Reading & Translating in Tibetan


Completing the Level II Course, students are empowered to delve deeper into their study of Tibetan using various TLI reader/translation workbooks. As with previous courses, the group reads and studies a Classical Tibetan text such as the Heart Sutra in conjunction with the study of The Divine Tree Grammar Poem and Commentary. With Lama David as your experienced guide, we will study in an integrated manner to learn more about Tibetan grammar and vocabulary, as well as about Tibetan Buddhism.


Reading & Translating in Tibetan

Tibetan Language, Part 2 and Grammar Reading Course 

A 10-Week Course  by Zoom starting Thursday, September 14, 2023 

In this course, Lama David will guide the students through various texts in `the sacred and transcendent Tibetan language. Listening, reflecting and studying, and meditating on these texts will give students a connection to the Buddhist world of delight and meaning.

Our task in this 10-week course is to learn about and gain experience in reading classical literary Tibetan–the language of the sacred texts of all lineages for more than a millennium. David will be doing his best to provide a close, detailed analysis of each passage we read, discussing the vocabulary and the grammar.

The text for this course is Lama David’s Tibetan Language Reader, Part II, new edition (available August 2023). Enhance your ability to understand how it all fits together with a Tibetan text.

  • A collection of verses taken from a variety of sources from different lineages and different centuries.
  • The new edition has both student-friendly parsed texts and more challenging unparsed texts set up for students to work on.
  • With its glossary, there is a good opportunity to learn some of the most commonly occurring vocabulary of Buddhist texts.
    • The glossary included in our reader has nearly 200 words and particles from our text.
    • In the definitions David has tried to provide not just the translation of the terms relevant to reading the passage from which the vocabulary entry is drawn, but to expand our understanding of the word in general.
    • This is especially true of the verbs for which Lama David has included information such as different forms of the verb and whether it is transitive or intransitive. Many words are defined both in their noun usage and in their usage as verbs.
  • We’ll also be able to learn a lot about grammar by analyzing the verses closely and making frequent reference to the Divine Tree Grammar Poem and Commentary and John Rockwell’s A Primer for Classical Literary Tibetan.
  • Lama David will also share some of the Dharma teachings woven into these beautiful poetic passages.

Required Texts: 

  • TLI’s Tibetan Language Reader, Part 2, New Edition (available August 2023)
  • TLI’s Divine Tree Grammar Poem and Commentary, 2021 edition (found in the Level II Package).
  • John Rockwell’s excellent A Primer for Classical Literary Tibetan: selections from the Grammar in Volume I.

Student Goal: to study 30 minutes of Tibetan per day.

Class Start Date: Thursday, September 14, 2023.

Time: 4:00-5:45 pm US Pacific Time

Duration: 10 Weeks

Hosted on: Zoom

Video Recordings of classes and student folders on Dropbox: Available to students until January 14, 2024.

Additional information


Tibetan Language Institute

How This Course Works

  1. Add this course to your cart.
  2. Purchase your study materials. See Required & Recommended Materials.
  3. Check out and pay. You will receive a confirmation of your purchase, and then shortly before the class start date, a personal welcome email with course details.
  4. For the duration of the course, class video recordings and study guides will be made available to you each week as you progress through the course.


Course Details

Being able to access this kind of course from the comfort of your home or when you are traveling is a great opportunity to continue to deepen your relationship to the Dharma.

Weekly Class Meetings: 10 weeks on Thursdays

5:00 PM – 6:30 PM    Pacific Time

6:00 PM – 7:30 PM    Mountain Time

7:00PM – 8:30 PM     Central Time

8:00PM – 9:30 PM     Eastern Time

Course Instructor

The principal instructor at TLI is David Curtis. He has a university degree in Classical language. David began his Dharma studies in 1980, traveling in 1984 to receive teachings from H.H. the Dalai Lama. He lived and trained at Kagyu Ling in France, in 1992 completing the traditional Tibetan Three-Year Retreat in meditation, yoga and philosophy. Subsequently David has sought teachings from all schools of Tibetan Buddhism.

In 1993 he began teaching the Tibetan language to students in Los Angeles.  Many Rinpoches from Kagyu and Nyingma lineages have encouraged him to teach Tibetan and guide others in their meditation practice. As a teacher and author, Lama David established the nonprofit Tibetan Language Institute in 1996 and is its president and executive director.

 Lama David combines his linguistic skills with a practitioner’s knowledge of Tibetan Buddhism. In 2007, Gochen Tulku Rinpoche (Tulku Sang-ngag Rinpoche) awarded him the title of Acharya (master teacher). For more information.


What Students Say about the Reading Course:

“Studying Tibetan has absolutely transformed my retirement–I can’t explain my excitement when a formerly opaque liturgy or text suddenly jumps off the page with meaning! So I can’t thank you & David enough for all you that offer.  –Richard D

“A primary hope of mine was that learning classical Tibetan would deepen my understanding and love of Buddhadharma.  It has done so immeasurably, and much, much more…. –Jim L.


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