Learning Farsi

— 4 minute read

I'm glad to report that I've finally started learning Farsi in earnest, after some false starts over the last couple of months. I've got most of the abjad (the Arabic script) down, at least the ones that are commonly used, and I'm moving along to grammar and vocabulary which are the fun parts.

Learning a new language has always been exhilarating to me but the last language that I had put serious work into was probably Spanish, which would be about 6-7 years ago. There was a false alarm a couple of years ago when I tried to learn Thai (when I was travelling frequently to Bangkok for work), but that crashed and burnt very quickly after I realised the demands of the job. Since then I hadn't touched a new language and most of my language work had been focused on sporadic maintenance of Japanese and Spanish.

But now! Farsi! big grin

At this point I'm going mostly for sustainability rather than efficiency, since there is no practical reason for me to learn the language and no deadline in the horizon (for instance a scheduled trip to Iran) to speak it by. So, it is literally fun and games, with a bit of discipline thrown in to make sure that I keep up the exposure and exercises. I'm also going to be blogging a bit about the process as it would be interesting to read in the future, and hopefully it will keep me motivated to keep going and learning.

My current strategy of language learning is consistent exposure. Every day I will pick up a few new words here and there, by reading a Farsi phrase book, watching videos, or through EasyPersian.com which is an online Farsi course that I'm following. With luck I would come across these words again and they would slowly be ingrained into my long term memory. Sometimes I would go into a fit of productivity where I spend a few hours just learning new words and memorising things, but only when I feel like it. I don't believe in brute force in learning, and prefer to enjoy the process.

At this stage I try my best to understand the grammatical structure of the language, since that makes it much easier to recognise patterns in sentences, even if I don't know most of the words.

For that, the following video is a godsent:

With the grammatical understanding it is easier to then decode the Farsi YouTube videos that I'm watching, especially those that are targetted at kids and say things like "Salaam, my name is Something. Something something one something. Excuse me something something he went. Something very thank you. One cat and one dog. A blue bird. Something where? Something something good bye." Believe me it's more fun that it sounds. I love the little jabs of victory that comes from identifying words or sentence structures that I know.

I also keep a notebook in which I do drills like conjugation (there is conjugation in Farsi, boo) or just note down words and observations across languages that I find interesting. My handwriting so far is quite bad and I keep finding mistakes, but I've also learnt that mistakes are good. Mistakes point you towards the right direction by showing the wrong one. The only thing I'm afraid of is that I'm making mistakes that I don't know of. Here it helps to have a native speaker as a guide - which I have in the form of an art teacher, music teacher, and dear friend rolled into one.

And so it goes :) I'm excited to see where I will be in a year's time, which is the timeframe that I have in mind to assess where I am. Will give updates!