Monday, May 23, 2005


Condition of English in Bangladesh Second language/Foreign language

Mother tongue or first language is perhaps the most favorite thing for any person. The question of language has resulted into many conflicts and discontentment. The prime example of such discontentment is the Language Movement of 1952 in Bangladesh. On the other hand we can not live in isolation. We have to be in contact with the speakers of other languages. Bangladesh is considered to be a monolingual country in which more than 98% of the population is speakers of Bangla language. However, there are more than ten languages in such a small country like Bangladesh. Monipuri, Urdu, Chakma, Santali, Garo, Rakhain, Tipra- are just some of the other languages present in Bangladesh. The interesting thing is that Urdu is a Indo-European language but written in Arabic script, Santali belongs to the Mono-Khemar language family while Chakma belongs to the Chinese-Barmese language group. So, although Bangladesh is often portrayed as a country of linguistic unity based on Bangla language in reality it has notable linguistic diversity. To communicate with the speakers of other languages we either need to know their language or communicate in a Lingua-Franca that is comprehensible to both of us.

Today, the world has become a global village. Thanks to the advancement of communication system and technology. Every country is dependent on others for trade and commerce, education, politics etc. As a result, we have to constantly communicate with other countries and speakers of other languages. Third world countries like Bangladesh have to depend on foreign aid because they are not self-sufficient. As a result, many foreigners come to Bangladesh. A third factor is the factor of religion. The sacred language of the Muslims is Arabic, Sanskrit for Hindus, Pali for the Buddhists and Latin for the Christians. All these factors remind us the necessity for learning other language(s) in addition to our mother tongue. According to this reality many countries of the world have adopted a European language as second language which is often used in education, law court, economic activities and government works. These languages have most of the time official status in the constitution of those countries. Many of the cases the countries have adopted the language of their past colonial rulers as the second language. Sometimes these languages are also called official language. In many African countries we can see this picture. On the other hand, some European languages have become very important in the world for literary and economic purposes. For example, German and French are considered to be important languages of the world because both of them have influential literature and economic aspects associated with them. For example, many people in our country are interested to learn French because it may help them to get UN jobs and jobs in Multinational companies. Another attractive motivation for learning French in Bangladesh is that it may help us to immigrate to Canada as skill in French language gives a person some extra points in the point system of Canadian immigration.

The title of my research is "Status of English in Bangladesh: Second language or foreign language?" I have selected this topic because from sociolinguistic point of view the status of English is a very interesting one. On the one hand English language is dominantly present in every side of our national life while on the other hand in our constitution it is clearly declared that the language of the country is Bangla. In fact, nothing is said about the status of English language in our constitution. On one hand, economic activities in the private companies are carried out in English while there is a government law (Bangla procholon ain1987) that government offices must use Bangla in their official works. So from the government point of view Bangla is the national- official language of Bangladesh and English is the most important foreign language. But in reality English is the second language of the country and in many places English is more important than Bangla in Bangladesh.

Second language:

A second language is any language other than the first, or native, language learned; it is typically used because of geographical or social reasons. The term is to be distinguished from foreign language; linguist Eric Lenneberg uses second language in his critical period hypothesis to mean a language consciously learned or used by its speaker after puberty. In most cases, people never achieve the same level of fluency and comprehension in their second languages as in their first language.

Historically in Europe, the most widely used second language (or lingua franca) was Latin. It was used by the Church; by the Law (as it still is today); in Medicine (starting much later); Horticulture and biological classification of plants, animals, fruits, nuts, etc.

Latin was used so much across Europe that it was called the vulgar (or common tongue); this is why the Latin version of the Bible is called the Vulgate.

Nowadays, English is considered the world's most widespread second language; it is used in areas as diverse as the internet, television and radio, and international aviation.

The success of English throughout the world stems from two major causes: the far reaching influence of the British Empire, and the 20th century (and continuing) dominance of the United States in the fields of business and entertainment.

