While we’ve always strived to provide a Tibetan-only education, we are happy to announce that our language immersion environment will be upheld and supported by the explicit and formal promise, of teacher and student alike, to use no language other than Tibetan while on the Esukhia campus.
The student version of this agreement reads:
“I hereby pledge to use Tibetan as my only language of communication while on campus at the Esukhia Immersion School. I understand that my failure to comply with this oath may result in my expulsion.”
At Esukhia, we’ve looked into and experimented with many innovative and research-based methods for optimizing the process of second language acquisition—and we’ve determined that 1:1 immersion classes provide students with the best end results.
One of the core necessities of this style of learning is fully committing to the immersion environment. The Tibetan Language Oath is foundational to creating this unique language environment for both you and your fellow students in the classroom. No matter what your proficiency level is when you start, speaking, listening, reading, and writing in a purely Tibetan environment will definitely produce results.
Coming Soon: See what others students have to say about the Tibetan Language Oath
What is the Tibetan Language Oath?
At Esukhia, teachers, students, and all other staff converse strictly in Tibetan. Therefore, we ask that all Immersion School students adhere to the Tibetan Language Oath: a formal commitment to speak, listen, read, and write in Tibetan as the only means of communication anytime you are at Esukhia.
Please keep in mind that the Oath does NOT only mean refraining from English; it applies to ALL languages other than Tibetan.
Why are students required to take the Oath?
A significant amount of research has demonstrated the importance of having an immersion-like environment in order to best acquire a second language. This environment provides the essential combination of exposure to native speech and the opportunity for producing language (read more about the importance of language production, and its link to comprehension, here). Studies show that through this kind of learning, students build interpretive and productive skills while their brains form “native-like neural responses”—unique aspects of language proficiency that are not shown to come from traditional classroom settings.
Taking this Oath helps students focus their energies on the acquisition of language skills, as well as internalize the patterns of Tibetan communication (its prosody) and its unique cultural perspectives. The Oath plays a major role in creating such an immersion environment, which acts as both as a symbol of commitment to learning, as well as forms an essential aspect of language acquisition.
Feel free to read this article, “The Immersion Learning Environment” for more details.
Are beginning students (who have never studied the language) required to take the Language Oath?
Yes. We are in a continual process of modifying and grading our teaching material to facilitate language acquisition within the target language. We firmly believe it is not only possible to start from scratch in Tibetan, but essential to creating a solid foundation for learning to speak like a native. Starting a new language is difficult no matter what: whenever you have questions or concerns, please feel welcome to come and chat with the staff in the Education office. We are here to support you!
Here are a few key phrases that should help you get through your first few lessons:
If you are starting from the alphabet and doing full immersion, we would be strongly recommend you not focus on memorizing the alphabet for 7 hours straight. We’ve recommended to your teachers to spend one hour learning, then going for a walk for one hour. During this time you can focus on learning some practical language related to what you are seeing and experiencing in the moment. Repeat this vocabulary, but there is no need to write it down. Just focus on listening and repeating. The important words will come again and again, and after some time, start to stick with you. You will not miss anything by not writing them down.
When is the Language Oath waived?
Almost never. The only exception to the Oath is if you must communicate with the secretary or administration and what you need to communicate is impossible for you to express in Tibetan. (This includes the staff at the Education office).
Students are also, of course, not expected to speak only Tibetan if they happen to be faced with an emergency.
The most important thing to remember is to adhere to the spirit of the Oath, and to make your most sincere effort to speak Tibetan as exclusively as possible whenever you’re at Esukhia. Speaking any other language not only disrupts your own language study: since you are in the presence of other students whenever you’re in the classroom or gathered for lunch, you disrupt your fellow students’ learning as well—such disruptions are in direct violation of the Oath and must be avoided at all times.
What should I do if another student violates the Oath?
Please remind them of their commitment to the Oath. This need not be a harsh or unfriendly confrontation; in most cases a simple reminder will suffice.
What happens if a student is continually breaking the Oath?
There are a number of other programs and individuals readily available to teach Tibetan through the English medium in India and the West. The immersion learning environment is a cornerstone principle to the Esukhia teaching method. If you do not agree with this method, we ask and encourage you to pursue the many other study opportunities available; if you don’t know where else to start, feel free to ask. However, we must insist that students who do not take this full-immersion environment seriously not disrupt it for the other students who are dedicated to these principles. We therefore reserve the right to expel (without refund) serious repeat offenders.
What can I do if my teacher keeps reverting to another language to explain something to me?
Simply tell them བོད་སྐད་གཅིག་བུ་ཤེས་ཀྱི་ཡོད། ( /pö kay chikbu shey gi yö/ – I only speak Tibetan.) If it becomes a persistent problem, please let staff know about it.