Testimonials from Tibetan Language Institute Students

Over the years, many students have expressed their gratitude and appreciation for having studied the Tibetan language with TLI. We hope that this brief selection of student testimonials will give a taste of that experience.

We invite you to join the many hundreds of students from around the world who study Tibetan with us. Together, we have fun, and you will find that Tibetan:

  • enhances your study and practice of the Dharma,
  • aides greatly in facilitating your work with Tibetan causes, and
  • opens the door to communicating with your Tibetan lamas and friends.

You, too, can learn Tibetan.

Letters of Recommendation
From Senior Practitioners & Center Directors

  • Pamela Bothwell, MA Columbia and JD University of Colorado. Senior teacher with Shambhala, TLI student
  • Frank Howard, Former Director Amitabha Foundation, Rochester, NY, TLI student
  • Terry Sullivan, Former Director Los Angeles Karma Thegsum Choling, TLI student
  • Dr. Naomi Bloom, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, University of Rochester Medical Center, TLI student
  • Dr. James Santucci, Department of Religion, Cal State Fullerton
  • Nancy Potek, TLI Student

“Thank you for the amazing teaching of the Tibetan language classes that I have thus far taken. I feel very fortunate to have found David Curtis as a teacher. His past experience in classical languages made my understanding of a second language so much easier. He never made me feel badly about asking a question, no matter how elementary that question might seem. I feel that I can learn in a setting where I don’t have to apologize for being an average student. David’s humility and gentle style is also appreciated, and I thrive best in such circumstances. … I do appreciate when David brings in bits of Dharma through book recommendations and explaining about past Tibetan masters.” — Nancy, WI

“Please let me know WHEN, WHERE David is teaching in Boston! How wonderful. I will be up visiting from Chagdud Gonpa Khadro Ling in Southern Brazil…perhaps I can go! Even way down near the South Pole, people say that peals of laughter can be heard in his classes. He has quite a reputation here. Thank you for all your dedication!”
— Liz, Brazil

“I just want to thank you for the glimpse today into the method by which you are teaching Tibetan. What really impressed me is your emphasis on the language as being at the heart of the dharma. I live in Poughkeepsie, NY. I have tried to find a course in my area for so long and learning from Tibetans (as you mentioned) doesn’t always work very well. I have a grueling full time job as an office worker in a hospital setting. I don’t seem to be well motivated without a class so I have registered for the Level 1 class.” — Mary, NY

We were blessed to have David come teach us here in Hartford, it was a wonderful experience.” — Jenny B., CT

“…one of my two root gurus…, a geshe lharampa from Gaden Shartse, tasked me with learning Tibetan, as has H.H. Karmapa…. I’m being sent to Dharamsala next year to enroll in lotsawa [translator] school. I have started using TLI materials and started the Level 1 course this summer to prepare and establish some foundation at least this year. I’m very impressed with the course. I thought the materials alone would be sufficient, but I’m getting so much out of the course.

…I bought some other materials as well: Hopkins et al Fluent Tibetan, and Joe Wilson’s Translating Buddhism from Tibetan. My teacher liked both of these texts. However, even so, my teacher was most enthralled with all the TLI material! Thought it was fantastic! Kept picking up my binder I have it all in… He picked up the TLI book about five times last night. He went through the Level 1 & 2 book thoroughly. He loved the flashcards, and the DVD teachings (I showed him on my iPad). He is very impressed. This morning, he picked it up, and jotted down the TLI info.” — Nyima, CA

Testimonial Note Kai and Devi - Lama Bokar Rinpoche - Tibetan Language Institute

“Dear David,
Thank you very much for teaching me Tibetan. My favorite character is nya.
– Devi

“Dear David,
Thank you so much for teaching me the stepping stones of Tibetan. I learned a lot, I wanted to write this in Tibetan, but maybe next time.
Thanks again!”
– Kai

Thank you for the wonderful intro (my second time), always so fascinating and fun and especially healing to hear you speak about the study of language as the study of the dharma! David is a great dharma teacher and a great healer who skillfully employs the medium of Tibetan language (as are you, Deanna, his right arm). Many thanks and a deep gassho.” — Debbie G., NC

This [TLI Summer Seminar] was a life-altering week for me courtesy of the Curtises.” — Ruth G., MT

“I just want to thank you so very much for all your support but especially for the Tibetan introductory [lecture]. I plan on taking the first course …. I see clearly the value in David’s approach and the fact that he is a Dharma practitioner makes me even more confident as some nuances of the Tibetan language could easily escape to one that has no direct realization.” — Cathy, OH

