The Role of English as a Second Language in Turkey

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English as a Foreign Language (EFL) By: Please log in to see tutor details
Subject: English » English as a Foreign Language (EFL)
Last updated: 02/04/2018
Tags: efl, english, english as a foreign language, marketing language schools, turkish

In Turkey, English is one of the subjects taught in most state and private schools. Other languages such as German and French are alternative subjects but English is the language elected by the majority of the students. That is mostly because of the fact that in most universities the medium of instruction is English and also when getting a good job after graduation it is the most important requirement employers look for in applicants.

Before 1997 students used to start learning English at the age of 12; after 1997 it was at the age of 10, and since 2011 they have started learning the language at the age of 8. The rise of English in the Turkish educational system is linked with the rise of international commerce and affairs, the perception of the tourism sector as a national income and closer ties with European countries. Since the companies are getting involved in international marketing, they need to employ people with high-level English skills.

According to the European Life Quality Survey, members of the Turkish workforce who are proficient in English are more likely to consider themselves 'well paid' and to have higher prospects for career development.

According to the report "Turkey's National Needs Assessment of State School English Language Teaching" produced by TEPAV (The Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey) and The British Council in 2013 in Turkey, it is observed that English is taught not as a means of communication but as any other subjects e.g. history, geography. The grammar-based teaching technique caused Turkish students getting more than 1000 hours English lessons and a non-English speaking high school graduates.


In the same report it is said that only 14% of the students have ever been abroad and that 31% of these can communicate in English. According to the teachers, the main change that would motivate their students would be the opportunity to meet native speakers to practise their English and the introduction of more 'fun' activities into the classroom. Teachers cite a lack of opportunity to practise the language as a major hindrance to their students being able to make progress in English, with access to native speakers cited as a possible solution.

Advantages & Opportunities

According to the TEPAV and British Council's report, the survey with English teachers reveals that travelling or living abroad motivates their students most when learning the language, which makes the language schools more attractive for parents and students. This fact directly shows that advertising the language schools with the help of the school administration and English teachers will be effective on willing students and parents who are already in search of a language school

In the 2015-2019 Strategic Plan of the Istanbul Provincial Directorate of National Education, the goal was to increase the foreign language proficiency of the individuals and the international student / teacher mobility by using innovative approaches in foreign language education. This plan highlights the importance of international mobility in the globalizing world and emphasises that this area is a major foreign language deficiency in both the country and the city of Istanbul.

We can say that Istanbul is an important market for language schools in the UK when the importance given to English language education and the number of students in Istanbul are included in the account. According to the data provided by Istanbul National Education Directorate, the total number of students on the list is 2,672,333. This figure includes primary, secondary and high school students. The total number of students in secondary and high school schools in public schools is 602,559.

Mrs Metin Karabulut English as a Foreign Language (EFL) Teacher (Tonbridge)

About The Author

Hello I am Ozlem a native Turkish speaker and an English as a Foreign Language teacher..

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