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Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies

Language Contact and Email Address:

Saeed Honarmand


Persian is one of the important languages of the Middle East and Central Asia. It is known as Farsi in Iran, Dari in Afghanistan and Tajik in Tajikistan. It has about 110 million speakers worldwide, ranking it among the world’s 20 most widely spoken languages. 

The Persian language program at MESAAS is one of the oldest programs in the country. Many of its students have gone on to receive fellowships for language study abroad and other awards.

The program offers three levels: elementary, intermediate, advanced, as well as heritage courses for the same levels. Each level is taught over two semesters.

The philosophy of the Persian language program is to teach Persian as a living language to a diverse body of students with a wide range of academic and professional needs. Our courses aim to develop all five skills, namely listening, speaking, reading, writing and culture. Students are exposed to authentic materials (audio, video, and text). The goal is to train students to be able to read and listen to primary sources, also speak and write wide range of topics, including the academic ones.

At the elementary level, learners acquire skills to communicate about topics relating to themselves and their immediate environment. They learn to express basic feelings and needs, to ask and to respond to questions. 

At the intermediate level, learners acquire skills to communicate about a wide range of topics relating to the world beyond their immediate surroundings, including: biography, education, travel, health, arts, etc. At this level, students expand their knowledge of grammar and are able to read full-length texts.

At the advanced level, learners continue to develop their skills in reading, writing, and grammar. As they expand their knowledge of the Persian world, they learn to describe, narrate, express an opinion, and argue a point of view.

For heritage speakers, or students with skills in Persian, the program offers courses that combines the elementary and intermediate courses.

For placement exam times and locations students need to contact the coordinator. 

Taking courses in Persian will allow you to fulfill the language requirement at Columbia.

Please check the Columbia Directory of Classes for the latest information. Search for “Persian.”