Tibetan Language On-line and in Residence
Tibetan Language in Residence
All Roads lead to Sarnath
The most effective and (I think) fun way of learning a foreign language is to immerse oneself into the world of native speakers. In the Fall of 2019, we provided such a special opportunity for Tibetan language learners by offering a residential, two-months intensive course at SINI. Five international students from different parts of the world made their journey to Sarnath to acquire the fundamentals of colloquial Tibetan language and experience first-hand the life of Tibetan Buddhist monastics and lay friends.
From ‘Ground zero’ to ‘simple conversations’ in 8 weeks
Starting from ground zero, first learning how to read the Tibetan script, the students joyfully progressed to being able to have simple conversations about a large variety of every-day topics, such as weather, shopping, food, health, etc. The approach of the course, unlike in traditional Tibetan educational settings, was student-centered and engaging.
1:1 Tutor sessions with native speakers from CIHTS
Among the favorite activities of the students were the daily 1:1 practice sessions with native speakers from Tibetan University located in Sarnath, learning games, songs, and drills.
The vast and profound ocean of Tibetan grammar
Grammar sessions unlocked a door to the profound world of Tibetan language where letters have genders, verbs are distinguished in terms of volition and sacred places are referred to with honorific language! The course was based on The Heart of Tibetan Language, a synthesis of indigenous Tibetan grammar and contemporary learning methodology, authored by our Tibetan teacher Franziska Oertle. The greatest reward was to see our students try to speak with SINI residents or even other Tibetans in Sarnath.
གནས་མཇལ་བ། [gnas mjal ba] Visiting (H) a sacred place = pilgrimage
Our course also included a wonderful pilgrimage to Bodhgaya and Vulture Peak, Varanasi, as well as participation in the inspiring Tripitaka Chanting Ceremony at the Dhammekh stupa.
We are aspiring and working to make this into a regular annual program at SINI.
Tibetan Language Online
Connecting over the screen
Not everyone has the necessary causes and conditions to travel and immerse themselves in the Tibetan-speaking world. So, if they cannot go to the mountain – we’ll bring the mountain to them! This on-line course enables the students to learn fundamental Colloquial Tibetan from your home.
The student-centred course consists of 12 modules, module 0 ‘How to learn (online)’ introduces them to the world of virtual learning. Modules 1-11 gradually provide access and insight into the fascinating world of Tibetan grammar and language. Like our residential Tibetan Language at SINI, this on-line course is based on The Heart of Tibetan Language.
Features and Activities
Among the different exciting features of this course, there are short, animated key-point videos providing an overview of each lesson, several recorded webinars per lesson which explain the grammar in a thorough and yet accessible way, forums for discussions, 1:1 language tutor classes with native speakers, speaking practice in form of a variation of Rassias® method of drill, a challenge in the end and a large variety of other autonomous learning activities.
Thus, students will choose and design their own individual path of learning while relying on personal guidance, advice from experienced teachers, and a significant variety of resources. In regular live webinars they also have an opportunity to interact with classmates and teachers.
Various Classmates and Teachers
Some teachers are also non-human persons, such as the two doggies རྒན་སེང་གེ་ལགས་ [rgan seng ge lags] = ‘professor Lion’ and Gen Christabella who represent the synthesis of a Tibetan and student-centered approach.
Among the classmates, there are polyglot Ms. Giraffe, a devoted Ms. Ostrich, and a relaxed Mr. Sloth – each with their distinct personality and learning style. They keep the key-point videos and webinars engaging and enjoyable with their nerdy, creative, and lazy questions accordingly!