Telugu is part of the Dravidian language family (belonging to Central Dravidian branch), spoken primarily in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. It is the second largest Indian language after Hindi with over 75 million native speakers, including those in areas of the neighboring states of Orissa, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. It is also widely spoken in countries of the Indian diaspora including Bahrain, Fiji, Malaysia, Singapore, UAE and the United States ( It is considered a very expressive and evocative language, but with a simple grammar. Telugu was used for the composition of lyrics of Tyagaraja in Carnatic music (one of the two major schools of traditional music of India), because of its musical vowel sounds at the ends of words. For this reason, Telugu was known as "Italian of the East" to 19th century Europeans. Beyond their music, Telugu-speaking peoples have a rich cultural heritage of dance, literature, folk arts, cuisine, handicrafts and handlooms. There are different local and regional spoken dialect variations within Andhra Pradesh itself, as well as a distinct high-literary style of Telugu language, which has been used for a vast corpus of poetry, secular and religious epics, novels, and literature in all genres for nearly a thousand years. In modern times, the Dravidian languages spoken throughout south India (including Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam) have continued to evolve with changing political, social and economic conditions.

Telugu Faculty

Courses Offered

Introductory Telugu 1A
  • Course Format: Three hours of lecture and one hour of laboratory per week.
  • Prerequisites: 1A is prerequisite to 1B.
  • Description: The focus of this course will be on systematic grammar, essential vocabulary, and conversations. The goal is to achieve basic reading, writing, and conversational competence as well as exposure to Telugu culture and traditions through language learning. Students will be able to read short stories by the end of this course with some facility.
Intermediate Telugu (Studies in South and Southeast Asian Languages)
  • Course Format: Two hours of lecture and one hour of discussion per week.
  • Prerequisites: Elementary language ability required or consent of instructor.
  • Description: Directed study of South and Southeast Asian Languages. This course will provide intensive language training in languages not regularly taught by the Department. Language may vary each semester based on instructor availability.

Words in Action

A video of a performance by UC Berkely Telugu language Students (2014)