SOAS University of London

Department of the Languages and Cultures of South East Asia

Burmese Language 1 (PG)

Module Code:
Unit value:
Taught in:
Full Year

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

At the end of the course, a student should be able to demonstrate…

  1. knowledge and understanding of basic Burmese grammar
  2. knowledge and understanding of essential Burmese vocabulary
  3. knowledge and understanding of the appropriateness of basic Burmese structures and expressions in a given context
  4. the ability to understand short passages in written Burmese on everyday topics
  5. the ability to produce short compositions in written Burmese on everyday topics
  6. the ability to understand spoken Burmese and to engage in short spoken discourse on everyday topics
  7. knowledge and understanding of the role of language in general, and Burmese in particular, in language-based scholarship and research (specific learning outcome for PG students)


Total of 22 weeks teaching with 4 hours classroom contact per week. 10 research seminars to be taken within SOAS.  Attendance to be proven by signature from chair and to be submitted to the Associate Dean for Masters by the last day of term 2.

Scope and syllabus

The course provides an introduction to spoken and basic literary style Burmese language with emphasis on practical written and spoken Burmese. All of the more important grammatical structures of the language are introduced.  Communicative practice is established through learning language around dialogues and readings dealing with a range of everyday situations, including travelling, buying, selling, eating in restaurants and family life.

The course equips students with a basic knowledge of Burmese and practice of using Burmese in a variety of everyday situations. It allows students to interact with Burmese speakers in Burmese and to use original Burmese-language sources within the level covered in the course. This provides students with a basis to approach research topics relating to Burmese language and the histories, societies and cultures associated with Burmese.

Method of assessment

One three-hour written examination taken in May-June (50%); a language learning portfolio consisting of a set of marked homework, short in-class tests, translation projects (30%); oral examination of 15 minutes (15%); 4x classroom tasks (5% total).

Suggested reading

  • Burmese by Ear by John Okell (text and recordings available on SOAS Website at
  • Burmese: an introduction to the spoken language, Book 2, by John Okell. Text and audio recordings.
  • Burmese: an introduction to the literary style, by John Okell. Text and audio recordings.  

published by The Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Northern Illinois University, 1994


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