July 8 – August 4, 2023

Our Tibetan language courses can be taken alone, without attending the Summer Institute. All Tibetan classes will be transmitted live via Zoom and recorded for viewing asynchronously through our Online Campus (Moodle).
Tibetan language course recordings will be available until October 4, 2023.

Beginning Colloquial  Tibetan




Prerequisites: None

This class is oriented toward students who have no experience or little experience with colloquial Tibetan. During the Summer Institute, we will introduce the eight categories of Tibetan letters, how to spell Tibetan words aloud, how to pronounce Tibetan letters and words, and how to read and write Tibetan. We will also introduce some useful phrases and sentences.

The Eight Categories of Tibetan Letters

  1. Thirty Consonants
  2. Four Vowels
  3. Ten suffixes
  4. Five prefixes
  5. Two sub-suffixes
  6. Superscribed Letters
  7. Subscribed Letters
  8. Punctuation

On learning these eight categories of Tibetan letters, students will be able to read Tibetan texts aloud with correct pronunciation.

Intermediate Colloquial  Tibetan

Also taught by Nima Bhuti and Gerry Wiener, this course is for those students who already have some established grounding in colloquial Tibetan. The focus will be to gain further fluency in reading, speaking, listening, and understanding Tibetan using the Central Tibetan dialect. Classes are mostly in Tibetan with minimal English.

Required Texts:

Speak Fluent Tibetan by Dr. Chok Tenzin Monlam Peltsok (Google Books)

Speak Tibetan the Tibetan Way by Nyima Dekyi (Google Books)


Students should know:

  1. The equivalent of the first 15 chapters of Speak Fluent Tibetan and Speak Tibetan the Tibetan Way.
  2. 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)
  3. Demonstrative pronouns (‘di, de, pha-gi, ya-gi and ma-gi etc.)
  4. Personal pronouns (nga, khyed-rang and khong etc.)
  5. Volitional and non-volitional verbs
  6. Transitive and intransitive verbs
  7. Verb tenses (past, present, and future) and auxiliary verbs
  8. Basics of locative, genitive, and instrumental cases
  9. Some understanding of the difference between honorific and non-honorific words and when to use them
  10. How to read somewhat more complex Tibetan sentences aloud (but not necessarily understand their entire meaning)

Introduction to Tibetan Buddhist Literature



This course focuses on acquiring the knowledge and skills necessary to read Buddhist literature—primarily liturgical and commentarial texts in the Kagyu and Nyingma traditions—in Tibetan. Class time will be divided between a formal review of Tibetan grammar, using a variety of sources in both English and Tibetan, and reading texts. Starting with commonly used liturgical texts—such as refuge and dedication chants that students can use in their daily practice—we will gradually progress to longer, more complex doctrinal texts. Students will be introduced to the traditional discipline of jor-lo (sbyor klog)—“reading the connections”—as a way to learn not only the spellings of words, but also their pronunciations.

Prerequisites:Intermediate Colloquial Tibetan (LAN510) or equivalent is strongly recommended. Students should have a basic knowledge of the Tibetan alphabet, spelling rules, and Tibetan grammar.  Instructor’s permission is required (mseibold@nitarthainstitute.org).

Reading Tibetan Buddhist Literature

Also taught by Mark Seibold, this course is dedicated to reading Tibetan Buddhist texts and literature from original source texts and commentaries in the Kagyü and Nyingma traditions. For NSI 2023, we will follow Āchārya Lama Tenpa Gyeltsen’s talks on Distinguishing Consciousness and Wisdom (རྣམ་ཤེས་ཡེ་ཤེས་འབྱེད་པ།) by the Third Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje, and read selected passages from the Karmapa’s root text alongside Jamgön Kongtrül Lodrö Thayé’s commentary.

This course assumes a general familiarity with Tibetan grammar. The level of difficulty is equivalent to second year Tibetan at the graduate level. Students will be asked to prepare passages to present in class for review and analysis. The foci of the course are (i) developing familiarity with Tibetan grammar, (ii) cultivating reading skills and (iii) gaining facility with using commentaries to unpack a root text. Interesting and important grammatical points will be explained in the context of specific passages. In addition, we will continue our study of Tibetan grammar from an annotated commentarial translation of Kelsang Gyurmé’s The Clear Mirror (རབ་གསལ་མེ་ལོང་།).

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.

Instructor’s permission is required for new students.