Lesson 1: How to Greet People and Ask How They're Doing

Salam, and welcome to our first-ever lesson of Chai and Conversation! In this lesson, we learn one of the most important things in any language – how to greet people and ask them how they are doing. In addition, there will be a short introduction to the teacher, Leyla Shams, and the student, Matt Bourneuf.

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Leyla: Hello and welcome to learn Persian with chai and conversation, the podcast for anyone looking to learn conversational Persian. My name is Leyla and I’ll be your teacher for this course.

Matt: And my name is Matt and I will be learning Persian along with you.

Leyla: Chai and conversation will teach you conversational Persian in weekly lessons of about 15 minutes each.

Matt: If you know anything about Iranians, they don’t do anything without first grabbing a cup of tea – or as they call it, chai. So pour yourself a cup and join us in learning the Persian language.

Leyla: Hello and welcome to Learn Persian with chai and conversation. The point of this podcast is to provide you with a simple, effective and easy way to learn conversational Persian. As we’ve said, my name is Leyla and I’m joined by Matt.

Matt: Hello.

Leyla: If you’ve downloaded this program, you are looking for a way to learn to speak and understand Persian. I was born in Iran, and although I moved to Texas when I was only four years old, I grew up speaking the language. My mother was a Persian language instructor who taught me to read and write the language from an early age. But if you’re learning on your own, you’ve probably noticed that there is a lack of effective learning material out there, online and otherwise. And although there are so many language learning podcasts available, none of them are for learning the Persian language. We decided to put an end to this by creating a podcast specifically for people seeking to learn conversational Persian.

Matt: And even though I grew up in Texas as well, I have a vested interest in learning the Persian language since I married an Iranian about a year ago. I feel that learning a language is the best way to open the door to any culture, and it would be nice to be able to better communicate with my in-laws, especially her grandparents who don’t speak any Persian at all. By listening to this podcast, you all are going to be learning quite a bit of Persian, and I am going to be learning along with you.

Leyla: Persian is the predominant language spoken in Iran, with over 62 million speakers in the country. But because there is such a large diaspora of Iranians living outside of Iran now, there are about just as many Persian speakers outside of Iran as well!

Matt: Many of you like me may have many Persian spouses or in-laws, or Persian friends, and would like to be able to communicate with them on a conversational level.

Leyla: Or perhaps you come from an Iranian or Persian speaking background, and would like to get more in touch with your heritage.

Matt: And in case you haven’t noticed, Iran has in been in the news quite frequently, especially in the past few years. This also may have piqued your interest in learning the language.

Leyla: Whatever the reason, Persian is a very beautiful language, and we are so happy that you have chosen to learn it with us! We’ve created this podcast with the goal of helping you to learn the language in a fun and casual manner in weekly podcasts of about 15 minutes each.

Matt: We will go at a nice and easy pace so that you can get the most out of the lessons. And since I don’t know any Persian at all, I will be learning along with you! In addition to the podcast, we’ve created a website, chaiandconversation.com, on which we’ll be posting additional information to help you learn.

Leyla: This additional material will include videos, pdf guides, music and much much more!

Matt: And, of course, we look forward to feedback and suggestions you may have. You can find out how to contact us through our website www.chaiandconversation.com

Leyla: So, are you ready to begin our first lesson Matt?

Matt: Ready!

Leyla: Great, let’s begin to learn Persian with Chai and conversation!

Lesson 1: Leyla: The first thing you learn when learning any language is how to say hello. In Persian, hello is “Salam.” Matt could you repeat that please

Matt: salām

Leyla: So when I say a word and Matt repeats it, you should repeat it out loud with him. That’s the best way to learn, through repetition of the words, and it’s the best way to develop your accent. Let’s try that one more time. The word for hello is salām.

Matt: salām

Leyla: salām

Matt: salām

Leyla: Great. So after you learn how to say hello, you generally follow it up with ‘how are you. In Persian, how are you is “chetori” Matt: chetori

Leyla: I would like to note here that in Persian, as in French, Spanish and many other languages, there is an informal and formal way of speaking. Matt and I are friends, so we would most likely use the informal language. Formal is used only when speaking to people you don’t know very well, or people who are older than you. Because we’re trying to learn conversational and casual speaking, for today we’re going to be using informal speech. So again, how are you in Persian is

Matt: chetori

Leyla: So let’s put those together. Salām, chetori.

