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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on March 21, 2012
[Disclosure: review based on a previous edition of the book (2004), before the new "Complete" series came out. The publisher doesn't allow us to look inside, so I cannot check whether it is the same. My edition does not have an index, for example, but I am supposing they have had the sense to change this. The earlier edition is still available from Amazon, but without CDs, so I am reviewing here, since this is the version with CDs, which I have.]

Firstly, I confess I've had this book a while, and referred to it many times, but never gone very far with it. Still, I blame that mainly on the book. Now that I have Lambton and Thackston, I'm getting more motivated again, and a decade ago, I used Mace's earlier Teach Yourself with some success and much interest.

This book doesn't really impress me, I think because it just seems too light. Each chapter begins with a simple dialogue, from which grammatical points and vocab are drawn out, but the vocab is not very interesting, and the grammar is quite basic. Dialogues are trivial, and knowledge builds very slowly. I think that is fine for some learners, but then an unreasonable amount of time is spent on some orthographic conventions that do not affect pronunciation - such as the exact use of the ezafe. A waste of time, I feel, at the early stages, and it could have been confined to an appendix.

I have only recently figured out what is really wrong with this book, which is why I'm writing this review now. It doesn't mention the definite direct object marker until chapter 14 (of 21). If you're wondering how it survives until then without one of the most common grammatical features of Persian, it's simple: you spend the first six chapters with only one verb, namely, "be". I've checked fairly carefully, and I'm pretty sure there isn't any other verb there. That means you get riveting dialogues like, "Are you a student." "No, I am not a student, I am a photographer." "Are you at home?" and so on. Then you graduate to another verb, "have," but it still avoids a single definite, direct object, by quantifying everything, as in, "I have one cat." If it was "*a* cat" you'd need the indefinite marker, but even that has to wait until chapter 8. If you can imagine a conversation with two verbs, this might be for you. By the end of the book, it has covered the future tense and the subjunctive, which is pretty good, but even relative clauses, a basic construction in any language, are confined to an appendix.

Grammatical descriptions when they are given are good, although a little long-winded. There are also possibly too few examples to go with the too-long descriptions. The CDs are excellent, or at least surpass the book in many ways. I would say it may be value for money just for these, but they are mainly designed to accompany the text, so your main motive here is the lack of alternatives - the good books (such as Thackston and Lambton) do not have CDs (I think there is an expensive casette for Thackston, which is a little primitive).

In short, if you are a self-learner, this might be quite ok if you need a really basic introduction, and if you hate lots of grammar. Expect to learn slowly, but that is better than not at all.

Checklist:

Answer key: yes.
Vocab both ways: Yes. ~1000 words each way in back of book.
Exercises: to and from Persian. Mostly very basic.
Transliterations: Up to chapter 10, thereafter, vowel markers for all vocabulary, including back of book. Some vowel markings for dialogues.
Readings: Only very simple, mostly conversational, one substantial one at the end of the book.
Extra features: good table of present stems of irregular verbs.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on December 2, 2011
This book is definitely one of the better language-learning titles out there. What makes all the difference - despite the 'Complete' and 'Colloquial' language series all following similar formats - is the inspiration of the author. Here we have someone who, right at the beginning, gives a short description of her journey towards teaching Persian in the UK, after first arriving there to study in a practical field such as engineering (suitcase containing the requisite rosewater, pistachios and saffron, in addition to books of Persian prose and poetry), as many travelling students do, only to find herself drawn to the beauty and wonder of her native language, as well as 'its historic development and its resilience in the face of more than a millenium of onslaught by so many invaders who were ultimately absorbed into the Persianate world'.

In contrast to the book 'Colloquial Persian', where the author immediately sets out to make clear to the student that Persian, despite being an Indo-European language, is difficult for the Westerner to learn due to the massive (in his conception) cultural divide between Europe or the West in general and Iran, the author of 'Complete Persian' shares her inspiration with the reader and new student, encouraging you to enter into and develop a greater sense of wonder at this millenia-old, rich, still vibrant culture through its language. Simply pointing out in the section 'Only got five minutes?', where a general introduction to Persian is provided, that the word for 'blue', âbi, comes from the word âb, water, or the word for 'khaki' (as in the colour) comes from khâk, the word for 'dust' or `earth', gently encourages one into the new experience which Persian is.

There is certainly some work involved, but if one wants to get to know one of the world's great languages (not simply hopping on the Chinese bandwagon, so to speak, or perhaps hopping on it simultaneously), this is a good place to start. As the author writes in the section 'Only got a minute?': 'Learning the script may strike you as daunting but be assured that it is more difficult for a speaker of Persian to learn English than it would be for you to learn Persian.'

This is another great addition to the 'Complete' language series, which is essentially an evolution or slight repackaging of the most recent 'Teach Yourself' editions by the same publisher. The author shares the same level of inspiration and interest in her subject as the author of 'Complete Hindi' (Rupert Snell), who is equally fascinated by his specialist subject and even offers tons of his own Hindi learning materials at the Hindi-Urdu Flagship site, free for anyone who likes to download. (That is a good sign that the writer is not just doing it for the extra money.)

