Bangla is simply more than a language. It is the essence and pride of all Bengalis, no matter where they reside and for however many years they have been away from West Bengal (India) or Bangladesh, the two places where it is spoken as a native language. While India has about 67,200,000 Bangla speakers, its neighbor Bangladesh has approximately 100,000,000 speakers. These figures do not indicate the entire population of Bengalis as many others reside in various other countries. For instance, U. A. E. has about 70,000 Bengalis and the US. has a far greater number. The extensive diaspora of the Bengali population all over the globe, has raised the everyday demand and popularity of this language in the international scene. 

Bangla is more than a language for it opens the door to a whole vista of rich cultural material, that is both traditional and contemporary. Those who learn Bangla, soon find themselves enamored by the works of Rabindranath Tagore, the Nobel laureate in literature, and hosts of other reputed literateurs. Others learn to appreciate the beauty and craft of Bengali cinema, especially the films of Satyajit Ray, the Oscar winner of the 'Lifetime Achievement Award'. For those interested in philosophy and religion, a knowledge of Bengali becomes crucial to an understanding of the philosophy of Swami Vivekananda, Chaitanya and the Bhakti movement in Bengal.

In today's world Bangla occupies an important place. For this language, whose origins lie in the middle of the tenth century, allows one to simultaneously explore the ancient traditions as well as appreciate the prevailing trends of a community of people who hold onto their traditional values, but at the same time are eager to explore new paths in diverse directions.

Bangla Faculty

Courses Offered

Introductory Bangla (BANGLA) 1A
  • Course Format: One and one-half hours of lecture and two and one-half hours of reading/writing per week.
  • Prerequisites: 1A is prerequisite to 1B, or consent of instructor.
  • Description: Students will be expected to acquire knowledge of the basic grammar of Bengali, such that they learn to read simple graded texts and to speak at the "low intermediate" level by the end of the year.
Intermediate Bangla (BANGLA) 101A
  • Course Format: Five hours of session per week.
  • Prerequisites: 1B is prerequisite to 101A; 101A is prerequisite to 101B; or consent of instructor.
  • Description: Students are expected to be able to read, with the aid of a dictionary, modern Bengali literature, and speak at a "high-intermediate" level by the end of the year. There will be viewing of Bengali videos at a mutually agreed upon time and in class from time to time.

Give to Berkeley Bangla Initiative Now

Why do I speak Bangla?

An article written by Behnaz Ahmed, a former UC Berkeley Bangla student, for the Dhaka Tribune.
February 19, 2014