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on March 7, 2008
My reaction has been quite opposite that of the other reviewer. While this is not the only Persian textbook you'll ever need, it is just right for someone new to the language. I find that this course covers a lot of material and is clearly written, engaging, and well paced. Previous to this course I was using Thackston's "An Introduction to Persian," and I completed over half of his course before finally giving up in favor of Living Language's.

While Thackston was intelligible and comprehensive, the book's bare-bones, disconnected presentation leaves much to be desired. You'll learn grammatical concepts and little else. There is no dialog, no cultural or contextual information, only a handful of rote exercises, and a fairly useless set of vocabulary. There is almost no chance to practice or review what you've learned. Complicated constructions are consigned to explanations of a few terse and highly technical sentences. His explanations are more akin to those of a reference grammar than an introductory course. After assiduously working through the bulk of the book, I found myself more suited to parse verbs than to read or speak any Persian. I would probably recommend his book for those interested in reading Persian for academic reasons, or possibly as a follow-up to an actual introductory course like this one.

Living Language's course was a pleasant contrast. Suddenly, I was 1) given interesting dialog; 2) introduced to useful and relevant vocabulary; 3) taught the key grammatical concepts in a clear and logical manner; 4) given many opportunities to practice what I've learned in a variety of contexts; 5) provided with a variety of cultural highlights and insights.

The grammar explanations are excellent, albeit too quickly paced at times. I'm at a loss as to why another reviewer bemoans the presentation of the verb. Yes, the author likes to provide more explanation than a stark conjugation chart. The conjugations are there, but they are introduced in helpful and logical ways.

For example, Thackston adopts the traditional approach: first, he presents the infinitive (eg. raftan, "to go"), then demonstrates (I won't say "teaches") how to derive the past stem (raft) by dropping the infinitive ending (-an). He then demonstrates how the past tense is formed by the addition of person/number endings (raftam "I went", rafti "you went"... etc.) He doesn't introduce the present tense (which has a separate verbal stem) until almost half-way through the book!

In contrast, Living Language introduces the uses of the verb in a rational order, starting with the various forms of the present tense and proceeding to the past tenses, future, etc. This way is much more natural. I'm not sure what anyone could find objectionable about this presentation.

As for the complaint that the inclusion of colloquial usage is somehow inaccurate and confusing, I did not find it this way. Instead, it is characterized by a few predictable rules, and it was instructive to see how the formal grammar translates into daily speech. When colloquial speech is being used in the book, it is marked as such, and the more formal written variant is presented. If there are any inaccuracies, I would ask critics to refer to them specifically.

This course includes six CDs: three to accompany the book and three to use at any time. The dialogs are delivered at a reasonable pace and provide good practice. The two narrators, a man and a woman, do a good job, although I often found that the woman enunciates words more clearly. The "at home" CDs are audio of the Persian in each chapter; the "on-the-go" ones provide a four or five handy drills for each chapter, starting with a short dialog and then prompting you to create or alter sentences.

My main complaint that the chapters contain too much content; namely several grammatical concepts and several vocabulary lists. I think the book would be better if it were divided into more chapters (from 15 to maybe 20 or 25) with smaller portions of grammar and vocabulary. Also, vocabulary is introduced that is not used in the chapter's dialog or exercises, something that I find frustrating.

A final caveat: I learned to read and write the Persian alphabet before this course, so I did not have a chance to evaluate its presentation in this book. All of the Persian script in this book is accompanied by a phonetic transcription, but I would recommend that any beginner spend some time learning the fundamentals of reading and writing. My suggestion is write out the alphabet in full as many times as you can stomach, repeating the sound/name of each letter out loud as you do so.

Overall, I find Living Language's Farsi to be a solid and interesting introduction to Persian.
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on September 8, 2013
As anyone who has tried to learn Farsi knows, finding a good Farsi textbook is impossible- because there isn't one! Some quality textbooks have come out of Iran, but the level of English in those books is low, making them intimidating for people who are not yet comfortable with holding something from Iran. The government made some courses back in the 60s which are available for free, but they don't have audio. Yale University Press also published a course, but the audio component is extremely inadequate.

Honestly, you will not be able to find a better book than this one in terms of overall quality of production. The audio component of the book is well worth the cost of the entire package, since finding quality, transcribed Farsi conversations is almost impossible.

With that said, it is a sad compliment to pay. The book is littered with errors. The Tehrani pronunciation of "-un" for "-an" is frequent and irregularly scattered throughout the book with no explanation- often in parentheses beside the formal Dari pronunciation. The colloquial, spoken versions of verbs are incorrectly listed in the tables.

In addition, this book is impossible for beginners to understand. The first conversation is a complete conversation in fluent Farsi, instead of the usual "hello, how are you" we expect in language courses. It jumps right in, using compound verbs, the plural "ishun" form for 3rd person singular, multiple verb tenses, and turns of phrase which are not explained in the vocabulary- all in the first lesson! HA! It's laughable.

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.

Also...this might be me but...why did they get the Irani version of Barry White to be the male voice? The female voice is also not very welcoming. I have heard Persians sound very nice and open, and the language sounds like French when spoken rapidly. Maybe the audio needed to be "scary" sounding for political reasons...anyway, that's just a conspiracy theory.

