SOAS University of London

Department of the Languages and Cultures of the Near and Middle East

Elementary Written Persian

Module Code:
Taught in:
Full Year

PLEASE NOTE: This module will be divided into two 15-credit modules next academic year (i.e Language A and Language B). The overall objectives and outcomes for the year will not change. There may be some slight changes to the formal assessment. Students will be required to take a written test in the last week of Term 1 and should therefore not plan to be absent from SOAS at this time.



Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

At the end of the course, a student should be able to demonstrate. . . 

  1. knowledge and understanding of basic Persian grammar
  2. acquisition of elementary but essential Persian vocabulary
  3. knowledge and understanding of basic Persian structures and expressions in a given context
  4. the ability to read & understand short passages in written Persian on everyday topics and less routine situations in everyday life
  5. the ability to read and understand simple Persian texts and answer comprehension questions
  6. the ability to produce short passages in written Persian on topics that are familiar or of personal interest
  7. knowledge and understanding of the role of language in general, and Persian in particular, in language-based scholarship and research (specific learning outcome for PG students)


Teaching consists of four hours of classes per week taught in twice-weekly sessions. 10 research seminars to be taken within SOAS.  Attendance to be proven by signature from chair and to be submitted to the Associate Dean for Masters by the last day of term 2.

Scope and syllabus

As an elementary language option this course is intended for those students who wish to learn the basics of the Persian grammar and acquire enough vocabulary to be able, with the aid of a dictionary, to read very basic modern texts and conduct basic, natural everyday conversation. Emphasis is put mainly on writing and reading; however, student’s listening and speaking language skills are also developed throughout the academic year but not formally assessed.

The course is taught through a combination of communicative practice and reading approach.  A range of everyday situations such as social introductions, personal information, likes and dislikes, work and travel, are dealt with on the basis of communicative approach while the reading approach allows the students not only to read in the target language (Persian) but to gain knowledge about the cultures, history and people of the countries where Persian is spoken.  The students begin to gain enough confidence in Persian to gradually use reference material relevant to their research and to interact with Persian speakers for the purposes of field work for example.
A series of special PG lectures with associated seminars structured around the six themes Structure, Texts, Identity, Society, Translation and Transformation (provided for PG students studying different languages) introduces students to general questions of the role of language in language-based scholarship and research and provides them with the critical and methodological skills to relate their language acquisition to the thematic aspects of the studies.

Method of assessment

One three-hour written paper taken in May/June (50%); 3000-word essay in English on Persian language or literature or a topic of your choice discussed with the convenor, due first Friday Term (30%); a in class test of 1.5 hours duration taken in class in week 3, term 2 (20%).

Suggested reading

  • Narguess Farzad, Teach Yourself Modern Persian, Hodder, 2004
  • Wheeler M. Thackston, An Introduction to Persian,
  • Saffar Moghadam, A General Course in Persian 1: Basic Structures
  • A.K.S. Lambton, Persian Grammar, Cambridge University Press, reprints 1990
  • Lazard, Gilbert.  A Grammar of Contemporary Persian / translated by Shirley A. Lyon. 1992
  • (For those with knowledge of French) Lazard, Gilbert. Grammaire du Persan Contemporain.  1957
  • Leila Moshiri, Colloquial Persian (with cassette), Routledge 1988
  • Windfuhr & Tehranisa,  Modern Persian - Elementary Level,  University of     Michigan, Revised Ed. 1981
  • Windfuhr & Bostanbakhsh, Modern Persian - Intermediate Level, University of Michigan
  • T. Pournamdarian, Persian Lesson for Foreigners: Elementary Course, published by Institute for Cultural Studies & Research, Tehran 1993
  • - Spoken Persian, Spoken Language Services, New York, Ithaca 1973
  • Jalil Banan Sadeghian Persian for Non-natives, Council for promotion of Persian Language & Literature 1997
  • A. M. Miandji, Beginner’s Persian, 1998
  • On line dictionary:

  • Karim Emami, Kimia Persian- English Dictionary, Farhang Moaser, Tehran 2006
  • A & M Āryānpur, The Unabridged English - Persian Dictionary 5 Vols.
  • __________, The Concise English - Persian Dictionary
  • __________, The Concise Persian - English Dictionary
  • __________, English - Persian Collegiate Dictionary, 2 Vols. Amir Kabir, Tehran 1986
  • Dariush Guilani, An English - Persian Dictionary
  • Haim, New Persian - English Dictionary, 2 vols.
  • ____,  English - Persian Dictionary
  • Mahshid Moshiri, Dictionnaire des Mots Européens en Persan, Alborz Publications, Tehran 1993
  • - Hooshang Āmuzegār, A Dictionary of Common Persian and English Verbs (with Persian synonyms & examples), Payam Publishers, 1988
  • Michael Hillmann, Persian Fiction Reader, Dunwoody Press, Maryland 1995
  • Michael Hillmann with Ramin Sarraf. Persian newspaper reader, Dunwoody Press, 1996. (Comes with Persian newspaper reader [sound recording])
  • Hasan K®msh®d, Modern Persian Prose Reader, Cambridge 1968

Selected Bibliography for Background Information on Iran

  • After Khomeini: The Iranian Second Republic' Anoushiravan, Published 1995
  • Amoo Norooz and Other Persian Folk Stories; Ahmad Jabbari(Editor), Published 1999
  • Ancient Persia:John Curtis Published 1990
  • Armenians and Iran: A Comprehensive Bibliographic Guide to Books Published in the Armenian, Persian, English and Russian Languages (Romanized Form); Hamo B. Vassilian(Editor) Published 1994
  • Children of Deh Koh: Young Life in an Iranian Village; Erika Friedl Published 1997
  • Creating an Islamic State: Khomeini and the making of a new Iran; Vanessa Martin.
  • History of Iranian Literature, Jan Rypka, Dordrecht 1968
  • Persian Literature, Ehsan Yarshater ed., Columbia University, 1988
  • Tales of Two Cities: A Persian Memoir (Kodansha Globe); Abbas Milani Published 1997
  • The Blindfold Horse: Memories of a Persian Childhood; Shusha Guppy Published 1993
  • The Turban for the Crown: The Islamic Revolution in Iran (Studies in Middle Eastern History); Said Amir Arjomand / Published 1989
  • Travels in Persia, 1673-1677;Sir John Chardin, John Chardin (Photographer) / Published 1988


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules