Category Archives: Culture learning

Get language input with social media

If you’re like me, you waste too much time on Facebook. Why not redeem some of that time by using it to learn language? I’ve recently “followed” (the technical Facebook term) two Facebook web pages.

What that means it that I get a steady stream of Afghan jokes and news stories in my Facebook news feed. The jokes provide fun language practice and a little cultural input. (They are written in Persian script, but with colloquial pronunications, so that is stretching.) The news stories come up in English, Dari, and Pashtu, so I can either struggle through the Dari, or at least understand the content by reading the English. (Here’s a resource for learning to read news stories, by the way.)

I’m sure there are lots of other good Facebook pages as well; these are just two that I stumbled upon. Follow a few for yourself, and you’ll be sure to get fresh language input, even if you’re just wasting time!

A wealth of cultural material

I’ve only just discovered the Packard Foundation’s online collection of Persian texts in English. There’s quite a large number of classic Persian texts in English translation. The translations are older—just public-domain stuff—so they’ll be a little more difficult to modern ears. There are lots of translations of Persian historical documents, like the Memoirs of Humayun, the Baburnama, and the Akbarnama—you’ll appreciate your next trip to Delhi much more for having read them. There are also classics of Persian literature, like the Shahnama, the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, the story of Laili and Majnun, the Diwan of Hafiz (in several translations), and many others.


Great stories for language learning

This brief post is just to share a neat web site, which has a great little collection of short, short Persian stories. These are not “short stories” as in ten pages, but “short stories” as in one paragraph.

Story 01

Here is a taste, appropriate for Valentine’s Day:

پیر مرد از صدای خر و پف پیر زن هر شب شکایت داشت !
پیر زن هرگز نمی پذرفت…
شبی پیر مرد آن صدا را ضبط کرد که صبح حرفش را ثابت کند…
اما صبح پیر زن دیگر هرگز بیدار نشد…
و آن صدای ضبط شده لا لایی هر شب پیر مرد شـــد…

My translation:

A old man always complained about his wife’s snoring.

The old woman never accepted it.

One night the old man made a recording so that he could prove his point the next morning.

But the old woman never woke up.

And that recording has become the old man’s lullaby, every night.

(Go get a tissue if you need to, I’ll wait.)

There is a wealth of material out there for language learning, but finding them is always serendipitous. In this case, I saw a little story/parable on Facebook, and typed a phrase from it into Google. One of the results was this collection of stories.