Getting Started

Chris Gratien, Georgetown University

Tuned-in Turkish is a useful resource for Turkish language learners who want lively materials and well-designed explanations of a host of grammatical, lexical, and cultural material that arise in those materials. As such, it makes the ideal companion for both learners enrolled in a course or program as well as independent explorers of the Turkish language. 


Whether you are just starting out or nearly fluent, our songs and lessons have something to offer. Beginner and intermediate learners will want to start with Lesson 1. More advanced learners can browse the site more casually, picking up pointers and enjoying a wide variety of Turkish music along the way. We've provided links and resources for those who wish sample our dozens of lessons for particular topics. However, these lessons are cumulative, and the vocabulary lists and grammar explanations are designed to be followed from the very beginning.

Each lesson is comprised of a song and its explanation. We offer some background about the song, composer, and artist followed by a straightforward explanation of major points of linguistic focus for the particular lesson. You will also find vocabulary lists already entered into Quizlet, a terrific platform for practicing and memorizing language learning materials. Finally, we present an embedded player with which you can listen to the lesson's song and follow along with the lyrics. Every lesson comes with a detailed explanation and relatively literal translation of the song's lyrics.

The choice of music is designed to offer a diverse selection of recordings from different periods and genres within Turkey. While we make every effort to provide materials that are aesthetically pleasing and representative, our primary focus is the linguistic content of their lyrics. The first two units (24 lessons) of our program are devoted mainly to learning about Turkish verbs as well as their forms and conjugations. Unit 3 deals with more minute and challenging grammar points. Unit 4 deals with some pronunciation questions and expressions. Unit 5 and up approach the subject more topically, highlighting different areas of Turkish music while continuing linguistic explanations.

I am a historian, and the selection of music on the site reflects my preferences and perspectives. While I assure there is a great mixture of artists and styles, you will probably for this reason find more songs from the 1970s than the 2000s. Likewise, you will be receiving unsolicited background information and historical commentary. Though I hope this will be welcome, I cannot promise that you will find it direct in its focus on language. It is hard for me to discuss anything topic--even language--in isolation from the particular historical and cultural contexts of its continual reproduction.

In this regard, although the commentary will be informed and succinct, I cannot say that this site provides a sanitized or simplified representation of what the history of Turkish music has to tell us. Many of the lessons touch on issues that do not always appear in conventional language teaching materials, including politics, social issues, sex, profanity, violence, and drinking. These do not comprise a majority of the topics covered of course, but they are part of the picture. This is not done with the purpose of pursuing a particular political agenda or for that matter presenting a tarnished image of Turkish society and culture. It is simply a facet of my holistic approach to the subject of music and an attempt to present learners with a picture of Turkish culture that is at least as nuanced and complex as their view of their own culture. 

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