Alhamdolillah, I’ve completed the first 2 Farsi books at Madrassah al-Mahdi and will now be entering into the 3rd book. As mentioned before, there are about 7 books in total and the difficulty gets greater as you go into the higher books. The first book was not hard at all, and while the second book was also not too hard, it does start diving into a lot of verbs, basic sentences and a lot of new vocabulary. Most of the good Urdu speakers don’t find the book too hard, whereas there are some students who may struggle a bit on this book or will need to really focus hard. The first book was mere alphabets, and about 5 verbs. By the end of book 2 you learn more than 60 new verbs in their true form, command form, future and past tenses.
If your class seems to be strong, than at times the teacher might even throw in a few new concepts that are from the other books. Like one of our teacher also taught us about the past-imperfect verbs, present and past progressive verbs amongt other concepts. Of course you aren’t expected to learn or know them inside out as they are not meant for book 2, but if you are good at grasping these early on you can utilize them in your day to day conversations outside of school or even during classes. In book 2, they introduce you to sukhanraani (basically 3-minute talks on topics that the teacher gives you in advance), insha (1 page or 10-15 line paragraph on a topic that the teacher gives) and you have imla (dictation), guftugu (dialogue), and they make you watch short video clips to help train your listening skills. During this book, many students are able to hold extremely basic conversations, or at the very least are able to get their point across by using – if not through proper grammar – then just mere vocabulary.
The exams (mid-term and final) are not too hard if you study the material. The final exam for book 2 includes a written portion, dictation, 1 page paragraph on a topic that the teacher gives and as well as dialogue & a 3-minute speech (on a topic of your choice – although in the later books you don’t get a choice, they will assign you a topic). The dialogue consists of you sitting in front of the teacher and basically having a conversation. The teacher will ask questions that will force you to use terms from the book and also make sentences in a way that you have learned during the course of this book. Also, while the written portion is relatively formal, the dialogue can be informal. For example, during conversations most won’t say “Khaanay” (house), instead they will say “Khoonay”. They tend to turn the “aa” sound into an “oo” sound – this is true for many words, such as Naan = Noon, Tehran = Tehroon, Shaanzdah (16) = Shoonzdah etc. You are allowed to transform your words like that during the dialogue, as it indicates familiarity with the culture and what is spoken as a norm.
The material of book two covered themes such as stationary items, sports, fruits, vegetables, parts of the body, travelling, health, amongt others. Each of these chapters include various vocabulary pertaining to that topic and a few verbs. For example, the chapter on foods may have verbs such as “to peel” (as in to peel the skin off potatoes or apples), “to sow” or “to pour” (as in to pour water in a glass). Then the chapters also include additional concepts such as dates, time, months, seasons and extra grammar terms that can be used in sentences. So in other words, this is a book that you don’t want to slack off on. If possible, try to get together with some of the classmates in the evenings and hold a mubahisa (discussion) so that your speaking becomes more fluent. Although from what seems like a unanimous opinion of the students, it won’t be until book 4 that most of the students are able to hold a conversation with decent fluency.