Learning Bengali

I’ve been teaching myself Bengali for four years now. William Radice’s excellent Teach Yourself Bengali has been the mainstay of my efforts. The spine of my copy is cracked and pages keep threatening to fall out but it’s still holding it together.

Despite being the sixth most spoken language in the world, with a sizable expatriate community in the UK, there aren’t many resources for the student of Bengali beyond Radice’s book so it’s not the most obvious language to learn.

So, why Bengali? There are usually personal reasons for things like this. In my case parents-in-law who come from Kolkata and four years ago I made a snap decision to learn Bengali and help teach my young son their language. Tip: if you want to be able to give up something you’ve started, don’t tell your parents-in-law about it. You draw a line in the sand across which you cannot return.

But I’ve no intention of giving up – I enjoying learning new things and trying to stretch myself – and learning a language outside of the usual European ones certainly does that. Although it’s a challenge, it’s far from impossible.

One of the reasons for this blog is for me to keep track of things I should be learning (currently I’m revising the present tense – really wish I’d learned it properly the first time around) and plan future topics. So my posts on Bengali will probably include lists, reminders, but all from the point of view of a student who has far to go.

Abar daekhe hobe (see you soon)

3 responses to “Learning Bengali

  1. Pingback: Santiniketan podcasts return with Bengal renaissance « A Tangle Of Wires

  2. Bengali huh? hard language to learn I must say.. Born and raised in American, originally Bengali, it took me alot to learn bengali, so therefore its not impossible! its as bad as they make it seen.
    theres things you need to know.

    1. dont try to learn from a newspaper- its alien talk
    2. bengalis all have different dialects, but its all comprehendable. considering your in laws are from calcutta, they speak the normal national language, like me.
    3. learn to speak it & get props- dont ever try to learn to read or write . ( two sets of alphabets man- like are you serious?! )
    4. the easiest way to learn is to learn the basics & then watch body movements ( facial espressions, body movements, etc etc.) you’ll learn alot guaranteed!
    hope this helps!

  3. @mrafi123 Thanks. I know what you mean about the body language.

    I’ve already learnt basic reading and writing, but it was a bit of a challenge, being so different from the European languages I’ve previously studied – and newspapers are quite beyond me for the moment.

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