Dhaka - Post Report Question and Answers

How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

If you hang around the diplomatic area English is enough. Rickshaw drivers may not be able to chat, but they will understand road numbers if you need to go somewhere. I tried to learn Bangla before I came, but once I got here I stopped putting in the effort because it didn't feel too beneficial. Learn hello and thank you and some numbers and you're good for any situation. - Jul 2023

I didn't get Bangla before coming to post, and it wasn't hard to operate on a basic level in Dhaka. Anyone who is educated has working-level English. - Dec 2021

Language tutors are available and Bangla is great language to pick up a few phrases. That being said, English will get you very far. - Sep 2021

Local language helps, but is not necessary. There are plenty of language courses available. - Jun 2019

Not a lot, but it is very appreciated when you do use it. - Jul 2018

Given the security restrictions, US embassy staff have almost no opportunity or need to use Bangla for daily living. Quite honestly, most embassy staff will never even meet any Bangladeshis except for their household staff and the local staff at the embassy, and they all speak English. While Bangla is an interesting language, there is really no point in bothering to learn it. One simply won't have the opportunity to ever use it since the embassy staff are completely isolated from the local population and have virtually no opportunity to meet or interact socially. - Apr 2017

Most people get by without any Bengali. - Jun 2016

None. - May 2016

Limited - Jun 2015

I know none and get around fine. - Sep 2014

None. You won't be around people who don't speak English. - Aug 2014

None, unless you want to go rural or really native. - Jul 2014

English is not as well-spoken or widespread as in India. I learned Bangla for my job, so have had no trouble getting around. Lots of people get by with English, but they don't stray to far out of the dip zone that often. - Aug 2013

I speak Bengali at a 2/2 level. That makes living here easy. Not sure what it would be like if I didn't speak the language. - Apr 2013

None if you are in Dhaka, pretty much everyone can speak English or grab someone else who can. In the outlying countryside, though, Bangla would be needed. - Aug 2011

None. Haven't learned a single word of the local language. - Jun 2011

There's a large enough community of house staff who speak English (to some extent) that you probably wouldn't need any Bangla at all - just send your housekeeper to do the local shopping. If you leave Dhaka or the diplomatic zone, though, you may experience difficulties. - Feb 2011

Zero. Most people speak at least a little English. - Jan 2011

It would be useful to speak as much Bangla as possible. Most people, even professionals and intellectuals, as well as government officials up to the highest level struggle in English. People of lower socio-economic status typically speak no English at all. - Jan 2011

At the U.S. Embassy, none, but those who choose to study the language will find it helpful, in all aspects of life. - Oct 2010

Some for daily life, but it is not essential for embassy personnel. - Apr 2010

Many expats get by with none, and certainly many people here think they speak English. But learning Bangla can be very helpful in certain situations, and it certainly opens doors and builds goodwill. - Oct 2009

None, but learning the niceties will earn you a smile at the local shops. - Aug 2009

Not much. You can get by in English, but Bangla does make things easier. - Mar 2009

Learn as much as you can. They'll love you for it. - Nov 2008

None. - Mar 2008

None. People get really excited if you speak to them in Bangla but it is not necessary to live here. - Feb 2008

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