About Persepolis Institute

Persepolis and Persepolis Institute

Persepolis, the Western name for the famous palatial Achaemenid shrine called “Takht-e Jamshid” [throne of (the mythological king) Jamshid] in Persian, is a half-hour’s drive north of the city of Shiraz. In ruins since Alexander the Great’s conquest of the Achaemenid Empire in 330 B.C.E., Persepolis stands as vivid testimony to such features of Persian culture of the day as adaptability and eclecticism, religious and ethnic tolerance, valuing of family and friendship, love of national language and literature, and devotion to nature and spring.

Such cultural features relate to orientations at Persepolis Institute, a group of Austin-based Persian (Dari, Farsi, and Tajiki) language experts who serve as research and instructional consultants for Persepolis’s non-academic language research and writing projects and instructional programs.

Two core elements in Persepolis orientations are, first, the privileging of authentic texts, i.e., oral and written texts by Iranians for Iranians and, second, primary focus on Persian language situations and texts which relate to Iranian orientations which Americans have difficulty “reading” or understanding. A Persepolis textbook called Reading Iran Reading Iranians: Second Edition Revised (2002) illustrates this focus. Likewise, various Persepolis instructional programs with titles that begin with “RIRI®” [= reading Iran reading Iranians] highlight the special attention given at Persepolis to appreciating Iranian perspectives.

Coordinating all Persepolis Institute activities is its founder Michael Craig Hillmann, former Language and Cultural Affairs Officer for the American Peace Corps in Iran and former Director of Courses at Academy of Language in Tehran. The author or editor of a dozen Persian readers, textbooks, and glossaries/dictionaries, Michael Hillmann brings to Persepolis research/writing projects and instructional programs Iran-based experience in designing non-academic, proficiency-based Persian instructional materials and courses, especially advanced courses which deal with Persian language listening and speaking skills beyond levels which university Persian programs can develop in students.

Between 1993 and 2006, Persepolis’s chief activities were textbook and reader compilation and an intensive summer, 180-hour Persian course in Austin. As of 2007, Persepolis shifted its emphases to the development of one-week Persian seminars and dictionary projects.

Since 2000, Persepolis Institute has numbered among its administrative, instructional, and research consultants: Behrad Aghaei, Ahmad Aminpour, Koorosh Angali, Adam Cameron, Navid Hayeri, Azita Mokhtari, Ali Akbar Pejmanaryan, Carmen Taleghani-Nikazm, George Rivas, Ramin Sarraf, Maryam Shariati, and Jasper Zanjani.

Persepolis Activities and Services

* On-site consultation on teaching methods and materials at government and university  sites for proficiency-based Persian language courses and programs. Suggestions and  recommendations for methods and materials after an on-site visit with supervisors,  instructors, and students, and perusal of existing course materials.

* Proficiency-based Persian course syllabus design for government and university language  programs. Lesson-/syllabus-writing to meet specific aims in specific language courses  and programs.

* 2-day, 3-day and 1-week intensive Persian language seminars and courses on site around  America throughout the year. Persian Dictionaries Seminar. Persian Vocabulary Seminar.  Advanced Persian Listening Seminar. Persian Grammar Seminar.

* Persian language test design and writing.

* Web-based Persian text lessons for self-study review. Short reading lessons consisting of  an authentic text on a timely subject, along with canning, skimming, and gisting  exercises, a Persian-English glossary, English translation of the text, and an answer key.

* Lectures (in English or in Persian) on Iranian society and culture.

* Technical Persian-English and English-Persian translation.

* English translation of  Persian literary works, e.g., lyric verse and prose fiction.

* Persian textbook writing.

Reading Iran Reading Iranians: Second Edition Revised (2002).

Persian Vocabulary Acquisition: Second Edition (2003).

Basic Tajiki Textbook and  Reader: Second Edition (2003).

Persian Listening (2008).

Persian Reading and Writing (2009).

Persian Grammar and Verbs (2011).

Persian Conversation(s) (2012).

* Persian reader compilation.

Persian Newspaper Reader: Second Edition (2000).

Persian Fiction Reader: Second Edition (2000).

Persian Advanced Reader (2012).

* Persian glossary/dictionary compilation.

Basic Tajiki Word List (2003).

Persian-English Biotechnology Glossary (2005).

4,500 Common Persian Words (2012).

Dictionary of New Persian Words (2012).

Hippocrene Persian-English  English-Persian Practical Dictionary (2012).

Dictionary of Persian Slang and Secret Languages (2012).

Persepolis Courses and Seminars

Long-Distance SKYPE Video Conference Tutorials

One-on-one or small group lessons on pretermined subjects with specially designed materials for students of Persian at any level who have access to the Skype video-conferencing application.

