The St. Catherine University Fully-Online Course insanskritgif

This fully-online, affordable self-paced course was designed to bring comprehensive Sanskrit instruction year-round to interested  parties at any level of their academic careers, especially those who are prevented by geography from enrolling at one of the small number of colleges and universities which regularly offer classes in the language. At $500 for unlimited access from anywhere with an internet connection, the course makes formal Sanskrit study feasible for almost anyone.

It's also an excellent option for faculty who already know Sanskrit to supervise students interested in independent studies of Sanskrit.  Access to the course is free for any faculty supervising an enrolled student, and it removes the burden of grading, or of having to create course content for just one or two students. 

Online instruction offers a number very real advantages to the language student, including:
  • Video lectures with accompanying powerpoints introduce each chapter, and may be reviewed as often as needed in order to fully absorb the material.
  • A mass of practice quizzing with extensive opportunities for low-stakes repetition of forms, grammar, and vocabulary training, all of which may be revisited as often as necessary.
  • Embedded sound files within the quizzes, in a variety of regional Indian accents, allow you to learn proper pronunciation.
  • Etymologies for vocabulary words are built into the course, to aid in memorization and expand the student's understanding of the Indo-European language family. 
  • Lessons broken down into the smallest possible units, minimizing the chance that you will miss an important piece of information and end up more confused further down the road.
  • The  ability to work comfortably at your own pace, but with the  "interactive" feeling of computer work and the support of an  instructor who won't interrupt your flow when you are comfortably  working on your own, but who is available to answer questions as they come up.  Many of our students work only when they have free time (summers, holidays), but find that it is easy to pick up where you left off.
  • A low-stress environment. Language classes are a well-known source of anxiety for many people. Online drills provide swift correction and clarification of mistakes and errors in a judgment-free manner; it's an ideal environment for learning.  You can register at any time, and once enrolled you will never lose access to the materials. 
  • An affordable option, especially designed for those who do not specifically require academic credit (certification letters attesting to achieved proficiency can be provided).  At just $500 for lifetime access to the complete course, it is dramatically less expensive than a traditional classroom sequence.

Check out the free TRIAL VERSION

email Emily West at ebwest@stkate.edu for more

 information, or keep scrolling to learn
more about the course.

Student Testimonials:

“For thirty years I have wanted to take Sanskrit, and this past summer (2016) On-line Beginning Sanskrit allowed me to do so.  It was a great summer!   Students could move at their own pace; retake quizzes and rewatch on-line videos on grammar, vocabulary, and other forms.  Professor West was wonderfully supportive (and quick) in responding to questions about the material and the exercises. This on-line course is an ideal option for someone who is motivated and loves languages.”

 James V. Morrison, H.W. Stodghill, Jr. and Adele H. Stodghill Professor of Classics, Centre College of Kentucky

"The online Sanskrit course has been really easy to follow and has helped boost my language-learning confidence as I progress through the material. The way the course is structured allows students to work through the material at their own pace without the pressure of a typical course since it’s all independent. While it is independent, you always have the support of Emily, who’s a really enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and approachable instructor.

I’ve used several apps and online programs for language learning before, and enjoy exploring new languages that way so I was excited to see the format of this course. What I appreciate most about the course is how in-depth the quizzes are and how they prepare students to succeed in the book exercises and tests. The video lectures are great as well, and they make the material more approachable. Overall, the structure does a great job of testing and checking previous knowledge while building on new concepts, and supplementing some of the trickier parts of the course primer. I’ve found that I’ve been able to answer most of my own questions between the variety of quizzes, exercises, and other multimedia content."

Sam Wisneski, Graduate Student in South Asian Art & Art History, University of St. Thomas

"Dr. West's online Sanskrit course is an excellent offering for so many reasons.  First, it made learning Sanskrit logistically accessible.  I wanted to learn Sanskrit for my M.A. language requirement.  My university didn't offer it and traveling for four semesters of language training was beyond my budget.  It is unlikely I would have been able to learn Sanskrit without this online course.  Moreover, Dr. West designed the course with incredible skill.  I was told by my major professor that learning Sanskrit was a bit of a bear... however, with some diligence on my part and with the skillful course design before me, I encountered very little frustration, in fact, I found it quite fun!  Watching my skills naturally develop from week to week was exciting.  Finally, Dr. West was personally accessible to support my learning - she obviously loves Sanskrit and is an inspiring and supportive teacher!"

Kate Gallagher, Graduate Student, University of Oregon

The course is designed to accompany Madhav M. Deshpande's Sanskrit textbook Saṃskṛta-Subodhinī: A Sanskrit Primer. In our course, beginning with the alphabet, the quizzes are tightly keyed to the book so that students may easily find (and practice applying) the principles and information being taught. 

Taking and re-taking the online quizzes is one of the most important parts of the course.  The quizzes cover everything discussed in each chapter, incorporating additional explanations and repetitions of grammatical points as well as expanded material on the construction of word-forms.  You may take each quiz as many times as you need to feel confident in your mastery of the topic; only your highest score will be recorded. At the end of each quiz, you will be shown all the questions again, along with your own answers and the correct responses to any questions you may have gotten wrong.

Early quizzes on the alphabet include sound files produced by native speakers of Indian languages, so that proper sound production can be picked up alongside alphabetic competency. In the screen shots below, clicking on the sound file would let you hear the sound of the letter you are being quizzed on:

Vocabulary words are taught through repetition in numerous formats, beginning with simple recognition drills designed to gently increase familiarity with new material. Sound files are included for all new vocabulary words, as well as for all book exercises in Sanskrit:

Other vocabulary drills for each chapter include thorough etymologies of each word, produced by linguists working in consultation with the course developers. The presented etymologies not only assist students in memorizing and internalizing the vocabulary, but simultaneously enlarge their understanding of Indo-European linguistics. In the Lesson 2a Quiz below, for example, an English prompt requests a vocabulary word from the chapter alongside detailed etymological information for the requested word:

Hard-to-memorize forms (such as pronominal declensions, in the example below) become easy when the student is able to repeatedly access review materials.  The beginning exercises for each chapter often use simple matching formats at first, and then proceed to build up to more difficult exercises which require students to produce translations or complete declension charts.

Special quizzes feature extra review of elements of Sanskrit grammar such as verbal roots and their conjugations:


As the course progresses and the difficulty level rises, the quizzes change format to treat more complex issues like sandhi, as in this quiz which presents the student with a Sanskrit phrase and asks them to provide a translation in the first box and apply sandhi  in the second.

Subpages (1): Trial Version