As I said in the title, it's confusing and convoluted, but the audio element beats every alternative by almost 2 stars!
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on April 14, 2008
I was pleasantly surprised to find how well-done this set is. For my level it is just perfect, clear and full of useful vocabulary and dialogues, as well as other explanations about grammar and culture. I have a great deal of language learning experience and this is far better than your average teach-yourself book. I highly recommend it to anyone who intends to self-study. If it doesn't work for you, you need to attend a good class with a good teacher instead, and those unfortunately are not easy to find...
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on December 4, 2007
I have reviewed and studied at least half a dozen Farsi textbooks. Had I not had this experience, I might have put this textbook down after one or two lessons in frustration. Introduction and practice in reading the Farsi (Arabic) alphabet are inadequate. No indication on how to write it is given which one needs to do using this textbook. The explanations regarding colloquial usage versus formal usage are weak at best and the "rules" sometimes applied incorrectly. Writing in the colloquial style serves only to confuse the beginner. The description of the verb in Lesson 4 turns a system which is simple and elegant into something confusing and convoluted. That really needs to be reworked in a more traditional and clearer vein because it doesn't work and will send the student down the wrong path. The introduction of vocabulary in the Key Phrases which isn't used and then the use of vocabulary in the dialogues which isn't introduced is just wrong. I've only gotten through the first four lessons, but felt I needed to say something now. My advice: Look and at Mace for clarity, accuracy, and succintness and Bashiri for an Iranian view of the grammar and try again.
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on August 13, 2010
Hello,

I am normally a lousy reviewer but yet again I spent a lot of time on the net trying to find tips and methods to learn Farsi and ... it was far from a success. But it really changed when I received the Living Language Method so I thought I might as well spare you the hectic google research by telling you right now: this method is probably just what you need !

First, it is perfect for beginners: it is extremely clear, doesn't use fancy transcription codes and everything is explained as if you were just talking to a friendly and patient professor.

Second, I think it can even be used by non-real beginners, since it doesn't treat you (as other methods do...) as a retarded or a 2 years old: you don't get bored because you have been going in circles for 12 lessons, and you do not stay at ''My Name is'' one you cross page 100! What I like is that while it is simple, it still gives you a lot, and you will always go back on previous lessons thinking ''Oh right, I forgot this little thing!"

Now the format: I really appreciate the 2 sets of CDs. One set (A) will go through the basics and will led you from A to Z of each lesson. But in addition set (B) leads you further: you will have to take part in conversations, answer questions, in a word do exercises on this lesson you just learned.

The only ''grey note'' would be the writing: the method doesn't focus on the alphabet so you tend to get lazy and chose to follow only the roman transcription. If you have basics of written farsi or arabic that shouldn't be a problem. If you don't, just do this: I was so convinced by the Living Language Farsi method that I bought the Arabic one: ''Complete Arabic: The Basics'' that actually includes a Guide to Arabic Script. It became not only my co-partner to work on my arabic but also on my farsi since both scripts have a lot in common. I think you can get the Guide to Arabic Script.

So in conclusion, this was just exactly what I have been looking for, and since in Farsi not so many methods are available and good... just get yourself that one!
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on March 1, 2009
This is the best course extant for a student who actually wants to learn to speak Persian. The differences between the spoken and written languages are explained very clearly, grammar is presented in a very sensible order, and the book rarely gets ahead of itself by using forms before introducing and explaining them. The dialogues aren't too interesting, but their level of sophistication builds as the course goes along. The CD set is really good too- Persian pronunciation isn't hard, but these CDs give the most practice of any (non-Pimsleur) course that's out there. The book itself is very portable, so you can take it with you on the subway- and very self-contained, so that you don't have to schlep a dictionary along with it. Would that the same could be said of other Persian books!
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on August 3, 2013
If you have serious interest in learning zabaane faarsi, then I would recommend this book to you. Do not be turned off by undedicated reviewers' complaints that the book is too advanced, for they evidently did not have a strong enough interest in the language to pursue it. Unlike most language guides, there is an emphasis applied and grammar from the start, which makes using the large amount of introduced vocabulary easier, thus fomenting the development of linguistic competence.
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on September 25, 2014
Very well thought and well written book. I am almost done going through it. Every lesson gives 50-70 new words, new grammar, and also some interesting facts about Iran. I liked this formate. In average one lesson to go through it took me one month. I was almost a beginner - I think it would help if you know already the alphabet, though if you are a hard worker all the necessary information about the letters is in the book.
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on July 20, 2014
Excellent resource. Very complete. I really love the fact that there are two sets of CDs, one which you use with the written material, the other you use with just the audio to reinforce what you are learning. You will learn the Persian alphabet and the written system as well, not just conversational skills. In my opinion one of the best, clearest, and most useful systems for learning Farsi. A very good buy, excellent value.
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on January 28, 2013
I cannot vouch for another (text) book but there are better Farsi courses online! Free! (or you can donate). This book is very disorganized, there are a lot of typos in it (did someone edit/proofread it?) and the dialogues are ..well, most language books have silly dialogues. There is no index, either. I would never recommend this book to someone wishing to learn Farsi. I hope this series' other books are better! Vocabulary words are not in the 'dictionary' in back, some words are introduced not at all and are not in the dictionary, some are introduced 2x, I don't want to go on and on but this is not a good book.
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