Persian is a Western Iranian language from the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European language family. In Iran, Persian is also called Farsi, while in Afghanistan, the Persian language is known as Dari and in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, it is called Tajik. Persian and Dari Persian are written using a version of the Arabic script while Tajik Persian is written using the Cyrillic script. The roots of the Persian language can be traced back thousands of years, making it one of the oldest living languages. First, there was Old Persian (600 BCE to 300 BCE), then Middle Persian (4th century BCE to 9th century AD), followed by Modern Persian (9th century AD to present).
Persian is an enchanting language, written in a beautiful script and spoken in countries which are both breathtaking and fascinating. Whether you long to experience the culture and history of Iran, read the poetry of Rumi, forge new personal or build business relationships, learning Persian is the way to go.
Free Resources to Learn Persian
Free Learning/Studying Apps
Tinycards – iTunes – Google Play – Tinycards is a free flashcards app, from the creators of Duolingo, which uses spaced repetition and nicely designed “decks” to help you learn anything, including foreign languages. Tinycards uses gamification, like Duolingo, which makes it fun and easy to use.
Memrise – iTunes – Google Play – Memrise is a really fast, fun and free language learning app/website that is sure to get you hooked. There is a visual flashcard component which also incorporates audio from a community of native speakers. Memrise uses spaced repetition and is really effective at drilling vocabulary and phrases into your memory.
Clozemaster – iTunes – Google Play – This popular app uses gamification and is a great addition to your language learning regimen, no matter what your level. It is very effective for vocabulary acquisition and billed as a great app to use after Duolingo.
Learn Persian by 50 Languages – iTunes – Google Play – This app is great for beginners (A1-A2) to increase practical vocabulary which is useful for managing everyday situations (at a store, restaurant, bank, doctor, etc). With the free version, you will have access to 30 complete lessons.
HelloTalk – iTunes – Google Play – HelloTalk is a global language learning social network that connects you with native speakers of other languages so that you can practice your speaking and listening skills with native speakers via text/audio messages and free audio and video calls. The free version allows you to choose one native language and one target language.
Internet Polyglot – iTunes – Google Play – This free app uses lessons, games, and pictures to teach foreign languages to beginners. Although Internet Polyglot is far from a standalone language learning tool, it is a useful supplement to help you to learn and retain vocabulary.
Persian Language Online – iTunes – Google Play. These apps are brought to you by the Persian Language Foundation, a UK based charity with the goal of promoting and teaching the Persian language to English speakers around the world. These fantastic learning apps are aimed at young children but could be useful for all ages.
Beginner Persian – Google Play – This app is based on the “learn a word a day” concept and uses a simple and direct approach to teaching Persian to beginners.
Start From Zero Persian – Google Play – This app will boost your vocabulary skills by helping you learn thousands of the most commonly used Persian words and phrases. It also offers quiz and flashcard functionality to test your progress.
Simply Learn Farsi – iTunes – Google Play – This app will teach you over 300 common Persian / Farsi words and phrases using images and high-quality audio recordings by a native speaker from Iran. Spaced repetition is used for better vocabulary retention. You can track your progress, take quizzes, and save words and phrases to a favorites list. The free version covers phrases and vocabulary for the following topics which are essential when visiting Iran: Numbers, Time and Date, Basic Conversation, Greetings, Getting Directions, Eating at Restaurants, Sightseeing, Shopping, Emergency, and Accommodations.
Learn Persian with WordPower – iTunes – WordPower is another app that relies heavily on the “freemium” model, but the free version will teach you 100 of the most common Persian words and phrases.
Learn Persian with Mondly – iTunes – Google Play – Mondly is a solid language learning platform, but it relies heavily on the “freemium” model which encourages you to purchase a premium subscription. With the free version, you have access to only 1 lesson a day, which can still be useful.
