Summer Colloquial Tibetan Language Study

Join us for an exciting summer, learning colloquial Tibetan at RYI, a five-minute walk from the great stupa of Boudhanath in Kathmandu, Nepal. Practice your Tibetan with the community of Tibetan-speakers that’s grown up around the stupa, where you can try out what you learn in your classes in real-world situations.

After three summers of teaching spoken Tibetan online, RYI is once again offering its colloquial Tibetan classes at its campus inside the monastic compound of Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling monastery.* Your classes will include one-on-one conversation classes with native Tibetan speakers, and you’ll be surrounded by the rich world of Tibetan culture, language, and Buddhist practice.

Please consider joining us this summer to begin your Tibetan language studies, or to build on what you’ve already learned. We offer three levels on campus this summer: Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced. Homestays are available again too, providing you with another opportunity to practice your language skills outside of class and immerse yourself in a new and fascinating culture.

*If there is sufficient interest, one or more of the colloquial Tibetan courses may also be offered online. Please scroll down to tell us about your interest in online study.

Course Dates: 2023

June 7: Orientation

June 12: Classes begin 

July 6-9: Midterm break 

August 3: Final exams 

Visit our admissions page for application details and program-specific dates

Beginning Colloquial Tibetan

Like all of the summer intensive language courses, the Beginning Colloquial Tibetan course is rigorous, enabling students to progress quickly. This intensive course allows students to complete the equivalent of two semester’s worth of coursework in eight weeks, setting students on the path toward proficiency in colloquial Tibetan in both its spoken and written forms. There are no prerequisites, other than learning the Tibetan alphabet. After you enroll you’ll receive links to an online Tibetan alphabet course, and there are additional alphabet classes during summer orientation, so you are prepared to start learning the language on the first day of class.

Class Structure:

All classes meet Monday through Friday for 4 hours per day and include a Master Class, plus two daily sessions with a native speaker for conversation practice. In order to progress students are expected to attend daily classes for the duration of the course. The level of intensity of the courses is high and students are expected to invest considerable time and effort in order to meet class requirements and academic expectations. However, any student who successfully completes these courses will derive a facility and comfort in discussing a variety of both worldly and dharma topics in spoken Tibetan.

If your interest is in reading Buddhist texts, we suggest you look into our Summer course in Classical Tibetan, which focuses on the written language used in Buddhist literature.

Class Materials:

The course uses Franziska Oertle’s highly regarded textbook, The Heart of the Tibetan Language as the framework for introducing students to the basics of spoken Tibetan grammar and vocabulary. Additional handouts will be given, and there are pre-recorded videos that you can watch in our Teams classroom environment to help you prepare in advance for your daily classes and to review difficult points as often as needed.

To make use of the online resources included with the course it’s best to have access to a PC, Mac or Linux computer capable of running Microsoft Teams, which you can download free of charge. However, Teams will also run on smartphones (iOS or Android), albeit on a smaller screen.

Accreditation

Beginning Colloquial Tibetan is a university-level course and can be taken for academic credit through Kathmandu University’s Centre for Buddhist Studies, earning 6 credits (12 ECTS). The course may also be taken on a non-credit basis. Expect to spend at least 2 hours outside of class each day for homework and study.


Intermediate Colloquial Tibetan

Intermediate Colloquial Tibetan takes off where the Beginning course ends, and builds on the grammar, vocabulary, and conversation skills that you learned there. This course is for students with at least two semesters of Colloquial Tibetan or the equivalent. Like all of the summer intensive language courses, the Intermediate Colloquial Tibetan course is rigorous, enabling students to progress quickly. This intensive course allows students to complete the equivalent of two semester’s worth of coursework in eight weeks, guiding students along the path toward proficiency in colloquial Tibetan in both its spoken and written forms.

Class Structure:

Classes run Monday through Friday. Each day you’ll have two Master grammar classes, co-taught by a native-Tibetan speaker and a Western instructor. You’ll also have two classes per day with our Assistant Language Instructors (ALIs). These are one-on-one conversation practice classes where you can use what you’ve just learned in the Master grammar class, helping you to consolidate your learning quickly by applying and reinforcing it using the newly learned vocabulary and grammar structures.

Class Materials:

The course uses RYI’s own handbook for Intermediate Colloquial Tibetan to continue students’ grammar, usage, and vocabulary learning. Additional handouts will be given in class, and there are pre-recorded videos that you can watch in our Teams classroom environment to help you prepare in advance for your daily classes and to review difficult points as often as you need.

