No matter how good your grammar is, if you don’t know any Persian words that you can use it with, you (literally) won’t get very far with your language skills: Vocabulary opens up doors to new worlds and makes learning Farsi fun and satisfying.
But expanding the range of Persian words you know is like a diet: You have to put in some effort and there’s neither a magic tip nor a secret or one-approach-fits-all way to do it. Everyone has to find what works for them; but being patient, setting realistic goals, and rewarding yourself if you reach them are great techniques that can be complemented with any of the following points.
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1. Use Memory Techniques
This is a mental shortcut and one of the best ways to memorize Persian words which are not even so easy. Persian learners can create associations between words. To memorize Persian words in one night, when you want to memorize several words, you can create a new word with the first letter of each word and memorize that word. Like: “هوا”, “تاکسی”, “لباس”. If we separate the first letters of each word and attach them together, a new word is created: “هتل”. Actually, here also one has to remember the acronym but with regular practice, one can come up with useful and creative connections. Creating and practicing more and more acronyms is one of the best ways to memorize Persian words.
2. Create a learning environment
When you’re studying in Iran, you will hear and read the Persian language everywhere and learn much faster through immersion. But you don’t have to go to Iran to slowly increase the number of Persian words you know – you can create an inspiring and study-friendly environment wherever you are: Buy Persian magazines or books, watch movies, and cook (or just eat) the Iranian food.
3. Put the words in context
A great idea to learn more Persian words faster is to put them in context: Instead of writing lists of random Farsi words, try to put them in sentences. That way, you know how that word is used in real life. In addition, if you come up with funny sentences, it will be easier to memorize. Depending on how you learn Persian, you can also make drawings or find images that will complement the sentences and put the words into their natural habitat.
4. Learn from real-life situations
Speaking of context: Movies, TV shows, Persian books, podcasts or Persian songs are not only a great source for the most common Persian words, but they can also help you memorize the words because they always come associated with a scene, a person, or a (real-life) event. So, try to read books or watch Iranian movies in the original language or with subtitles and figure out what the words mean. If you see or hear a Persian phrase or sentence that you don’t understand, write it down, look it up, and start memorizing it.
5. Take it to the next level
If you want to take language learning to the next level, leave enough space for mind maps with associated Persian words, synonyms or antonyms. If you want to get the most out of your learning process, try not to translate the Persian word into your native language, but instead, explain and describe it in the Persian language.
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6. Find the tools that work for you
Everyone learns words differently, so if you don’t already know what works for you, try as many different ways – or a combination thereof – as possible: Flashcards, apps, lists, games, or post-its, are great ways to memorize Persian vocabulary. The same goes for finding the right time: Some people want to set apart a specific time, others learn words more spontaneously. No matter which approaches you choose, be sure to get into some kind of rhythm – practice makes perfect, after all.
7. Make it interactive
Just like you have to find the right tools that work for you, it’s also so important to make the learning experience as encompassing as possible: Don’t just read the Persian words from cards or lists – hear their pronunciation, say them out loud yourself and write or type them. The more you make your encounter with the Persian words an experience for all senses, the better. (Why not eat juice while learning what the different flavors are called?)
8. Focus on useful words
If you want to expand your Persian vocabulary because you want to work at an Iranian marketing firm, you probably don’t have to read Hafez’s poetry or focus on words that pertain to the 5 centuries ago. The more practical and popular the Persian words are for your career, hobbies and real-life conversations, the easier they are to learn – and you will be able to use them more often. (This can be like a game: You can reward yourself every time you used a certain Persian word in a real-life conversation.)
9. Repeat and then repeat some more
Remember to not just repeat current Persian words, but also the “old stuff” that you think you’ve memorized already. You don’t have to look at the stored words as often as the new vocabulary, but the more you use the Persian words, the better you’ll remember and recall them.