Persian Vocabulary Seminar

The one-week, intensive, 28-hour Persian Vocabulary Seminar (= PVS) involves lecture and discussion about Persian word forms and completion of exercises designed to help Seminar participants recognize patterns which Persian words exhibit, especially Arabic loanwords which make up more than 50% of everyday and technical vocabulary in Persian.

Americans studying Persian and their instructors have long recognized that learning and remembering Persian vocabulary is the chief challenge in improving Persian skills beyond Basic Persian. PVS addresses that challenge in its detailed presentation of descriptive rules for why Persian words exhibit the forms they have. PVS aims to make it substantially easier for Persian specialists to make good guesses about unfamiliar vocabulary in the context of written and spoken texts, to pronounce many unfamiliar words correctly, and to remember new vocabulary through appreciation of shared word forms and relationships within families of words.

Seminar texts mostly come from a textbook called Persian Grammar and Verbs (2008), half of the seventy units in which treat vocabulary forms and patterns and present texts which illustrate those forms and patterns. Persian Grammar and Verbs lessons also feature review exercises and tests which seminar participants complete to  reinforce their appreciation of vocabulary acquisition issues. Seminar participants also work on their own with Basic Farsi Word List (2010), a self-study guide to Persian vocabulary.

During the last seminar session, participants get introduced to Persian Vocabulary Acquisition: An Intermediate Reader and Guide to Word Forms and The Arabic Element in Persian: Second Edition (2003), which they can use in self-study after the seminar, along with its audio CD, to continue working on vocabulary acquisition and maintenance.

Advanced Persian Listening Seminar

The one-week, intensive, 28-hour Advanced Persian Listening Seminar (= APLS) practices Persian listening techniques.

After a non-technical review of elements of efficient foreign language listening and a practical introduction to Persian-specific listening issues, APLS deals with a series of recorded audio and video texts accompanied by a packet of lessons adapted from Persian Listening (2009). Persian Listening is one of four parallel textbooks in a series called Persian for America(ns): The companion volumes have the titles: Persian Conversation(s), Persian Reading and Writing, and Persian Grammar and Verbs.

Persian Listening begins with a review of basics in that skill area and proceeds to present a wide variety of authentic and prompted listening texts in the context of proficiency-based lessons. APLS treats six sorts of texts in lessons adapted from Persian Listening: (1) self-contained, authentic segments of Persian radio news broadcasts from Iran, Europe, and America; (2) prompted Persian telephone conversations on mostly controversial topics and activities; (3) popular Persian songs and classic Persian poems; (4) prompted and authentic monologues and dialogues on topics of current interest; (5) jokes with culture-specific content and points; and (6) seven feature-length Iranian motion pictures and a documentary film viewed in the context of a lesson designed to increase facility in watching and appreciating Persian movies.

Persian Fiction Seminar

The Persian Fiction Seminar (= PFS) is a three-week intensive language course, which makes use of a 300-page textbook and reader called RIRI® Persian Fiction Syllabus.

RIRI® Persian Fiction Syllabus surveys story-telling in Persian from the 10th century to the 21st century through a series of texts presented in chronological order in numbered, self-contained lessons. The texts suggest the range in Persian prose fiction. But the RIRI® Persian Fiction Syllabus does not aim to increase reader appreciation of such writing as fiction or to talk about such writing in literary critical terms, leading to a literary critical assessment. Rather Syllabus lessons focus on texts as repositories of important vocabulary, idioms and expressions, forms, and patterns, on the one hand, and as Iranian self-views and reflections of Iranian society and culture, on the other. In other words, the RIRI® Persian Fiction Syllabus is a tool for advanced students of Persian in classroom settings where improvement in reading skills and skill in talking about written texts constitute chief course goals. As for the third goal, increase in appreciation of features of Iranian society and Iranian perspectives and views, the very label ‘RIRI®’, which stands for “Reading Iran Reading Iranians,” suggests the relevance of reading such texts. Americans have had demonstrable difficulty reading Iran and reading Iranians since before the fall of the Mosaddeq government in 1953. Contemporary short stories and novels offer American readers a new window into the study of Iran and Iranians.

Persian Newspaper Seminar

The one-week, intensive, 28-hour Persian Newspaper Seminar (= PNS) aims to help course participants to increase efficiency and speed in dealing with Persian language newspapers. Seminar sessions examine front pages of Persian newspapers, headlines and titles of articles and other features, typical content in Persian newspapers, and Persian newspaper vocabulary and jargon. Class sessions also involve practice scanning, skimming, and gisting Persian newspaper articles and editorials, identifying differences between purposes and content of Iranian and American newspapers, and appreciating orientations which government-sponsorship and censorship lend to newspaper reportage. Authentic newspaper texts, the exclusive focus of Seminar activities, exhibit the variety illustrated in Persian Newspaper Reader: Second Edition (2000), which reader treats texts mostly texts from late 1996.

