The first 1,000 words are the hardest?

Dictionary of the Frisian Language - Word archive

In the flurry of New Year-themed campaigns – drink less, exercise more, be a better person, etc – there was one that particularly caught my eye this year.

International education and cultural charity the British Council put its weight behind a language-learning drive, calling on Brits (notoriously resistant to anything other than the ‘talk slowly and loudly in English’ method of communicating when abroad) to include learning a foreign language in their 2016 resolutions.

There’s no specific Bengali angle of course, but the campaign’ broader message and tips should resonate whatever language you’re studying.

Tackling just a phrase a day could see people greatly improve their language skills with 1000 words recognised as an achievable number that would allow a speaker to hold a simple conversation in another language

To that end the British Council links to the Speak to the Future campaign, which has some interesting ‘1,000 words challenge’ materials (again, not Bengali of course). These include a tie-up with Vocab Express, which is the official 1,000 words challenge partner. Should you speak one of the eight languages included in the challenge – and have the time to spare – I imagine it would be fairly easy to ‘reserve engineer’ one of the courses to provide direction for learning Bengali.

The campaign has  received backing from actor and broadcaster Larry Lamb who speaks fluent French and German, as well as some Spanish and Italian. He noted: “Languages, for me, are about opening the world up. It gives you another soul”

Meanwhile, Vicky Gough, schools adviser at the British Council, commented: “The benefits of learning one are huge – from boosting job prospects to acquiring the ability to understand and better connect with another culture.”

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