Colloquial (Spoken) Tibetan Resources


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Basic Grammar of Modern Spoken Tibetan: A Practical Handbook (Tashi)

A Basic Grammar of Modern Spoken Tibetan is written for those non-Tibetans who have a keen interest in learning the proper rules of spoken Tibetan grammar. The book begins with in introduction of the Tibetan alphabet, four vowels, subscribed letters, etc. and covers a wide range of grammatical information about modern spoken Tibetan. Other chapters include "Common Idioms," "Letter Writing" and "A List of Verbs in the Three Tenses with Imperative." For each subject there are many expamples.

Tashi Daknewa is one of the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives' resident Tibetan language teachers and at the time of printing (1990) had twelve years classroom experience, as well as a one-year sabbatical teaching and studying in the US.

"Tashi is to be congratulated for his initiative and dedication, and it is my fervent hope that by easing the linguisitic difficulties somewhat, this book will contribute to international understanding and friendship for Tibet and her people."--Gyatsho Tshering, Director, LTWA


Contact TLI for availability

Learning Practical Tibetan (Andrew Bloomfield and Yanki Tshering)

A revised version of Tibetan Phrasebook. Many students have expressed that this book and tapes are a wonderful language tool and much more than a phrasebook. So the Tibetan Phrasebook was expanded into a larger format and now includes the Tibetan script in addition to the phonetic system, making it useful as a practical Tibetan language study tool. It begins by introducing both a phonetic system and a simple yet complete grammar. In addition to containing phrases and dialogues, each chapter is preceded by useful information, vocabulary, and some pointers about Tibetan customs and etiquette. The appendices include these helpful sections: numbers, dates, days and time, dates of festivals, religious and monastic vocabulary and a general vocabulary.

Optional: Two 90-minute cassette tapes to accompany this book . See Tibetan Phrasebook tapes .

"Excellent for beginners in colloquial Tibetan--easy to use and to learn from!" David Curtis, President TLI


Fluent Tibetan Course: A Proficiency-Oriented Learning System. Novice and Intermediate Levels (William A. Magee and Elizabeth S. Napper, Jeffrey Hopkins)

The most systematic and extensive course system available in spoken Tibetan language, Fluent Tibetan was developed by language experts working in conjunction with indigenous speakers at the University of Virginia. Based upon courses for diplomats needing to learn a language quickly, the method acquaints students with the sounds and patterns of Tibetan speech, through repetitive interactive drills, enabling the quick mastery of increasingly complex structures, and thereby promoting rapid progress in speaking the language.

 The package consists of textbooks and MP3 disks (26 hours), arranged in fifteen units. The first three units are devoted to recognition and pronunciation of the Tibetan alphabet and its combinations in syllables and words. With unit four, vocabulary and grammatical patterns are introduced in situational dialogues. Each dialogue is followed by extensive drills repeating the vocabulary and grammatical patterns in different contexts thereby teaching how to use the language creatively. The exceptionally clear voices in the dialogues and drills are both male and female indigenous Tibetans. The glossary is both Tibetan-English and English-Tibetan.

The materials covered in Fluent Tibetan roughly correspond to what is covered in two semesters of college-level language study. Having completed this text, students should be capable of intermediate level speech as defined by the University of Virginia's Tibetan Oral Proficiency Guidelines formulated by William Magee.

Fluent Tibetan is the first text recommended for language study by the Sera IMI House at Sera Monastery for Western monks as preparation for entry into the Geshe studies program.

"Fluent Tibetan is a significant and unmatched achievement in the field of teaching colloquial Tibetan."--The Tibet Journal

For those interested in Fluent Tibetan and 18 cassettes (instead of the MP3 disks), contact TLI. (The price is $150).


Currently unavailable

LEARN TIBETAN : Essential Words and Phrases for Absolute Beginners (Eurotalk Interactive) CD-ROM.

A lively and entertaining introduction to Tibetan language. This well-designed package makes learning Tibetan feel like a game. It offers a large vocabulary. You can record your voice and compare your pronunciation with native speakers. There are quizzes and a challenging memory game. Windows: VGA w/256 colors, sound card, 486 or above, 8 Mb RAM, CD-ROM, microphone optional. Apple Macintosh:  Color Macintosh, 68030 processor or above, 8 Mb RAM, CD-ROM, microphone optional.


Say It in Tibetan: Conversations in Colloquial Tibetan (Norbu Chophel )

This small book was first published in 1989 mainly to fulfill the need of foreign tourists wanting to pick up some Tibetan conversational knowledge. Today it has become a bestselling guide on the subject. The book is not only used by foreigners to study Tibetan, but also by Tibetans to study English.

The conversations have been grouped according to different situations, so that the user can refer to them easily depending on need.

To master the pronunciation effectively, the audio tape (listed below) is very useful.

Contact TLI for availability

Manual of Standard Tibetan: Language and Civilization (Nicholas Tournadre and Sangda Dorje)

This is an introduction to standard Tibetan (spoken and written) followed by an appendix on Classical literary Tibetan.

The Manual of Standard Tibetan presents the everyday speech of Lhasa as it is currently used in Tibet, as well as amongst the Tibetan diaspora. It aims not only to place the language in its natural context, but also to highlight along the way key aspects of Tibetan civilization and Vajrayana Buddhism.

The Manual, which consists of 41 lessons, is illustrated with many drawings and photographs, and also includes two previously unpublished maps. Two CDs provide an essential oral complement to the Manual. A detailed introduction presents a linguistic overview of spoken and written Tibetan, and a lengthy appendix outlines the differences between literary and spoken Tibetan.

“The best resource available for teaching modern spoken Tibetan bar none. A detailed introduction to the everyday speech of Lhasa. A delight to read. The two CDs provide an essential oral component."--David Curtis, executive director of the Tibetan Language Institute.


The New Tibetan-English Dictionary Of Modern Tibetan, M. Goldstein, Editor

A large format book of 1195 pages and 80.000 words, this is the ultimate source book for Modern Tibetan. University of California Press. Highly Recommened!


English-Tibetan Dictionary Of Modern Tibetan

A new edition, very much improved, of M. Goldstein's long out-of-print dictionary. Essential for written or spoken Modern Tibetan.16,000 main entries, 29,000 sub entries.


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