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Faculty Spotlight: Cemil Kurt

Cemil Kurt is a visiting Turkish lecturer in the Department of Central Eurasian Studies during the 2015 fall semester.  He holds an undergraduate degree in Turkish Language and Literature and a master’s degree in Teaching Turkish as a Foreign Language from Ankara University.  His term at IU is jointly sponsored by American Councils and IU’s Turkish Flagship Center. The following is a write-up by Cemil’s students, Neeli Southwick and Caroline Stokes.


From a young age, Cemil knew he wanted to work with language.  Even as an elementary school student, he loved writing essays and crafting poetry. Fast forward several years, and Cemil began attending Ankara University as a student of Turkish Language and Literature.  During his undergraduate years, Cemil delved into Turcology, and focused on studying Turkic languages, dialects, and history. He even translated a book from Ottoman into contemporary Turkish.


His career as a Turkish instructor began to take shape in 1992, when the Turkish government provided scholarships to more than 20,000 students from Central Asia to study at Turkish universities. For Cemil, this was a fortuitous opportunity.  He’d always imagined what it would be like to teach Turkish to foreign students, and there was now a great need for Turkish teachers. It was at this point that Cemil started to work as a Turkish teacher at Ankara University TÖMER, the most well-established language school in Turkey and a pioneer in the field of Turkish as a Second Language.


Cemil’s time at TÖMER introduced him to the study of linguistics, which he found very fascinating. He then decided to pursue a master’s degree in Teaching Turkish as a Second Language, a field that would allow him to combine his interest in linguistics with his passion for Turkish language, culture, literature, and music that he gained through his study of Turcology.


 In his early years as a Turkish instructor, Cemil taught at several TÖMER branches outside of Ankara, including in Samsun, Gaziantep, and Kırıkkale. He then returned to Ankara in 1994, where he has been teaching for the past 21 years. In his classes, Cemil puts a great deal of emphasis on cross-cultural exchange, always allowing opportunities for his students (who come from all over the world) to share their backgrounds. He in turn enjoys teaching his students about Turkish culture and history.



In addition to his normal teaching, Cemil has also served as the director of TÖMER. From 2010-2013, he worked as the Ankara coordinator for the Critical Language Scholarship Turkish Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. Cemil became increasingly involved in exchange programs with the U.S., and in 2013 became affiliated with the newly-formed Turkish Flagship Center at Indiana University. In the spring of 2013, Cemil came to Indiana University to meet the Flagship students and help develop the program, and the next fall, he began teaching Flagship students in Ankara.


Cemil is now back at Indiana University to work with the Turkish Flagship Center once again. He is the instructor for Intermediate Turkish and Advanced Readings and Communications in Turkish.  He also works one-on-one with Flagship students to help them improve their Turkish proficiency. He is glad to have had the opportunity to share his love of Turkish music with the IU community this semester, helping organize a discussion about Turkish folk music and teaching Flagship students Turkish folk songs for a concert. Cemil enjoys seeing the energy his IU students bring to studying Turkish, and he hopes to continue working with the Turkish Flagship Program and seeing how it grows in the future.


            Upon leaving IU at the end of the semester, Cemil will be returning to TÖMER in Ankara to continue teaching there. He has also received an invitation to teach Turkish in Greece later in the spring.  The Turkish Flagship Program and Cemil’s CEUS colleagues will certainly miss him.


IU’s Turkish Flagship Center is the only Turkish flagship of the 27 existing Flagship programs in the United States. The Turkish Flagship Center offers rigorous language training and cultural immersion which students can complete within 2.5- 5 years during their undergraduate studies.  The program requires four years of Turkish language instruction, two content courses, and a capstone year at the overseas flagship program at Ankara University. Flagship students graduate with any degree offered at IU, as well as superior-level Turkish language skills and certification. The Turkish Flagship Program aims to produce graduates who will thrive in careers as global professionals. More information about the center can be found at: