Turkish is a hidden gem in the realm of exotic languages. Not only do over 80 million people in Turkey and the diaspora speak Turkish, but it is also on the list of the U.S. Department of State’s critical languages. Also, people who speak Turkish find it to be helpful in gaining fluency in other languages that are in the Turkic language group, which include Azerbaijani, Uzbek, Kazakh, Uyghur, Tatar, Turkmen, Kyrgyz. Even opting to learn Persian or Urdu after learning Turkish is not difficult to do, since there are many cognates within these languages–all of which stem from Arabic. Grammatically, Turkish is the most similar to Japanese, but in written form, the Turkish language is written with Roman script since the establishment of the Republic of Turkey by Kemal Ataturk in 1923.
Since Turkish is not necessarily in high demand for international purposes–in terms of business or politics–it is still very useful for those interested in pursuing archaeology or history as well as simply conversing with Turks. As most Turks do not speak English fluently, speaking Turkish gives a competitive edge to those interested in engaging in archaeological, historical, or cultural projects or even simply shopping around town.
There are some areas, like South East Turkey, that also engage in the Kurdish dialect, which is closely related to Turkish but spoken in a different accent and a slightly different script. Since the Kurdish region spans across Southeastern Turkey, Syria, Iran and Iraq, there are multiple dialects of the Kurdish language. Learning Kurdish Turkish allows for greater mobility in travelling through Eastern Turkey as well as in engaging in philanthropical projects.
In Turkey, you can't always rely on English as a back up to communicate. In Turkey, you will use and practice Turkish every day; you will interact with native speakers at every turn. Even a simple task like going to the market becomes a learning experience. You pick-up subtleties, authentic accents and pronunciation, jokes, stories, and local phrases you never would have learned from simply being in a classroom. Most of the time, you find you are learning new things without even trying; simply being surrounded by Turkish day and night helps you absorb more than you think.
Among the many benefits of acquiring fluency in the Turkish language, one advantage of total immersion is that you not only become immersed in the language, but also in Turkish culture. Initial language learning opens up more opportunities to explore the literature, music, art, dance, sports, etc. of Turkey. Total immersion also makes you more marketable in the job world, even on an international level. After learning Turkish, you have an advantage–an edge–above other job candidates, since you have broadened your communication skills beyond just the English-speaking world.
Aside from the job world, you may also use the Turkish class credits you earned while abroad to add a major or minor back at your home campus. Each program has its own specific language level requirements. Language requirements range from no prior language instruction in Turkish, to the highest language level, which is nearly bilingual. Check to see what prior level of Turkish your program requires, so that you can start or continue learning Turkish in the U.S.