About Persepolis

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 the 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, 180-hour, summer, Persian course in Austin. As of 2007, Persepolis shifted its emphasis to a series of dictionary and textbook projects.

Since 2000, Persepolis Institute has numbered among its administrative, instructional, and research consultants: Javad Abedi, Behrad Aghaei, Mardin Aminpour, Koorosh Angali, Adam Cameron, Navid Hayeri,  Aman Masoomi, Azita Mokhtari, Ali Akbar Pejmanaryan, Carmen Taleghani-Nikazm, George Rivas, Maryam Sadeghi, 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, e.g.,  Persian Dictionaries Seminar, Persian Vocabulary Seminar, Advanced Persian Listening Seminar, and 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 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 (2010).

Persian Grammar and Verbs (2012).

Persian Conversation(s) (2015).

* Persian reader compilation.

Persian Newspaper Reader: Second Edition (2000).

Persian Fiction Reader: Second Edition (2000).

Advanced Persian Reading: Autobiographical Writing (2012).

Advanced Persian Reader (2015).

* Persian glossary/dictionary compilation.

Basic Tajiki Word List (2003).

Persian-English Biotechnology Glossary (2005).

5,001 Common Persian Words (2016).

Dictionary of New Persian Words (2016).

Hippocrene Persian-English  English-Persian Practical Dictionary (2016).

Persian Slang Dictionary (2016).

Persepolis Courses and Seminars

Long-Distance SKYPE Video Conference Tutorials

One-on-one or small group lessons on predetermined 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 (2012), half of the sixty 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 The 5,000 Most Common Persian Words (2013), 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.

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 New Persian Words [2012]),  (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 (2012) 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. Several of the book’s 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 form.

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.