A review of the CD may be posted at a later date.

(Note: the glossary has no transliteration, so you will have to learn the Perso-Arabic script to be able to use the book well.)
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 9, 2013
This book is okay. Firstly the author seems nice and passionate about Persian, you can tell that right from the introduction. The book isn't downright horrible and will help you improve your Persian, but it isn't as good as some of the other books in the series. It has it's good areas, but unfortunately has it's downfalls.
The dialogues are very well written and apply the grammatical aspects with vocabulary very well. However, there aren't enough of them! The book only has about one dialogue in each chapter. I think some chapters didn't have any dialogues. Also the dialogues given are so short! Even in the higher chapters. The book itself is quite light. I'm not saying I want a three page dialogue or anything, but they are very short. One plus about it though, is that almost everything is on the CD's like vocabulary and grammar notes. So you still get to hear native speakers.
Another problem with this book is that many times it is like a phrasebook. The beginning chapters especially. There is a chapter that is fully dedicated to numbers and it is just all the numbers listed from 1-100 on the pages. I agree that numbers are important to learn when learning a foreign language but I wish the author would've at least added more examples and exercises with them, instead of just listing them. She does the same with the seasons and months. I agree these are also important to learn but I just wished she added a little more to these chapters because it feels like you are just memorizing phrases. The pace of this book is quite slow, and it feels like it's taking forever to make progress, because as I said above it feels like you are just memorizing phrases and can't apply them.
The other major problem in this book, which I think may have been the editors fault then the author's fault, but the inconsistencies of the book happen more than just an occasional typo. For example, in exercises you will need translate something like "We live in Iran." But when you check it, in the back of the book you will see something like, "I live in Tehran." It doesn't happen too much but enough for it to be noticeable. Another inconsistency is that the author will ask you translate something like, "This is a beautiful plate," but the word for plate is not in the glossary or vocabulary list and hasn't been taught yet. I suggest if you buy this book, you will also need a good Persian dictionary to go along with it.
The last bad thing about this course is that the grammar explanations, although clear, are often very light and are shown with hardly any examples in Persian. Also there are full chapters, I believe chapter 3 and chapter nine, that only explain English grammar with nothing in Persian! For example in Chapter three, the author explains how English and Persian word order differ. The author says Persian is a Subject-Object-Verb language and then gives examples in English with no Persian examples at all!
There are good things about this course though, the beginning has a great explanation about the Persian script. And unlike most Persian course books, the author uses the Persian script throughout. I also liked the little drawings of Iranian landmarks spread throughout the book and the cultural information is good. The book also has really good vocabulary words. The book focuses on written Persian, Persian speakers speak differently then they write. If you stick with this book you will get at least to be intermediate Persian, however the pace is very slow. There aren't many good for books for Persian on the market, I have both, "Living Language Farsi" and "Colloquial Persian" and I consider this course to be better than those two, although they aren't that bad either. There is a podcast that might go along well with this book, it's called "Learn Persian With Chai and Conversation". It's very good and would supplement nicely with this book. If you want to learn Persian I say give this book a try, there isn't much else out there.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on August 17, 2012
My Wife and I teach Persian 101, an introduction to Persian/Farsi language and culture at Honolulu Community College in Hawaii. We studied many similar books and found the "Complete Persian" superior and relatively easier to work with.

The text starts with a short but strong history of both Iranian culture and its language. Then it goes directly to the basics of the Persian/Farsi alphabets and structural grammar.
We are happy to have adopted this text.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on June 14, 2012
I found this book, like many others in the TY series, difficult to work with. In my opinion, when attempting to learn a new language, the best foundation would have to be grammar before, or aided by vocabulary. This is not the case with this book. Although a really great effort by the author, I ended up leaving it to collect dust on my shelf! I will, however, recommend John Mace's original "Teach Yourself Persian" book. It is a wonderful step-by-step attempt to familiarise the reader, first with the script, then with basic vocabulary and grammar. The vocabulary and grammar always run hand in hand making it fantastic for someone really keen to study the language. Another good book, though not as good as Mace, is Thackston's "Introduction to Persian." Taking on a new language is a daunting task and in the case of Persian, the current format of the Teach Yourself book doesn't help much.
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on September 3, 2013
Given the lack of learning materials for Farsi, this book is quite good. It does a good job of explaining some of the sentence structure and grammar. It is not, however, very deep in its grammatical points. It also introduces vocab and and grammar structures which have to been introduced - very frustrating. This book will not get you speaking Farsi on its own, but it is a pretty good place to start. Try "Basic Persian: A Grammar and Workbook" by Saeed Yousef - a better option. Good luck :-)
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on December 1, 2013
Good book, you can definitely learn a lot from it, but by no means did I feel like it was "Complete"; it can get you to a general understanding of the language, but I wouldn't rely on it for more than a few months of study, or anything into intermediate level.
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on December 13, 2014
love it
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