We just received the following message about a new association called Esukhia, which offers online tuition in Tibetan:
Our association is a nonprofit organization created to help preserve and promote Buddha’s teaching. The first step in bringing Buddhism to the West is to translate and to study it. Many students go to India or Nepal to learn Tibetan, but have difficulties continuing their studies when they get back home. Other students wish to learn Tibetan but don’t have the time or the means to go to Asia. Therefore Esukhia created online Tibetan language courses to address their needs.
Although Esukhia is not the first organization to attempt teaching Tibetan in this way, we have found that the main complaint of students is that their teachers are not trained in how to teach Tibetan to westerners—that they do not use a textbook or provide experiential exercises for the students, etc. For this reason, we have set up an office in Dharamsala and enlisted Tibetans who have studied their language at a university level or otherwise have relevant experience teaching Tibetan to westerners to create a Tibetan language teaching method: the TTFL (Teaching Tibetan as a Foreign Language), which is based on the world famous TEFL used to teach English to non-native speakers. To assist them, we have professional trainers versed in the TEFL method to instruct our teachers in linguistic pedagogy. Courses are conducted with one student and one teacher to ensure that every student’s learning needs are met on a personal level. We are also creating a preparatory course for students who wish later to attend Tibetan classes at the International Buddhist Academy in Boudha, Nepal.
For our textbook we have selected Nicolas Tournadre’s A Manual of Standard Tibetan, which we find to be the best available Tibetan textbook. To make the material more accessible, we have supplemented all lessons with dialogues and new vocabulary. Each new vocabulary word is paired with a picture. The use of pictures avoids the use of English translation, facilitating students’ ability to think in Tibetan and allowing non-English speakers to use the materials as well. After their scheduled online classes, students can use the Chamillo e-learning platform to do some exercises.They have a temporary website at esukhia.org, and are working on a new one.