Learning Persian by yourself has certain difficulties. First of all, there are not many textbooks that would teach you enough vocabulary. Most English textbooks cover all Grammar and Vocabulary in just one book which is a huge volume of information that may be hard to comprehend. And most Iranian textbooks (which cover various skills and are designed for different levels) are available only in Iran.
Secondly, even if you decide to take group courses, it`s pretty hard to find one in your town. So the most efficient way to learn the Persian language is to work with a tutor. Just in case you are looking for one, I`d be happy to help you learn Persian. You can find all the information here.
As a person who learned Persian from zero, I decided to share with you how I learned Persian. Hopefully, these tips will help you learn Persian smoothly and stay motivated through the whole process. Learning Persian can be fun, believe me!
When I came back from my first trip to Iran, I realized that I know a lot and can understand pretty well but I just CAN`T speak. That was a huge problem for me because we learn the language to be able to communicate but after 3 years at university I wasn`t able to communicate at all.
One of the reasons for that was that our classes at university were focused mostly on classic literature, we used to learn poems by Hafez and Saadi by heart, read short stories by Sadegh Hedayat but didn`t talk and didn`t practice colloquial language (which is quite different from literary language), so much speaking in Persian was very ‘bookish’ at the time as Iranians call it.
As soon as I got back, I signed up at several language exchange websites and found many Iranians who were ready to help me out in exchange for speaking some English with them.
Luckily, Iranians are very kind and helpful and get very excited when they see a foreigner struggling to learn their language. So they eagerly help them. Also, Iranians are very curious, so most of the times they sign up at these websites just to have an opportunity to talk to foreigners and learn more about other countries. And if you speak their language, then they don`t even have to put their English into practice. So very soon most of my language partners forgot about English and just talked to me in Persian which suited me pretty well.
Iranian Films and TV Shows
I am fond of watching movies, so another thing I did was to watch one Iranian movie a week. The good thing about movies is that the chance you don`t understand the plot is really low, even if your language is not so good. And especially if you watch comedies. There are many advantages to watching movies:
- learn new words naturally (hearing them in a context and learning in what situations you can use them);
- pick up the accent (I still continue learning new accents (like Shirazi or northern accent through watching TV shows);
- learn more about the culture and country (I remember watching a film about a guy falling in love with a girl whose father used to wash corpses. And the girl told the guy that if he wanted to marry her, he had to learn her father`s job. I would never ever learn that there I such a job like washing corpses if it wasn`t for this movie!);
- films and TV shows is a brilliant topic to discuss with your language partners.
TIP 1: Watch original Iranian movies because in foreign Persian-dubbed movies, they speak faster and they also get censored, so they are hard to follow.
TIP 2: Start with movies and when you start understanding better what is going on, move to TV shows.
Read, Read, Read
Reading in Persian can be quite discouraging, to be honest. In the news, they use a lot of formal words you never see anywhere else and not very informative. Many Iranian novels are a long, long read. The quality of most novels and short stories is really low, and the choice of genres is very poor – most of the books are about women or love stories and stuff like that. So it`s pretty hard to find a real page-turner.
But you can easily start reading Instagram posts. They can be informative and engaging and they cover all kinds of topics that are not covered anywhere else – from PMS and relationships to political issues. No censorship is a huge advantage too!
TIP: And again I don`t recommend to read books translated into Persian because reading is a great way to take a deeper look at the culture and reading let`s say a Jojo Moyes novel, you will lose this opportunity.
Talk to Native Speakers
Not many language exchange websites offer the opportunity to talk to your language partner, and the ability to explain your point of view is probably the most useful skill while learning a new language. I was lucky to meet my husband who I used to talk to online almost every day. And I must admit, I am largely obliged to him for knowing and speaking Persian so well, because no other exercise can replace talking to a real person and discussing real issues.
By the way, I`m thinking of launching Persian Speaking Club where Persian learners from around the globe can meet and discuss various topics in Persian. I`m planning on inviting a native speaker as well. Every meeting will be accompanied with a list of useful vocabulary on the topic, games and videos. It will be fun! So let me know if you are interested in comments, through the contact form here or DM me on Instagram!
Are there any other tips that have helped YOU to learn a foreign language? Don`t hesitate to share your thoughts and ideas in comments below!