Below is a comprehensive, curated selection of useful resources and sources for the study of Burmese, originally built from the list long-maintained by Sayagyi John Okell. If you know of a valuable addition not listed here, please send it to email at lukecorbin dot org – but only if it has a digital presence in some form (i.e. email address, bookshop, publisher website).
- Being Eaten Alive on a Cool, Pleasant Winter’s Morning.
Maung Swe Tint & Nance Cunningham. 2012.
Bilingual story adapted for Burmese learners . Includes simplified version with translations.
- Burmese: a Comprehensive Grammar.
Mathias Jenny & San San Hnin Tun. 2016.
A complete reference guide to modern Burmese grammar as used by contemporary native speakers.
- Burmese: a Gateway to an Intriguing Language.
Thuzar Winn & Detlef Eckert. 2015.
Structured around 20 key words and expressions, building vocabulary on the basis of the script.
- Burmese: an Introduction to the Literary Style.
John Okell. 2010.
One of the few resources available to learn literary Burmese. Comes with MP3 audio.
- Burmese: an Introduction to the Script.
John Okell. 2010.
A detailed textbook explaining written Burmese. Comes with MP3 audio.
- Burmese: an Introduction to the Spoken Language, Volumes One and Two.
John Okell. 2011.
The seminal textbook for learning Burmese from scratch. Comes with MP3 audio (1) and (2).
- Burmese By Ear.
John Okell. 1993.
Provides an introduction to the language and is still widely used.
- Burmese For Beginners.
Gene Mesher. 2006.
Designed for either self-study or classroom use. Offers step-by-step instruction.
- Colloquial Burmese.
San San Hnin Tun & Patrick McCormick. 2016.
Textbook for modern Burmese as used by contemporary native speakers. Comes with MP3 audio.
- Lonely Planet Burmese Phrasebook.
Vicky Bowman. 2014.
Handy for complete beginners and for memorising key vocabulary. Simple sentences.
- Making Out in Burmese.
T.F. Rhoden. 2010.
Fun phrasebook for beginners and lovers.
- Burmese-English English-Burmese Dictionary.
Nance Cunningham & Aung Soe Min. 2009.
Burmese words are listed in both Burmese script and an easy-to-learn, English-like pronunciation system (style guide here).
- Burmese/Myanmar: a Dictionary of Grammatical Forms.
John Okell & Anna Allott. 2001. (2nd ed. 2017).
An outline of grammar and a listing of hundreds of suffixes with illustrations and notes.
- Myanmar English Dictionary.
Myanmar Language Commission. 1993.
Detailed dictionary with very small print and over 30,000 entries. With etymologies, pronunciation, and sketches; a model of the genre. Sold at bookshops in Burma with an electronic version readable on PCs only.
- San Lwin. 2016.
Pocket English-Myanmar Dictionary.
Another dictionary, less good but works.
Myanmar School Textbooks:
Browser Extensions, Android & iPhone Applications:
Sensational free flashcard app with loads of vocabulary available.
- Panel View/Dictionary Anywhere.
This tremendously useful extension for Firefox provides tool-tip translations from Google Translate.
Great dictionary app, strong on all fronts.
Another very good dictionary app, better at Burmese-English.
Decent dictionary with one-press copy to clipboard of Burmese definitions.
- Asia Pearl Travels Learn Myanmar.
A clunky interface hides some good lessons for beginners.
- Bama Learn Burmese.
Free learning resources and a “30 day challenge”.
- L-Lingo Online Application.
SaaS learning platform with good audio but limited range, phrase-book style. Paid subscription.
Quick and simple introduction to essentials with audio.
- My Language Exchange.
Language exchange website.
Language exchange website.
- SEAlang Library & Dictionary.
A very useful dictionary with a lot of bitexts.
- SEAsite at NIU.
Some lessons for beginners and intermediate level.
Other Digital Materials:
- Burmese by Ear on Hurnell.
Very handy online version of BBE with MP3s.
- Burmese By Ear on Quizlet.
A browser-based flashcard and game application using the BBE curriculum.
- Burmese Lesson YouTube Channel.
Twelve good videos on basic Burmese language vocabulary and concepts.
- Burmese Script in Eight Days.
A sprightly introduction to learning the Burmese script in two weeks. Comes with MP3 audio.
