Along with Turkey’s rising standing in the international community, its language enjoys popularity in recent years. As more people take up Turkish language classes, thanks, in no small part, to wildly popular Turkish TV series, some countries have started to offer curriculum in Turkish.
In Pakistan, which has strong ties with Turkey, public schools in the country’s largest province, Punjab, may soon offer Turkish language courses.
Ulaş Ertaş, director of the Yunus Emre Institute in Lahore, shared the latest information ahead of Turkish Language Day, which is being celebrated on Friday. This year, Turkey and the world will mark the 745th anniversary of the Turkish language. In 1277, the pre-Ottoman ruler Mehmet I of Karaman, in what is now central Turkey, declared Turkish the official language of the Karamanid dynasty.
"Pakistan and Turkey have heart-to-heart relations," Ertaş told Anadolu Agency (AA) on Thursday.
"I joined this center in 2018, and in just four years, more than 1,000 students have completed different levels of Turkish language courses." He added: "Along with in-person classes, we are offering online lessons as well."
The Yunus Emre Institute is a nonprofit organization founded in 2007 to promote Turkish culture, language, and arts across the world. It has expanded to 66 countries, signed agreements with more than 400 universities and provided 3.5 million Turkish language diplomas worldwide.
In Pakistan, it has three chapters – in Karachi, Lahore, and the capital Islamabad – and is offering all six levels – A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2 – with three Turkish teachers and six locals who passed the top-level C2 exam.
"Data shows that with each passing year, people are willing to learn Turkish more and more, and with the popularity of the Turkish television series like Diriliş: Ertuğrul (Resurrection: Ertuğrul), many students are already familiar with the language," Ertaş said, referring to a historical Turkish TV drama that has won fans worldwide.
The institute has signed agreements with five local universities – the University of Punjab, National University of Modern Languages in Lahore, Islamabad, Karachi; University of Jammu & Kashmir, GIFT University in Gujranwala and University of Management & Technology – as well as the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI). In the next phase, public schools in Punjab will offer Turkish language courses.
"We are already in talks with the government to start the language course in public schools. The first phase will start in Lahore," said Ertas. "We even have Turkish nationals who are teaching the language here in Pakistan," he said, adding that recently 17 business persons associated with the Lahore chamber completed A1.
Ertaş said that besides the modern Turkish language, courses in archery, calligraphy, water painting as well as Ottoman Turkish, the old Turkish script, are also offered by the institute.
In the current session, along with students and professionals, there is an entire family that is learning the language, as they are planning to move to Turkey for good.
Dr. Nazia Amjad, 48, a physician, attends classes in Lahore with her daughter and two sons. "At my age, learning anything new is a difficult task, but I like the way they teach here, and despite being an irregular student, I have already learned the basics," she says.
Her daughter got a scholarship in Turkey, while the sons are still trying. "My daughter is a doctor of physiotherapy and she got the scholarship," she explained. "We are hopeful as a family that we all will get some good opportunities in our related fields, and this language certificate will help us overcome many barriers."
In Uganda, the local branch of Yunus Emre was established this year and soon, Turkish was added to the foreign languages taught at Makerere University in the capital Kampala.
"A Turkish Language Teaching Center was established at Makerere University, where Turkish will now be taught as an elective foreign language," Abdullah Kutalmış Yalçın, vice president of the Yunus Emre Institute, said at the inauguration ceremony for Turkish classes on Thursday.
Hawa Kasule, a teacher at the university's department of English, told AA this collaboration will have far-reaching bilateral benefits. "Several Turkish companies have been established in Uganda and there is a growing demand for local Turkish speakers. This initiative will create a pool of Turkish speakers and enhance their marketability in the job market," Hawa said.
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