The language of Iran (formerly Persia) and spoken in similar forms in Afghanistan and Tajikistan, many consider the song-like language of Farsi to be one of the most beautiful in the world. Not only does the language sound flowery, but poetry also plays a huge role in Farsi’s history and culture. Disputing a business deal? Recite a verse. Arguing with your friend? Share a stanza together. In addition to helping you speak in rhymes (and make peace with neighbors), when you learn to speak Farsi, you’ll gain the gateway to understanding the fascinating part of the world where it’s spoken. Find Farsi language programs and start mosque-hopping today!
Historically, people spoke Persian in areas from the Middle East to India. Today, it’s primarily spoken in Iran, but can be confused with other Persian dialects spoken in Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. Unfortunately, many places where Farsi is spoken lack formal language programs. Therefore, the best way to learn Farsi is in places that may seem like unusual suggestions but offer top-notch language study options.
Join language students from around the world to learn to speak Farsi in England and benefit from the multicultural setting. More than 40,000 Persians call London home, and the influence of Persian culture can certainly be felt. The Iranian Film Festival and the Persian Theatre Festival are but two examples of a thriving scene that highlights Persian culture. Outside of class, be sure to catch a musical performance featuring the tar, a beloved stringed instrument. The more you interact with the Persian culture and language, the more quickly you’ll figure out how to learn Farsi fast.
Persian was the common language in South Asia until a century ago. History’s mark remains, and therefore you can learn the Farsi language in places like the Philippines. Another bonus: English is the medium of school instruction here. Much of the population speaks English so you can focus on learning Farsi. The Philippines also draw thousands of students from Iran seeking an education in English, so you can find your niche among native Farsi speakers.
Don’t rule out the United States as a prime locale for Farsi language learning. Because you’ll be surrounded by English on a daily basis, you’ll have to try harder to immerse yourself in Farsi. It’s not a lost cause, though. The opportunity to interact with native speakers certainly exists due to large immigrant populations of Farsi-speaking individuals. In Atlanta, the Persian Cultural Center offers art and music classes, musical performances, and poetry nights to connect with native speakers and engage with Persian culture.
At the time of writing, travel to Iran is not advised. However, particularly intrepid students will be pleased to know Farsi language programs can be found at universities in Iran like Shiraz.
Farsi Language Programs
Farsi language courses tend to be super flexible. In general, the programs available are typically offered in the evenings or you can learn Farsi online, appealing to students who may not be committing to full-time language study. Although studying full-time is the best way to learn Farsi, don’t fret if the only option is part-time study.
Expect Persian language programs to focus on teaching how to speak and understand Farsi before moving on to the written language. This allows new learners to grasp the rhythm and cadence of the language. To gain the most from a beginner classes, be prepared to participate (this is how to learn Farsi fast!). You can’t hide in the back of class – you actually have to speak and practice using the language. Teachers use audio-lingual exercises, speaking workshops, and plenty of active engagement to help students become more comfortable as they learn to speak Farsi.
For more advanced learners, you’ll learn how to read and write, expand your vocabulary, and perfect your pronunciation. Once you learn the Farsi alphabet, you’ll be able to read the works of some of the well-known Sufi poets, such as Rumi and Hafez. Modern Persian has changed very little since it’s beginning, so you can read it as they wrote it and see it all come together.
Tips to Learn to Speak Farsi
Farsi falls near the top of the list of difficult languages for English speakers to learn. With a different alphabet and word order than English, shifting your brain to that of a Farsi speaker will take some time. English speakers often struggle with pronouncing some Farsi sounds, which can lead to misunderstanding in the meaning of the word. Be patient, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Most native speakers will encourage you and be nothing but understanding as you navigate Farsi language learning.
A defining characteristic of the language is that no pronouns are used. This makes learning Farsi actually a bit easier, but it also means knowing who you’re talking about can be confusing. Who went to the store? Did she go to the store, or he? We just don’t know. You’ll have to use context clues on that one.
Also, word order varies from English. For example, the verb comes at the end of the sentence. But, Persian is forgiving to new learners in that it’s still acceptable to use the verb in other parts of the sentence. This flexibility in language structure is part of what makes it so poetic. To the store I went – or I went to the store. Same thing. No big deal.
And, there is more good news. Due to the historical relationship with France and Britain, Farsi borrows many words from French and English. It’s common to say Mersi for Thank You, as in the French Merci. It’s also a relatively simple language to grasp grammatically. In addition to the no pronouns, there are also no articles. Mersi, Farsi. Mersi.
Benefits & Challenges
Although Farsi may not be as well-know as Arabic or Mandarin, over 60 million people speak it as a first language, making it a top 20 first-language worldwide. It’s an important language in the Middle East and Central Asia; if you learn to speak Farsi, doors will open personally and professionally, especially if you’re interested in working in that region. Despite the difficulty in learning the language, once you do learn it, you’ll be well on your way to picking up Arabic, or Urdu, or Hindi. The alphabets, words, and grammar share remarkable similarities across the languages.
Even with 60 million Farsi speakers, compare that to some 400 million native Spanish speakers or the 1.2 billion speakers of Chinese languages. Farsi is still a less-commonly studied language and one that, if you know it, can set you apart. An important language for international relations, becoming fluent in Farsi pretty much means a guaranteed job. Heritage learners can benefit by gaining a greater understanding of their family’s history, as well as have a conversation that includes more than hand motions with grandma and grandpa.
The fact remains, though, that even with all of the opportunities to surround yourself with Farsi and practice with native speakers, it is still a challenge to study the language in the motherland, Iran. It takes commitment, a bit of extroversion, and a willingness to find and make your own speaking opportunities to be successful.
In the words of the great Rumi, “Speak a new language so that the world will be a new world.” Farsi language learning will reveal an incredibly hospitable culture with a long history and wide-spreading impact. And even if Farsi language courses are few and far between in Iran and across the Middle East, in a rapidly-changing country, a visit is certainly not out of the question.