French was for a time the lingua franca (the origin of term) in Europe. In history, both England and France were ruled by a single crown - the language used by the royal court was French (English was considered "the peasant's language"). Afterwards, as was the case with English, the French empire spread its language through colonization. French continues to be one of the world's most widely spoken languages. (Source: Wikipedia)

If we look at the definition of second language then we can easily say that English is the second language of Bangladesh. It is widely used in many parts of our national life. Many people watch English television channels and also use Internet. The students have to study it for twelve years and those who want to join civil service by attending BCS exam also have to sit for English examination. The only thing that is missing from the above definition is the fact that except for formal occasions no one speaks in English in Bangladesh. It is not the language used in home among family members and among friends in informal conversation.

Foreign language:

A foreign language is a language not spoken by the indigenous people of a certain place: for example, English is a foreign language in Japan. It is also a language not spoken in the native country of the person referred to, i.e. an English speaker living in Japan can say that Japanese is a foreign language to him or her.

Some children learn more than one language from birth or from a very young age: they are bilingual. These children can be said to have two mother tongues: neither language is foreign to that child, even if one language is a foreign language for the vast majority of people in the child's birth country. For example, a child learning English from her English mother in Japan can speak both English and Japanese, but neither is a foreign language to her. (Source- Wikipedia)

From the above definition, it is seen that foreign language refers to a language that is not native to a person. From this point of view English can be considered as a foreign language in Bangladesh since it is not native in our country. Hardly any Bangladeshi person speaks in English although many of them use it in education and business.

Official language:

An official language is something that is given a unique status in the countries, states, and other territories. It is typically the language used in a nation's legislative bodies, though the law in many nations requires that government documents be produced in other languages as well.

Officially recognized minority languages are often mistaken for official languages. However, a language officially recognized by a state, taught in schools, and used in official communication is not necessarily an official language. For example, Ladin and Sardinian in Italy and Mirandese in Portugal are only officially recognized minority languages, not official languages in the strict sense.

Half of the countries in the world have official languages. Some have only one official language, such as Albania, France, or Lithuania, despite the fact that in all these countries there are other native languages spoken as well. Some have more than one official language, such as Afghanistan, Belarus, Belgium, Bolivia, Canada, Eritrea, Finland, India, Paraguay, South Africa, and Switzerland.

In some countries, such as Iraq, Italy, Russia and Spain, there is an official language for the country, but other languages are co-official in some important regions. Some countries, such as Australia, Sweden, Tuvalu, and the United States have no official languages.

The official languages of some former colonies, typically French or English, are not the national languages or the most widely spoken language.

In contrast, as a consequence of nationalism, Irish is the "national language" of the Republic of Ireland and its first official language, although it is spoken by only a small fraction of its people. English, which is spoken by the majority, is described only as the second official language (Constitution of Ireland, Article 8).

In some countries, the issue of which language is to be used in what context is a major political issue.(Source-Wikipedia)

From the above definition, it is seen that the notion of official language is complicated. According to our constitution English can not be termed as the official language of Bangladesh since it has no status in our constitution. The only language that is mentioned in our constitution is Bangla. But English is allowed in our parliament and many government events. For example, when there is a government event in which some foreigners attend then in many cases the speakers use English language. Many important government documents are written both in Bangla and English. The parliament proceedings are kept into these two languages. When a government body organizes a fair then often the souvenir is published in English.


About the language of the country the Bangladeshi constitution clearly states:

"The state language.

The state language of the Republic is [Bangla]."


In the constitution nothing is mentioned about the status of English. English is not mentioned as a second language or official language. So if we take the status of English in our constitution then we cannot claim that English is a Second language or Official Language in Bangladesh.

English in Law court in Bangladesh:

After Independence the government took the initiative to implement Bangla language in law court. As a result, now the lower courts carry out their activities in Bangla but English is yet very influential in High Court and Supreme Court. If a lawyer wants to practice in Supreme court then he must have a good command over English language. Many of the judges still give their verdicts in English language. It seems that this trend of using English will remain for the forcible future.