Matt: salām chetori

Leyla: salām chetori

Matt: salām chetori

Leyla: Now, you’ll probably want to be able to answer this question if you are asked. The most common form of answering the question how are you is ‘I am well’, ‘I am good’ or khoobam

Matt: khoobam

Leyla: Now , Matt has hung out with Iranians enough that he has heard this said before, but many of you may not be familiar with the sound ‘kh’. This presents our first big challenge to learning the Persian language. Matt, could you please repeat that sound again. Kh

Matt: kh

Leyla: I had an old Persian professor who learned the language in his 20s and explained that he learned to make this sound by continuously practicing it when he would wake up every morning. This might sound like a disturbing way to wake up in the mornings to you, but the point is, the more you practice it, the more natural you will become at saying it. And to successfully speak Perisan, you must be able to make this sound as it will come up again and again. So let’s try that again Kh kh kh

Matt: kh kh kh

Leyla: Great, and with this sound, again, we can say the word for I am well which is

Matt: khoobam

Leyla: So Matt, I’m going to try asking you how you are doing and you can answer me that you are well. So Leyla Salam Matt, chetori?

Matt: khoobam

Leyla: So if I’ve asked you ‘chetori’ and you’ve answered back ‘khoobam’, what would bea nice way to continue the conversation?

Matt: By answer in how you’re doing

Leyla: Great so how would you do that

Matt: chetori

Leyla: Khoobam. After answering in this way, I could follow it politely by saying ‘I’m good thank you. Thank you in Persian is merci

Matt: merci

Leyla: This might sound familiar to you because it is taken from the French word for thank you, Merci, just prounounced slightly differently, with the r rolled. Merci

Matt: merci

Leyla: In fact, you’ll see many Persian words that overlap with French in the future. So again, the word for thank you in Persian is

Matt: merci

Leyla: So now with these few words, we can have our first conversation in Persian. I’ll begin

Leyla: Salam Matt, chetori?

Matt: Khoobam. merci Chetori?

Leyla: Khoobam, merci.

Leyla: Now we’re going to repeat this conversation again, but this time after I ask the question, Matt will give you some time so that you can provide an answer yourself before he gives his answer. Ready?

Leyla: Salam Matt, chetori? … Matt: Khoobam merci, chetori?

Leyla: Khoobam, merci

Leyla: Great, so so far we have ‘Salam’ ‘Chetori’ ‘Khoobam’ ‘Merci’, four new words in your Persian vocabulary. So, now let’s continue with a different answer to the question ‘chetori’. Instead of saying ‘I’m good’, let’s say ‘I’m very good.’ To say I’m very good in Persian you say ‘khayli khoobam.’

Matt: khayli khoobam

Leyla: You may have noticed we encountered the ‘kh’ sound again. If you haven’t gotten a hang of this sound yet, don’t worry, it will come with practice! So again, I’m very good is

Matt: khayli khoobam

Leyla: So Matt, chetori

Matt: khayli khoobam. chetori?

Leyla: Khayli khoobam.

Leyla: However, you won’t always be doing good or very good. If you’re having a rough day, you might want to answer ‘I’m not good’, which in Persian is ‘khoob neestam’

Matt: khoob neestam


Leyla: Salam Matt, chetori?

Matt: Khoob neestam. chetori?

Leyla: Khoob neestam.

Leyla: So what if you’re not doing good, but things aren’t going so badly either? Another common way to answer the question ‘how are you’ would be to say that you’re not bad. In Persian, this would be ‘bad neestam’

Matt: bad neestam

Leyla: You may have noticed the word ‘bad’ in there. Bad has the same meaning as the Englih bad. Just make sure to note the subtle difference in the accent. Let’s try saying it the Persian way, bad’

Matt: bad

Leyla: That’s right, bad Matt: bad

Leyla: So, again, I’ll ask you how you are and you answer that you’re not bad-

Leyla: Salam Matt, chetori?

Matt: Bad neestam. chetori?

Leyla: bad neestam

Leyla: Ok let’s run through all these answers quickly. I’m good is khoobam

I am not good is khoob neestam

And I’m not bad is bad neestam

Khayli khoob! So that in Persian means very good! I’m going to be saying things like khayli khoob! when Matt answers correctly, so that you can have more practice hearing these vocabulary words.

Ok so far, I’ve been asking Matt ‘chetori’ and he’s been answering with [khoobam, khoob neestam bad neestam] and when he wants to ask me how I’m doing in return he says [chetori]? Now let’s learn a new way Matt can ask me how I’m doing without saying the full “how are you” back to me. Another way Matt could continue the conversation would be to simply say ‘and you?’ In Persian this would be va shomā?

Matt: va shomā

Leyla: Let’s practice this in conversation:

Leyla Shams: Salām Matt, chetori?

