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Undergraduate | ANU-TETM1002-2023

Tetum 1

Immerse yourself in the official language of Timor-Leste. Flick through newspaper articles written in Tetum. Work on pronunciation and intonation. Assemble the fundamental language building blocks that allow you to discuss food, clothes and homes.

Study method

100% online


100% online

Entry requirements

Prior study needed


12 weeks

Start dates

  • 20 Feb 2023

FEE-HELP available

About this subject

What you'll learn

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. Recognise and pronounce all Tetum vowels and consonants with appropriate intonation.
  2. Use an active vocabulary of about 1000 items.
  3. Learn the usage of appropriate grammatical structures and recognise and produce basic phrase and sentence structures to allow short conversations and the reading, writing, and translation of short, basic texts.
  4. Communicate verbally and in writing, using simple phrases, on such topics as greetings, family, food, clothes, homes, transport, and animals.
  5. Demonstrate an understanding of the culture and everyday life of Timor-Leste, including such topics as home life, food culture, and local fashions.

In order to achieve these learning outcomes, each week students are expected to study for five hours as follows:  

  • 90 minutes, before online class, working on the written and audio materials for the week, and, memorising the written and spoken forms of that week’s vocabulary 
  • 120 minutes, participating in class in the virtual class room
  • 60 minutes, completing online follow-up exercises regarding listening, speaking, reading and writing skills and vocabulary 
  • 30 minutes, completing weekly assessment and quiz.  

It is also expected that students should spend at least 5 hours of individual study practising the week’s written and spoken language forms and vocabulary and reviewing feedback on their work.

    • Greetings
    • Food and drinks
    • Meat
    • Fruit
    • Vegetables
    • Clothes
    • Body parts
    • House
    • Lounge room
    • Bedroom
  • Tetum is the language of Timor-Leste. The study of Tetum is essential for anyone wishing to understand Timor-Leste's diverse society, vibrant culture and dynamic history. Timor-Leste is a close neighbour of Australia and ties between these two countries are increasing through bilateral initiatives and international security, trade and development projects.

    Tetum is a spoken language, because prior to independence in 2002 most Timorese did not have access to education and literacy rates was low. Reading and writing in Tetum is mainly to give students a strong foundation in speaking skills, and the emphasis in the course will be developing oral skills because Tetum is primarily an oral language.

    The ANU offers a rare opportunity to complete a minor in Tetum. Students completing a minor in Tetum will be uniquely placed to engage with the Timorese people, state, and society. Communications skills in Tetum will facilitate future opportunities in Immigration and

    Customs, Hospitality, Travel and Tourism, Commercial Import/Exports or in the broad ranging Aid sectors, or, to work as a professional translator/interpreter.

    The four courses needed to complete the minor are only offered online so can be studied from any location, but classes will be delivered on a weekly basis throughout the semester comprising of three-hour session a week. Students who complete this language minor will reach an Intermediate level of Tetum skills and knowledge. In this introductory course, students will gain a practical command of beginner spoken Tetum, and an elementary capacity to read Tetum newspaper articles with the help of a dictionary.

    By the end of the course, students should have an active vocabulary of approximately 1000 of the most frequently used and useful words in Tetum. Students will have covered the main features in grammar of Tetum and will have a command of the pronunciation of the Tetum language.

    Via face-to-face video at a set time prescribed by the University. Please be aware of potential time zone differences.

    • 4 x Quizzes: testing your vocabulary every third week (10%)
    • 4 x Written tests: The test will examine your knowledge of the vocabulary, verbs, exercises and readings including dialogues you have completed to date (20%)
    • Assignment translation: Translation of an article from Tetum into English. (10%)
    • 2 x Oral tests: The oral examinations are to test your communicative competence. Marks will be awarded for capacity to communicate in Tetum in a conversation situation. Marks will be allocated for correctness of pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary (40%)
    • Homework: weekly homework tasks (10%)
    • Class participation and activities (10%)
  • For textbook details check your university's handbook, website or learning management system (LMS).

  • Australian National University is a world-leading university in Australia’s capital city, Canberra. With ties to the Australian Government, they have special standing as a resource for the Australian people. Their approach to education ensures graduates are in demand the world-over for their abilities to address complex contemporary challenges. Offering innovative online subjects from beginning to advanced levels through Open Universities Australia, they meet varied students’ needs and goals.

    Learn more about ANU.

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    QS Ranking 2023: 1

    Times Higher Education Ranking 2023: 5

Entry requirements


This is a subject for beginners. If you have prior experience in learning this language, this subject may not be appropriate for you. You may be required to take a placement test.

Additional requirements

  • Equipment requirements - To successfully engage in this subject students will need the following: - Laptop or computer - Computer camera (either inbuilt or webcam) - Headset with microphone - Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome browser - Reliable internet access - Access to a scanner or smartphone.
  • Other requirements - This is a fast paced academic course at a University level.

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