English in Education sector in Bangladesh:

Formal and institutionalized education system started in Bangladesh during the British rule. At that time Bangladesh was part of British India. There was a debate about the medium of education. Raja Rammohan Roy argued that the medium should be English rather than Sanskrit or Persian. During the British period the medium of education was largely in English. Calcutta University took an initiative in 1935 to introduce Bangla as a medium of education along with English. In Bangladesh the use of Bangla in college level started in the 1960s. Now students can answer in the examinations in Bangla or English. In the college level and university level after 1971 the government tried to patronize Bangla and implement it by replacing English in the education sector but this did not came into reality because of some basic problems. The first problem is that there were not enough books of any field in Bangla language. This problem is more acute in science and technology. For example, there are almost no books in Bangla about computer technology that can be used as a reference book in the University level.

Actually there are three kinds of education systems in our country- Bangla medium, English medium, and Madrasa system. Bangla medium schools can be divided into two sections- government schools, and kindergarten schools. In the kindergarten schools more emphasis is given on English language than government schools. Some of the famous kindergarten schools of Dhaka are Vikarounnesa, Holycross, Willes Little Flower, and so on. Although these schools belong to Bangla medium the students have to study 3-4 English books like: Radiant Way, Active English, Desk Work, Fundamental English, Brighter Grammar, and so on. On the other hand in the government schools there is mainly one English book (English for Today) which is published by Bangladesh Text Book Board. The English medium schools do not follow Bangladeshi education system and are under the supervision of British Council. The medium of instruction in these schools is English and many of the students of English medium are even very weak in Bangla language. There are two kinds of Madrassas - Dakhil and Kawmi. The Kawmi Madrassas are not recognized by the government and do not receive any assistance from the government. In this Madrassas emphasis is given on learning Arabic, Persian, and Urdu while Bangla and English are neglected. On the other hand in Dakhil Madrassas emphasis is mainly given on Arabic and Bangla and English are not so much neglected.

So we can clearly see that the difference in education system in Bangladesh is solely based on the difference in the medium of education. Although Bangla is the National-Official language of Bangladesh it is the English medium education institutes who get more money. The rise of private universities has only increased the status and importance of English language in Bangladesh. There are now more than 50 private Universities in Bangladesh and the medium of education in all of them is English. These universities charge 2 lakh to 5 lakh taka for Bachelor course. If the medium of education was in Bangla then hardly any student or parents would get interested to pay such huge money for the education in private universities.

From the above discussion it is clear that in our general education system English has equal if not more importance than Bangla. In our education system English is really the Second language as all the students have to study it as a compulsory subject for twelve years.

English and Administration:

During the language movement the people of Bangladesh were afraid that if Urdu was established as the State Language of Pakistan then all the government activities will be carried out in Urdu and our people will suffer. As a result of the language movement, the Pakistani Regime kept on carrying out government activities in English language. After Bangladesh became independent the government of Awami League decided to replace English with Bangla in administrative works but after the death of Sheikh Mujib this process came to a halt and English continued to remain as the dominant language. It was during the rule of Ershad Bangla Procholon Aeen of 1987 was created and implemented. From that time English started to lose its significance in administration. However, it has to be mentioned that all the international communication of Bangladesh government is carried out through English.

English in Economic activities:

The economy of Bangladesh is dependent on foreign aids and export of some common items like ready made garments, jute, tea, fish etc and also we import a lot of things. Bangladesh is not self sufficient economically. Trading is more popular than production. Trading requires constant communication with foreign companies. Many of the companies who are involved in trading have to use English in dealing with foreigners. Suppose, a company is doing trading with China which is not an English speaking country. Then the company has to contact the Chinese company in English. If we look at the advertisements of the private sector jobs then we can easily notice that most of the job advertisements are posted in English. Even most of the private sector job advertisements that are posted in Bengali newspapers are posted in English. Almost all the private jobs state that the applicants must have good proficiency in English language. Almost all the public limited companies publish their annual reports in English. Some of these companies produce a Bangla version of their annual report but the emphasis is always on English. So it is clear that English is the dominant language in our economic activities.