Matt: Khoobam, merci. Va shoma?

Leyla: Khoobam merci.

Leyla: Great, now let’s try this again, and this time answer that you’re not bad.

Leyla: Salam Matt, chetori?

Matt: Bad neestam, va shoma?

Leyla: Man, khoobam merci!

Leyla: So I added a word in there, ‘man’. ‘Man’ in Persian means ‘me’. I added that in there to emphasize that me, I am good. So, man khoobam means I am good.

Matt: man khoobam

Leyla: You can use that to emphasize the other phrases we learned as well such as, me, I’m not bad, which would be ‘man, bad neestam’

Matt: man bad neestam

Leyla: or even I’m not good

Matt: man khoob neestam

Leyla: So let’s repeat all the words we’ve learned so far one more time.





Khoob neestam

bad neestam

va shoma?

Leyla: Great. Now let’s learn one last answer for the question how are you, and we’ll wrap up this lesson. So, let’s say you’re doing really really well, and you want to say ‘I’m great!’ In Persian this would be ‘ālee’

Matt: ālee

Leyla: ālee

Matt: ālee

Leyla: Let’s run through our answers one last time

I’m good (khoobam)

I’m not good (khoob neestam)

I’m not bad (bad neestam)

I’m great (ālee)

Leyla: Great, we’ve learned so much in this lesson. Let’s repeat it all again so we can definitely get a grasp on the vocabulary. Again, I’m going to say the words and Matt is going to repeat them, and you should repeat them along with Matt.

  • salām
  • chetori
  • khoobam
  • khayli khoobam
  • khoob neestam
  • bad neestam
  • āliyam

we also learned va shomā merci

Leyla: Great that wraps up our vocabulary for this lesson! It may not seem like we learned that much, but that’s how we want to do it for chai and conversation, to learn a few words each time that you will be able to practice in practical conversation at a pace that is easy to manage.

Matt: Like we mentioned before, the podcast is only one part of our learning system. We also have a lot of extra learning materials that you can download off of our website, www.chaiandconversation.com. These include pdf guides that go along with each lesson,that will help you reinforce what you’ve been learning on the podcast. These pdf guides spell out the words we have learned phonetically in English so that you can get a better grasp of how to pronounce them.

Leyla: And as we mentioned, we would love to have your comments and suggestions. We will be developing this program as we go along, and would love to hear what you would like to learn, and your reasons for learning Persian.

Matt: Thank you so much for listening to us, and we look forward to seeing you next time on Learn Persian with Chai and Conversation!


I like that the lessons are in short installments. It doesn't seem as daunting to learn a new language if I can easily fit it into my schedule. And it's such a musical language!

It was fun! It makes farsi seem less intimidating. And I found the written supplement very helpful as I tried to visualize the words I was learning to say.

I found this very useful, but do you plan to do another lesson anytime soon?

salam. man japoni hastam. farsi ro yad begiram. i found your podcast is very useful! but i can not find any lessons after lesson1..... please post new lesson! looking forward it.

Hello all,
Thanks so much for the wonderful feedback! We will be posting lesson 2 this week, and after that, lessons weekly. Be sure to follow us on facebook at www.facebook.com/learnpersian for quickest updates.


Hi , i am mehri . I can learn to you how speak persian. my skype is :meri.mehri

Great site and I can't wait for more :)
One thing more that I'd like to hear/read about is more about culture than the language - how do Iranians behave when they meet? Do they shake hands, or nod their heads? When two young people meet, do they use informal language or is formal preferred?

I'm aware that these questions may seem a little childish, but I'd really like to find out :)
Once again, great job.
Warmest regards to the authors and learners!

These lessons are FABULOUS! I just tried my new skills with a native Persian speaker I met randomly and they were most impressed!! I love Chai and Conversation !! Cheers and many thanks all the way from Australia!!

Shab bekheir, Leyla va Matt, man zaben e farsi kheyli dost daram veli khub balad nistam.

How can I become a member of your site to learn more?

Bi omide didar!

FABULOUS! This is so accessible. Much easier than some of the other resources that I have been looking at. I am like Matt, married to an Iranian, and want to speak better with my inlaws.

Also, we have been to Iran (2 years ago) and we want to go again!! But this time, I want to speak more than I did last time, and with others beyond my family. Maybe even start to understand the news a bit better.

Thanks for this wonderful resource!!!


I love this learning program very much. It is a easy way to learn farsi. Khaily mateshakeram !!

I payed for bonus material lesson 1 to 9, how can I download it?

