Born and brought up in the city of Kolkata, I've been surrounded by people who speak Bengali almost all my life. We speak a different language at home and my schooling has been in a different language, again.

I can speak Bengali fluently, and my grammar, when it comes to speaking, is better than even native Bengali speakers, at times.. I don't know how to read and write the language yet but need to learn it for an upcoming exam, where I'd be asked to translate a few things from (printed) Bengali to English.

What's the best way to go about it?

  • 2
    What languages can you read and write? (English, obviously, but also Hindi? Urdu? Any of the regional languages?) It is easier to adapt to a script if you are already famliar with a related script, so it is easier to transition from Latin script to Cyrillic than from Latin to Devanagari.
    – James K
    Mar 27, 2021 at 17:00

2 Answers 2


Someone who is in somewhat similar shoes as you, except with not so good Bengali grammar or vocabulary. I taught myself to read Bengali as a child simply by trying to read the captions under the pics of Tollywood stars (you know which magazine :)). In those pre-Internet days all I had as a reference was a copy of Bornoporichoy. Try to learn to read first; the need for the ability to read is much more real than the one to write. The reason I didn't learn to write is that I never felt the need. You anyways type on keyboard these days - and for that, transliteration-based keyboards are sufficient. Knowledge of a closely related script such as Devnagari would make it much easier (something I had).


Assuming you are familiar with the Bengali script:

  • Re-read the Bengali translations of your favorite books (start with kids books and move up from there)
  • Re-copy random Bengali texts, one page per day, with a pen on paper.

Be methodical and persistent about it. Make it a daily routine that you will keep up for as long as you can, and the connections between oral and written languages will make themselves.

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