Comparison of English with Arabic, Sanskrit, and Pali in Bangladesh:

Arabic, Sanskrit and Pali are the religious languages of Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists respectively. Even the uneducated people try to learn these languages as they are considered to be holy. If we compare the learning of English with these languages then we can see that English is given more importance. For example, the tuition fee of a English coaching center is much higher than that of an Arabic coaching centre. English private tutors get 4-5 times more money than Arabic private tutors (Huzur). So although Arabic has religious sentiment attached to it English is considered to be more important as it has economic benefit.

Comparison of English foreign languages like French, German, and Farsi:

French and German have become very popular for economic reasons in our country. Learning these languages help us to increase our possibility to get a UN job. Learning French is also helpful for getting immigration to Canada. Also there are good facilities to learn these languages in Dhaka University, Alliance Francaise, and Goethe Institute. Recently, the English Institute of North South University has introduced French course. On the other hand during the Muslim reign Farsi was the language of the Royal administration and law court in Bangladesh. At present, a student can attend Farsi course for one semester by just paying tk. 250 in Iran Cultural Center but there are not many students who are interested to learn Farsi, French, and German. On the other hand, hundreds of students each year appear for TOEFL and IELTS exams in English language.

From the above picture it is clear that the status of English is much higher than foreign languages like German, French, and Farsi. We can not deny the reality that if a person is good at English then he can earn money in any part of Bangladesh but if a person is good at French, German, or Farsi he has hardly any scope to earn money by using his skills in these languages.


From the discussion so far there is no doubt that English is the second language of Bangladesh but this reality is not reflected in our constitution. Officially Bangladesh is not known as an ESL country to the outside world. So Bangladesh should be declared as an ESL country by the government without any delay. We learn English not because we like Shakespeare or Dickens. We learn English from out of every day necessity. If Bangladesh is declared as an ESL country and English language is given a clear status in the constitution then it will not only reflect the reality but also it will help us internationally. Now Bangladesh is desperately trying to attract foreign investors. Before any company comes to Bangladesh for exploring the investment opportunities one of the key areas they would look for is the availability of pool of English graduates and they also expect that the normal workers will have basic understanding of English language. If we become an ESL country then these foreign companies while searching about Bangladesh will get assured about the strong presence of English language in this country.

The same picture is there about educational sector. Many Bangladeshi students want to go to developed countries like USA, UK , Canada, and Australia for higher education. If Bangladesh is declared as an ESL country then these students will be benefited because then the Universities of those countries will get the idea that English has special significance in Bangladesh.

So I recommend to the government of Bangladesh that English should be declared as the second language of the country by amending the constitution.


Bangladesh is the only country in the world whose people sacrificed their lives for the language. Now the historical language movement of 1952 is acknowledged internationally as the International Mother Language Day. It is true that our people are emotional about their language, Bangla. However, it is equally true that now our people have become desperate about getting skilled in English language. As a result, there are more than fifty private universities now in Bangladesh. If North South Offered BBA and Computer Science courses in Bangla medium then they would not get even 10% of the number of students they have now. It is now good time that we finish the great contradiction about the language issue and declare Bangladesh as an ESL country for our own benefit.


1. Dr. Musa, Monsur. BHASHACINTA PROSONGO O PORIDHI. Dhaka:Bangla

Academy, 2002.

2. Dr. Musa, Monsur. BANGLADESHER RASHTRABHASHA. Dhaka:Bangla

Academy, 2002.


BHASHATATTA. Dhaka:Bangla Academy, 1996.

4. Dr. Musa, Monsur. BANGLA PARIBHASHA: ITIHAS O SAMASYA. Dhaka:Bangla

Academy, 2002.


