Pāli Level 1

Pāli Level 1

Rated 4.60 out of 5 based on 5 customer ratings
(5 customer reviews)


Start to learn Pāli with this Beginner course that covers all the basics!



Would you like to read and understand the Pāli canon for yourself? Do you want to be able to check translations instead of blindly relying on them? Did you ever ask yourself: “Is that really what the Buddha and his disciples teach in the Pāli canon?”

This course is the first step to your mastery of Pāli! It contains 24 lessons, each with one lecture, several exercises and further materials such as factsheets and vocabulary lists. All this enables you to learn whenever and wherever you want, fitting the learning into your individual schedule.

The course is cumulative, meaning that the lessons build upon each other but you are free to navigate through the course as you like. You can skip all exercises and just do the lessons if you want. You can view Lecture 1, then jump to Lesson 17, then do the exercise of Lesson 3 – whichever way you want to do it. However, a completion rate of 75% for all exercises of the entire course is necessary if you want to receive a certificate. Don’t worry: you have an unlimited number of attempts for all the exercises.

Access to a Pāli dictionary is necessary for going through the exercises – luckily, one of the best complete dictionaries is available for free online, as a searchable database: The Pāli Text Society’s Pāli English Dictionary


A few facts about the course:

Content: 24 Lectures, amounting to 3.5 hours + 24 Factsheets + 13 Vocabulary Lists + many Exercises
Duration: 4-5 weeks based on 3-4 hours of self-study per week
Difficulty: Absolute Beginner (no previous knowledge required)

Note that once bought, your access to the course does not expire. When we update the course – for example by adding material or exercises – you will automatically have access to the new version.

This course is the first Level of our 3-Level Pāli instruction. Levels 2 and 3 will be open for enrollment before October 2018.


Learning Objectives for Pāli Level 1:

• You will learn about the early history of Pāli, including the reasons why Pāli can be considered to be the language of the Buddha
• You will develop proficiency in the Pāli alphabet and sound system: you will learn how to read and pronounce Pāli correctly
• You will build up a foundational level of Pāli vocabulary
• Nouns: you will become adept in the system of nominal inflection
• Verbs: you will receive a comprehensive overview of the Pāli verbal system, and gain an advanced knowledge of present tense conjugations
• Pronouns: you will learn how to use the 1st, 2nd and 3rd person pronouns
• You will learn how the principle of concord works: how nouns/pronouns, adjectives and verbs connect to create meaning
• You will be introduced to difficult aspects of Pāli syntax, including various uses of the verb to be: the copula, its omission, apposition, statements of possession etc.
• You will be able to form and translate complex Pāli sentences
• You will understand the grammar of two important Pāli chants: homage to the Buddha, and going for refuge

5 reviews for Pāli Level 1

  1. Rated 4 out of 5


    The course does a great job of breaking things down into bite size chunks. Progressing through the lessons, one is struck by how compact each one is, but at the same time they’re presented in a way that one will naturally come to understand more than just the sum of the lessons. It makes the underlying web visible so that one sees both the content and how each section ties together. My only complaint, if it can be called such, is that occasionally I run across a certain concept and the lesson doesn’t give it quite enough attention so that I’m left not quite understanding the how or the why. This is undoubtedly more an issue with the difference between how I learn and how the course is taught.

  2. Rated 4 out of 5


    I’m halfway through the course material and am already convinced I’ll be signing up for Level 2. It may seem to get started slowly, but the introductory lessons provide good context as well as a foundation for translating Pali. If you already speak/read an inflected language, this portion will be relatively easy.
    The fact that printed resources are included is a big plus. I like being able to refer to a piece of paper with my charts on it as I’m going through the exercises online.
    I know the course will continue to get more challenging, but the material seems to be presented in a fashion that is manageable.
    I’m glad that this is work at your own pace, so I can work on it as my schedule allows (morning, noon, or night).

  3. Rated 5 out of 5


    I’ve tried to learn Pāli on my own several times, but have always found the memorization of declensions and conjugations and my lack of knowledge of the grammar overcame my enthusiasm for learning the language. I’m about halfway through level 1 of the course and am feeling that OCBS has done a very good job of breaking things down into manageable components and explaining the details of how the language functions quite clearly. Perhaps best of all, the focus of the course is teaching us to read the language without first memorizing all of the grammar tables! Doing the modules has felt fun to me.

  4. Rated 5 out of 5

    Carlos / bibliothecabuddhica

    I have just completed Pāli Level 1 and I cannot but recommend it to all those interested in Pāli and in Buddhism in general.
    It is ideal for those who are new to the language as no previous knowledge of it is required, but also for those who have been exposed to it at any level and would like to revise it systematically.
    Despite some minor technical and editorial issues which are being quickly addressed and corrected, its format is both concise and flexible, which allows learners to come back to the material provided and to the instructional videos for clearly delivered explanations. I find the advice provided on how to study the language totally spot on and the pace of the lesson both achievable and motivating.
    I encourage all to take this course and hopefully enjoy it as much as I have. I look forward to doing Level 2 and Level 3.

  5. Rated 5 out of 5


    Previously i was studying myself by reading some of the Primer books, but didn’t have much progress since it was too boring for me to do the exercises after each chapter.
    The scheme this course provided is very suitable for an adult to progress in learning the Pali, especially it encourages reading by looking up the grammar tables and vocabulary indexes.

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