When you ask a language learner what their goals are, almost everyone says “improve my speaking”. Just like improving your writing, listening, or any other skill, there are techniques you can use to improve your spoken Persian in a targeted way. Here are eight of our favorites.
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1. Speak, speak, speak
Let’s start right off by saying that there isn’t a magic pill for speaking Persian better. That would be too easy, right? Basically, the best and most efficient way to speak better is to, well – speak! Please commit to practicing often and with as many different people as possible. If you’re learning in your own country, you can increase your practice time by meeting your classmates after class, finding a language exchange partner, or joining an online community of Persian learners.
2. Reflect on your conversations
After your conversation is over, please take a moment to reflect. How did it go? How much do you think you understood Persian? How comfortable did you feel with the topic of conversation? Did you encounter any unknown Persian words? The mere act of thinking about it in this way will increase your confidence for the next time you speak Persian (and give your targeted things to work on, for example, vocabulary you didn’t understand).
3. Listen and read
You need words in order to speak, right? Class time is great for learning Persian vocabulary, but there are other ways you can increase yours: Watch Iranian movies, listen to music, the radio, and to podcasts. Read Persian books, magazines, and blogs. When listening and reading, find new and interesting expressions, slang idioms, and synonyms, write down this new material and look up anything you’re not familiar with. All this will provide more material for you to use next time you practice.
4. Prepare cheat sheets
Part of nervousness around speaking Persian is the feeling of not knowing what to say. To solve this, prepare a cheat sheet. Are you going to the restaurant? Before you go to the restaurant, research vocabulary relating to your condition and some common phrases you’ll probably need. Use this technique before going to pay a bill, going to the store, job interviews, making a complaint, or for any other situation that might make you anxious.
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5. Pick up the phone
some people find phone conversations particularly challenging. Why? Because on the mobile phone, we can’t see the other person’s body language or watch their mouth move, both of which are tools that really help communication. To feel more confident on the mobile phone, start small with phone conversations with friends, then move on to more challenging calls like making appointments or inquiries. (This is a good time to use tip 4, and prepare a list of questions and useful vocabulary to help you during your call!)
6. Record your voice
We know, we know, most people dislike hearing their voice recorded, but it’s actually an extremely beneficial way to improve your speaking skill! Hearing yourself on a mobile recorder shows you things you might not realize. On the other hand, you could be pleasantly surprised to hear that your Persian speaking is far better than you thought! For bonus points, take your recording to your Persian teacher or to a native speaker friend and have them give you feedback.
7. Learn phrases rather than single words
Another technique to increase your fluency is to speak using a variety of phrases rather than individual words. (You probably do this all the time in your mother tongue.) Instead of automatically asking سلام ، چطوری؟ “Hello, how are you?”, mix it up by choosing other expressions like چه خبر “What’s up?” (Be careful though: Some idioms will be very informal and not ideal for some situations!)
8. Have fun
Let’s face it. In fact, it’s far easier to learn something new when you’re having fun. Inject silliness into your speaking practice by talking to yourself when you’re alone, singing along with popular Persian songs, doing tongue twisters, or doing one-minute “impromptu speeches” on randomly chosen topics (such as snakes, coffee, Iran, or subjects such as “If I ruled the world, I would…”, “Three surprising facts about me,” or “Which came first, egg or chicken?”). Great practice and great, silly fun.