Persian Plan of Action

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Lysander
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Persian Plan of Action

Postby Lysander » Sun Oct 28, 2018 11:27 pm

As mentioned in this post, I thought by October I would know better which language I might be dedicating myself to. Edit: Oops.

I ask you, the good people of this forum, to help me come up with a game plan. Writing does not matter, and I just want to develop good skills in listening, speaking, and reading. Reading is the most important if I had to pick just one skill to focus on, but equal development would be great. I tried to do my due diligence before posting by reading old threads, and feel free to skip down to the dotted line for the TL;DR version:

I have ordered a 1973 hardback version of John Mace's old Teach Yourself Modern Persian (TYMP). It seems to be universally well-regarded for learning the alphabet systemically, and this this old post from daristani made me think it was worth shelling out the few extra bucks for the hardcover version.

I am fortunate in that my local library has a variety of seemingly useful courses:
Routledge Basic Persian, which has an answer key and great reviews (4.5 stars)!

Essentials of Persian Grammar: Concepts and Exercises, which looks pretty solid and has nice reviews. It seems less in-depth than the Routledge course, but may be good reinforcement or something to do first.

Spoken World: Farsi It has an interesting review that says, "I recommend John Mace's classic introduction to Modern Persian as the real "course book" with which one learns Farsi. Get an old copy from the 1980s and work through some of the grammar. When you have worked through a few chapters of John Mace, order this course to work on your pronunciation. However, don't expect to learn any grammar from this poorly organized, error-ridden, scatter brained book. I think of it as a vocabulary builder and fluency trainer. One of my exercises in working through it is to find the errors on each page and correct them, and also to try to figure out the complicated speech patterns used in each lesson which are left unexplained."

So, to avoid any of the errors mentioned elsewhere in reviews, maybe this would be a good thing to strip down and use purely for the audio+persian script sentences.

Hippocrene Beginner's Persian, which seems from reviews to be similar to the Spoken World course, but not quite as good.

While there are many other solid seeming grammars such as Elwell-Sutton's Elementary Persian Grammar and Thackston's An Introduction to Persian , but since I already have physical access to multiple grammar workbooks, I don't want to invest time or money into either of these at this time.

There is an NHK Persian channel, in addition to a Persian EuroNews channel.

I read that DLI Persian is incomplete.

I am glad to say the FSI Basic course seems to be all available:
FSI Basic Persian Text
FSI Basic Persian Audio

Though, at the moment, I cannot seem to find any pertinent reviews of it, because my eyes are going cross-eyed from reading so many posts about Persian today.

Beyond the above, there are also Pimsleur courses.
10 lesson Basic Course
16 lesson Conversation Course
30 Lesson Comprehensive Course

I have no idea if each of the above includes the shorter courses. Is the 16-lesson version just the 10 + 6 new ones and the 30-lesson is the 16 + 14 new ones?
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How is this for an approach to a beginner student of Persian who took French in college and spent a few month's fooling around with Brazilian Portuguese earlier this year:
1) Teach Yourself Modern Persian by Mace until I complete the alphabet lessons. Simultaneously begin the Essentials of Persian Grammar course. Listen to NHK daily so I start to develop an ear for modern, full-speed Persian.***
2) Begin working through the Routledge Basic Persian grammar and workbook once I am through either Mace's book or the Essentials of Persian Grammar Course. Continue listening to NHK daily.
3) Once I have finished two of three between Mace's Book, Routledge, and Essentials of Persian Grammar, I will begin working through whichever is available of the the Hippocrene or Spoken World Course. Instead of working through them as they were made to be used, I'd use them both solely for vocabulary building. Basically, I'd edit with audacity and just use it to memorize stock phrases and learn to be able to read some words/sentences on sight. Continue listening to NHK throughout all of this.
4) Once all five courses are done, my daily exposure would be to continue listening to NHK daily, and to start using EuroNews as well. Utilize google translate as necessary to be able to decipher EuroNews.

