Courses in Bengali are gaining popularity at a New York city college, where students read Nobel laureate and eminent Bengali writer Rabindranath Tagore to learn the language and the culture associated with it.
The City College of New York has launched courses in Bengali, spoken by millions across the world, to cater to the "richness of its student population."
"We have a large Bengali-speaking population whose needs were not being met," chair of the City College Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures Carlos Riobo said.
In a statement, he said classes have been well received at the college, where Bengali is the fourth most popular native language among students after English, Spanish and Chinese.
Undergraduates can now take a year of Bengali as part of the curriculum at the college.
Adjunct lecturer Abul Kalam Azad said students are reading the works of Tagore to know about Bengali literature and culture.
While most students have decent listening and speaking skills, many have never read or written in Bengali, Azad said.
To help students learn to read and write in Bengali, Professor Azad has adopted a novel approach under which students translate items depicted in the Oxford Picture Dictionary into Bengali. Azad said his goal is to help immigrant students "succeed in America."
He hopes other colleges under the City University of New York would offer courses for those keen to learn the language.