Courses

A lot of the resources on this website are great for what they do, but especially as a beginner trying to learn Farsi, you'll want something that gives you some guidance and tells you what to learn next. In addition to joining a local class, there are of course books, audio classes, and recently, apps.

GlossikaCourse based on spaced repetition of sentences.

Glossika is trying something new. They give you sentences in Persian, in both translation with pronounciation, and script. You study those sentences by being confrontend with them repeatedly, typing them out, or pronouncting them yourself. They'll be repeated again later in the future. In a way, it's a spaced repitition system with whole sentences. They system will add the sentences for you to learn. The sentences you are learning are organized in a sort-of course form, introducing new grammar concepts along the way - though there seem to be no actual explanations of grammatical concepts.

An interesting idea of theirs is having you copy a sentence by typing that you see right in front of you. It's not practicing recall, rather, they say, it will help you associate the sounds you hear in the audio with the written version of the language as you learn the sentences. You can type not only in Persian script, but also in romanization, which is pretty neat, at least in principal.

Persian is just one of the many languages they support. As such, I don't think it got the love it deserves. For example, when typing in romanization, it expects you to type "tw" instead of "to" for "you", as it does not understand that the character و here is a vowel.

MondlyApp-based course, available for iOS devices and Android.

Persian Language Online
Content
Children

Produced by a charity tasked with promiting Persian language learning, this website offers both apps designed for children, but also a very large set of carefully produced, short animation videos that come with an English translation, a glossary and dialogue sheets. They are ordered by increasing difficulty, and as such they are quite suitable as source material for self-study.

Rosetta StoneSolid application of the Rosetta Stone methodology

It's Rosetta Stone. They are a fairly well-known brand in language learning, and popularized the idea "let's learn like children do, entirly through immersion". In practice, this means you will not see any explanations in English; and because you don't understand the language you are learning, really no explanations. Many people strongly dislike this, but you cannot argue with their success as a company.

In practice, you'll see pictures representations of the words until you get it. And they don't do this in a dumb way. For example, in the very first slide, they'll try to get you to recognize the relationship between ab miwi (juice) and ab (water). They'll also throw you right away into a complete sentence like "the boy is drinking water", which you will not understand at this point; but you will be able to pick out the words you learned "boy" and "water".

The Persian Edition is of high-quality; there is nothing at all wrong with it. There are even some special features designed for the language, such as an interactive alphabet overview.

In addition to the main lessons, there are a couple of special modules. One teaches the pronouncation (they ask you to speak each segment of a word individually). The Grammar module, having the limitation of not being able to actually explain the grammar, relies on showing you, for example, a picture of two people and highlighting the plural ending. For the reading module, they will highlight one or two characters in a sentence, and ask you to pronounce that individually, until you learn how to associate the script with the sounds. Finally, the Writing module is essentially teaching you how to type on a keyboard. In a sense, it feels like
an extension of the reading module; you'll learn to associate the characters with the sounds
(and then you also have to find them on the keyboard).

Where I think it definitely breaks down a bit is that they rely on the Persian script (there are no transliterations), and expect from you, for example, to pick between two Persian words very early on, when you simply aren't ready to read that yet - because the Reading module only has thought you the first two characters so far.

MangoLanguagesPolished interactive course with original ideas.

I'm quite fond of this app. Sure, like all systems which support many dozens of languages, you can't completely shake the feeling of your course coming off an assemby line, but it comes much closer than most. The content is organized into sensible units of instruction, they actually explain the grammar (though not as deeply as I'd like), and they seem to care about getting smaller details right.

So for example, you not just have transliterations and diacritic marks, but the app also indicates stress. Every word has an individual pronouncation. And all of this works not only within the excercises, but also within the instruction texts itself - you can tap any Farsi word.

Also worth nothing: You'll often have the option to see both a literal and a natural translation. And both the original Farsi and the translation are color coded to help you understand which parts relate. Very cool.

The way the app works is itself quite interesting. It's almost like an interactive audio book. You can read the explanations youself, or have someone else read them to you. You can sort of scroll through a chapter at your own pace, and go back whenever you want. Granted, a large part of the process is "Do you know how to say?" prompts, which can get a bit monotonous.

Ultimately, you have to love a product that counts "Pirate" and "Shakespearean English" amongst it's product offerings.

Works both in the browser and on mobile.

PersianPod101Not really a podcast, but an extensive audio course.

Despite being advertised as a podcast, this is really a very comprehensive audio course. Each lesson comes with a transcript and a vocabulary list. It may not feel as lovingly crafted as Chai and Conversation, but the library of materials is extensive.

You can browse the lesson library without signing up, and you'll also be able to access for free a number of vocabulary lists, complete with audio pronounciations and transcriptions.

Chai and ConversationA unique, thoughtfully put-together audio course.

Chai and Conversation is a set of audio lessons, starting at beginner level. The main audio files are freely accessible, while you can upgrade to a paid membership to access accompanying lesson guides and transcripts.

It's clearly a labor of love for Leyla Shams, the woman behind it, and you won't find an industrial, one-size fits-all course, but a deep dive into the Iranian language and culture, including lessons on poetry from Forough Farrokhzad.

Even more links

  • Proficiency in Persian - A 3-book series with an audio CD.
  • Easy Persian - Extensive, free, text-based course on a blog.