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Reading and Comprehending Unfamiliar Bangla Text

New Learners

Sometimes, one of the native speakers will write a post in Bangla on the Let's Learn Bangla Facebook Group. Or, you come across a piece of Bangla text that you don't fully understand. What can you do to
  1. Read whatever words you can
  2. Research and learn the words you don't know by looking it up in a dictionary
  3. Try to understand the whole text with the grammatical rules of Bangla
I will assume that you can recognize the Bangla alphabet characters and are beginning to learn how these letters are put together to form words. We have been encouraging native speakers to provide a phonetic representation of the Bangla, but if you don't know a word, a phonetic representation may not be that useful. To learn a word, you need to learn its meaning and how it is used in a sentence.

Increasing Your Vocabulary

As you learn a new language, you are always on the lookout for adding new expressive words to your vocabulary. Howevere if a dictionary is not immediately available, you often think that you will come back and learn the word later. As you well know, with the best of intentions, you probably will not remember the exact word and the contextof the word in questiona. This is a major reason why an attentive teacher is such a valuable asset when learning a language.

If you are trying to learn Bangla online, I have tried to develop an approach that will help you to read unfamiliar Bangla text. I call it Reading Bangla with English Assistance or simply Assisted Bangla Reading.

How We Try to Cope with New Words

Let us say somebody sends you a newsclip with 2 sentences

যেখানে মহিলাদের বেশিরভাগ জীবনটাই কেটে যায় অশিক্ষার অন্ধকারে, পাকিস্তানের সেই সোওয়াতে আলোর শিখা ১৭ বছরের কিশোরী ইয়ুসুফজাই মালালা। বন্দুকের নলের সামনেও যিনি মাথা নোওয়াতে শেখেননি।

As you go through this, you mark off the words you know.

যেখানে মহিলাদের বেশিরভাগ জীবনটাই কেটে যায় অশিক্ষার অন্ধকারে, পাকিস্তানেসেই সোওয়াতে আলোর শিখা ১৭ বছরের কিশোরী ইয়ুসুফজাই মালালা। বন্দুকের নলের সামনেও যিনি মাথা নোওয়াতে শেখেননি।

Clearly, the underlined words are not enough to understand the meaning of these two sentences. For you to learn the words that are not underlined, you would have to look them up in a dictionary.

If you think about it, our brain is carrying a private dictionary (words and their meaning). This private dictionary is growing as we learn new words (and, of course, reducing as we forget words, usually through lack of use). On my site, I have created a public dictionary that can be added to and updated by any visitor to the site. So if you update the meaning of a word, the public dictionary will remember it for all the visitors that come after you. As more people use this system, the dictionary will grow to include all the words that you have defined. How to you decide what the word means? You look up Samsad if the word is not currently described. If you wish to refine the definition, please do so. Future users will thank you. Think of this dictionary just like you think of Wikipedia - a global resource updated by the public, gathering and leveraging knowledge with collaboration.

Assisted Bangla Reading on

Go to Assisted Reading of Bangla Text. Copy/paste the text you want into the yellow box. You could copy/paste the 2 sentences above. You can also test out the system by loading one of the Bangla Sample Texts on the right.

Click on the "Process" button. The text is analysed, each word is looked up in the Public dictionary and all the words are shown for further action in Tab 3-Dictionary Update. The Bangla text is now shown in Tab 2-With English Mouseover.

As you move the mouse over the Bangla words, you will see the Phonetic and the English meaning of the word under the mouse.

If you want to change the meaning of a Bangla word or to confirm its meaning in Samsad, go to Tab 3-Dictionary Update.

You can either update the public dictionary or lookup the full definition in Samsad.

The Assisted Bangla Reader will turbocharge the rate at which you can learn new words, especially as you are seeing the word used in a real context.

I also hope that more native speakers will start to post in Bangla, because, after all, the Group is called "Let's Learn Bangla". Since we have a very diverse group of members, there was some concern that some people may be overwhelmed by Bangla posts. These new learners, with only a little more effort, will now be learning at an accelerated pace.

I will be very interested in your feedback after using this software.