How to Learn Farsi: Everything You Need to Know

How to learn Farsi

Why do you want to learn Farsi?

Where do you see your journey into the Persian language taking you? Before you start figuring out how to learn Farsi, it would help to think about why you want to learn. Some people want to read classical Persian literature. Others might want to become intelligence analysts or diplomats and serve their government.

Whatever your case may be, you want to consider your goals before beginning a course or attending a Persian language immersion program.

That said, this guide will show you how to learn Farsi no matter what you intend to do with your new skills.

Quick facts about the Persian language

Persian is an Indo-European language that dates back to the Achaemenid era — that means it’s over 2,400 years old! Since then, the language has modernized and is spoken worldwide. Over 110 million people speak Persian, with many of them living in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Iraq, and other neighboring countries.

The three most common Persian dialects are:

  • Farsi, Western Persian
  • Dari, Eastern Persian
  • Tajik

Overall, Farsi is the dominant dialect. It is the official language of Iran and is used in films, music, and literature across the globe. 

How to learn Farsi: Where to begin learning Persian?

Many people do not know how to learn Farsi when they begin, so they spend a week or two using Rosetta Stone and then switch over to Memrise for a bit. Ultimately, they learn a few phrases but don’t develop a solid foundation to build upon and progress.

We will cover each of these in more detail throughout the guide, but here are a few ways to learn Farsi:

  • Learn from Your Persian Friends
  • Take Classes in High School to Learn Persian
  • Take Classes at a University to Learn Farsi
  • Go to a Summer Language Program to Learn Persian
  • Attend an Overseas Language Program to Learn Farsi
  • Learn Farsi at Home

Now, you might not be able to use these resources to improve your Farsi. That’s not a problem. Some of us are out of high school and university by now. Others have never even met an Iranian. Feel free to skip over those sections to find the best way to learn Farsi for you.

A Persian store on Westwood Blvd. in Los Angeles
A Persian store on Westwood Blvd. in Los Angeles. © Wikipedia user Zereshk

Learn from Your Persian Friends

If you have Persian speaking friends, then we must say you are very khoshbakht (that means “lucky” in case you didn’t know).

Maybe you live in New York City or Washington, D.C. where native Persians aren’t too hard to find.

However, if you are truly lucky, then you live in Los Angeles, California — commonly called Tehrangeles. This city is home to the largest Iranian community in the U.S. In LA, you will find entire communities that speak Farsi for everyday affairs. The city has Persian restaurants, stores, and television station.

The benefit of having Farsi-speaking friends is that they can help you learn in a non-competitive, entertaining way. Classrooms can be boring or may give you anxiety because of the constant tests you must complete. With a friend, you can speak Farsi without worries as well as learn slang terms that you wouldn’t hear in a classroom. And best of all, you can also learn about the culture while you practice Farsi.

However, learning Persian from a friend could come with some downsides. For one, your friend may teach you the wrong vocabulary or grammar. Just imagine having to teach English to someone who can barely form a sentence. Likewise, your friend might not be able to write in Farsi. While your speaking might be decent, you will be unable to get a professional job without writing skills.

Overall, you will do well by learning Persian from a friend IF you are a beginner. Once you can hold a basic conversation, it is time to move on to other learning methods.

Here’s a quick recap of the advantages and disadvantages of learning Farsi from a friend. 


  • Stress-free
  • Learn slang and idioms
  • Improve cultural knowledge


  • No formal program
  • Might not learn grammar or writing

Take Classes in High School to Learn Persian

Are you a high school who wants to learn Farsi? That is awesome. You will benefit so much by knowing how to learn Farsi at such a young age.

Does your school offer Persian classes? It might! Some states do provide funding for their public schools to teach Farsi, but you will most likely have to attend a private school to learn the language. These institutions will have more funding to offer these classes. Also, you might attend a language school, which specifically aims to teach Persian.

Nevertheless, you can still learn Farsi in high school if you aren’t one of these people. How? Well, you simply have to participate in a summer program. From the University of California, Los Angeles to Indiana University Bloomington, programs are available for high school students to learn Farsi over the summer.

