I’ve been thinking about studying for a Bengali qualification for a while. It’s idle musing so far, partly perhaps because of the time constraints adult working life, not to mention having a young family, impresses on you.
Nevertheless, it’s fun to consider and as a first step I now and then looking into the Bengali GCSE.
GCSEs replaced O-Levels in the late 1980s as the qualifications UK secondary school students, that is, those aged 11-16, tend to take at the end of their studies. About 17 years ago they’re were what I sat for.
The Bengali GCSE is offered by the AQA exam board. Even if you’re not planning to take the exam, their website offers a number of useful materials. Though the audio recordings here and here fill me with a certain amount of trepidation.
Other useful materials here include the suggested questions for speaking tests, for reading practice and conversation preparation.
But by far and away the best resource on their site is the Student Guide. It contains about 60 pages of Bengali vocabulary, followed by communication strategies and a handful of the three thousand English words that are used in Bengali and have no Bengali equivalent.
It also sets out the Bengali alphabet, explains how to use a Bengali dictionary and has an 18-page grammar section.
Best of all, it’s available as a downloadable pdf here.
Actually, maybe that’s the second-best thing about it. The best may well be the passage on page 104 that reads:
Is it all right if I just invent a word?
No – please don’t! It really isn’t a good idea. At best you will probably have a word which doesn’t exist and at worst which means something quite different from what you intended and which leads you into a lot of awkward explanations!
They’ve obviously have never heard of ‘computication’, my son’s newly-minted word for communicating via a computer. But I digress.