Does the above seem like a decent, systematic way to begin my approach? This is going to be a multi-year process, and I am in no rush, nor am I in search of promises of fluency in 30 days or similar silliness. I figured, unless someone in the know strongly objects, this seems like a reasonable way to at least get going. And then I could come back to discuss possibly using FSI, the Routledge Intermediate Course, readers, etc...

***Is the Mace course good overall, or good just for learning the alphabet? It almost always is brought up in the context of the alphabet. So it may also make sense to use it just for the alphabet and then set it aside to focus on the Routledge and Essentials books. Anyone with firsthand knowledge, like @daristani, are most welcome to share their views.
Last edited by Lysander on Sat Nov 17, 2018 2:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Speakeasy
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Re: Persian Plan of Action

Postby Speakeasy » Mon Oct 29, 2018 12:03 am

Lysander, you seem to have a comprehensive plan. As you know from experience, whether in studying languages or in any other endeavor, success depends on 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. Good luck with your studies!

Just a quick comment on the Pimsleur courses (10 lesson Basic Course, 16 lesson Conversation Course, 30 Lesson Comprehensive Course): the 10 lessons and 16 lessons are identical to the first 10 lessons or the first 16 lessons, respectively, of the 30 lesson Phase I Comprehensive course. Given the high prices for the 30-lesson Pimsleur courses, a number of years ago, Simon & Schuster, with a view to increasing customer interest, began publishing these shorter editions. The thinking was that anyone exposed to the shorter versions would not be able to resist the temptation of embarking on the full-fledged Pimsleur programme. Although the marketing of these products deliberately avoided identifying these “teasers” for what they were, Simon & Schuster did offer to reimburse a portion of their cost for customers who purchased the full 30-lesson packages; as far as I understand, this offer was void within certain States of the Union and often outside of the United States, as well.

As to your “language wanderlust”, I would imagine that many members can empathize with you, I certainly can!
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Re: Persian Plan of Action

Postby ancient forest » Mon Oct 29, 2018 6:28 pm

I am also interested in learning Persian. Primarily, I would also like to to read mystical poetry, so I am leaning towards doing some grammar-translation courses like 'An Introduction to Persian' by Thackston and 'Persian Grammar' by Lambton. Lambton's grammar is very comprehensive in terms of the grammar, vocabulary, and exercises, but I think it is too difficult to start of with, so I would prefer to do the Thackston course first. Afterwards, I would like to get into native materials and read some of the Sufi literature by Jalal al-Din Rumi and others using the Steingass dictionary along with the translations of the poetry by scholars like Reynold Nicholson and A.J. Arberry.

At the same time, I would like to get a decent grasp of pronunciation and conversation, so I am planning to use Pimsleur Dari 1 and Dari 2. There is no big reason that I prefer the Pimsleur Dari course over the Pimsleur Farsi course, except that the Dari version has two levels while the Farsi version only has one. Also, I have 'Spoken World: Farsi' and the new Teach Yourself course to get practice with the audio dialogues.

Learning the script is not that big of a deal to me because of my Arabic background, but sometimes the script is written in an ornate style called nastaliq, so I plan on using 'Read and Write Urdu Script' by Teach Yourself to get more practice with the nastaliq style.

At any rate, I am really interested in Persian, and I hope to get started with it soon.
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Re: Persian Plan of Action

Postby David1917 » Tue Oct 30, 2018 12:48 am

Currently working through the Mace course. I have begun numerous Persian texts, and this one is definitely the most systematic and comprehensive, beyond just the alphabet. After that, you are presented with a few grammar points and translation exercises per chapter. Beginning with Lesson 14, there is a "14a" Lesson which has longer reading passages that reinforce the concepts of the main chapter.

The currently available Colloquial Persian by Rafiee has good reviews, though I have yet to really delve into it. The old Colloquial is romanized as far as I can tell, though I haven't gotten to actually look through one - it could very well be romanized & have the script as an appendix to each chapter like the FSI course. Lambston's course may be worth looking at as it has the most "literary" texts IIRC.