Now, you will not master Persian during your high school years. It will allow you to grasp the fundamentals of the language. You will learn the writing system, greeting, important phrases, and more. However, you most likely will struggle with certain subjects or tenses of the language. That is completely fine. This is just the beginning of your quest to become a proficient Persian speaker!

Wrapping up, you most likely will not have access to Farsi directly in your high school. You can attend a summer language program and build up from there. We can’t imagine a better way for a student to prepare for their senior year of high school or freshman year of college!

Here’s a quick recap of the advantages and disadvantages of learning Farsi in high school.


  • Learn grammar, spelling, and fundamentals
  • Prepare for collegiate study
  • Looks good on college applications


  • Not all schools offer Farsi
  • Summer programs can be expensive
  • Will only cover beginner level topics

Take Classes at a University to Learn Farsi

This is where it gets serious. Universities offer structured, demanding Persian courses that will take you from a beginner student to an advanced professional. If you want to know how to learn Farsi, well this is where you start. Many of the top universities offer intense classes that teach you the Persian language, culture, history, and even current political situations in the region.

Taking Persian classes in college will not only help you learn the language, but it can also help you find a job. Many organizations, from think tanks to government agencies, hire interns specifically for their Persian language abilities. Furthermore, you will stand out from your peers upon graduation if you are fluent in Farsi.

That said, you can expect to dedicate much of your time to learning Farsi in college. Your classroom hours will only be between 2-4 hours per week. This is not enough to learn Persian. To stand out and master the language, you need to put in an additional 5 hours of practice per week. It goes without saying that this can hinder your social life or cut into other activities like intermural sports. Also, you can only take so many credits during college. You may have heard of people taking classes like Fundamentals of Golf where they literally play golf all semester. Well, taking Persian may prevent you from taking fun courses since languages typically use more credits. It’s up to you to decide if it is best for you.

If you want to learn Farsi and build a solid understanding of the language, then taking Persian classes in college is the best option.

Here’s a quick recap of the advantages and disadvantages of learning Farsi in college.


  • Structured classes
  • Classes go from beginner to advanced levels
  • Improves your chances of finding a good job/internship


  • May interfere with social life
  • Can prevent you from taking other classes
  • Will require a dedication outside of class

Go to a Summer Language Program to Learn Persian

Summer language programs are an excellent way for a college student or working professional to study a large amount of Farsi in a small amount of time. Typically, universities host these programs and cram two semesters’ worth of Farsi into six to ten weeks. You will eat, sleep, and study on-campus in a Persian-speaking environment.

The top programs, such as the Arabic, Persian, and Turkish Language Immersion Institute, will give you four to five hours of instruction per day. However, the real learning happens outside of class. On any given day, you may find yourself playing a Persian version of Monopoly or watching a film with classmates. Oh, and we forgot to mention — since these are Persian immersion programs, you can only speak Farsi throughout the entire summer. Lastly, many soldiers, government employees, and academics use these programs to brush up on their skills. Just imagine the networking possibilities. So, if you want to talk to someone about baseball, then you better start learning some new words! 

Summer programs are amazing, but they come with a steep price tag. You can expect to pay between $3,000 and $8,000, depending on where you go. There is funding available, so do your research on programs like the Foreign Language Area Studies Fellowship. You also must give up two months of your summer to attend a summer Farsi language program. This can interfere with travel, school, or even work. Hopefully, your company or organization will stand to gain from your Farsi skills and will approve you attending one of these programs.

If you’re still wondering how to learn Farsi, going to a summer language program is one of the best ways.

Here’s a quick recap of the advantages and disadvantages of learning Farsi in college.


  • Two semesters of Farsi in 8 weeks
  • Immersive programs
  • Networking opportunities


  • Can be expensive
  • Give up 2 months of work, school, or free time
  • Away from family and friends

Statue of Persian poet Rudaki in Dushanbe, Tajikistan


Statue of Persian poet Rudaki in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. © Ninara on Flickr

Attend an Overseas Language Program to Learn Farsi

Overseas Farsi language programs are best-suited for high-school, undergraduate, and graduate students. That said, working professionals can still attend these programs if they can give up a few months away from work and home. Persian language programs abroad function just like the summer programs above.

