Tibetans speak a number of languages. These are completely separate from Chinese languages, and all of them are currently threatened by the aggressive promotion of Mandarin Chinese as the official language of business, education and government.
Although the written form of Tibetan is taught in some schools, primary and secondary education is taught predominantly in Mandarin, with Tibetan as a second language. Entrance exams to universities are in Chinese. As a result, some young Tibetans are not literate in Tibetan. Many Tibetans have deep anxieties about the fate of the Tibetan script and of spoken Tibetan, but their efforts to promote the language through education are heavily repressed by the state.
Tibetans also speak a number of other languages in addition to Tibetan varieties; linguists estimate that Tibetans in Tibet speak about 30 distinct non-Tibetan languages. These languages are completely unrecognised and unsupported by the Chinese government. They are in a dire situation: most of them face imminent extinction.
Want to learn how to speak and write in Tibetan? Download the ‘Manual of Authentic Tibetan’ below. This textbook introduces the beginner to modern colloquial Tibetan. The lessons and exercises are based on everyday situations that the speaker will encounter in real life.