Tandem Language Exchange – iTunes – Google Play – This app matches you with language exchange partners from all over the world, providing the opportunity to practice those essential conversation skills that are necessary to take your language skills to the next level.
Free Persian Dictionary/Translation Apps
Google Translate – iTunes – Google Play – Google Translate offers online text translation between 103 languages by typing, offline translation for 59 languages, camera translation for 38 languages, image translation for 37 languages, conversation translation in 32 languages, and translation of handwritten characters in 93 languages. The app also has a phrasebook which allows you to save translated words and phrases for future reference in all languages.
iTranslate – iTunes – Google Play – iTranslate is a leading free translator and dictionary app that provides translations for text in over 100 languages. Other functionality includes transliteration, sharing, favorites, history, and audio in both male and female voices. Voice to voice translations and the use of offline mode is not available with the free version.
Learn Persian with PersianPod101.com – This is a fun and helpful set of videos to add to your regular Persian language learning regimen.
LangMedia – LangMedia provides language learning resources, including videos – YouTube, audio, exercises, etc. LangMedia is run by the Five College Center for the Study of World Languages and their mission is to share examples of linguistic and cultural diversity with language learners. In the “Language by Country” section of the LangMedia website they provide videos which focus on practical aspects of everyday life (For Ex: Basic Communication, Shopping, Transportation, Culture and Social Life). The conversations often include colloquial language and all videos are accompanied by translations and transcripts. The CultureTalk Iran section of the LangMedia website features video interviews with people of different ages and backgrounds. The interviews are primarily conducted by students and translations and transcripts are provided.
LearnPersian.com – YouTube – This website and its Persian language video course were created by students of the KTH Royal Institute of Technology, a university in Stockholm, Sweden. The site is comprehensive and thorough, providing a wealth of information about Iran’s cuisine, history, geography and culture in addition to a ton of lessons.
Persian Alphabet Video Lessons – iTunes – This video podcast was created by Hossein Samei and Reza Nadimi of the Emory College Language Center. The lessons consist of audio instruction accompanied by visual illustrations to teach Persian spelling, pronunciation, and vocabulary.
Farsi Wizard Video Lessons – YouTube – Tina, a native speaker of Persian from Iran, is the teacher behind the Farsi Wizard program. She provides useful lessons teaching conversational Farsi to English speakers.
Persian Online Academy – YouTube – This website offers video lessons that are organized into 3 levels: Basic, Intermediate and Advanced. Students will learn how to speak and write Persian along with acquiring useful vocabulary.
Talk Like A Persian Video Lessons – YouTube – This YouTube channel teaches Persian language lessons using clips from Persian films.
Learn Persian (Farsi) for Beginners by Mauwood Academy – YouTube – This YouTube channel offers 55 concise Persian lessons for beginners.
Persianada – YouTube – This YouTube channel features lots of information about Persian language and culture that will be interesting for Persian language learners.
Learn Persian with PersianPod101.com – iTunes – This is a fun and informative podcast to add to your regular Persian language learning regimen. Every lesson is free for a period of time; each new audio and video lesson (3-5 lessons are published per week) is free to access for 3 weeks before being locked into their library, which can be accessed only with paid membership.
Café Denj Video Series – YouTube – This series of 14 episodes was made to accompany the Persian of Iran Today program by the University of Texas at Austin, to enhance the learning experience for Advanced level Persian students and to teach about Iranian culture.
Learn Persian by Complete Language Lessons – Spotify – 10 free Persian lessons on Spotify.
Learn to Speak Persian for Beginners – Spotify – This beginner Persian class has 22 lessons with over 2 hours and 15 minutes of instruction to introduce to you to the basics of Persian.
Persian Podcast by Hosein Pouriman – iTunes – This podcast is far more than a language podcast. Persian language learners can expect to hear about Iran’s culture, history, lifestyle, cuisine and travel tips with Persian language tips sprinkled throughout.