The seminar textbook is RIRI® Persian Reading Syllabus, which began in a study of over forty newspapers published in Tehran on 13 December 2004 and culling of materials from those publications. Besides syllabus lessons based on texts from those newspapers, RIRI® Persian Reading Syllabus includes lessons on representative articles and other features from issues of Persian newspapers published in England and North America.

Persian Dictionaries Seminar

The two- or three-day Persian Dictionaries Seminar (= PDS) consists of lecture, discussion, and practice, using materials in the 118-page Persian Dictionaries Syllabus (2005), which contains these sections: (1) Persian Dictionary Terms, (2) Persian Dictionaries: Issues, (3) Persian-English Dictionaries (Hayyem, Aryanpoor [1,2], Neghat-Dari, Olson-Tâjiki, Dunwoody-Tâjiki, Emami-Farhang Moaser [2005], Uses of Verb Parts in Neologisms Not Cited in Persian-English Dictionaries, and Hayeri et al., Dictionary of Newer Persian Words [2010]),  (4) English-Persian Dictionaries (Aryanpoor, Bateni, and Haghshenas), (5) Persian-Persian Dictionaries (Dehkhoda’s Loghatnâmé, Mo’in’s Intermediate Persian Dictionary, Farhang Moaser One-Volume, Sokhan One-Volume, and Sokhan Eight-Volume), (6) Specialized and Technical Persian Dictionaries (Journalism Dictionary, Dictionary of Political Terms, Computer Dictionary, Economics Dictionary, Military Terms Dictionary, Dictionary of Argot, Law Dictionary, and Language Academy word lists).

Persian Grammar Seminar

The five-day, twenty-five hour Persian Grammar Seminar is  a course for advanced students of Persian which meets daily from 8 am to 1 pm. Seminar participants also spend another three hours each day reviewing that day’s class work and preparing for the next day’s seminar sessions. Several weeks before the seminar begins, participants receive a packet of materials for review before the first seminar session, and self-study perusal of seminar materials continues after the last seminar session.

Persian Grammar Seminar makes use of a new textbook called Persian Grammar and Verbs as the course syllabus. An audio CD of all seventy textbook texts accompanies the textbook. Persian Grammar and Verbs is part of a series of four-skills Persian textbooks. The other books in the series are: Persian Listening; Persian Reading and Writing,  and Persian Conversation(s).

Persian Grammar Seminar sessions focus on authentic reading and listening texts which appear in lesson modules in Persian Grammar and Verbs. Separate chapters in the textbook treat nouns, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, masculine and feminine gender, cardinal and ordinal numbers, prepositions, and conjunctions. Separate chapters deal with one-word “regular” verbs, one-word “irregular” verbs, multi-word verbs, intransitive and transitive verbs (active and passive). Separate chapters describe and illustrate all verb tenses and moods. One chapter each treats the verbs budán [to be], dâshtán [to have], kardán [to make/do], shodán [to become], khâstán [to want], tavânestán [to be able], bâyestán [to have to]and shâyestán [to be fitting/possible], dâdán [to give], goftán [to say/tell], rasidán [to arrive/reach], gereftán [to get/obtain/receive], raftán [to go], âmadán [to come], and khordán [to eat/drink/ingest; to undergo]. Chapters on Persian noun/adjective forms and patterns deal with plural noun forms, noun/adjective words formed with present verb stems, uses of verb past stems and participles, Arabic loanword patterns, and Arabic phrases and grammar in Persian. The book’s concluding chapters describe and illustrate relative clauses and uses of ke, temporal clauses and uses of , conditional sentences, causal, purpose, and result clauses, and the sequencing of verb tense forms.

Persian Grammar Seminar sessions primarily involve pre-reading and/or pre-listening and reading and/or listening activities, with recourse to and discussion of explanatory materials in the textbook when questions about morphology, syntax, and meaning arise in dealing with specific texts. The texts themselves present relevant and timely authentic materials on culture, economics, politics, religion, and society. Seminar participants spend most of their self-study time reading the descriptions and explanations accompanying the text or texts in each chapter.

Sample Persepolis Persian Lessons

* ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….,

adapted from Persian Fiction Reader.

* ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….,

adapted from Persian Newspaper Reader.

* ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….,

adapted from Reading Iran Reading Iranians.

* ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….,

adapted from Persian Vocabulary Acquisition.

* ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….,

adapted from Tajiki Textbook and Reader.

* ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….,

adapted from Basic Tajiki Word List.

* ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….,

adapted from Basic Farsi Word List.

* ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….,

adapted from Persian Reading and Writing.

* ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….,

adapted from Persian Grammar and Verbs.

* ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….,

adapted from Persian Conversations.

* ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….,

adapted from Persian Listening.

* A listening/reading lesson on Saied Ghahari’s animation feature film The Rebirth of Rostam.

* A reading lesson on Mohammad Baharlu’s short story “The Seven S’s.”

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