Comparison of two poems on Birds

Eng-230 (Introduction to poetry)

In literature nature has always been considered as an important topic. As a natural object, birds are also have been mentioned in poetry. In fact, many poets have written many beautiful poems on birds. Birds are often used as symbols in poetry too. For example, in Bangla literature the cuckoo bird is often associated with spring time. In English literature there are many poems which are written about birds or birds play important role in the poems. For example, Ode to a Nightingale written by John Keats and Ode to a Skylark of P B Shelly are two very famous poems on birds. Another such poem is The Rime of the Ancient Mariner of Samuel Taylor Coleridge in which the poet has used the Albatross as a symbol. According to the requirement of the assignment I have selected Ode to Nightingale by John Keats and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by S.T.Coleridge for my discussion.

Before discussing the above mentioned two poems it is needed to cast some light on the two poets and the Romantic age in English literature as a whole. The Romantic Age in English literature is a unique era because in this age all the poets created their poetry on nature and nature related topics. Nature forms the main aspect of their poetry. Before them no poet could think of nature as the main theme of a poem. The Romantic poets have successfully implemented this theme. As a result, all the great poems about birds were written in this age. John Keats was a Romantic poet who has worshipped beauty of nature in his poetry. Natural objects become lively and beautiful in his poem however he does not treat them just as lifeless natural objects. Rather he mixed his own emotion and creates a personal attachment with them. He also expresses his own personal feelings such as happiness, sadness, hope, and frustration etc in his poems. In Ode to a Nightingale Keats has expressed a desire to escape from a harsh reality which he can not tolerate. He wants to join the nightingale and fly away into a dreamland.

On the other hand S.T.Coleridge touched the supernatural elements of nature and has presented them in a very natural way. Coleridge had a brilliant sense of imagination and with his excellent narrative skills he could imagine the most supernatural thing and then describe it in the most natural way. In The Rime of the Ancient Mariner Coleridge has described the life of a mariner who had killed an albatross and then suffered immensely for killing it. The whole poem is based on the reaction of killing the albatross. A bird is a beautiful creation of god and by killing the albatross without any reason the mariner had committed a grave sin against god.

Only at the twentieth century men learned to fly like a bird before aero plane was discovered men were always fascinated with the idea of flying like a bird. According to Greek mythology Daedalus and Icarus tried to imitate the birds and made artificial wings to fly. Their efforts failed in tragedy. So the concept of flying was like a dream to mankind until the beginning of the twentieth century people marveled at the birds because they could fly in the sky. The poets also appreciated this matter and their minds also wanted to fly with them. We see this kind of urge in Keats’ Ode to a Nightingale. The life of John Keats was a very tragic one he died early from a disease. He also had a depressing crush on a lady which brought him no success but only misery and in his own time some influential literary critics criticized his poetry in the worst possible way. So life became very miserable for John Keats. All his life he sought escape from the sufferings and in Ode to a Nightingale we find the desperate effort of Keats to escape from the harsh cruel world around him. He feels that nightingale is very lucky it can fly away from any place. In the beginning of this poem the poet refers to his miserable condition:

MY heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains

My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,

Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains

One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:

Here it is evident that the poet was suffering a lot when he wrote this poem. Life has become too much painful for him he feels as if he has drunk hemlock or opium. He wants to forget all he pain and be happy in the happiness of the nightingale.

For Coleridge the albatross is not a way of escaping but a holy and beautiful creation of god. It brings joy to the sailors. The sailors have to spend many lonely days within the sea during their voyage. So they often feel very lonely and do not get the opportunity to see any sign of life around them for days:

At length did cross an Albatross,

Thorough the fog it came ;

As if it had been a Christian soul,

We hailed it in God's name.

