Since 2006, the English language program at Dzongsar Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö Institute in Chauntra, India, has offered English classes to the monks at the monastery. Graduates of the Institute carry a wealth of dharma knowledge, and being able to speak English gives them the opportunity to bring benefit to a broader population through teaching and translation. The program also helps monks function in practical matters when they travel in India and abroad. In March 2012, the khenpos of the Dzongsar Institute shedra decided to expand the program as part of a series of curriculum changes to bring the monastery fully into the 21st century. The program is funded by Khyentse Foundation.

The Institute’s English program has doubled in size over the years since then. Monks have two hours of English instruction each day, plus time in the computer lab. Twice a week, they enjoy an English movie night.  Volunteer positions are occasionally available for qualified and experienced English as a second language teachers who are able to commit to teaching for at least 6 months. For more information, see the Siddhartha’s Intent site.

Sangay Gaylek, a monk from Bhutan, says, “The classes are great, I never feel bored. I like the mix of English and dharma. Dharma alone makes me feel sleepy, but mixed with the English study, I feel good. I like to learn to talk in English, and to translate using English. Wherever I go, whatever I do, if I can speak English I’ll never have any problems. If you don’t know Hindi or Nepali, most people know English. We need to have this knowledge, this experience of other ways of living.”

KF is also funding a Study Abroad Program to bring the language out of the monastery classroom and into real life. The program places senior monks with sangha overseas in English-speaking countries.

Khyentse Foundation also supports secular education for monks at Chökyi Gyatso Institute in Dewathang, Bhutan. Experienced English language instructors who are interested in volunteering should contact info@lhomon.bt.