This is post about Tavla. Or backgammon for my non Turkish speaking friends. Actually I am going to write about Joining a new culture. And to join Turkish culture a pretty big key is Tavla.

Tavla is played all day everyday in the cafes here. The best part of the game that with no language I can start a relationship. This allows me to have less pressure when I spend time with some one. Because whether I am communicating very clearly we can still have fun.

Here in Turkey to really join culture and the language you have to find ways to start to fit in. One way is participating in common cultural pieces.

Here that is tavla. I find it a very helpful piece of the culture to help me learn the language. Why?

Because despite my almost total inability to really connect in conversation with this person I am just meeting we can connect over this game.

I think finding a cultural activity like a game is great way for language learners to get start relationships with people and put themselves in low stakes way to really meet people. It is hard for me to think of other cultures activities like Tavla since they will be specific to the culture.

This is game is an easy to way to start with a relationship and conversation. Or help you continue to talk with a native speaker who is getting frustrated that it is hard for them to understand you.

I will say there is one danger of playing tavla. It is very easy for me to become very competitive. And lose track of trying to talk. Yes this is the danger that you would just go silent and play. However learning to play tavla and talk can be a great exercise in learning to do more than one thing at a time. This is an important step towards fluency being able to understand the language as you go. Right now I can understand a lot if I zone in and do not pay attention to anything else happening but if I need to do anything else my language ability plummets. Playing a game and talking is one way to start practicing talking and doing other things. Ok Sorry for the short post I am going to play some tavla now.

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