During January, I was lucky enough to meet someone who was willing to take the time to teach me Tibetan. We started from the very beginning again. My tutor told me that in order to get better I had to practice spelling every word over and over.I thought that switching my pronunciation from Central Tibetan to Amdo Tibetan was hard, but oral spelling takes the cake. It is a very intricate step and if you were to ask someone how to spell a word they would spell it out to you, step by step. So in practice it is very useful to know, however, I have a large dislike for it as it is like saying tongue twisters over and over. My tutor laughed when I made mistakes and would then correct me when I needed to be corrected. However, the oral spelling does make sense as each time you add to the root word the sound could change. If you are spelling it out then you can hear how this happens. There are quite a few pronunciation rules I still have not memorized, but I think eventually I will remember them all.
I’m really thankful for my tutor, because for about one month we met 3-5 times a week, learning the alphabet, practicing pronunciation, learning oral spelling, and learning how to read. I can’t tell you that I know what I am reading. But I can read even if I stumble along or forget how a word is pronounced. My tutor gave me a really strong foundation and during vacation I became lazy and stopped studying. This has come back to rear it’s ugly head because now I struggle with how to spell some of the words out loud.
One of the interesting things about languages is learning how things are spelled or sounded out to make words. It is like a puzzle that is slowly built up on and as a learner I am realizing why certain words are written one way and pronounced another. Day by day I learn something new and as much as I hate oral spelling I have come back to it this past week.
In order to learn vocabulary, I have been told that I should write the word ten times while spelling it out. This takes a lot longer than in English, but it does make the words stick in my head better. I will be even happier if I can memorize how to spell all of these words I am practicing.
ལོ་མ། la naro lo ma ‘lo ma’ = Leaf
དཀྲུགས་ཇ། da ka rata tra shamju tru ga sa zhak truk ja ‘truk ja’ = butter tea
Each vowel has its own name and sometimes there are words to say where the next letter is. Zhak means put, its basically the last letter of that syllable.
This is probably a terrible explanation as I am not a linguist nor a native of the language. But oral spelling basically spells each syllable and then the syllables are read aloud.