Any student planning on attending the Summer Language Workshop at IU is doing so for a reason. No matter where you’re from or what you’re studying, you put in a lot of work just to be there… to do a whole lot more work. But why would hundreds of students choose to spend their summer doing intensive language study every single year, and why does it keep getting bigger and better? The Summer Language Workshop, especially for critical languages and Flagship programs, is designed to give students an upper hand which cannot be achieved in a traditional classroom setting. From the first day of class to the day you move out of your dorm, every day is teeming with the smell of unfamiliar foods, discovering faster ways to scurry across campus for classes, and meeting new people through a language that you may not have known anything about just weeks before. It can be overwhelming- in the same way maybe your first semester in college can be- but as everyone learns to adjust to the fast paced lifestyle together, there is endless support among students to guide each other to success.
It doesn’t take long for students in the Workshop to begin transforming their language skills. The experience as a whole develops conversational skills and navigating interpersonal relationships in your target language- which are both important for those considering studying abroad- to a degree which is unmatched from any other program! For the Turkish Flagship Program in particular, the Workshop has been central in guiding first and second year students of Turkish through a much faster route to study abroad, gain cultural knowledge, and become well versed in effectively learning language faster than ever before. Within a few weeks I found myself having dreams in Turkish, which I would awake from surprised and often ecstatic because it meant all of my hard work was really paying off.
In the Workshop, you also have the opportunity to develop meaningful relationships with other students within your particular language of study, as well as your professors.
Ahmet Okal, my professor, became an influential figure for my continued studies of Turkish. Every student in second-year Turkish understands this sentiment! Stepping into Ahmet Hoca’s classroom is almost like stepping off a plane in Istanbul. He exemplified Turkish mannerisms, humor, belief systems, and thoroughly displayed his background just through teaching us for a couple of months. For Turkish in particular, the experience is close-knit and personal as you journey through the summer.
Outside of the classroom, students were exposed to Turkish foods at restaurants like Anatolia, Sofra, and Turkuaz Cafe. We had frequent lunches together at Sofra Cafe, which is located in downtown Bloomington, where cooking and recipes were shared with us as we ate traditional Turkish foods.
Following classes and occasional lunches, we would also attend tutoring and conversation hours together. These were hours filled with learning, laughter, and often baklava and çay (tea). Tutoring is a significant aspect of the Summer Language Workshop. Tutoring requirements vary among languages, but you are guaranteed to be spending a lot of time speaking with tutors. Tutors are usually graduate students or native speakers, and tutoring sessions are best utilized for reviewing class topics, learning cultural topics, and developing grammar. Tutoring improved my Turkish on a daily basis, and it actually helped my workload feel less intimidating as it gave me resources to seek guidance from native speakers other than the professor.
Overall, the Turkish program within the Summer Language Workshop became integral in my further studies of the language and familiarity with the culture. As a student, I feel much more connected and engaged with my peers following the Workshop. My prolonged engagement with Turkish and the Flagship program overall has been enhanced and encouraged following my past summer here at IU. Likely the same as any other student in the Summer Workshop would say, I would highly recommend it to anyone else aiming to improve their language skills.