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3.9 out of 5 stars7
3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 20 February 2014
A book that teaches Tibetan in a systematic yet accessible way has been long due. Being a teacher of spoken Tibetan myself it has been somewhat of a struggle to find a book that is easy to use, sensitive to and informative about Tibetan cultural values, and does not just focus on 'Lhasa Tibetan'. This book, I feel, teaches a Tibetan that is spoken and understood by many Tibetans (this is not the case with Lhasa Tibetans). It will be perfect for those who want to prepare for a longer stay in Tibetan areas - it gives you all the basic grammar and vocabulary, on the basis of which you can than build when actually talking to Tibetans. I do not agree with one of the previous reviews that the vocabulary given is too limited: anyone who speaks Tibetan will be able to tell you that knowing certain grammatical structures (which the author very expertly explains, such as 'sa' or 'mkhan') provide a whole range of vocabulary (which may not be necessarily taken up in the index). All in all, I am very pleased with this complete course for beginners and I would definitely recommend it those who are considering to embark upon the sometimes difficult but always very rewarding study of spoken Tibetan.
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on 30 January 2014
I have to disagree with the previous reviewer, whose judgement is in my opinion unjustly harsh. This book is a clear, well-written, accessible, and very enjoyable introductory course in modern spoken and written Tibetan. The author has done an excellent job explaining the Tibetan writing system, which can be very daunting, and has struck a good balance of script and transliteration throughout the book so as to cater to a wide variety of learners. A particularly nice touch is the use of recurring characters in the dialogues and comprehension texts, which are lively and entertaining. The grammar is presented in manageable chunks and is clearly explained, and there is a nice mix of exercises. It is true that this course is not as comprehensive as the weightier Manual of Standard Tibetan, but neither is it intended to be; rather, it is designed to serve as a more user-friendly introduction that gives learners a good grounding in the language, and in my view it achieves this goal admirably.
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on 26 January 2015
I've just started using this book, and it's wonderful. Having studied at the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives in Dharamsala, I can say that it's a great pleasure to finally recieve some clear instruction on the language. The author understands not only Tibetan but also some modern methods of language instruction that are necessary to smooth the students' progress through the early stages. Samuels also seems able to anticipate the various questions that students might have, particularly those with a background in European languages, and he answers those questions clearly and succinctly. I was initially put out by the use of phonetic transcription to support reading of the Tibetan script. However, it turns out to be quite useful in understanding pronunciation, particularly in terms of more complex vowel sounds and the use of tones. So I don't consider this a draw-back actually. My only complaint is that the accompanying CDs I received were blank! I'm not sure if that's because Routledge forgot to put the sound files on the discs or because the customs officials in India deleted the files when they opened my package, which was delivered to me from the UK. So the five-star rating I'm giving here is for the book... not the CDs, which are obviously a big disappointment! According to the Routledge website, the MP3 files for the CDs can be downloaded from the Taylor & Francis website, but so far this doesn't seem to have worked. There are no clear instructions on how to download the files. Surely Routledge should be able to provide the sound files on it's own website? I would urge Routledge to investigate the situation with the CDs and MP3s in order to ensure a top-notch product.
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on 20 September 2014
By far the most useful book on the market for learning basic conversational Tibetan, and, if you want, for reading the script too. The vocab is relevant, the grammar is kept manageable and is clearly explained, the dialogues helpful. All the Tibetan is given in both Tibetan script and an IPA-based romanisation (of the language as it is actually spoken). It sensibly teaches the dialect used by the diaspora (so useful for those wanting to use the language in Ladakh or Dharamshala or Nepal) and understood as a dialecta franca by Tibetans throughout Tibet.
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on 4 April 2015
Very helpful
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on 7 January 2014
Routledge's Colloquial series enjoys a good reputation for many European languages, but the courses for Asian languages are almost all of far lower quality. Colloquial Levantine Arabic, Colloquial Hindi, Colloquial Tamil, Colloquial Punjabi, Colloquial Vietnamese, Colloquial Urdu are all much shorter and more rudimentary than the average European language course. Unfortunately, Colloquial Tibetan is no exception.

There are some nice advantages to this course, such as the cultural insights. The problem is how little you learn. For most other Colloquial courses, the vocabulary you learn in the course is somewhere around 1400-1600 words. Many courses include over 2000 words (Colloquial Italian, Icelandic, Albanian, Czech, Russian, Spanish of Latin America and probably others as well). This course, in sharp contrast, doesn't even include 1000 words, and that's far too little for a course calling itself a "complete" language course.

So only half of the vocabulary found in other Colloquial courses. That's not good enough. I do wish Routledge would start taking Asian languages seriously, and understand that a course with a vocabulary below 1500 will never be an option for any serious learner as long as there are other courses available. The learner interested in Tibetan is fortunate, as there are several good Tibetan courses more than twice as extensive as this one.
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on 11 June 2015
For a complete beginner, this is a complete mispurchase. There must be better and even good Tibetan study books. I think this book would suit someone who has already studied Tibetan quite a bit and wants to refresh their memory.The writer has clearly no idea that a beginner needs everything "twisted from an iron cord" as we say here in Finland. This is a "pointing-out instruction", not a study book.
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