Who are the language enthusiasts that teach at Taalhuis Amsterdam, and why do they love what they do? Read the interview below to find out more about Turkish teacher: Melike Sayman.
Please introduce yourself!
I’m Melike, I was born in Istanbul, lived in Spain for 12 years and then I came to Amsterdam. I’m a linguist and I’m also a physical therapist.
Why do you teach Turkish?
I Like it, or actually…I love it! I started teaching in 2004 in Madrid. Teaching was my first job after I studied linguistics. I just really like teaching, there’s no other explanation. I like that it’s all about interacting with people and helping them to achieve whatever goal they have.
What are the main goals of your students?
Most of them want to be able to talk to family members. For instance, their partners are Turkish living in the Netherlands. Often the parents of the partners don’t speak Dutch or English, they want to be able to talk to their parents in law, so that’s why they want to learn the language. Some of my students also have summer houses in Turkey and want to be able to talk to the neighbours. For this reason, I pay a lot of attention to speaking, small talk, chatting, simple conversations. It’s all about communication, more than grammar.
What’s a typical lesson like?
When I teach grammar, I always explain the rules by using examples from my own life, and then I ask my students to try to follow the rule. Then after a while the say: “Ah, okay, now I understand what you’re trying to teach!” This takes up about fifteen to twenty minutes, and then we practice a bit more in different breakout rooms. I place my students in groups and ask them to talk while I listen and correct them. That’s how it goes! My main goal is to let my students speak as much as possible.
And what’s your favourite part of the lesson?
Talking, speaking is the most fun part. I also like it when a student doesn’t understand whatever I’m saying, and I need to find another way to explain what I’m trying to say, but with different words. This challenges me too. And then there’s the great moment of enlightenment, when suddenly everyone understands it. Then it’s like “okay, I made it!”, that’s the best part for me.
Can you share a secret about yourself?
Well… I used to compete as a weightlifter! And I’m a physical therapist, that’s another secret about myself.
Last but not least, do you have a message for your current or future students?
I know Turkish is a different language, I don’t want to say difficult, because I don’t think it’s difficult, but it is super different. You shouldn’t compare Turkish to any other language like Dutch, English, or Spanish, just speak. And remember, it doesn’t matter to me if you make the same mistake twenty times. I’m patient! I just want my students to practice speaking as much as possible, in and outside of the classroom. That’s the only message that I can give!