Teaching Persian to speakers of other languages: From theory to practice

This panel is on teaching Persian to speakers of other languages, and it encompasses both theoretical and applied subjects. The first presentation deals with the acquisition of segmental and suprasegmental features of Persian as a second/third language. The first goal of the study is to investigate the non-native production of Persian phonemes and allophones by L2/L3 learners to see whether they are fully acquired and compare the results with that of native speakers. The second aim will be to examine whether the acquisition of Persian allophones happens at a position-sensitive level. The suprasegmental features such as stress patterns and intonation patterns make the next goal of this presentation.

The second presentation will describe how using literature in the classroom can be distracting to language learning when it is used as primary materials, and how this can be reversed. There will be a discussion on the integrated approach to language teaching. The presenter will then discuss how we can create materials with a primary focus on reading based on this approach.

The third presentation will describe the process applied for designing tasks proposed within the blended language course for learning Persian as a Foreign Language at the intermediate-high level of the ACTFL proficiency scale. The presenter will illustrate the organization of the first unit of the course and lays out the stages leading to the activities proposed, with the integration of specific technology tools.

The fourth presentation is on Persian listening skills. This paper introduces project-based audio models that help students of Persian as a Second Language practice simultaneous decoding of authentic Persian utterances inside and outside of the traditional classroom.


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Pragmatics, as a subfield of linguistics, deals with how context and interlocutors would affect the meaning which is being communicated between speaker and listener. This aspect of language is normally the most challenging part for L2 learners. Knowing the appropriate way of saying things requires an interplay among different levels of linguistic knowledge. The current study aims at exploring the phonetics-pragmatics interface by looking at how L2 learners of Persian have acquired different levels of formality used in formal and informal registers. This research, more specifically, examines the interaction between prosodic measures and the expression of politeness. The formal register is characterized as a normative form of politeness in our study. In light of the findings, we explore the universal nature of the Frequency Code hypothesis (Ohala 1984). According to this approach, the biologically determined Frequency Code is responsible for a number of disparate phenomena including the expression of politeness. According to Ohala, high and/or rising fundamental frequency (i.e., F0) is associated with politeness and other sociopragmatic meanings such as submission, lack of confidence, and deference, while speech with low pitch and/or falling F0 is connected with authority, dominance, and assertion.
Four Russian native speakers learning Persian as an L2 and six Persian native speakers participated in our experiment. Semispontaneous speech data were elicited using Discourse Completion Tasks. The annotation and labelling procedure was conducted with Praat (Boersma and Weenink 2018).
Our results showed that in addition to morphological and syntactic devices, speakers use a combination of prosodic variables to express the appropriate level of formality. As for F0 measures, the results showed that three out of the four pitch parameters (i.e., overall pitch, top line, and baseline) were significantly lower in the formal register of native speakers compared to informal situations. This is in contrast with the predictions made by the Frequency Code hypothesis and some other studies that have made an association between politeness and high F0 (e.g., Brown and Levinson 1987; Ohara 2001; Ofuka, McKeown, Waterman, and Roach 2000). The results of pitch in our study mainly support the findings on Korean (Winter and Grawunder 2012) and Catalan (Hübscher, Borràs-Comes and Prieto 2017) which have reported a lower F0 in formal situations. In contrast to native speakers who used lower F0 to increase the formality level in their speech, L2 speakers did not make major phonetic adjustments across the two conditions to signal different levels of formality.

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In this presentation I will describe a language instruction technique that shows how it is possible to stay loyal to the original meaning of a literary text while maintaining adherence to current pedagogical best practice for second language instruction. First I will review the theoretical and practical foundations for this technique and then describes a specific implementation of the technique in an intermediate-advanced level Persian language university classroom. The technique outlined combines extensive reading of Persian short stories along with parallel texts and activities that incorporate linguistic modalities. This grants learners full exposure to the rich idiomatic forms of Persian literature and language while still retaining a primary focus on continued improvement in second language comprehension and production. Finally, the strengths and weaknesses of this approach to materials development and possible future directions will be discussed.

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The aim of this presentation is to disseminate practices applicable for devising effective blended language learning experiences, which has proven challenging for language educators.

Throughout the presentation, the authors encourage Persian (Farsi) teachers to play a proactive role in the blending process to design blended language learning that meets outcomes and satisfy students’ communicative and collaborative needs. Teachers must commit time and effort to plan a thoughtful combination of two dissimilar environments, heretofore referred to as face-to-face and online components. Rather than simply adding or substituting, teachers must integrate and coordinate components to create a seamless whole, defined as a blended sequence, generating pedagogical benefits for each respective component. This presentation simplifies the initial steps for teachers to obtain an effective blended sequence, by illuminating them through an example of their implementation.

The first section draws on second language acquisition principles and blended learning research to identify the crucial aspects of design. Important considerations include the organisation of input, the layering of tasks, and the creation of a favourable environment. The second section is applied and describes a specific blended sequence for an intermediate-level Persian (Farsi) course as an example of implementation of the blended process. Through this illustrative example, we explain the teacher’s active involvement in organising input as well as developing and layering technology-integrated tasks that afford learning autonomy, engagement, and collaboration.

Two main aspects are at the base of the overall application process: (a) the specific teaching approaches of content-based instruction and task-based learning and teaching; and (b) the flexible blended learning environment, taking place in a teacher-led physical classroom and online.

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This paper introduces project-based audio models that help students of Persian as a Second Language practice simultaneous decoding of authentic Persian utterances inside and outside of the traditional classroom. The paper proposes that listening skills can be achieved more successfully by engaging students in vibrant interactions that 1. model real-life situations, 2. are contextualized, 3. have a backward design. By providing hands-on activity samples that engage the whole learner in and outside of the classroom, this paper strives to answer as the following questions: How can the development of listening aptitude be part of a hands-on interactive syllabus that leaps beyond drills and exercises? How can the instructor interact with students as intellectual and creative partners in learning rather than mere recipients of the language? How can Persian listening skills pedagogy be forwarded into the 21st century realm of multi-tasking, multi-faceted and global community of learners who not only expect their learning to be in the form of tasks but also expect for the tasks to be authentic, interactive, interpersonal, collective and creative? Considering the geopolitical specificity of Persian as a less commonly taught critical language which, unlike many other world languages, is hardly targeted for the immediate purpose of travel and tourism, what are the effective strategies to best model authentic oral give and take without sacrificing the fluidity and flexibility of Persian as a living language? Finally, as a heritage language selected by second and third generation immigrants, on the one hand, and valued as a political and cultural medium by students of socio-political and cultural sciences, what are the best cultural samples that may help introduce such a diverse group of learners to Persian language without sacrificing the multiplicity of Persian culture?