Learn Persian with Chai and Conversation – iTunes – This podcast by Leyla Shams teaches conversational Persian over the course of 60 lessons, each of which is 15-20 minutes in length. The lessons are fun and casual but effective.
Defense Language Institute (DLI) Persian (Farsi) Language Basic Course – This Persian (Farsi) language course is part of the language learning program developed by U.S. Department of Defense as a means of training employees for foreign assignments. It was designed to train native English language speakers to use Persian proficiently when in a Persian speaking country. Includes 79 audio files in MP3 format with a running time of 23 hours and 46 minutes.
Colloquial Persian: The Complete Course for Beginners – This collection of audio files, each a few minutes in length, provides concise and clear Persian language instruction for beginners. These free audio lessons were made to accompany the Colloquial Persian: The Complete Course for Beginners textbook, which is a book aimed at teaching Persian to beginners in a practical way to prepare them to effectively communicate with confidence in everyday situations.
Foreign Service Institute (FSI) Spoken Persian (Farsi) Course – The Foreign Service Institute (U.S. Department of State) originally created this and many other language learning courses to train government employees and members of the foreign service in preparation for a post abroad. This course was designed to train participants to speak Persian naturally and effectively. This course teaches Persian as a spoken language and focuses on pronunciation and conversations encountered in everyday life situations. The creators of this course believe that the student should be well grounded in spoken Persian before undertaking written Persian, so as not to hinder progress. This 12 unit course is accompanied by an e-textbook in PDF format with 398 pages and 24 audio files in MP3 format with a running time of 7 hours and 4 minutes.
Peace Corps Persian (Farsi) Language Lessons – This language learning material was developed by the United States Peace Corps to train their volunteers prior to sending them around the world on their missions. The Persian course consists of 12 lessons, each featuring a dialogue followed by various drills and practice exercises and includes e-textbook in PDF format with pages.
Defense Language Institute (DLI) Persian (Farsi) Language Refresher Course – This Persian language course is part of the language learning program developed by U.S. Department of Defense as a means of training employees for foreign assignments. This course is intended to be used as a refresher course for those who have completed a Persian language course and need to review. Includes 5 e-textbooks in PDF format with pages and 4 audio files in MP3 format with a running time of 1 hour and 54 minutes.
Persian Language Online – YouTube – This online learning portal is brought to you by the Persian Language Foundation, a UK based charity with the goal of promoting and teaching the Persian language to English speakers around the world. This is a high-quality resource that provides thorough instruction which is entirely free. The foundation provides Beginner (Unit 1-20), Elementary (Unit 21-40) and Intermediate (Unit 41-60) level lessons, in addition to introductory units about the Alphabet and Numbers. Video animations, audio recordings, glossaries, translations, transliterations, activities and more are available for every unit. The foundation has also created some fantastic learning apps aimed at young children – iTunes – Google Play.
Virtual Persian – This site was created by the New York University’s Department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies to help students to develop Persian language skills, including conversation, listening, reading, and grammar skills, with high-quality lessons accompanied by text and audio. The learning portal contains lessons in various levels: The Alphabet, Elementary 1, Elementary 2, Intermediate to Advanced Advanced 1 and Advanced Advanced 2.
Persian Online – This fantastic and free resource is brought to you by the University of Texas at Austin. It serves as an online Persian grammar reference for students to use as a supplemental resource. In addition to teaching the basics of the Persian language, like transcription, the writing system, vocabulary and extensive grammar instruction, you will learn about the history of the Persian language, Persian proverbs and even how to type in Persian. Students will find the quizzes section and vocabulary lists with audio quite useful and will learn about Iranian culture through informative videos.
Persian Dee – Mohsen Mahdavi Mazdeh began building this website in 2006 when he was 16 years old, and now over a decade later he is a Ph.D. student studying linguistics. The website is very well done and clearly a labor of love. Learners will find 32 Interactive Lessons with tests to their track progress. In addition to the lessons, students can learn from the other great sections: Reading and Listening to Persian Texts, Visual Vocabulary Lessons, Colloquial Persian as spoken in Tehran, and Alphabet Tutorial.
