The Place of Culture, Literature and History in Foreign Language Acquisition

Altınbaş University School of Foreign Languages blends foreign language acquisition with culture, literature and history. It facilitates the adaptation of international students from 105 different countries both to Türkiye and to each other.

In today's globalized world, the concepts of multilingualism and multiculturalism are gaining increasing importance. Ömer Rafi Çiçek, an Instructor at the School of Foreign Languages at Altinbas University, emphasizes that language acquisition is not limited to learning new words; it also provides an opportunity to see the world in a new way.

According to Çiçek, the process of acquiring different languages begins with exploring the structural features of the language, and it also involves understanding the cultural richness of the society where that language is spoken. Çiçek states, "The tight connection between language and culture reflects the values, norms, and history of a society. Based on this, we bring together our multicultural students with speakers from different nations, allowing them to share both their academic and Turkish experiences. This not only expands students' vocabulary but also contributes to their ability to understand and respect different cultures. Learning various languages, including Turkish, enables students to comprehend the evolution of language and history within a historical and cultural context, making language a powerful tool."

Çiçek conveyed that their goal is to enable students to achieve a richer, more understanding, and global perspective in the context of multilingualism and multiculturalism. He explained that in the course named "Rafi and Friends," they cook dishes from different cultures, share recipes, and sing songs, creating an environment where students are eager to share and convey what is unique to them.

Jiseon Kang, the first speaker in the workshop, is a Ph.D. student in Modern Turkish Literature at Boğaziçi University, who has been living in Türkiye for two years and learning Turkish as a foreign language. Drawing from her own experiences, Kang emphasizes that literature is an important tool for discovering the beauty and depth of language. She recommends that students read literary works extensively in the language they want to learn.

Kang shares that literary works in different languages reveal the emotional richness and aesthetic qualities of that language. She praises Altinbas University for providing a multicultural environment, stating that it has been a wonderful experience to speak about Turkish language acquisition and Turkish culture with individuals from various countries and language backgrounds.

The second guest of the workshop is Jia-Yi Zhu, a Ph.D. student in Area Studies and Global History at Tsinghua University. Zhu mentions learning Turkish at the Beijing Foreign Studies University and shares gifts from China with workshop participants, providing insights into Chinese culture, traditions, and daily life. Zhu appreciates the efforts of Altinbas University in fostering individuals with a rich, understanding, and global perspective in the context of multilingualism and multiculturalism.

The workshop also featured Altinbas University preparatory class students, who shared their awareness of language acquisition. Paola Ibonji, a Radio, Television, and Cinema undergraduate student from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, expressed her gratitude for the inclusive and supportive environment created by the instructors. She highlighted that projects like "Rafi and Friends" make everyone feel accepted and valued, allowing her to explore both her own culture and others.

Zohreh Karimi Babadegani, a Physiotherapy undergraduate student from Iran, emphasized the opportunity to get to know each other's cultures better through the workshop. She shared her positive experiences of trying different foods, discussing them, singing Farsi songs, and building stronger friendships.

Kakamyrat Murzayev, a Physiotherapy undergraduate student from Turkmenistan, praised Ömer Rafi Çiçek for considering each student as an individual and fostering connections among classmates. He expressed that the project enhances motivation and makes him feel more successful.

Overall, the students participating in the language acquisition workshop at Altinbas University shared their appreciation for the multicultural and supportive environment that encourages cultural exploration, fosters friendships, and enhances language learning experiences.