Tsetan Chonjore

Current Focus

As a Tibetan language analyst, the main focus of my research over the years has been to clarify the similarities and differences between literary and Lhasa Colloquial Tibetan grammar. I have striven to explain the special qualities of the Tibetan language with clarity but also nuance. I have accomplished this by developing a contextual teaching method, which introduces unique forms such as the personal/ impersonal perspectives, the evidential categories carried by verbs and conjugations, the time-based aspect of the language, and so forth.


  • 2007-2017, Director of Tibetan Language Studies, Department of Eastern Language, Literatures, and Cultures, University of Virginia
  • 1986, 1987, 1991, 1995, 1997, 1999-2007. Visiting Lecturer. Summer Sessions University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • 2005-2007, Visiting Lecturer, University of British Columbia
  • 1983-2004, Coordinator (Tibetan Studies), University of Wisconsin’s College Year in Nepal Program
  • 1988, 1990, Honorary Research Fellow, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • 1987-89, Workshop Director, Teacher Training Seminar, Experiment in International Living. Kathmandu, Nepal
  • 1983-87, Tibetan Language Instructor, Campus of International Language, Tribhuvan University
  • 1985, Tibetan Language Instructor, Himalayan Yogic Institute, Kathmandu, Nepal
  • Advanced Tibetan Language studies, with Geshe Ngawang Jinpa, St. Joseph’s College, 1979-81
  • B.A., St. Joseph’s College, 1978


  • Clarifying the similarities and differences between literary and Lhasa colloquial grammar
  • Contextual teaching methodology
  • Tibetan culture
  • Teaching and learning musical instruments and music composition


  • Over twenty five years of continuous employment by major research institutions in Nepal, Canada, and the United States as a visiting scholar, language instructor, research adviser, and fieldwork coordinator for undergraduate and graduate Tibetan language students.
  • Director of a Teacher Training Seminar that placed instructors in a number of institutions in Nepal and abroad.
  • 2008. Attended Annual Convention and World Language Expo in Orlando, Florida.
  • September, 2006. Organizer and Director, Vancouver Tibetan Music Ensemble performance at GM Place, Vancouver to honor Nobel Peace Prize Laureate His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, when he was conferred as an honorary Canadian citizen before 15,000 people.
  • 2005. Organizer and Director, Vancouver Music Ensemble presentation of a music concert at St. John’s College, UBC.
  • Founded the Vancouver Tibetan Music Ensemble in Vancouver, Canada.
  • Volunteer teaching of Tibetan musical instruments, songs and dance to Tibetans in Madison, Wisconsin and Vancouver, Canada, as well as organization of Tibetan music concerts in the US and Canada.
  • Member of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL).


  • Colloquial Tibetan: Volume II. A textbook of the Lhasa Dialect. (A book in progress)
  • Colloquial Tibetan. A textbook of the Lhasa Dialect. Published by Library of Tibetan Works & Archives, Dharamsala, India, 2003. (Used by University of Wisconsin, Madison, University of Virginia, Emory College, University of British Columbia, Vancouver and various institutions in Nepal).
  • Special Tibetan Language Crash Course Material, “Tibetan for Traveler’s” with CD, for the Stanford Tibetan Studies Initiative, 2007.
  • “Contextual Ambiguity.” Presented at the Fifteenth Annual meeting of the Linguistic Society of Nepal, Tribhuvan University. November 26-27, 1994. Published in Nepalese Linguistics, 1995.
  • “Tibetan: A Non-tense Language.” Presented at the Fourteenth Annual meeting of the Linguistic Society of Nepal, Tribhuvan University. November 26-27,1993. Published in Nepalese Linguistics, 1994.
  • “On the Partial Formal Syncretism of Categories of Clause Structure in Lhasa Tibetan.” With Dr. Asif Agha. Presented at the Eighth Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Society of Nepal, Tribhuvan University. November 26-27, 1987. Published in Nepalese Linguistics, 1988.