindled my interest in the language given the convenience of learning it virtually from my own home (in Johor). I can’t wait to complete the whole course and think of doing something great with the certificate,” shared Afifah to Bernama via a phone interview recently.
Concurring with Afifah, Chua Pei Yong, 31, said she set her heart in learning the language driven by her curiosity about what the Turkish language could offer.
Fascinated by the Ottoman Empire, one of the longest-lasting dynasties in world history, the author of a book said she enrolled into KLYEE, adding another feather to her cap in acquiring foreign languages.
“I already have basic knowledge in Thai and Spanish, and learning Turkish now is actually an added value for myself. It is indeed a very good language to learn as it shares many similarities with our mother tongue.
“It’s also interesting to know how the cultural aspects which are represented through waves of Turkish dramas and films, could entice Malaysians to learn and hone their skills in the language,” she said, noting Turkish epic TV series Ertugrul is one of her favourites.
Afifah and Chua’s stories are pieces of the puzzle for those who have been wondering how it is possible for Malaysians to learn the fifth most learned foreign language in the world today.
All this while, Malaysians are open to options either to learn Japanese or South Korean language and now they can even choose the Turkish language to expand their interests in linguistics.
KLYEE Director Dr Omer Altun told Bernama, it is undeniable that the growing interest among Malaysians to learn the Turkish language and culture has steadily increased in recent years.
This is proven by the enrolment numbers to the institute, which has now gathered more than 20,000 people who have taken Turkish lessons with the institute.
As of today, a total of 4,700 students are currently learning Turkish this semester.
“With the onset of the pandemic, the interest in our Turkish language course which is conducted online is increasing day by day.
“We are delighted by the growing interest among Malaysians from all ages and groups in the language. This is a good feedback for us as the conditions of virtual learning seem convenient for everyone to learn.
“As we are currently still running the course for free, this is a pull factor which we believe attracts not just Malaysians to register, but for everyone out there (regardless of their locations worldwide) to learn with us online,” said Omer, noting the Kuala Lumpur-based institute is the first and only centre established in Southeast Asia to date.
As an institution affiliated with the Ankara-based Yunus Emre Institute, KLYEE, which was incepted in 2017 under the Turkish Embasssy here, supports varieties of activities to promote Turkey, the Turkish language, its history, culture, and art in the form of exhibition, academic research collaboration, cultural diplomacy in sport, gastronomy, music, and many other fields of interest.
Yunus Emre Institute is a worldwide non-profit organisation created by the Turkish government in 2007. Named after the famous 14th-century folk poet Yunus Emre, it aims to promote the Turkish language and culture around the world. The institute which became operational in 2009, has more than 64 cultural centres abroad.
As the language uses the Latin alphabet to suit the phonetic requirements of the Turkish pronunciation, this feature has become an advantage to students who come from a country that uses Latin alphabet such as Malaysia.
“Last year, the Turkish language was ranked as the fifth most learned foreign language in the world. This is a great sign of its potential to become a global language.
“In fact, the language comes from the wide geography of the Turkic language family. It is also the most widely spoken Turkic language in the world. People who are fluent in this language not only can use it in Turkey, but also in Central Asia,” he added.
LANGUAGE EXPERT TEAMS
Elaborating, Omer explained though there are levels of difficulties and challenges in learning the language, the interest might change eventually when the learning process begins.
He personally believes, just like every language has its own rules, the Turkish language also comes with sets of rules.
Worry not, KLYEE is fully equipped with its own expert teams who could assist the students of all ages, cultures and professional backgrounds.
“Our expert teams are here to identify the problems encountered continuously and to produce solutions for them, especially by using technology in the most efficient way.
“I think Malaysia is one of the unique countries in terms of language teaching because usually, our students can speak more than one language. In other words, we can benefit from the students’ experience while teaching Turkish, since they have already gained the experience of learning a new language,” he said. Omer added, however, the situation above has its disadvantage.
“At times, our students want to try to use their previous language learning experiences while learning Turkish, which causes some minor problems. But of course, these are never a major problem.
“We observe that our students, who show a little effort, can easily learn, and speak Turkish. This makes us very happy,” he said.
Encouraged by the growing popularity of the language, which was boosted by the outreach of the hit TV series Ertugrul, Omer said, plans are in the pipeline to serve future demand, among others, is to open new branches in other main cities in Malaysia.
“We hope by having more local branches, we are able to build more connections with local institutes and education centres, as well as to engage more actively with them in carrying out projects and activities to a larger audience.
“I believe that it is more meaningful to carry out cultural activities in collaboration and partnership. For example, while translating Turkish work into Malay, translating Malay into Turkish is our priority. Thus, we want to not only promote our own culture but also work together and be a stakeholder in promoting it in Malaysia,” he said.
A piece of very good news to all is KLYEE is currently prepping to resume all the regular physical activities that have been temporarily suspended due to the pandemic, he said, expressing hopes that Turkish values, arts, and cultures will be visible to the people.
To quote Yunus Emre’s profound words, “Come let us all be friends for once, let us make life easy on us, Let us be lovers and loved ones, The earth shall be left to no one,” he said.
For more information about KLYEE, log on to its official website; https://kualalumpur.yee.org.tr/ or Facebook Page; https://www.facebook.com/yeekualalumpur