French, German, and Russian base all have great Persian materials as well that follow the method of dialogue + grammar point + exercises. I think a couple of these could be useful after a grounding in Persian through English so that you can use them more like graded readers and use Google/a dictionary.

Enjoy the journey, I wish I could devote more time to Persian right now. All told, I think your approach is a solid one as you have a good balance of audio/reading/grammar etc.
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Re: Persian Plan of Action

Postby Daristani » Sat Nov 03, 2018 11:21 pm

Sorry to be chiming in so late. I think you made a good choice in starting out with the old Mace "Teach Yourself Modern Persian" book for the alphabet, and I hope you find it as useful for this purpose as I did. I also agree completely with David1917 that it's useful for much more than the alphabet, which is why I talk it up so much as an ideal way to start; the short lessons, in both transliteration and the Persian script, make it a very user-friendly introduction to the language itself, with easily digestible grammar points, relatively limited vocabulary, etc. I even see the small size as a virtue, making it easy to carry around and always have handy.

That said, the lack of an audio component is a limitation, in my view, since I think it's good to get a feel for how the language actually sounds from the outset. There are a number of introductory methods for Persian, a number of which you mentioned in the initial posting. Personally, I think I would also start out with the old FSI/Spoken Persian course, which despite its age has pretty clear audio with drills, useful conversational materials, etc. (I also used this early on, so there may be some personal prejudice involved here. I wouldn't necessarily criticize any of the other candidate materials for this purpose, though.)

One problem with Persian is that there are a fair number of good introductory materials, but intermediate and advanced materials are harder to come by. The books by Michael Craig Hillmann, of the University of Texas, and published by Dunwoody Press, are excellent, if dry, follow-up materials, and even have audio, but they tend to be very expensive now that Dunwoody Press has evidently gone out of active business, with the audio being even more hard to find. (Although the internet is full of surprises...)

As you get further along, assuming you really intend to master the language, two recently published books by Routledge are good:

Persian: A Comprehensive Grammar, by Saeed Yousef

A Frequency Dictionary of Persian, by Corey Miller
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Re: Persian Plan of Action

Postby David1917 » Sun Nov 04, 2018 3:41 pm

https://jtg-inc.com/ is the new owner of Dunwoody Press, so you could always contact them if you are interested in purchasing any of their items. Unsure what the stock will be like, but worth contacting anyway.

There is at least one really good reader with a Russian base - but even an intermediate learner with no Russian could make use of it as a source of intensive reading. It's called учебник персидского языка - поляков и насырев (uchebnik persidskogo yazyka - polyakov and nasyrev) There may be some audio for it too, but I have yet to find it, and may contact the publisher when I reach the stage in Persian. Polyakov has a самоучитель (samouchitel' [self-teacher]) as well which the first half again does alphabet and morphology and then goes into some good, lengthy reading passages. The voice actor on the audio may be Tajik, my Iranian friend couldn't quite place the accent when I showed her the audio. But, still good to get some exposure.
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Re: Persian Plan of Action

Postby Lysander » Sat Nov 17, 2018 2:11 am

In a sad update, I must confess I put the cart a bit before the horse. At the second interview, I was told it was "basically" a done deal for this new position at a new employer.

It turns out, this meant it was not a done deal at all :roll:

No new job after all. No need to learn Persian, and still no language tie in for work. At least I still have my long-time job and didn't accidentally quit prematurely, haha.

