Summer Program Tibetan language

Tibetan Summer Course

Hello out there, I would like to share my experience of this year’s summer course.  As you may or may not know the Rangjung Yeshe Institute offers several summer courses on Sanskrit, colloquial Tibetan, and Buddhist Philosophy.  The year before I did the “Intermediate Tibetan” and this summer I went for the “Advanced Tibetan”.  
We were about ten students in the course and I have to say that the level of Tibetan-skills in the group was pretty high (I personally, being really bad with languages, was clearly on the lower end of the class).  The course-program was split into two: One part was thought by Phuntsok, the main Tibetan teacher in the Shedra.  It covered a traditional perspective on Tibetan grammar plus several readings, mainly from his Holiness the Dalai Lama’s autobiography (in English: “My Land and my People”).  

Phuntsok has a very light way of teaching and many times we had a good laugh in class.  Nonetheless we covered in the 8 weeks of the course a vast amount of material and the weekly quizzes were sometimes a bit of a challenge. Franziska the teacher from Switzerland functioned in class as a teacher assistant and while Phuntsok was talking in Tibetan she wrote the more uncommon words he was using on the blackboard, impressing us all with her superior spelling skills.  Every day we also had language partner classes in which each student speaks face to face with a Tibetan language partner and that was a great opportunity to put newly learned words and grammar into action.

The other part of the course was a traditional Tibetan Dharma teaching taught by one of the Lopöns of the monastery (of course in Tibetan and without translator).  I have to admit that I was pretty lost for the first classes but then my comprehension slowly improved and at the end I was able to follow pretty well what the Lopön was talking about, which made me really happy.  Also we had a specific set of Dharma-language partner classes in which we could prepare for class with monks and other Tibetans skilled in Dharma related topics.

All in all I can highly recommend this course to anybody who wants to improve his/her Tibetan.  Of course the 8 weeks were a bit intense but we students still found time to follow the football World Cup in one of the restaurants in Boudha that provided a large screen for this purpose.

Gerd from Austria

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