So when they see an albatross they feel happy and get hopeful that land is near them. The same thing happened for the companions of the ancient mariner. When they saw the albatross they greeted it with joy and gave it food and played with it. Thus the albatross brought companionship for them. Thanks to the arrival of the albatross they could escape from the harsh loneliness around them. Coleridge has presented this bird as a friend and companion to men.

Both the poems have used symbolism very skillfully. Coleridge has used the technique of willing suspension of disbelief where the readers will forget the real world and believe the world that the poet is presenting to be real. The plot of the poem centers around the idea of sin-suffering-praying-redemption. It is a poem with a moral touch. The mariner first committed a sin and then he suffered for it. After much suffering he prayed to God and then God forgave him. The mariner learnt his lesson and told others to show love and kindness to the creation of God. The albatross symbolizes Jesus Christ. The Mariner murdered the innocent bird who brought companionship and hope for him and his fellow sailors:

And a good south wind sprung up behind ;

The Albatross did follow,

And every day, for food or play,

Came to the mariner's hollo !

In the same way the men of Jerusalem crucified Christ who was innocent and who brought hope for their salvation. The other mariners felt horrified when they found that the mariner had killed the albatross:

And I had done an hellish thing,

And it would work 'em woe :

For all averred, I had killed the bird

That made the breeze to blow.

Ah wretch ! said they, the bird to slay,

That made the breeze to blow !

Normally, the song of nightingale is a symbol of joy and happiness. But Keats wrote this poem when he was suffering too much form his illness. Although he sought happiness through nightingale he knew in his heart that he was going to die soon. So, the symbols of death and forgetfulness are present in this poem. Keats has on numerous occasions referred to Greek mythology. By doing so he has treated the nightingale in such a way as if it was a magical bird which was beyond the reach of any sadness. So the bird is magical and free from human suffering. Keats wished that he could be like it and defeat all his pain and sadness. In his quest to end sadness he is like the Buddha. Buddha all his life sought to find a way to get free from human suffering and achieve salvation. Keats has the same goal and in this poem his nightingale has this magical power.The only problem is that Keats knows that he is a human being and can not be like the nightingale.

In 'Ode to a Nightingale' Keats tries to make a good balance between sensation and thought. We can find extraordinary sensuous passages, as at the beginning. By using the word 'sense' and makes the readers feel this drowsy numbness too.

The poet later deals with the problems of human life, as in stanza three:

'Here, where men sit and hear each other groan;

Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs,

Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin and dies;

Where but to think is to be full of sorrow.'

In contrast to Keats, Coleridge uses the moral teachings of Christianity in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. He has put a lot of emphasis on the concept of sin and redemption. Actually The Rime of the Ancient Mariner is like a fable that at first appeared to be a childish story without any deep significance but a closer look makes the readers realize that it contains the deepest of moral teachings. The moral lesson of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner is:

He prayeth best, who loveth best

All things both great and small ;

For the dear God who loveth us,

He made and loveth all.

Christianity teaches us the same thing- to love god and his creations. No other religion gives so much emphasis on this kind of love. The albatross gave this love to the mariners by bringing them joy and good luck. Thus the albatross is also a magical bird too. It is the bird which brings good luck and pleasant wind to the sailors. The ancient mariner acted selfishly and brutally by killing it. He only thought of his own pleasure. He did not even think that he was killing an innocent bird without any reason. He did not lack food but he certainly lacked kindness. He forgot that there was god who was more powerful than anyone. Certainly god did not like that he killed the bird without any reason. God showed the mariner that no matter how much power a man possessed they should not be unkind to nature. If they did not follow humanity then they would be punished. The punishment that the mariner suffered was terrible. He suffered the worst form of pain- loneliness and isolation. By nature human beings are social animals so being alone in a ship in an endless sea was surely terrible thing to suffer. He often wished that he had died but it did not happen

An orphan's curse would drag to hell

A spirit from on high ;

But oh ! more horrible than that

Is the curse in a dead man's eye !

Seven days, seven nights, I saw that curse,

And yet I could not die.

