UVA’s Summer Intensive Tibetan Language Program

UVA will not be offering a 2020 Summer Intensive in Tibetan. For alternative summer study options, see the AAS Language Database compiled and hosted at University of Wisconsin.


The information provided below is for reference purposes only.

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 expert teachers.  The course fulfills foreign language requirements at UVA and other Universities.

This fully accredited (12 credits – two years) Intensive Tibetan Language course will provide you with a superb basis for deep understanding of the modern Tibetan language in the Central Tibetan/exile dialect known as “standard Tibetan.” It is a beginner course without any prerequisites.

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

In order to immerse yourself fully into the Tibetan language world, another program feature is the opportunity (optional) to live on grounds where you can practice your newly acquired Tibetan language skills with your classmates. Teachers and/or other native speakers will also be present daily for homework help and conversation practice. SLI encourages you to reside in Summer Session housing in order to keep practicing Tibetan even during your free time. The Tibetan SLI students will be clustered in one wing of the dormitory and have access to a shared kitchen and a lounge area.

Students may also choose to live off-Grounds; visit U.Va. Off-Grounds Services for related information.

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.

Example Program Structure

The 2018 program ran from Monday, June 18 to Friday, August 10. Tibetan SLI classes met from Monday through Friday for seven and a half hours a day with the Tibetan language instructors. Students met for two hours every morning with native Tibetan language tutors over Skype, followed by two hours with the lead instructors for grammar and vocabulary instruction and student presentations. Afternoon sessions met for an additional three hours and focus on intensive, communicative practice of the material learned during the morning class, and listening comprehension practice; a 90-minute evening class continued to reinforce the day’s material through interactive activities and gave students 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) was 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.

For details, see the Summer Language Institute page, which also has links to the application process, FAQs, and the SLI calendar. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis until the course is filled.

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