Bengali is an Indo Aryan language spoken in the Indian subcontinent. It is the national language of Bangladesh and the official language of some eastern and north-eastern states of India (West Bengal, Tripura, and Cachar district in Assam). Over 205 million people speak Bengali making it the seventh most spoken language in the world. Bengali is the fourth most common immigrant language in the United Kingdom.
Bengali originated from Sanskrit and Prakrit around 1000AD. The Bengali language has a diverse literary tradition in Asia. Bengali Nobel laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore wrote the national anthems of both Bangladesh (Amar Sonar Bangla) and India (Jana Gana Mana Adhinayaka). Bengali writer Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay wrote India's national song Vande Mataram, personifying India as a mother goddess and inspiring the activists during the Indian Independence Movement.
Knowing the fourth common foreign language in the UK opens various career options in tourism, interpretation, education and research. Bengali is an optional foreign language in GCSE and A-Level; currently, there is a shortage of qualified Bengali teachers in the UK.
At Durham, we teach standardised Bengali. The knowledge of Bengali helps to communicate with the Bengali people, to understand the Bengali culture, history and tradition. Bengali may also be of interest to heritage learners.