- Kenneth Wong’s YouTube Channel.
Beginner and early level concepts explained in slide show format.
- Professor Bo’s YouTube Channel.
Thirteen videos covering basic beginner script and vocab.
Study Clubs and Groups:
- Bla Bla Language Exchange Yangon.
As of 2018 this is a busy, regular language exchange meet-up. Usually meets in Dagon Township. On hold due to political events.
- Burma Studies Facebook Group.
An enduring, huge group of scholars and thinkers interested in Burma/Myanmar-related research, including linguistic issues.
- Burmese/Myanmar Language Learning Facebook Group.
Over 12,000 members discuss issues related to learning Burmese. Great for everything.
- Can you Read it in Burmese? Facebook Group.
Got a thorny Burmese reading question? Post it here, in this 1,000-member group and get the answer!
- Pansuriya Yangon Language Club.
Every Saturday, 4PM at Pansuriya in downtown Yangon a group of enthusiastic learners of Burmese get together to discuss challenges in learning Burmese. It’s productive, social and heaps of fun. Just rock up! On hold due to political events.
Tutors in Burma:
- Professor Cho Cho Aung. Yangon.
Has taught foreigners at the Theravada Buddhist Missionary University for many years.
- Jennifer Lwin. Yangon.
Very experienced and reactive for intermediate/advanced.
- Daw Lwin Phyu. Yangon.
Also quite experienced, has taught for UNICEF. 09420759342.
- U Mya Hla. Yangon.
Formerly with Linking Hands, now freelance. Has taught at SEASSI.
- Dr Nang Moe Pwint Chit. Yangon.
Has her own school and location on Thein Pyu Rd. 0943168422.
- Daw Phyu Phyu Win. Mandalay.
Formerly with Linking Hands. 095046431.
- Sally San Yu Wai Maung. Yangon (currently in France, but does Skype lessons).
Taught at the Institut Français Birmanie.
- Su Htwe Aung. Yangon.
Has her own space including art gallery on Bo Myat Tun Rd. 09421156604.
- Winma Thet. Yangon. +959261596517.
Good for beginner to advanced, is very flexible and has her own well written curriculum.
- Daw Yi Yi Win. Yangon.
Experienced teacher of many grateful students. 095072110.
- Zar Chi Aung. Yangon.
Formerly with Linking Hands. 0973092791.
- Zaw Ni Maw. Yangon.
With Myanmar Dimensions. Great for grammar and intermediate. 09250418352.
Schools and Universities:
- Australian National University. Canberra, AU.
Employs a full-time linguist and historian and teaching all levels at University standard. Classes typically run from Feb-June and June-Nov each year.
- Cornell University. Ithaca, US.
Regular Burmese classes available as part of various University curricula.
- Institut Français Birmanie. Yangon, MM.
Regular courses throughout the year. Contact Rose Marie. +959536900, +959537122.
- Linking Hands. Yangon, MM. +95973180428.
A school located in 8-Mile that has been around for some time now.
- Moe Myanmar Language Centre. Yangon, MM.
Recent school with regular beginner classes, less regular intermediate/ advanced.
- Myanmar Dimensions. Yangon, MM.
Irregular courses and numerous tutors available. Contact Khain Zar. +959254886979.
- Northern Illinois University. DeKalb, US.
Classes are held at the University that also hosts the Centre for Burma Studies. Also runs an online course.
- SEASSI. Wisconsin, US.
An enduring and popular mid-year intensive language program in Burmese. Not cheap but a powerful experience.
- SOAS, University of London, UK. Offers Burmese language as part of courses leading to BA, MA and PhD. For students not studying for a degree, there are evening classes. Contact Justin Watkins for further information.
- University of Foreign Languages (UFL). Yangon, MM.
Large teaching staff, many levels, including evening classes 3 days a week. +951535985.
- University of Yangon (Foreign Languages Dept.). Yangon, MM.
Courses for foreigners, Levels 1 & 2, four days a week. +951534390.
There are many other university programs across the globe: in Washington DC (Johns Hopkins), Paris (INALCO), Berlin (Humboldt), St Petersburg, Tokyo, Osaka, Chiang Mai, Pitsanulok, Beijing, Kunming, Tianjin, Nanning, and Pusan. If you have personal experience with any of these programs and would like them to be added to the list above, please email us.