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Persian Language

Why Study Persian?

Studying Persian will open an intriguing world for you, or at least half of the world as the Persian saying goes! In the Muslim era Modern Persian was the language of politics and literature that culturally connected Anatolia to Central Asia and Northern India. Once you are able to read Persian you have access to the realms of Sufism and Shi’ism where Persian produced a rich body of literature from the poetry of Hafez, Amir Khusraw Dihlavi and Rumi to histories of the Saljuk, Timurid, Safavi, Mughal, and Uzbek empires.

Persian today includes Farsi, Dari and Tajiki dialects, spoken by more than 100 million people in the Middle East (Iran), Central Asia (Tajikistan, parts of Uzbekistan) and the Indian Subcontinent (Afghanistan). Persian languages of the arts and politics continue to animate regional and global politics. The Iranian Revolution of 1979, for example, transformed Iran into a theocracy, put an end to American political influence over the country, and made political Islam a force to be reckoned with globally. Persian will provide you with the tools to explore religiosity, politics, gender and sexuality in the Islamic Republic of Iran. For more information about Persian and Iranian studies at U-M, click here.

Language Program Information

Persian language courses are structured into four different levels. At every level of our language program, we teach to enhance the cognitive abilities and intellectual curiosity of our students. Our language courses focus on the development of all four basic language skills (listening, speaking, reading, and writing). Through Persian language acquisition we aim to provide contexts and meanings as we challenge students to explore other world-views and learn to think about cultures critically.

Classes are small and students benefit from individual attention inside and outside the classroom. At the elementary level students are first introduced to the sounds and the scripts of the Persian alphabet. Since Persian is an Indo-European language the grammar is accessible to English speakers and by the end of the elementary level students can read and write in Persian and take part in conversations with their classmates.

At the intermediate level students are challenged to read a variety of literary and cultural texts. The media of cinema and music is used as a learning tool to simulate authentic contexts.

The advanced levels of Persian courses introduce students to Persian poetry and prose from the medieval to the modern era. These advanced level courses aim to provide a deeper and more textured knowledge of Iranian culture, history and society. They are part of a well-developed program on Persian language, literature, and culture designed to develop linguistic, literary, and methodological skills for scholarly research.

Persian Language Courses

PERSIAN 101: Elementary Persian I

PERSIAN 102: Elementary Persian II

PERSIAN 103: Intensive Elementary Persian

PERSIAN 201: Intermediate Persian I

PERSIAN 202: Intermediate Persian II (Completion of this course with a grade of C- or better meets the LSA Language Requirement)

PERSIAN 404: Singing Revolution: Poetry and Politics in Modern Iran (3 credits)

PERSIAN 410: Topics in Persian Language (3 credits)

PERSIAN 504: Modern Persian Fiction (3 credits)

PERSIAN 505: Modern Persian Non-fiction (3 credits)


Persian Textbooks

  • Persian Lessons for Foreigners: An Elementary Course by Taqi Pournamdari. Institute for Humanities and Cultural Studies. Tehran, 1994.
  • Elementary Persian by M. M. Khorrami, Bisotun Publications, 2008.

  • Persian Vocabulary Acquisition: An intermediate Reader and Guide to word forms and the Arabic element in Persian by M.C. Hillmann, Dunwoody Publications, 2007.

  • Reading Iran Reading Iranians by M.C. Hillmann, unpublished manuscript.

  • Teaching materials (films and audio files) from:

Educational Partnership with IMVBox

To give students of Persian further access to language and cultural resources, the Department of Middle East Studies has partnered with Boasting over 1,000 titles, has the largest library of Iranian cinema online available for streaming. By showcasing a large selection of award-winning Iranian films, including features, documentaries, shorts and plays, IMVBox aims to present the diversity, depth and richness of Iranian cinema. IMVBox's mission is to “paint a true picture” of the Middle East.