UVa’s Summer Intensive Tibetan Language Program

The University of Virginia has offered one of the world’s leading programs in the summer intensive study of Tibetan language for two decades. Currently hosted by UVa’s Summer Language Institute (SLI), the Summer Intensive Tibetan program is eight weeks of intensive study of speaking, writing, and reading Tibetan as guided by three expert teachers. The course’s syllabus is available online, though it varies to some degree from year to year. The course also draws directly upon the dynamic audio-video and other resources published in the Tibetan and Himalayan Library. The course fulfills foreign language requirement at UVa and other Universities.

2015 SLI Application Deadline: APRIL 5, 2015 (Click Here to Apply)


Summer of 2015: June 15 – August 8, 2015 (based on 2014 schedule)

The course will be taught by UVa Professor Tsetan Chonjore. Professor Chonjore is one of the most experienced and skilled teachers of Tibetan in the world today, with nearly three decades of experience teaching Tibetan to North American students. He will be assisted by two native Tibetan instructors.

The program focuses on modern spoken and written Tibetan according to the Central Tibetan dialect. Students learn both print as well as cursive script, a unique aspect of the program.  The last unit of the summer offers a bridge to classical literary Tibetan.  Dynamic audio-visual material published in the Tibetan and Himalayan Library, including original footage shot in Tibet, enlivens classroom learning.

Tibetan SLI Residential Zone

Participants are encouraged to reserve a room in the regular Summer Session dorms where a particular cluster of rooms will be designated as a Tibetan “zone.” A native-speaking Tibetan instructor will reside alongside students in the dormitory to encourage the use of Tibetan lanugage in everyday life. The instructor will be available in the evenings to answer your questions and help you practice your conversational skills. To reserve a space in the Tibetan Zone, enter “TIBETAN SLI” under the roommate request portion of the online Summer Session housing application.

Please note: high school students are not eligible to live in the regular summer session dorms and should request housing through the UVa Advance program.

Program Structure

Tibetan SLI classes meet from Monday through Friday for seven and a half hours a day with three different Tibetan language instructors. You will meet for three hours every morning with the lead instructor for grammar and vocabulary instruction and practice; the afternoon class meets for an additional three hours and focuses on intensive, communicative practice of the material learned during the morning class; a 90-minute evening class continues to reinforce the day’s material through interactive activities and gives you an opportunity to seek individualized assistance from the evening instructor. The study of Tibetan culture is integrated with language learning throughout all three sessions.

Attendance in all three sessions (morning, afternoon, and evening) is required of all students, regardless of whether they are enrolled for credit or non-credit. Every student, regardless of type of enrollment, must earn a passing grade in each class of the first half of the SLI in order to participate in the second half of the program. Virginia undergraduates fulfill their language requirements upon successful completion of the program.

A trained Residence Director who is fluent in Tibetan will live with the students in the house and encourage the use of Tibetan in everyday life. The RD will be available in the evenings to answer linguistic or other questions or simply to chat with students who wish to practice their conversational skills.

For details, see the Summer Language Institute page, which also has links to the application process and the SLI calendar here.

To request further information please contact us today to begin your planning.