Translator Training

RYI is happy to announce that applications for the 2023/24 Translator Training Program (TTP) are now open. The TTP will be conducted in-person at the RYI campus in Kathmandu, Nepal. If there is enough interest, the TTP program may also be offered online. Please indicate your interest in an online program, along with your time zone, by clicking below.

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

The TTP is an intensive one-year program designed to train students to become oral interpreters for Tibetan Buddhist teachers. The TTP is designed particularly for non-native Tibetan speakers to develop their Tibetan-to-English translation skills while also developing their proficiency in spoken and written Tibetan.

Prerequisites

The Translator Training Program is intensive and demanding, and only highly qualified students will be admitted. TTP classes are taught in both English and Tibetan. Applications are open to students with one year of colloquial and one year of classical Tibetan, although two years of prior colloquial Tibetan are strongly recommended. Demonstrated proficiency in English is a required prerequisite for the program. Since the aim of the TTP is to train interpreters for Buddhist teachers we also require the students to be practicing Buddhists with a solid grounding in Buddhist philosophy.

Minimum Requirements for Eligibility:

  • Applicants must have a higher secondary school transcript (through grade 12)
  • Excellent proficiency in university-level English
  • Solid grounding in Buddhist philosophy
  • Be a practicing Buddhist
  • Excellent language-learning skills and academic potential, documented by past achievements
  • One year, or equivalent, of spoken Tibetan language study
  • One year, or equivalent, of classical Tibetan language study
  • Be diligent, eager to learn, kind, and open-minded.

It is possible to combine the TTP into the BA program at RYI. In that case, the third or fourth years of the BA are a good place to integrate the TTP into the BA. Please contact the TTP coordinator for more detail.

The Application

To ensure the quick progress of the students and optimize support by faculty and the coordinator, we accept a maximum of eight students each year into the program. In their applications, applicants should clearly describe their Tibetan language background, prior Buddhist studies, motivation in applying for the TTP, and future aspirations for after the program. Applicants may also be required to provide further evidence of their colloquial and classical Tibetan proficiency through exams and via assessment of conversational ability. Interviews with each eligible applicant will be held in-person or via video call. Find a detailed guide to the application procedure and list of required documents here and for application visit the RYI portal here.

Course Description

The Translator Training Program is designed to train non-native Tibetan speakers to become Tibetan to English oral interpreters. With this aim in mind, the TTP focuses on all key areas of language and skill acquisition that will allow students to serve as an interpreter for a Tibetan teacher giving Buddhist teachings.

Key areas include:

  • Tibetan language skills (colloquial, classical, Dharma language)
  • Gaining a deeper understanding of Buddhist Philosophy
  • Interpretation methodology
  • Practical experience in interpretation

Students will have four to six hours of instruction, conversation, and practical application classes every day. During the first part of the TTP (June to August) students will participate in the intermediate or advanced colloquial Tibetan summer program at RYI (find more details here). During the fall and spring semester (September to December and January to April) courses taken by students will be a combination of regular RYI undergraduate-level classes, as well as specifically designed translator training classes.

The core element of the TTP is the Translator Training Class.

In this core class (maximum of four students per section) students take turns interpreting for a monastic teacher while an experienced translator supports the students with immediate feedback, corrections, and encouragement.

In support of the core element of practical interpretation training students will also study the following subjects:

  • Tibetan Philosophical Discourse: A Lopon from the Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling monastic shedra will explain one of the fundamental works in Buddhist philosophy in Tibetan.
  • Colloquial Tibetan: A colloquial Tibetan class specifically designed for the TTP including instruction and conversation classes
  • Classical Tibetan: Undergraduate-level Classical Tibetan class (intermediate or advanced) depending on the level of the student
  • Dharma Conversation: Training colloquial fluency in Dharma-related topics.
  • Writing Practice: Students will learn to use ‘khyug yig (Tibetan cursive writing) for faster note-taking.
  • Interpretation Methodology: A course covering topics such as interpretation ethics, equipment, note-taking, and much more.

During the first two weeks of January, and for four weeks in May, students will focus entirely on gaining translation experience during the TTP’s translation seminars. They will use this time to practice their interpretation skills. There is also a Dharma conversation class during this time to support their efforts.

Please refer to the Course Overview for more information.

Faculty

The teaching faculty consists of experienced international translators, Tibetan monastic teachers, Tibetan lay people, and Tibetan and international language instructors. In addition, a Translation Training Program Coordinator bears overall responsibility for the program and oversees the personal progress and well-being of the students.

Location

The Translator Training Program is now again fully conducted on the Rangjung Yeshe Institute campus in Boudhanath, Kathmandu. Find more information here.

Located in the heart of a vibrant Tibetan community, students in the TTP are strongly encouraged to take their Tibetan learning beyond the classroom and live with a Tibetan homestay family for part of or even all of their time in Nepal. RYI is happy to assist in finding a suitable homestay family.

We will offer an online version of the TTP if demand is sufficient. Please, sign up here if you wish to participate in an online TTP.

TTP Scholarship

We are happy to announce that the TTP scholarship is open to all TTP applicants, and the award covers US$3000 of the total tuition fee. For more information on the scholarship please click here.

Please note that the scholarship application must be submitted WITH the application for the Translator Training Program itself, not at a later point in time.

After the TTP

Many of our students come to the Translator Training Program because there is a need for a trained interpreter for a specific Buddhist teacher at their Buddhist center or in their larger Buddhist community. Past students often return to their centers as the resident interpreter. Other alumni of the TTP have become interpreters and language instructors at RYI and other institutions; others have continued their education at RYI or top-tier universities around the world; still others have used their knowledge to further their personal Buddhist practice or have found different ways to utilize their skills in Buddhist communities around the world.

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