We were blessed to have David come teach us here in Hartford, it was a wonderful experience.” — Jenny B., CT

“For decades, my main activities were music and business. I came late to the dharma and felt like an outsider, a beginner who could not get a toehold. But when I studied Tibetan privately with David Curtis, my spiritual practice deepened and enlivened. I can chant now with ease and comprehension. I can grasp Buddhist concepts that lack English equivalents. I can greet my teachers in their native language. If you don’t have time for a lot, a little Tibetan goes a long way. David is a masterful teacher, a good friend, and a steady dharma guide. For the last seven years I have been glad to contribute to The Tibetan Language Institute: it provides a unique opportunity for Western practitioners.” — John C., CA

“The person who taught me Tibetan is David Curtis. He and his wonderful wife Deanna did the 3 year retreat under Kalu Rinpoche in the late 1980’s, in France. Kalu Rinpoche required his students to learn Tibetan and do all the practices in Tibetan in the retreat. David became very inspired to teach the language, and started the Tibetan Language Institute. He is WONDERFUL, a great teacher! I learned so much from him! I can’t praise him enough!” — Pamela B., CA

“Thank you for a wonderful experience. I really enjoyed your classes, and I also learned a lot. I was trained as an undergraduate in pedagogical techniques, and I have taught Spanish, French and English at the elementary, high school and undergraduate levels. Those of us who have been on the other side of the desk are often harsh critics, and I am no exception. What I saw in David Curtis was a wonderful language teacher. I admire his enthusiasm, his techniques, his knowledge and his ability to keep the students’ interest in his classes. His stories are funny, warm and instructive and David’s nature is engaging and pleasant. All in all, he made successive days of nine-to-nine classes enjoyable—what a feat! I am grateful to have been a participant in your classes, I aspire to learn more, and may all beings benefit from your dharma teachings.” — Margie M., MA

WOW!!! That’s the only way to describe the way you pulled the “Refuge and Bodhicitta Prayer” together tonight! Thank you for a wonderful teaching!” — Leilani H, MN

David is talented. He knows a ton of Dharma, of Buddhist culture, and of Tibetan language. He is a very good teacher: lively, with stories, mnemonic tricks and all, a good sense of pacing, patience, and more. We are so lucky to have him teach us.” — Chantal P., CA

I’m so impressed by the organization of everything and how easily it all sinks in. I’m so glad to be going a bit further with it this summer.” — Rebecca K., HI

My wish came true! I’m studying the Heart Sutra in Tibetan! It’s a great class. I still am mooning to study the Way of Bodhisattvas: Chapter 2 some glorious day, but my plate is joyously full right now. I think t his will be very important to study and memorize as you say. I’m finding now that I have most of my daily practices in some stage of translation because I’m now thinking “What does that mean?” It’s so wondrous how the [Tibetan] language study is inextricably Dharma study. I love it. Thanks and thanks and thanks.” — Rebecca R, TX

“When I first found out about the course after ordering the materials, I honestly intended to just come for the first weekend to get a brief grounding in the language. But now I find that I’m rather hooked by David’s excellent teaching, the quality of the other students, and the friendly ambience of the house. Had I known this at the time, I probably would have tried to do both weekends. So I’m going to ask to come back for more.” — Max M., MA

“I’ve been on retreat since the end of May and just came out yesterday. Was able to keep up with Tibetan during that time, but couldn’t get to post office to send homework. I was so thrilled that during my sessions in retreat I was, FOR THE FIRST TIME, able to really visualize all the seed syllables in my various sadhanas. This was a great benefit to my practice. I’m so happy. I am also finding that I’m “checking” the Tibetan as I read the phonetics in those practices that I do in Tibetan every day. What an improvement. Thanks again for already deepening my practice experience.” — Vicky R, VA

I really want to learn Tibetan. TLI is such a wonderful organization. I’m so glad I found your website: I desire deeply to go help either in Tibet (as soon as it’s safe to do so) and/or work with the Tibetan refugee children. My selfish reason is to be able to read ancient Buddhist texts. Please tell everyone there how grateful we are that you are working so hard to make this opportunity available.” — Michelle A., CA

The Tibetan class is so very stimulating. How wonderful that you are teaching—quite a blessing to have discovered the opportunity. I’m grateful. Thanks, too, for the handouts you have been sending. I find the chart of what was covered in the class especially helpful to frame/reframe what was covered.” — Melodie D., Banff Canada


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

We are committed to supporting practitioners from all Tibetan spiritual lineages by empowering students to read and translate the transcendent language of Classical Tibetan.

TLI is a 501( c)(3) educational nonprofit organization. We often operate with very limited funds. Please help us continue this work.

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