Persian of Iran Today Program by the University of Texas at Austin – This two-volume multimedia program by Anousha Shahsavari and Blake Atwood includes the first and second volume of The Persian of Iran Today textbook, as well as accompanying audio and video files.
- Persian of Iran Today Volume 1 – This PDF course book consists of 10 units and can be read online or downloaded. The corresponding audio and video files can be found here. The book provides an overview of Persian, its writing system, and sounds. Each unit has corresponding listening exercises and drills and covers highly relevant vocabulary.
- Persian of Iran today Volume 2 – This PDF course book consists of 5 units and can be read online or downloaded. The corresponding audio and video files can be found here. This book comprises five units, which cover more advanced and grammar lessons and listening exercises, building on the knowledge acquired in Volume 1. Monologue videos, which feature characters from the Café Denj video series, also accompany the units and aim to improve listening comprehension.
Persian Catch Up@the Café Program – This is another Persian learning gem brought to you by the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. It is for intermediate and above students who need to improve their reading and listening skills before moving on to advanced level Persian classes.
Easy Persian Lessons – Learn how to read, write and speak Persian with hundreds of free lessons. Students can learn from writing drills, a concise dictionary, and a list of common phrases. More information on how to get started with the free program and navigate the website can be found here.
BBC Languages: Persian – The BBC Persian Language learning website offers some helpful resources and information like Key Phrases with Audio and a Persian Alphabet Tutorial, as well as a general guide with Facts about the Persian language. All BBC language learning pages were “archived” a few years back due to cost-cutting measures, which means they are no longer adding new information or updating the pages. However, you should have no problem accessing the existing information.
Learn101 – This website features free beginner lessons to guide you through learning Persian (Farsi), step by step, starting with the Alphabet, moving on to grammar, vocabulary, and phrases, and finally offering simple quizzes to test your progress. These lessons are a basic introduction to the language and have images, text, and audio.
CoolJugator – CoolJugator is a verb conjugator website that makes conjugation easy and straightforward.
Ilanguages – This site is designed to teach Persian with free vocabulary, phrases, grammar, and flashcards while focusing on highly used words and phrases necessary for everyday living.
Omniglot – This site specializes in providing information about languages and their alphabets and writing systems.
Digital Dialects – This website makes learning vocabulary fun with interactive games.
Hello World – Hello World has created hundreds of free language learning games and activities that cater to the way children learn best. The goal is to teach languages using cognitive immersion and to keep the process fun in order to increase learning potential. Approximately 1,300 vocabulary words are introduced over 70 different categories.
Goethe Verlag – This website offers 100 Persian lessons for beginners, each with words, phrases and corresponding audio files.
Loecsen – Loecson offers a free mini-course consisting of fun lessons that provide a basic introduction to Persian with the help of text, audio, simple illustrations, and quizzes to test your progress. You will learn high-frequency vocabulary words and commonly used phrases relating to 17 themes which are relevant to everyday life.
Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center Persian Tutorial – This Language Survival Kit Module for Persian (Farsi) contains basic vocabulary with audio. Both the audio files and the PDF text can be downloaded. An interactive Pronunciation Guide, a Culture Orientation Video Series and country profiles for both Iran and Afghanistan are informative.
I Love Languages Persian Lessons – This site provides 17 beginner Persian (Farsi) lessons designed to help you improve your speaking, reading, and writing skills. Supplementary resources include vocabulary, grammar tips, and phrases.
Perslang Lessons – This website is relatively new and features a small collection of free introductory lessons teaching spoken Persian.
LingvoSoft Persian Phrasebook – This site offers a basic phrasebook format with text and audio to help you learn essential Persian / Farsi vocabulary. It also offers a version of the phrasebook that uses the Romanized script.
