Previous immersion: 2018 November

“A few sugar cubes of Parsi” is the name of the Persian language and culture immersion course that I have successfully organised and hosted for the second year running in my home town of Shiraz.

The participants came to study from various countries and none had studied with me before; they had all found out about my Farsi immersion course online. Once they had signed up, we agreed on the start date for the course and I helped those that needed it to obtain a visa before coming to Iran.

As in 2017, each language learner stayed with an Iranian host family, and once again the families were chosen carefully based on student preferences. Some students chose to be in a house with children and some wanted to stay with a quiet family and have more privacy. The host families were responsible for providing a private bedroom, in addition to breakfast and dinner. All the families went the extra mile to help the students get the most out of their journey to improve their Farsi language.

Together with one of the hosts, I collected the language learners from Shiraz International Airport. The immersion then began with a welcome dinner for students and families at my parents’ home in Shiraz. My mother kindly prepared some delicious Iranian foods from the north and south of Iran to welcome the language learners and their host families and to help them get to know one another in a relaxed and authentic atmosphere.

At the welcome dinner the students received their learning packages, which included a handout, some Persian magazines, notebooks and a material bag with some beautiful calligraphy on it. The handout had sections with dialogue, songs and lyrics, text from Farsi novels and other relevant text, mostly about Shiraz, idioms, vocabulary and workshop activities and homework.

This time we set up a WhatsApp group, which we use to stay in touch and maintain communication between host families and language learners.

Our daily activities included three hours of Farsi lessons, which took place in a beautiful art gallery. Sarv-e-Naz gallery was an old Shirazi house, which has been converted into a gallery and café. The venue has a stunning garden and balcony.

Our classroom was quiet and comfortable, providing a calm environment that allowed students to relax and flourish in their learning.

Sometimes when it was sunny we had our lessons on the balcony, which offered a welcome change of scene.

For lunch we explored the best restaurants in Shiraz. Everyone had a choice of a main meal, side dishes and soft drinks, and the food and atmosphere were enjoyed by all.

In the afternoons, various activities were laid on, including:

  • Going to a theatre
  • A cooking workshop, in which we learned to cook three Iranian meals: Koko Sabzi, khoresht e Qeyme and Tahchin
  • Hafez workshop
  • Learning about Molavi and enjoying a taste of live classical Iranian music
  • Going to the cinema
  • A visit to Persepolis
  • Exploring the countryside and beautiful Shiraz mountains
  • Shopping at a Persian bookshop

And naturally, we visited most of the tourist sites in or around Shiraz.
After almost two weeks on the course and enjoying various cultural activities, all of the language learners were noticeably much more confident in their use of the language, and all of the students reported that they had thoroughly enjoyed their immersion experience and would recommend it to others.
Below you will find some participants testimonials.
Language learners receiving their certificate.

I enjoyed my time in Shiraz immensely. Both the language classes and staying with a host family.

Maryam is an excellent teacher- very patient, friendly and encouraging.  We had three hours of classes in the mornings- a mixture of grammar, reading, speaking , listening to songs, drinking tea and chatting.  We were given homework to do for the following day but there was always time in the evenings to have dinner and socialise with my lovely host family.

Lunch each day was in a different restaurant and food was always plentiful and delicious. After lunch we had various activities- visiting gardens in Shiraz, the bazar and mosque, cinema and theatre. We also had a cookery class which was great fun!  

Did I learn much Farsi?   I certainly feel much more confident in both speaking and writing and I am reading an actual novel in Farsi -for the first time!   

I would definitely recommend the immersion course for anyone who wants to improve their Farsi and experience Shiraz and Iranian hospitality! “Marianne B ,