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Online vs Classroom

The usual process of learning a language includes classroom time and often being surrounded by others proficient in the language.

For those who try to learn, say Bangla, over the Internet on a computer/tablet/smartphone have these factors in common:

  1. They have to be disciplined and self-motivated because there are no scheduled classes
  2. When they learn something, they cannot instantly verify comprehension because they may not have a dedicated teacher to communicate with. All learning must be self-verifiable.
  3. Study of Bangla takes 4 to 5 years in school. Online users expect to see results in weeks and months. The urgency means that the course material needs to include methods to leverage the student's understanding of other languages and the use of the computer's ability to assist the learner.
  4. Traditional books used to teach Bangla to Bengali children like BornoPorichoy (Introducing the Alphabet) by Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar (1780) were written in Bangla and therefore needed to be taught by a parent or Bangla teacher if the student was not yet proficient in Bangla. The teaching materials for today's online student must be rethought so that students can teach themselves without knowing the Bangla alphabet. In this website, every Bangla word is accompanied by its phonetic English representation.
What do YOU mean when you say you want to "learn Bangla"?

Traditionally, native speakers grow up surrounded by Bangla speaking parents and family, then they go to school and are taught Bangla from books written in Bangla by Bangla speaking teachers. This site was expressly developed for people who want to learn Bangla over the Internet. They will probably not have a native Bangla teacher at hand. So I want to make it possible for anyone who knows English to be able to read the content on the site including Bangla words in Bangla script. This is accomplished using a technique called "transliteration". Every Bangla letter is represented by its equivalent phonetic sound in English. So the Bangla consonants and are represented by their respective sound k and kh. To read আমি বাংলা শিখব you would simply read the phonetic ami bang‧la shi‧kho‧bo which are also shown here with syllable markers.

You will seeing a lot of phonetic representation on this site. Reading out the phonetic English aloud will det you to feel the Bangla language quickly, even while you are learning the Alphabet.

Introduction to Bangla

Classroom teaching of Bangla starts by teaching the Alphabet, followed by some common words and finally some simple sentences. After that, it is expected that immersion in the language will quickly get the student to start reading books written for children. More difficult words and sentence construction will follow as the student gains familiarity with the language.

On the internet, you do not have the luxury of a dedicated teacher guiding the student while they learn. Also, since the teacher is not directly supervising and since any questions cannot be immediately answered, the students' attention could waver. Online learning starts with the course material written in such a way that the student is given enoug material to cover in a single session, but not too much that will cause loss of interest.

So what is the best way for someone to learn the language? On this site, I have evolved a practical way of learning Bangla, based on the learner's motivations and expected investment of time.

To get a quick positive re-informent of your desire to learn about Bangla conversation, invest some time to learn what a 3-day tourist should know before they arrive at a Bangla speaking part of the world. You could expand this with some more words and phrases to gain some confidence.

As you read the phrases and conversation snippets, notice the structure of the sentences you are reading, and pronouncing. A grammatically correct sentence in all languages have 3 parts - a Subject, a Verb and an Object. The order of Subject, Object and Verb will vary. In English, the sequence is S-V-O as in "I eat bread" while in Bangla the sequence is S-O-V as in "আমি রুটি খাই" "ami bhat bhalObasi" or "ami ruTi khai". This grammatical shift is the key for an English speaker to learn Bangla.

To gain some familiarity with the sounds of common Bangla Words and Phrases, you need to read, hear and speak (by reading the Phonetic spelling). With the investment in Words and Phrases, you will begin to get a feel for the language and, I hope want to incest more effort in really learning from the material provided to learn the alphabet and then start learning Bangla to a conversational level.

Wordlists and Phrasebooks

Learning e-Books

Two e-books have been created for teaching the Bangla Language.
  • Learn the Bangla Alphabet — the Bangla alphabet and their phonetic English representation using সুবর্ণ suborNo Bangla Phonetic method
  • Introduction to Conversational Bangla — a grammar based approach to conversational Bangla for casual non-native learners who have a knowledge of English. 400+ word vocabulary and 12 rules of grammatical sentence construction
Bengali native speakers will recognize the next two e-books, as they are used to teach Bangla to Bengali children. To make it useful to learners, these books are annotated in English and phonetic transliteration in English is provided.

Quizzes to Help Retention and Validate Learning

Repetition and recall aid understanding of the new concepts and words you learn.

A Complete Course for Learning Conversational Bangla

The Learning Bangla section of this website contains instructional material to help a new student to learn Conversational Bangla.

The teaching method in this site emulates how a child would learn their "Mother Tongue". A grammar framework is established early. Then vocabulary words are introduced within this framework. This approach is different from the popular Bangla textbooks/web resources used by students trying to learn Bangla. By developing rules based on patterns, and using the computer to assist in some repetitive parts, students who know English can quickly pick up enough Bangla to be able to participate in Bangla conversation.

With intense study, and spending about 20 hours a week, I believe the curriculum can be covered in 14 weeks, at end of which the student will have a basic vocabulary and will be capable of make grammatically correct sentences to carry on a conversation. Without a teacher who can enforce discipline, it will take longer. The course has embedded quizzes in each chapter to test comprehension and learning. I have also put in videos that will help in proper pronunciation, something that is a problem with many "computer courses".

  • Guided Course Curriculum — Guided Course including 'Learning the Bangla Alphabet' and 'Introduction to Conversational Bangla'

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