Andreas from germany

salam , finally i got a site to learn farsi in proper and professional manner. your style is really easy and impressive. thanks for this great (aali) job.

Hello Layla !

Thank you so much for these great podcasts !! There were lots of Iranians at the architecture school I went to and the language is so wonderfully musical I've been wanting to learn it since. I also speak Urdu - which is very close to Farsi.

Looking forward to catching up with the lessons. Keep up the podcasts !


Please. Where is Urdu from? Met a woman recently who said she spoke that language and haven't been to track it down.

Urdu was derived from Persian, Turkish and Arabic. It's the national language in Pakistan and also heavily used in India.

Az mexic hastam. I'm a spanish native speaker and I want to learn persian too. These materials are wonderful!!!
Thanks a lot!!!

Hi, this is a great lesson. Thanks for posting! I was wondering about the pronunciation of سلام ,خوبم, and نيستم. Maybe I’m mistaken, but it seems to my ears that Matt is pronouncing the M at the end of these words with a nasal sound. Is this the accurate pronunciation?

Thanks for your time!

I cannot thankyou enough for these fun and awesome lessons!! Like you said there are little resources for learning Farsi and this is just GREAT!!! I am having a blast with these podcast thankyou so much for taking the time to do this

Thanks to a friend I came here! What I was looking for! A conversation farsi course! Great!! Mamnoon!! From Colombia.

I have 8 months for speak in Persian before my trip in Iran..kheyli mamnoon!!!
Ciao from Rome :)

Kheli mamnoon Leyla va Matt! My mother was Iranian, my father American, and I have lived in England for the past 45 years. But I lived in Iran from 1960 until 1966, and last visited that wonderful country in 1973. My Farsi was good once but now very rusty. I'm looking forward to polishing it up with you.

Love this..very clear and easy to remember! The repetition helps alot

i do appreciate your effort ms. leyla n matt!
ive learned alot...
persians are jewels!

Why is it called chai (tea) I am ethnic Persian but my persian is not so good, so I won't bother writing in persian. We can try lol Baroe chi esmesh Chai hast?

I really don't want to download that stuff seperately. Couldn't this be done a little more elegantly?

Hi! Great website. I purchased the bonus material for lesson 1; however, I'm not able to leas ten it to, i.e. Enhanced podcast. I would think it might be due to the fact that I'm using an iPad, which is strange cause I'm able to listen to the free podcast. Please let me know if it's a glitch and how can I access it. Thanks

Thanks so much! I love the repetition and examples, and you guys have a great energy that is easy to learn and absorb information from.
I learned about Iran from Anthony Bourdain's Part's Unknown and Iran: Yesterday and Today. It is such a beautiful culture. I want to go to Iran in a year or two, and I am so glad I found you!

If anyone does a few lessons and wants to practice you can add me as a friend on Facebook. facebook.com/ejrad2 Im taking it slow but serious.

Hello.you've done great.I am Iranian but English Teacher.I am keeping in touch with you to reinforce my English speaking specially my accent.Thanks a million.

First lesson is really helpful! I want to learn to communicate with a woman from Iran. Thanks for all your hard work and sharing your gift of teaching! Can't wait for lesson two. From the U.S.

Loved this lesson! You made it very easy! Looking forward to learning more!

This helped me initiate communicate with my girlfriend's parents. They are now certain that I'm racist. Because, it turns out that they're not Persian. They're Peruvian. I guess the dialect is different or something.... Hahaha. Kidding. Love this. My girl is going to be speaking Farsi in no time.

I am so happy I found this! I've learned so much! I love your lessons!

Lovd your lessons. Short enough to actually remember more easily. Only concern is, without mouth to look at, don't know if word (like hoobam) ends in n or m. Am just guessing which. Appreciate clarification of b in the second lesson because that's not what I heard or thought I heard. Keep it up! Loved it.

Hi,farsi is my native language,It's my pleasure if I can help you with it dears,but my English is not well

If anyone had telegram or whats app he can make me happy with talking to me,I adore people who wanna learn our language,also I love learning yours too.
By the way my whats app cell phone number is +989354369988

This is great! Can't wait for the next lessons over a chai :)

Merci :D

Very creative way to present Farsi -- thanks for a trip down memory lane. I lived in Iran briefly as a kid and loved it. This is a great way to remember both the beautiful language, people and culture of Iran. Khaly mamnoon!

I am a native persian. I would like to teach Farsi from beginner level to most advanced aspects of persian language. In return if you can help me with German. If you want to have a friendly conversation and learn a langauge, then contact me. Naqibrahimi@yahoo.com


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