University of Wisconsin–Madison



Turkish is spoken by 75 million people as their first or second language. It’s also a widely spoken language in parts of Cyprus, the Balkans, and in Europe, adding another 15 million people to the Turkish-speaking realm. Turkish has become the second most spoken language in Austria and Germany after German as a result of mass immigration from Turkey under the “guest worker” agreement. Third generation Turkish-Germans play a notable role in German society and culture as politicians, artists, writers and entrepreneurs. Turkish is also spoken in France and Netherlands where there is a significant number of Turkish population. Knowledge of Turkish will provide students of anthropology, history, sociology, migration, literature, and linguistics access to a widely spoken first language in Europe. Moreover, Turkish belongs to the Turkic language family, which includes Azerbaijani, Uzbek, Kazakh, Uyghur, Tatar, Turkmen, and Kyrgyz. Therefore, learning Turkish will also make it more accessible to master other Turkic languages.

Turkey is often referred as the “Cradle of Civilization” and the “Melting Pot of Civilizations,” as it has been home to a rich variety of civilizations and nations. Surprise locals by striking up a conversation in Turkish as you make your way to impressive ancient sites such as Ephesus, Olympus, Nemrut and much more. Explore this rich land of endless opportunities which is deeply rooted in history!

The Republic of Turkey’s geographical location allows it to be the bridge between East and West. It’s literally the spot where continents meet. Hence, knowing Turkish and about Turkey will open up many interesting options for learners who are interested in international business and political affairs. As its economy continues to grow, business opportunities increase both in and with Turkey.  In addition to the many other benefits of learning Turkish, the Turkish language unlocks for students rich and unique insights into the literature, music, art, and cultures of Turkey.


Students can work in joint companies, institutions, and organizations in Turkey.  The U. S. Embassy, Foreign Service, U.S. Military offer opportunities for employment in Turkey. Teaching English as a Second language is a job in high demanded as well.  Students can explore academic and scholarly work in Turkish Literatures, Comparative Literatures, History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey, Political Science, Anthropology, Sociology, Linguistics, and more.


The GNS Department at UW-Madison currently offers first and second year courses in the modern Turkish language (Istanbul Turkish). Since classes are small, students receive individual attention from the instructors. Classes meet 5 days per week at a reasonable hour. Curriculum and materials are designed to meet the students’ interests and needs.  Classes are open to heritage students, students who speak any other Turkic language or students with no prior language study.

Instruction is proficiency-based at UW: Students master speaking, reading, and writing using grammar in context. An understanding of the Turkish cultures including their products, practices and perspectives is part of our program.

Turkish courses are currently taught by the graduate student teaching assistant Nalan Erbil. For more information on the Turkish courses, please contact Professor B. Venkat Mani


To hear from past students who studied the Turkish language, check out some of our alumni’s profiles:



Studying Abroad…

is an amazing way to not only solidify your knowledge of the Turkish language, but also experience the culture first hand.

“The adaptability and cultural sensitivity you learn from a program like this exceeds almost anything I have learned inside the classroom.”

To hear more about these programs from students themselves, head to the profiles of Matt Williams or Nicole Davis.