The only "good" thing is I was sent the wrong book, and returned it for a full refund before the job fell apart. I realized it wasn't going to happen before I re-ordered it, or anything else. So other than a few trips to the library and a bruised ego, I am not out anything.
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Re: Persian Plan of Action

Postby David1917 » Sun Nov 18, 2018 5:25 pm

Sorry to hear about the employers misleading you. You should probably still learn Persian, though ;)
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Re: Persian Plan of Action

Postby David1917 » Fri Dec 14, 2018 8:10 pm

David1917 wrote:Currently working through the Mace course. I have begun numerous Persian texts, and this one is definitely the most systematic and comprehensive, beyond just the alphabet. After that, you are presented with a few grammar points and translation exercises per chapter. Beginning with Lesson 14, there is a "14a" Lesson which has longer reading passages that reinforce the concepts of the main chapter.

The currently available Colloquial Persian by Rafiee has good reviews, though I have yet to really delve into it. The old Colloquial is romanized as far as I can tell, though I haven't gotten to actually look through one - it could very well be romanized & have the script as an appendix to each chapter like the FSI course. Lambston's course may be worth looking at as it has the most "literary" texts IIRC.

French, German, and Russian base all have great Persian materials as well that follow the method of dialogue + grammar point + exercises. I think a couple of these could be useful after a grounding in Persian through English so that you can use them more like graded readers and use Google/a dictionary.

Enjoy the journey, I wish I could devote more time to Persian right now. All told, I think your approach is a solid one as you have a good balance of audio/reading/grammar etc.


I want to update these tips with what I've found so far in my usage of them. I still highly regard the Mace TYS course and am still systematically plodding through it. I wish it had audio.

Rafiee Colloquial Persian seems to be a good course so far, though the audio needs a LOT of editing. The coursebook gives an English summary of the dialogue, which for some reason they felt the need to record as well, as well as other asinine interruptions in English. The dialogues also have too much "realism" e.g. a phone conversation that sounds like it's on the phone. All that aside, though, the dialogues are very good and do present modern spoken Persian, rather than the literary language.

The course with more literary texts is actually by Tisdall. I was put onto it by Prof A on the old forum. The book was written at the turn of the 20th century, and indeed has some very good, long texts. The only problem is the vocabulary lists for each passage are romanized. It is available on Google Books.

The Sobhani Lehr- und Lesebuch that Prof A also recommends as "one of the best textbooks for any language" has an odd script (I am unsure the name - it is not quite Urdu, but certainly not typeset.) I am not at the stage in German where I can use it just yet.

Assimil Le Persan - great book, the transliterations really get in the way though, especially in the exercises where they are presented in interlinear format. It's truly astounding that the editorial team did not think it would be a gross hindrance to the learner, not least because of the differing directions of the scripts!

Request
Is there any other reasonably good course that follows the format of Colloquial or TYS that has NO romanization beyond the introduction, that is to say - dialogues/narratives followed by explanations and exercises? I think the Thackston/Elwell-Sutton courses will be good 2nd stage grammars, but I still want to enjoy some new learning passages. It's a shame that Elwell-Sutton's version of Colloquial Persian was entirely romanized, I suspect working through 2 books by the same author in that manner would be fantastic.
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Re: Persian Plan of Action

Postby David1917 » Thu Dec 27, 2018 4:51 pm

David1917 wrote:Rafiee Colloquial Persian seems to be a good course so far, though the audio needs a LOT of editing. The coursebook gives an English summary of the dialogue, which for some reason they felt the need to record as well, as well as other asinine interruptions in English. The dialogues also have too much "realism" e.g. a phone conversation that sounds like it's on the phone. All that aside, though, the dialogues are very good and do present modern spoken Persian, rather than the literary language.


Appending this post with two points: 1) I reduced the audio of Rafiee's course down to 30 minutes, which is quite a lot considering it comes on two discs. It's still usable, and the contents of the book are good with a decent amount of exercises. 2) I was able to flip through a copy of the 2nd generation Colloquial Persian course by Moshiri and discovered that it, like the 1st edition by Elwell-Sutton, is entirely romanized, rendering it utterly useless. Of the 3 Colloquial courses, I can only recommend the current offering by Rafiee. An interesting contrast to the typical trend wherein the newest version of Colloquial is the least likely to be recommended.
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