Language Centre

Bengali Elementary Course

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Key information

1 term per sub-level; 10 weeks per term
Attendance mode
Part-time, online/blended learning

Course overview

Course aim

This course aims to give students with a basic grounding in contemporary Bengali (participants will have completed Bengali Beginners terms 1-3, or gained equivalent experience elsewhere), the ability to develop their speaking, reading, writing and listening skills to a level of greater depth and complexity. By the end of the course students should be confident in expressing themselves in a range of tenses, be able to articulate views on more complex subjects (including topics relating to the culture and history of the language region/s), and have an increased everyday working vocabulary. Where possible, teaching will be delivered in the target language. This course is delivered by the Language Centre


This course is taught primarily in Bengali, with coverage of the four key skills (speaking, listening, reading and writing). You will participate in frequent pair work and be encouraged to contribute to class conversation and exercises in the target language. Learning will be reinforced by weekly homework. You are expected to attend regularly, participate in class and complete the homework regularly to ensure learning progress.

The course aim will be achieved through 20 hours of blended learning per term: 15 hours of online structured lessons with the teacher, supplemented by a minimum of 5 hours of guided independent learning supported by complementary material and regular feedback.

Online course requirements

Please ensure you have checked the learner support page


The course will be based on the textbook: Radice, Willam (2016) Complete Bengali (5th Ed.): London: Hodder and Stoughton. Additional own devised material will be provided by the tutor to help foster a more contemporary context.

The textbook is not included in the fee and can be purchased from the SOAS bookshop:
We strongly recommend waiting until your course is confirmed before purchasing the textbook.

Entry requirements and progression route

Some previous knowledge of the language is necessary to join Bengali Elementary- participants will have completed Bengali Beginners at the SOAS Language Centre, or gained equivalent experience elsewhere.

If you wish to join Bengali Elementary 2 or 3, you should have completed Elementary 1 and 2 respectively at SOAS Language Centre or have an equivalent knowledge of guided learning hours (20 hours blended learning per sub-level). The progression route from Bengali Elementary 1 is to Bengali Elementary 2, and from Elementary 2 to Elementary 3. Upon successful completion of Bengali Elementary 3 you will be advised by the tutor.

Bengali Elementary 2 is scheduled for our term commencing 16 January 2023.

For course dates and information, please see our timetables


Bengali Elementary 1

By the end of the course, you should be able to:

  • talk about school subjects and school life
  • make comparisons
  • talk about the life and work of Rokeya Sakhawat Hossein
  • talk about the geography of Bangladesh and some characteristics of different regions
  • tell the time
  • issue instructions
  • give directions using a map
  • describe some landmarks in West Bengal
  • follow instructions for a simple Bengali recipe

Bengali Elementary 2

By the end of the course, you should be able to:

  • talk about events that happened in the past (past perfect tense)
  • describe a holiday you have been on
  • talk about the Bengali months and seasons, and their cultural significance
  • discuss the weather
  • discuss the film Joy Jatra
  • arrange a future appointment
  • read an appointments diary
  • express obligation- having to do something
  • express need

Bengali Elementary 3

By the end of the course, you should be able to:

  • describe what you used to do in the past (past habitual tense)
  • talk about the early life of Rabindranath Tagore
  • express possibility
  • describe some differences between colonial and modern day Kolkata
  • discuss family relationships
  • talk about the Bengali diaspora in the UK and elsewhere
  • analyse some simple captions
  • read a poem by Jibanananda Das

The above is an indication of content that may be covered over the duration of the course but it could vary depending on the level and progress of students in the class


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules

See the full list of Language Centre short courses in Bengali on the Bengali homepage

Related Information

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