A few of the best programs to learn Farsi abroad include:

The biggest benefit of these programs is the real-world experience. You will live in a Persian-speaking environment for a few months to a year, depending on which program you choose. There is no way to cheat and speak English.

What’s more, you will see cultural intricacies that no classroom could ever replicate. Some of our writers have participated in these programs and still reflect upon the life lessons they learned while studying Farsi abroad. For example, one of our team members got sick and had to go to a hospital. He described his symptoms, spoke with doctors about treatment, and negotiated payment; all while being severely dehydrated due to a stomach bug.

Before signing up for your summer or year abroad learning Farsi, you need to consider the time commitment and cost. You may spend over $20,000 to spend a year abroad learning Farsi. Also, being away from home for that long can be draining. It’s possible that you will lose motivation halfway through the program, which would be a waste of everybody’s time. Lastly, these programs can be selective. You will have to apply and wait a few months before you hear anything.

At the end of the day, it’s your life. Imagine how strong your resume will look after spending a semester or two overseas mastering the Persian language. You will also have memories that will last a lifetime.

Here’s a quick recap of the advantages and disadvantages of learning Farsi in college.


  • Complete Farsi immersion
  • Cultural and experiential knowledge
  • Looks great on your resume


  • Expensive
  • Possibility of homesickness
  • Lengthy, selective application process

Learn Farsi at Home

Thanks to the latest and greatest technology, it’s very simple to study Persian at home. You can buy books from Amazon or take online courses. Let’s look at some examples.

Check out our posts on the best books to learn Farsi here and the best audiobooks to learn Farsi here.

You can learn Farsi online by visiting websites such as Easy Persian and Persian Dee. These are free programs that offer a somewhat structured course that you can do at your own pace. If you want something more serious, you can try other ways to learn Persian online like Pimsleur. These paid courses often include more multimedia, books, and resources than free options.

The downside to this do-it-yourself approach is that many people know how to learn Farsi, but they lack the motivation to follow through with their plans. You might pay for an expensive online course but lose interest once you realize the time commitment required. Alternatively, you might be trying your best to learn Persian, but you just can’t grasp certain concepts. Maybe having a face-to-face instructor is better for you.

If you want to learn Farsi at home, we suggest you start with a free course and see how much progress you make. If you do well, then dive into the more expensive options.

Here’s a quick recap of the advantages and disadvantages of learning Farsi in college.


  • Many options, even for free
  • Costs less than schools and summer programs
  • Go at your own pace


  • Easy to lose motivation
  • Doesn’t favor all learning styles

Creative Ways to Use Your Farsi Skills

Watch Persian Films

You can improve your Farsi by watching movies and TV shows online. Apps, like GLWIZ, offer countless addictive series that will help you learn Persian while being entertained. There are Persian satellite channels from California that have game shows, talk shows, and other programs all in Farsi. Lastly, mainstream sites like Amazon and Netflix sometimes have Persian movies such as The Salesman.

Speak with Iranians

You might not have Iranians in your circle of friends or even in your city, but you can have them online. You can do it anonymously too!

Download HelloTalk and start chatting with Iranian strangers. It might sound weird, but you can learn Farsi while also gaining a better understanding of life in Iran. The app lets you write in Farsi or phonetic Farsi, so you can use it even if you don’t know how to read and write Persian yet.

Visit the Theatre

Did you know there are Persian performances all around the country? Iranian plays, comedians, and musicians travel throughout the U.S. to perform. Attending one of these events will allow you to meet fellow Persian speakers and use your language skills in a fun environment. Don’t be afraid to go without knowing anybody. Persians are known for being social and very hospitable, so you will make some friends easily.

What’s Next?

Now that you know how to learn Farsi via few unique methods, it’s time to get to work. Put in the countless hours of reading and writing to truly master this language. The Persian language and culture are beautiful, so you will love studying it.

Once you become proficient, you’ll be more competitive for the best jobs or selective universities. The secret is never to stop learning. Keep practicing your Farsi and finding new, fun ways to learn. You’ll never regret the time and money it takes to become fluent in Farsi.  

How to Learn Farsi: Everything You Need to Know

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