Tibetan Language Institute

Learn to Read and Translate Classical Tibetan 

The Tibetan spiritual traditions contain insights of some of the most brilliant and wise minds the world has ever known. Their wisdom has been recorded for all the world in the astounding Tibetan language. Learning Classical Literary Tibetan is thus a gateway for Western students to deepen their Dharma practice.

Dharma Tibetan for Dharma Students.
Learn to read prayers and texts in Tibetan.

Upcoming Tibetan Courses

Free “Introduction to Tibetan” Lecture by Zoom

Curious about the study Tibetan from the convenience of your own home?

This is a free, fun introduction to studying Tibetan with an excellent teacher who makes it easy, meaningful, and inspiring. You can learn this language. Lama David will help you to know a little more about how Classical Tibetan developed and to get started learning the Tibetan alphabet.

  • Next Lecture: Saturday, August 24, 2024

  • Duration: 1 Hour 30 minutes

  • Hosted on: A lecture hosted on Zoom with pdf handouts on Dropbox


Tibetan Level 1 Course: Beginning Tibetan

This is the place to start! Students will learn to spell, pronounce, and read many Tibetan words and Dharma terms, plus learn how to use a Tibetan-English Dictionary. Study materials sold separately (highly recommend the Tibetan Level I Package.

This course is a 10-week course by Zoom with Lama David (time/dates TBD).

  • Class Start Date: Tuesdays, starting September 17, 2024.

  • Duration: 10 Weeks

  • Hosted on: Zoom



Since 1993, TLI has guided many, many hundreds of Western students as they embark on the journey of learning Classical Tibetan. We structure our study materials and courses so that students are learning Buddhist vocabulary from the very beginning. We believe that the study of the Tibetan language not only enriches the lives of our students but also contributes to the world-wide effort to preserve those jewels of Tibetan culture—its spiritual traditions.


The Tibetan Language Institute is dedicated to benefiting the world through the preservation and teaching of the Tibetan language and culture. In this spirit, we provide excellent programs and develop easy-to-use learning materials that allow dharma students from all Tibetan spiritual traditions to more deeply explore and commit to their path.

David Curtis founded the Tibetan Language Institute in 1996. Since then, he has taught Tibetan language and Buddhism courses full-time, specializing in the development of dharma-centered learning materials and instruction for Western students… keep reading.

The Bookstore carries a selection of Tibetan language study materials–mostly TLI-produced—carefully chosen to guide Dharma students wanting to learn to read their texts and prayers in the original Tibetan. The Bookstore also the place to register for our online Tibetan language courses.

The Tibetan Language Institute is a registered 501(c)(3) educational non-profit organization, non-sectarian in orientation. We were founded by David Curtis in 1996 in order to help Dharma students access the profound teachings of Tibetan Buddhism.

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Benefit from our experience of over two decades of teaching of Tibetan to Western Dharma students. Lamas David and Deanna Curtis have university degrees foreign language learning and teaching. Our goal is to help you gain a deeper understanding of Buddhist teachings, prayers, and texts.

  • Flexible Learning  – By following TLI’s graduated course for learning Tibetan, you will gain a firm foundation in the language. Ours is a system that is user-friendly, Dharma-oriented, and it works.

  • Student Testimonials  – “I was so thrilled that […] I was, FOR THE FIRST TIME, able to really visualize all the seed syllables in my various sadhanas.” —Vicky R, VA

  • What Rinpoches Say  – “Lama David Curtis is one of the excellent teachers for Tibetan language. Not only does he have profound knowledge of the Tibetan language, but also he understands the depth of Buddhism from study and practice.…” —Anam Thubten Rinpoche 

Help Bring the Profound and Beautiful Tibetan Language to Modern Dharma Students All Over the World

Here at the Tibetan Language Institute, we are committed to supporting practitioners from all Tibetan spiritual lineages by empowering students to read and translate their Dharma texts and prayers.

We often operate with very limited funds.

Please help us continue this work—donate today:


Donate to TLI