Only after the mariner realized his sin and prayed to god deeply for forgiveness he was saved.

The self-same moment I could pray ;

And from my neck so free

The Albatross fell off, and sank

Like lead into the sea.

In his personal life Coleridge was not a very religious person but in this poem he has glorified Christianity in a very high manner. Christianity always ask its followers that they seek god’s forgiveness everyday. If a person prays from the core of his heart, god is always ready to forgive him. The poem also shows Coleridge’s deep love towards his country, England. When the mariner returned from his voyage to England he felt that he had come to heaven

Oh ! dream of joy ! is this indeed

The light-house top I see ?

Is this the hill ? is this the kirk ?

Is this mine own countree ?

In conclusion it can be said that the two poems are among the greatest poem on bird in English literature. The poets have used the birds as symbols and have associated them with their own life. The birds are magical but they contain something more than magic. They take us to another world- a dreamy and ideal world. The main difference between two poets is that the nightingale appears to be something in the sky to John Keats and it has no relationship with everyday human life rather it is something which is beyond our normal life. On the other hand the albatross of S.T. Coleridge is something that is related to our every day life. The sailors fed it and played with it. It was like their only friend in an endless sea.






Submitted by - S.M.Mehdi Hassan

ID# 001-115-015

1. Have you personally observed or experienced a situation involving acculturation?

Ans. Acculturation is the process of picking up and adopting the behaviors of a particular culture of any organization, country, and community. For example, a Bangladeshi student who goes to America for studying has to adapt to the standard behaviors of American society. This might either result in positive or negative acculturation. In case of positive acculturation the student would easily pick up the behaviors and hold on to them which would end up in cultural assimilation. On the other hand negative acculturation would result in Culture Shock in which case the student would not be able to pick up proper behaviors or signs or signals and would try to insist on his native customs and culture.

Acculturation does not only take place in foreign countries but also in homeland as well. The acculturation experience that I observed took place in my homeland Bangladesh when I came to study in North South University as a student of English. I joined NSU in the Fall semester of 2000. When I was in Chittagong I used to hear from my fellow students that NSU was like English medium schools where students followed the Western standards (American) in terms of dress up, get up. Girls wore tight dresses, pants, T shirts and boys wore latest fashion dresses and there were lots of physical intimacy between girls and boys (just like we see in movies). A good portion of NSU students are from English medium schools and in English department that percentage is even higher. Moreover almost all of them are females. It took sometime for a boy like me to cope with the environment. Although I studied in co-education institutions I was not very good in dealing with girls because in Bengali medium culture the free mixing of boys and girls was not a widely accepted fact. Our teachers were rigid in this regard. Secondly, the problem I faced was language. I was from Bengali medium school and my communication skill was very poor. All the students communicate in English inside or outside the class and I have to response in English inside the class as well and my poor skills gave me quite a tough time at first since I caught up with them. Thirdly, in terms of dress up I always feel comfortable in wearing casual dresses. I never liked wearing jeans, T- shirts, and latest fashion clothes. I prefer comfort over fashion but in NSU most of the boys are from well off families and they can effort latest fashion clothes. This affected my image toward my classmates.

In order to develop my English skills I studied with a private tutor for one year. Now I can speak and write in English quite well and I can response better compared to other Bengali medium students in the class which gives me confidence. I do not hesitate to talk with female students anymore because I have spent five years with them. English department has a very small number of students so unlike BBA or CSE I did not have to meet too many new students each semester. It was the same female students all the time which helped me to build a friendly relationship with them. Lastly, I still wear comfortable rather than latest fashion dresses but I do not get any complex because I have spent a long time in NSU and I found out there are lots of other students who are not that serious about their dresses and they do not have any complex for that.

2. How do you participate in a world system of images? Are the images to which you relate mainly national or foreign/international as well?

