This course is the continuation of Beginning Colloquial Tibetan (LAN 500). It is oriented toward students who have had some training in the Tibetan alphabet, spelling, and beginning dialogs. The emphasis of the classes is on developing fluency with spoken Tibetan. Students focus on training in successively more complex Tibetan colloquial dialogs. The class covers the material in the first three to four chapters of The Heart of Tibetan Language by Franziska Oertle. Supplementary material is also provided, including flashcards.


This course is a continuation of our Colloquial Tibetan series and is oriented toward continuing students who have had training in the Tibetan alphabet, spelling, and beginning dialogs. The emphasis of the classes is on developing further fluency with spoken Tibetan both in listening and in speaking. Students focus on training in successively more complex Tibetan colloquial dialogs. Spoken Tibetan is emphasized in class and students are encouraged to use Tibetan when asking questions as opposed to resorting to English. The course covers the material in chapters 6, 7, 8 of The Heart of Tibetan Language (HOTL) by Franziska Oertle. Homework is assigned.

This course focuses on acquiring the knowledge and skills needed to read Buddhist literature—primarily liturgical and commentarial texts—in Tibetan. Students engage in a detailed study of Tibetan grammar from the perspective of both classical and modern analyses. Reading starts with simple phrases to build vocabulary and familiarity with common grammatical structures. As students gain experience, they gradually read increasingly long and complex passages. Students are introduced to the traditional discipline of jor-lo (sbyor klog) — “reading the connections.”

Prerequisites:  Knowledge of the Tibetan alphabet, spelling rules, and a basic grasp of Tibetan grammar. Students are asked to translate a short passage from Tibetan to English to help the instructor determine their proficiency. LAN500 or equivalent is recommended. Instructor’s permission is required.

This course is oriented towards reading Tibetan Buddhist texts and literature. It uses Tokmé Zangbo’s famous 37 Practices of a Bodhisattva (རྒྱལ་སྲེཨ་ལག་ལེན་སོ་བདུན་མ།) as the basis for developing familiarity with Tibetan grammar and developing reading skills. Interesting and important grammatical points are explained in the context of specific passages. Opening and closing chants are done in Tibetan. Students are encouraged to practice reading aloud to learn the rhythms and feel of the phrasing of the language and train in the traditional discipline of jor-lo (sbyor klog) — “reading the connections.”

Prerequisites: Students who did not take Semester 1 of Reading Tibetan Buddhist Literature or who did take it but did not fill out a Tibetan Language Evaluation are required to complete that evaluation.  Instructor’s permission is required to take this course.

This course is oriented toward beginners who have little knowledge of Tibetan but would like to gain some familiarity with the language and how it is translated into English. It covers the alphabet and pronunciation. Students learn to chant a few of the songs of Milarepa and at the same time investigate their meaning in both Tibetan and in English. By looking into the Tibetan behind the English, students can expect to gain a richer understanding of the songs composed by one of Tibet’s great masters.

Prerequisites: None
This course is oriented towards reading Tibetan Buddhist texts and literature. It focuses on acquiring and developing reading skills. Interesting and important grammatical points will be explained in the context of specific passages. Students practice both reading aloud to learn the rhythms and feel of the phrasing of the language and train in the traditional discipline of jor- lo (sbyor klog) — “reading the connections.”

Prerequisites: Knowledge of the Tibetan alphabet, spelling rules, and a functional grasp of Tibetan grammar. Students are asked to translate a short passage from Tibetan to English to help the instructor determine their proficiency. Instructor’s permission is required.

This class is a continuation of Introduction to Colloquial Tibetan (LAN500) and is oriented toward continuing students who have had training in the Tibetan alphabet, spelling, and beginning dialogs (see prerequisites below). The emphasis of the classes will be on developing further fluency with spoken Tibetan both in listening and in speaking. Students will focus on training in successively more complex Tibetan colloquial dialogs. The class will cover the material in chapters 4 through 7 of The Heart of Tibetan Language (HOTL) by Franziska Oertle. There will be homework assigned weekly.

Required Text: 
The Heart of Tibetan Language, Franziska Oertle and its associated exercise book

Prerequisites: 
At least three sessions of colloquial Tibetan at Nitartha Institute (LAN500) or equivalent (see details below).

Students should know:

  1. The equivalent of the first three chapters (77 pages) of HOTL 
  2. How to pronounce in the Central Tibetan dialect all the letters and vowels in the Tibetan alphabet
  3. How to identify the main letter of a Tibetan word
  4. What prefixes, superfixes, subfixes, suffixes, and second suffixes are, and how they affect pronunciation
  5. How to verbally spell a Tibetan word
  6. What the essential and existential verbs are and how they are used (yin, min, red, ma red, yod, med, ‘dug, mi ‘dug, yod red, yod ma red)
  7. Demonstrative pronouns (‘di, de, pha gi, etc.)
  8. Personal pronouns (khong, khyed rang, etc.)
  9. Basic volitional and non-volitional verbs
  10. Verb tenses (past, present, and future) and auxiliary verbs
  11. Some basics of locative, genitive, and instrumental cases
  12. How to read basic Tibetan sentences aloud (but not necessarily understand their entire meaning) 

This class is oriented toward students who have had some training in the Tibetan alphabet, spelling, and beginning dialogs (see prerequisites below). The emphasis of the classes will be on developing fluency with spoken Tibetan. Students will focus on training in successively more complex Tibetan colloquial dialogs. The class will cover the material in the first six chapters of The Heart of Tibetan Language by Franziska Oertle. There will be homework assigned weekly.

Required Text: The Heart of Tibetan Language, Franziska Oertle

Prerequisites: At least two 2020 Summer Institute sessions of LAN 500 or equivalent (see details below).

Students should know:

  1. How to pronounce in the Central Tibetan dialect all the letters in the Tibetan alphabet
  2. How to identify the main letter of a Tibetan word
  3. What prefixes, superfixes, subfixes, suffixes, and second suffixes are and how they affect pronunciation
  4. How to verbally spell a Tibetan word
  5. What the essential and existential verbs are and how they are used (yin, min, red, ma red, yod, med, ‘dug, mi ‘dug, yod red, yod ma red)
  6. Demonstrative pronouns (‘di, de, pha gi, etc.)
  7. Personal pronouns (khong, khyed rang, etc.)

(formerly LAN 511)

This is a continuation of LAN510. We will continue reading Gyelsé Tokmé Zangbo’s 37 Practices of a Bodhisattva རྒྱས་སྲས་ལག་ལེན་སུམ་ཅུ་སོ་བདུན་མ། along with selections from two Tibetan commentaries on his famous text. This is a reading course that assumes a basic understanding of Tibetan grammar.  We will focus on: acquiring and developing reading skills; working with commentaries as a means to unpacking the meaning embedded in a text; and improving reading skills, including pronunciation and fluency. We will also practice the traditional method of spelling in Tibetan, called “jor lo” (sbyor klog), which is a useful tool when consulting with Tibetan scholars and teachers, and there will be regular instruction on grammar. 

Prerequisites: Having attended at least one 2020 Summer Institute session of LAN 510 or equivalent in real time (see details below).

This course is open to students who attended at least one session of LAN510 during the 2020 Nitartha Summer Institute in real time. Those who did not take at least one Summer Institute session or did not participate in real time, please contact our registrar (eweiss@nitarthainstitute.org) before registering. Real time participation is expected unless other arrangements have been made in advance.