To make use of the online resources included with the course it’s best to have access to a PC, Mac or Linux computer capable of running Microsoft Teams, which you can download free of charge. However, Teams will also run on smartphones (iOS or Android), albeit on a smaller screen.

Accreditation:

Intermediate Colloquial Tibetan is a university-level course and can be taken for academic credit through Kathmandu University’s Centre for Buddhist Studies, earning 6 credits (12 ECTS). The course may also be taken on a non-credit basis. Expect to spend at least 2 hours outside of class each day for homework and study.


Advanced Colloquial and Dharma Tibetan

Advanced Colloquial Tibetan is for students who wish to continue learning the modern spoken language while also learning to understand and use the Tibetan spoken by those giving Dharma teachings.

Admission into the course requires the equivalent of four semesters or more of prior colloquial Tibetan study and an interest in developing an understanding of Dharma Tibetan. The advanced program is taught in Tibetan only. The program’s unique strengths are twofold: first, to guide students to improve their spoken colloquial fluency, and second, to teach the language of Buddhist philosophy, as heard directly in Tibetan taught by a monastic professor. This design enables students to further pursue the study of philosophy in a classical Tibetan setting, and prepares them to begin a course of oral interpretation from Tibetan to English.

Like all of the summer intensive language courses, the Advanced Colloquial Tibetan course is rigorous, enabling students to progress quickly. This intensive course allows students to complete the equivalent of two semester’s worth of coursework in eight weeks, establishing students on the path toward proficiency in spoken Tibetan in both its ordinary and Dharma forms.

Class Structure:

Classes run Monday through Friday. Each day you’ll have one Master grammar class, co-taught by a native-Tibetan speaker and a Western instructor. You’ll also have one class per day with our Assistant Language Instructors (ALIs) that focuses on what is learned in the grammar class. These are one-on-one conversation practice classes where you can use what you’ve just learned, helping you to consolidate your learning through quickly applying and reinforcing it using the newly learned vocabulary and grammar structures.

In addition, each day you’ll have a class with a monastic professor who is teaching a simple philosophical text. To help with that class, the western instructor will provide vocabulary lists and other help for understanding what is taught. You’ll also have one conversation class per day with an ALI who is trained in Dharma Tibetan, to review what you learned in class that day.

Class Materials:

The course uses a variety of topic-centric materials to teach colloquial Tibetan, available in different printed and recorded media, to help you expand your vocabulary and learn to discuss more complicated topics. For the Dharma Tibetan portion of the class, the text taught by the monastic professor is available to the students, as are related vocabulary lists and handouts.

To make use of the online resources included with the course it’s best to have access to a PC, Mac or Linux computer capable of running Microsoft Teams, which you can download free of charge. However, Teams will also run on smartphones (iOS or Android), albeit on a smaller screen.

Accreditation:

Advanced Colloquial Tibetan is a university-level course and can be taken for academic credit through Kathmandu University’s Centre for Buddhist Studies, earning 6 credits (12 ECTS). The course may also be taken on a non-credit basis.

Tibetan Homestay

As an integral part of the Tibetan programs, participants may choose to live with local Tibetan families who have been carefully selected by the Centre for Buddhist Studies. Homestays provide students with intensive exposure to the Tibetan language and a chance to experience life among people in the local community. Families provide breakfast and dinner to the students. Students who do not wish to stay with a Tibetan family may choose to opt-out of this service and arrange for accommodation and meals on their own.

If you are NOT interested in a homestay with a local family, please make sure to tick-mark the box “I book the course WITHOUT homestay” on your application form.

Admission Criteria

The Tibetan programs each have a maximum enrollment of twenty students and all applications are subject to approval by the Centre for Buddhist Studies.

Students applying to the intermediate and advanced programs must present documentation of prior colloquial Tibetan studies at a university or from a similarly recognized program. In addition, if there is a concern about a student’s level, the student may be asked to participate in an interview via Skype to verify their course level.

For more information, please refer to the Eligibility Requirements and Admissions Process for the summer program.

Fee Request

In accordance with University guidelines, RYI course fees are determined by each student’s home base and nationality. A three-tier system is in effect which covers (i) Nepali students, (ii) SAARC students and (iii) other international students. Please select below to find out the fees structure for your particular circumstances.

You will find the Tuition Fee List for all programs, including the Summer Program, linked on the right hand side of this page (at the end of the page if you are on a mobile device) under the heading “Tuition Fee List.”

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