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Why Learn Bengali?

In Queens, New York, 23 of Jehovah’s Witnesses recently attended classes to learn to speak and read Bengali, a language spoken in Bangladesh and parts of India. They were enrolled in an accelerated language-training class taught by fellow Witnesses.

The Bengali class was one of a number of language classes held in the United States and other countries. The objective of taking part in such classes is to learn to share the Bible’s message with people who speak other languages.

Magaly, a student in the Bengali class, explained: “The Bengali-speaking community in our area is growing quickly. People are looking for answers to important questions such as, Why is there so much suffering? When I tell people about God’s wonderful promises for the future, they want to know more. But language is always a barrier.”

To help students learn as quickly as possible, the instructors used enjoyable teaching techniques. One technique combined learning with physical movement to boost memory retention.

After each class session, students immediately put their new language skills to use, visiting Bengali-speaking people in their community and inviting them to discuss Bible topics. Magaly said: “People are excited and want to know why I am learning their language. The fact that I was taking time to learn helped them to see the importance of our message.”

Jehovah’s Witnesses not only learn foreign languages but also receive training to be instructors in language classes. In the United States branch territory alone, between January 2006 and January 2012, some 38 language-teaching seminars have trained 2,244 instructors. As of September 1, 2012, over 1,500 classes, teaching 37 languages, have been conducted by Jehovah’s Witnesses in the United States branch territory.