Burmese is the mother tongue of the Myanmar people and the official language of Myanmar (formerly Burma). While Myanmar is an ethnically and linguistically diverse nation with over 135 officially recognized ethnic groups, the Burmese language is spoken as a first language by over 33 million people and as a second language by over ten million people. Burmese is a tonal language (three tones) that is written with circular phonetic script.

Formerly ruled by a military junta, opportunities to travel, study, and conduct research in Myanmar have improved greatly since the dissolution of military rule in 2011. Given this recent development, there are now vast opportunities for social research, political engagement, and business development. Learning Burmese is a critical tool for engaging with this region, which remains one of the most under-studied countries in Asia. Studying the Burmese language is of particular interest to those interested in the politics of democratic development, peace and conflict studies, and religious and interfaith issues.

Majors & Certificates

Asian Studies Major, Southeast Asian Studies Certificate; visit the Majors & Certificates page for more information.


Rachel Weiss, rweiss@wisc.edu

Language Conversation Table

Fridays, 2:00-3:00 pm
College Library
Contact: Ei Thin Zar, thinzar@wisc.edu

Study Abroad

Contact International Academic Programs for more information.

Student Organizations

Browse the Wisconsin Involvement Network for more information.


Consider an internship where you can use Burmese, either in the US or abroad. An internship in any field can complement your language study and can provide valuable professional experience.