Council on Southeast Asia Studies
The MacMillan Center, Yale University

Burmese Language for Beginners

Sponsored by the Council on Southeast Asia Studies, Yale University.

For Yale students or faculty interested in participating in (non-credit) group study/tutorial in Elementary Burmese under the direction of instructor and native speaker, Dr. U Khin Maung Gyi.

Meeting Time - Elementary/Basics Tutorial 2014-2015:
tba - Depending on interest and instructor availability

For Information or to join a tutorial, contact ; 203-432-3431)

Initially an aspiring journalist, Dr. U Khin Maung Gyi worked as an editor for the Working People's Daily Newspaper and as a lecturer in communications in Rangoon. After leaving Burma around 1980, he worked as a translator and radio announcer for All India Radio where he edited programs and produced broadcasts in Burmese. He later worked as a lecturer in Burmese language in India, and eventually received a PhD in Buddhist Studies from the University of Delhi. U Khin Maung Gyi is retired and lives in New York City where he volunteers at the Burmese Buddhist Monasteries as a discussant on Burmese language and culture. He very much enjoys tutoring Yale students, and has been willing to come up by train once a week for a two hour tutorial.

At left, Dr. U Khin Maung Gyi with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi at Yale in 2012. (See Daw Suu's Chubb Lecture, September 27, 2012: Click to view >>)

Suggested Textbooks:

Burmese for Beginners, by Gene Mesher
" The Burmese language made easy! Burmese for Beginners is designed for either self-study or classroom use. It teaches all four language skills - speaking, listening (when used in conjunction with the audio), reading and writing; and offers clear, easy, step-by-step instruction building on what has been previously learned. Lots of exercises and useful phrases. Very user-friendly and fun to use. There is an audio version that follows the book. Three CDs are available separately."
Available at >click here for ordering information]

Burmese: An Introduction to the Spoken Language*
by John Okell (published by The Center for South East Asian Studies, Northern Illinois University, 1994)
-designed to be used either with a teacher or for self-study [>click here for ordering information]

Books 1 and 2 (with accompanying tapes) focus on early encounters with Burmese speakers in Burma and abroad. Book 1 lays the groundwork, with copious exercises on tape, covering high-frequency sentence structures, pronunciation, question and answer with what, which, where, who, how much, numbers, quantifying, time-telling, phone numbers, prices, want to, have to, please do, and so on. They cover survival needs (asking the way, taking taxis, going to cafés, shops, etc.) and first conversations (Where are you from? How long have you been here? What's your job? etc.). It ends with a set of dialogues, again with plenty of oral practice, covering 12 situations, including survival (shops, taxis and so on) and social (Where are you from? Are you married? Shall we meet again? and so on). Book 2 extends your competence in the 12 situations.

Together the two volumes offer:
   -solid grounding in the grammar and sound system of modern colloquial Burmese
   -lessons kept short to enable flexible pacing and extensive practice
   -copious speaking exercises and practice dialogues on the tapes
   -review lessons at frequent intervals
   -Burmese material presented in both Burmese script and a roman transcription throughout
   -notes on etiquette and social behaviour in Burma
   -cumulated vocabularies, both Burmese-English and English-Burmese
   -additional vocabularies arranged by topic: names of clothes, foods, talking with Buddhist monks, etc

To order any of the books and tapes for spoken and/or written Burmese through NIU Press :

Burmese: An Introduction to the Spoken Language, Book 1
Burmese: An Introduction to the Spoken Language, Book 2
Burmese: An Introduction to the Script

*(Language Tapes are also available on the Yale CLS Digital Audio Web Site)