David usually suggests that students of both colloquial and classical Tibetan start with TLI materials, because these have a proven record of success. Ideally, order the entire Beginners' Package with the DVD of the Level I Course. The Beginners' Package includes the Level I book, vocabulary flashcards (for Levels I and II together), a CD of David reading the Tibetan at a pace that once can actually understand and repeat the Tibetan, the Tibetan Language Pre-Primer by Dr. Cathy Kielsmeier (so as to have another angle on the grammar), and a good Tibetan-English dictionary.
Students can also greatly benefit from the practicing Tibetan with a native speaker. Here we recommend very useful book Learning Practical Tibetan by Andrew Bloomfield and Yanki Tshering and the accompanying audio cassettes Tibetan Phrasebook Practice Tapes.
Lastly, to get an overview of Tibetan culture and more particularly its religion, we have the following suggestions. For a systematic and wonderfully clear introduction to Tibetan Buddhist views and practices, read Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism by John Powers. Beginning with a summary of the Indian Buddhism and how it eventually was brought to Tibet, the author explores Tibetan Mahayana philosophy and tantric methods for personal transformation. The four main schools of Tibetan Buddhism as well as Bon are explored in depth. Other helpful books: Buddhism for Beginners and Open Heart, Clear Mind (both by Thubten Chodron, an American nun); The Foundations of Tibetan Buddhism and Luminous Mind: The Way of the Buddha (both by the Kalu Rinpoche); and Meditation Advice for Beginners (by Bokar Rinpoche). An excellent general book on Tibetan culture: Among Tibetan Texts: History and Literature of the Himalayan Plateau.
We strongly suggest you bookmark the Dharma bookstore page so that you can supplement your language studies with information about Tibetan culture.
Tibetan Language Institute PO Box 2037 Hamilton, Montana 59840 USA 406.961.5131
Executive Director: David Curtis