Ans. The world system of images that I participate is somewhat different compared to the views of most Bangladeshi people. The newspapers, books, and television channels, have affected me to become a person with liberal ideas. For example, most people think that a husband should always keep his wife under tight control. Otherwise, the wife would get out of control and there would be total chaos in the family. I do not like this system by reading the short story Haimanty of Rabindranath Tagore I have realized that oppressing a wife can never bring any kind of happiness for a husband. Rather it makes couple life and family life unhealthy, discomfortable and very unhappy. So I believe that a husband should be liberal to his wife as much as possible. Most people think that my idea is a sign of weakness.

The images to which I relate are both national and international. The national images are many short stories and novels of Bengali literature which show that if a husband tries to be the friend of his wife instead of the master then couple life becomes heavenly. On the other hand western novels and movies show it too. For example, in the movie little women the hero tries to win the heart of the heroin (Winona Rider) with love and respect. It is true that I belong to the minority group in Bangladesh who share this kind of liberal attitude towards woman. However, I am lucky that there is a lot of images reflected in the media and the literature similar to my idea in this regard.

3. How do you use the media? Is there a program or group that has special meaning for you? How does that meaning differ from someone else’s, with respect to the same program or group? Are you personally irritated when someone questions your meaning?

Ans. In Bangladesh television is the most popular among electronic medias. I have been watching television since my childhood and it has a great influence on my life. I preferred English programs to Bengali programs. I enjoyed watching the American mini series like The A team, MacGyver, Auto man, Misfits of science, Simon& Simon, Nightrider, Incredible Hulk, Wild Wild West and wrestling that were shown on BTV. My father took cable connection in 1994 and it opened a whole new world to me. I came in touch with Western music through music channels (Mtv, Channel [V]). Star movies and HBO are my two most favorite channels. Among other programs I watch WWE (World wrestling Entertainment programs), hindi movies and songs and cartoons as well. Now days I can not think a single day watching television without cable connection.

On the contrary when it comes to print media I prefer Bengali to English. One of my favorite pastimes is reading story books. My father used to read to me when I was a child. Although I am a major in English language I have not read any English novels out side my class assignment. I always enjoyed reading books of Bangladeshi and Kolkata writers and English novels translated into Bengali. Last semester I had to do a book report on “Sea Wolf” by Jack London. Before reading the English version I read the Bengali translation of the novel and then the English version and I found out that I had a greater understanding of the novel. I feel more comfortable reading Bengali than English novels. I enjoy reading Hindu mythologies like Mahabharat, Ramayan. My favorite writers are Shankar, Shamoresh, Humayun Ahmed, and Sanjib Chatterjee.

I try to use the media basically in three ways. Firstly I use media for information. We all need to be aware of the latest news even if we do not like politics. For example, we need to know about hartals and rickshaw strikes for our own benefit. For this reason, I read newspaper (Prothom Alo) and watch television news (Channel- I) almost everyday. The second use of media is entertainment, and the third use of media for me is educational. For example, I extensively use internet to find materials for my class assignments and examinations.

The program that has special meaning to me is “Oprah Winfrey” show. Before watching this show I had no idea about the life of American people (especially of American women). I used to think that their life was like Hollywood movies- murder, sex, money, sea-beach etc. This program has taught me that the life of a common American person is almost similar to my life with happiness and sadness, hope and frustration, success and failure. I also realized that American women have to suffer the same way like our women. For example, they get physically tortured by their husbands and raped just like Bangladeshi women. They also have to worry about the husband’s getting involved to other women.

Most persons I know have a different meaning of Oprah Winfrey show. They think that it is very boring and not enjoyable. They only like those episodes in which there are beautiful women or models.

I get quite irritated when some one questions my meaning about this program. They think that I am a fool to watch this kind of boring programs. However, I know that it is a very useful program and we learn many good things to make our lives beautiful.

In the end I would like to say that watching movies helped to grow a positive view about western culture which helped me in learning English. In the same way my interest in Bengali served me well when I went to work in a computer magazine where I had to translate English articles into Bengali.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?