May 24, 2014 | Persian
I Love Assimil for Persian!
Now studying Persian via German, French, and English.
A few days ago I began Assimil’s Le Persan, and it is going great. What a carefully put together book. It has wit, it has scrupulous editing, it has excellent pacing.
My Persian Book from Assimil; CDs Are Loitering Nearby
Assimil is kind of a hole in my language-learning experience. Their stuff could keep me busy for the rest of my life! Assimil, as I have mentioned before on this site, offers products through all kinds of base languages, so you can study Arabic via German, or Swedish via French, or Russian via English, and so on.
If you are serious about language and serious about Assimil, though, you are best off learning French, as that is the base for the largest number of Assimil products. For example, I think Persian is offered only through a French base, though I have heard rumors, which I haven’t yet confirmed, that it will soon be offered in English as well.
Assimil, a French company founded in 1929, is a language stalwart in the teach-yourself realm. They have a long history. With the advent of the web and such low barriers to entry, there are many new or newish vendors these days that really don’t pay attention to the details.
Not paying attention is not Assimil’s style.
They even use real paragraphs, containing a bunch of actual words, to explain things. Their books are not full of cutesey bullets and silly games. They are for humans who don’t mind thinking.
A Piece of the Book; That’s My Writing
My Assimil Persian book does have cute little drawings, though, whose artistry I am appreciating. And there are audio files to go with the book, though the CDs containing them are languishing on the floor at the moment. I will extract them from the packaging and install them soon.
When you study one language in another, I am realizing, the transliterations can be a bit confusing. For example, the transliteration for “six” in Persian is shish in my English materials but chéch in my Assimil. “Friend” is transliterated as doust in French, but dust in English.
Names for Persian diacritics and other features are of course different from language to language. In English, the word “fatha” is used to refer to the little diagonal slash written over a Persian consonant in order to indicate it should be followed by a short a sound. (Fathas aren’t normally written, but they often show up in learners’ texts.) In French this little slashy thing is called a fathé.
Such challenges are trivial, however, and can easily be overcome.
In the Assimil practice exercises, one great thing is that I am regularly being asked to translate Persian into French. That way I get to practice two languages at once!
I was a little concerned that reading about a difficult-ish language in yet another language that was not native to me would feel like a chore.
How wrong I was. It doesn’t feel in the slightest bit like a chore. Quite the opposite, in fact. I am more interested in reading about language in French than I have ever been interested in reading about anything else in French in all the time I have studied it. I’ve read novels, poems, news, and history in French—and loved some of that—but this is far and away the best.
I am totally sucked in. And that’s what you need to learn and improve. Finding a thing that sucks you in, and then finding a way to make room for it in your schedule, are two of life’s more important challenges.
Hm, it seems they have gotten rid of the English version of the Assimil site, so if you don’t speak French and would like human intervention in your Assimil research, I recommend you get in touch with Schoenhof’s in Cambridge, Massachusetts. They are the big U.S. distributor for Assimil and have very nice, well-informed, linguaphilic employees over there.
By the way, alongside the books I am using, I have been doing tons of Pimsleur walks in Central Park and now have just 1.5 lessons left for Persian. It has been beautiful study-walking weather.
Central Park’s Conservatory Garden, Too Little Visited
A Sneaky Egret at Harlem Meer in the North End of the Park
In the past week or so I’ve walked by weddings. I’ve walked by wacky birds. I’ve walked by wacky people. I’ve walked in the (light) rain. I’ve walked in the sun.
I still go to sleep with Pimsleur, too. I took a nap yesterday, falling asleep to Finnish, which was totally relaxing. Then last night I fell asleep to Pimsleur Swahili.
I woke up with the imprint of an iPhone on my back!