Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ten Reasons on Why Tibetans Need “Ten Ways to Promote Tibetan Language”

1.  Negativity: The beauty of Tibetan language lies in its grammar (Sum Tak). However, from the very early years, Tibetans have been told and dogmatized that Tibetan language is complicated and hard to learn. The recent call for spacing and tsikchen/tsikchung has helped to reassert that Tibetan language is not only difficult to learn but also to read.

2.  Lack of Motivation: There is less or no motivation to learn Tibetan language. Students and parents alike consider English language as the language of prosperity. Some parents even prefer to send their child to a private school with the hope that their kids will be better in English and thereby, a better future.

3.  Everything Western is Superior: Within the small Tibetan community, there is a high regard for people who really speak, write, and read English well. It’s not the same for writers and intellectuals who are good in Tibetan language. Sometimes, they are rarely known and respected. In brief, Tibetans think English as cool, progressive and advanced, whereas Tibetan as 'backward,' and 'outdated.'

4.  School Education: Most of the young adults are taught in an educational setting where all three languages were taught simultaneously during the kindergarten years. This leaves Tibetan as a jack of three languages but king of none. Moreover, the teaching strategies or techniques applied by the Tibetan language teachers were not impressive enough to pull-in the interest of their students.

5.  College Education: In the academic world, Tibetan language has no place after High School or Class XII. Many lose touch of Tibetan language and then, they hardly comes back to the language. In my words, they lose one integral part of their identity forever.

6.  Tibetan Language is Painful: Many Tibetans consider Tibetan language as a complicated stack of words with confusing grammar and sentences. They hardly realize that English language is more complicated than it seems to be. Tibetan language is not in itself a painful language to learn.

7.   Tibetan lacks hard work: Tibetans are lazy when it comes to learning Tibetan language. They put it off as something they can’t do. However, there are few good examples of foreigners who have done extremely well with Tibetan language within one or two years at Dharamsala. In short, Tibetan love to conceal their laziness by saying Tibetan language is a hard language without putting any hard work on it to learn.

8.   Study Abroad: If you are good in Tibetan, there is less or no prospect to study in Europe, North America, or other Universities. With the strong stigma of Go West, every parents and their child strives to secure one of the few study abroad scholarships offered via the Department of Education, CTA by stressing primarily on English language skills.

9.   Immigration: Many Tibetans look to west as the dream-come-true destination. And moving to west means in one way or other accepting the western culture, system, and language. Therefore, in order to properly function in the West (like U.S. and Canada), Tibetans attend English Language Learning Center to learn English language by paying good amount of fees. However, when the same is offered for learning Tibetan language, there is hardly any interested Tibetans even though it is offered at no or minimal cost.

10.   Act now: There has been a lot of talking on the need to improve Tibetan language acquisition among the Tibetan refugee population. However, most of these talks remained on the talking and surface level, and not on the action level. All concerned parties need to act more and talk less to bring the needed improvement in the acquisition of Tibetan language in the school, community, and society.

Note: These reasons are not intended to generalize all Tibetans. When I say Tibetans, I mean the larger portion of Tibetan refugee population.


  1. Please find a tibetan tanslation of a swiss comic "Yakari":

    Low Definition

    High Definition

  2. I enjoyed this piece very much! Write on!

  3. I agree with everything, just cannot agree with the first point of spacing. There is no logical reason accept it is "difficult" language! Dude, people who advocate themselves did not study properly and hardly well versed, in order to conceal your 7th point, the "laziness", they advocated it due partly because these people are conscious of importance of Tibetan language due to politics and conscious acct, but observing microscopically, they did not put the effort the a language to learn. The analogy was English spacing.....come on, English goes in linear fashion and there is no nothing to recognize words if crowded together. The Tibetan language is different, it not just expand in linear fashion, but also stack up and down, back and forth, each word is separated by the "." or dot in between them. It is more than enough. If we really care about our language, we need to speak and learn with eagerness, have a positive outlook. Considering Tibetan language is backward just considering yourself is as backward as you think the language is, then the final point is, our Chinese liberators are right in their way of describing Tibetan as "barbarian people" who needs to be "civilized" with "Chinese culture" and "language"!