Burmese: a language of Myanmar
Burmese is a language spoken in Myanmar, previously known as Burma in English language. The debate goes on about the use of two different names, but the answer can be fairly simple in its vernacular language: it is a matter of using /ba-ma/ in the colloquial or informal style, and /myan-ma/ in the written, literary or formal style. If you are learning Burmese at Cornell, you will be learning both styles of the language – colloquial as well as literary styles.

Myanmar . . .
. . . or Burma is a country in mainland Southeast Asia, neighbouring with Bangladesh and India in the northwest, China in the northeast, Laos in the east, and Thailand in the southeast. The total population of Myanmar is approximately 42 millions, which is composed of different ethnic groups which have their languages and cultures. For more information on states and divisions in Myanmar where some of these ethnic groups live, please see the website: Subdivisions of Myanmar: Wikipedia.

Burmese or Myanmar language, however, is the official language, and is taught at school throughout the country. For more information on Myanmar, please check the following website: Myanmar The Golden Land or CIA The World Fact Book on Myanmar.

The Burmese Language At Cornell:

Burmese language courses 
We offer Burmese language instructions at all levels - beginning to advanced – every semester, depending on the enrollment. Class sizes are relatively smaller, and therefore there is an abundance of opportunities for individual attention, and tailoring to the needs of the students, especially in the selection of reading materials after the elementary levels.

How it works to learn Burmese 
Learning can take place only as a result of a combined effort between the instructor and the learner. The instructor will use various methods and materials to expose the target language to the learner as it is used for the native speakers, along with the analysis of its structure which may be provided explicitly or implicitly. Culture of the target language, as it is embedded in the language use will be given a special attention in the language instructions, but students will be referred to various resources such as books and web sites for information on cultural events and notions. 

Class schedules are usually flexible, as long as the total number of instructions meet the requirements of the College of Arts and Sciences (such as 4 credit course or 3 credit course, etc.)

Advantages of learning Burmese at Cornell 
As a well-known professor once suggested, learning a language is an investment worth making during your academic career, as the gain you will get – the fruits of your effort - will stay with you for a long time, if not permanently rooted in your system. 

Successful completion of Burmese 2201 can satisfy language proficiency as well as the geographic breadth requirement for the College of Arts and Sciences. 

For a serious commitment of two years of taking Burmese at Cornell, you are eligible to apply for a Freeman summer fellowship, which will allow you to visit the country during the summer, and get the first-hand experience of exposure to the language and cultures of the country. This is an incentive, as well as a reward of learning the language, if you know how to make use of the opportunity.

For graduate students (who are citizens of the United States), you are eligible to apply for a FLAS fellowship for learning Burmese at Cornell.

Burmese language resources:


landscape of Myanmar


Affiliated Area Programs:

Southeast Asia Program