Linguanaut: Persian Vocabulary – This free website offers a very basic introduction to Persian / Farsi vocabulary, phrases, and grammar. Although it does not provide audio to accompany the vocabulary, it can be a handy resource list.
Learn The Persian Alphabet with UCLA Heritage Language Lessons – This Persian Alphabet program was created by The National Heritage Language Resource Center, at the University of California, Los Angeles, with funding by the U.S. Department of Education to foster language learning for heritage speakers (those who speak a language other than English at home).
Listen & Learn Program by The UCLA Center for Near Eastern Studies – This program provides listening and practice exercises for Egyptian Arabic, Modern Standard Arabic, Moroccan Arabic, Lebanese, Persian, Iraqi and Turkish language students. Each video is accompanied by a translation, transliteration, glossary, and quiz.
Lang-8 – This free network is a nice tool to support your language learning. Native speakers are available to make corrections to your text and provide feedback. In return, you provide help to others.
HiNative – iTunes – Google Play – HiNative is an app brought to you by the creators of Lang-8 that allows you to ask questions to native speakers from around the world using your smartphone. HiNative was created to be used alongside Lang-8 and is different from Lang-8 in that it focuses on a Q&A type of learning while Lang-8 is a journal writing experience.
RhinoSpike – RhinoSpike is an interesting website that connects language learners from all over the world allowing them to exchange audio files to help improve pronunciation skills. It allows you to submit text that you would like to hear read aloud by a native speaker, and in turn, you receive the audio file. In exchange, and to speed up the process you can, in turn, provide audio files in your native language for other learners.
MyLanguageExchange.com – This online language learning community connects you with other learners so that you can practice speaking in your second language with a native speaker and vice-versa.
Italki – A community of over 2 million language learners that facilitates free language practice with native speakers. You simply exchange time teaching your native language for time learning a foreign language, making it mutually beneficial and free.
EuroNews – EuroNews is a news media company that features news from a European perspective and offers content in 12 different languages online.
Deutsche Welle – German broadcasting company DW provides news in Persian.
SBS Radio Persian Program – iTunes – SBS is an Australian broadcasting company that targets non-native English speakers and creates programming in many languages. This podcast allows you to listen to interviews, features and community stories from the SBS Radio Persian program, including Australian and world news.
Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty – RFE / RL is dedicated to providing reliable and responsible news reporting for countries that do not currently have a free press. They offer Iranian news in Persian or English, news for Afghanistan in Dari, and news for Tajikstan in Tajik.
Aryanpour – A comprehensive English to Persian dictionary and translator which also features a Persian Keyboard and other dictionaries like German To Farsi, Italian to Farsi, Swedish to Persian, Spanish to Persian and French to Farsi.
Forvo – This crowd-sourced site is a great tool to help with pronunciation as it allows you to listen to words and phrases spoken by native speakers.
Tatoeba – Tatoeba is a large, crowdsourced database of sentences and translations. This free resource allows you to search for a word and get results showing that word in sentences with translations.
Talkify – This free, multilingual website is a very interesting and valuable resource that allows you to listen to text in foreign languages. Simply insert a URL into the search field on Talkify and it will automatically detect the language and read the text of that website aloud in a natural sounding voice.
A Vocabulary Persian, Arabic and English – This book is by David Hopkins and abridged from the Quarto Edition of Richardson’s Dictionary by Charles Wilkins.
Modern Persian Conversation-Grammar: With reading lessons, English-Persian vocabulary and Persian letters by William St. Clair Towers Tisdall.
Persian Grammar – This book by Fritz Rosen consists of a short grammar, dialogues, and extracts from Nasir-Eddin Shah’s diaries, tales etc and a vocabulary.
What Are Your Favorite Free Persian Language Learning Resources?
We have done a lot of research to bring you the best, free resources that the internet has to offer and we want to make sure our list is always comprehensive. Please share your favorites in the comments below.