My 2013 New Year’s Resolution, or قصد سال جدید من

I, Thomas Richard Allen, hereby pledge
to become fluent in Persian by the end of 2013
by means of total immersion in the language.

I am a fairly typical Brit. I speak English to an intermediate level, but am utterly crap at all foreign languages. Spending over half of the last five years abroad, getting by with miming and scribbles, has only highlighted this.

Haft-e-Tir (7th Tir) Metro Station, Tehran

But one of the biggest reasons I stopped living permanently on the bike is that I was sick of merely ‘getting by’. Rather than yet another round of tea and charades, I craved depth of interaction. It wasn’t available because there was no mutual language to enable it.

So I am going to do something long overdue: to tackle this issue at its core, by becoming fluent in a foreign language and undertaking a journey in which it will be put to the test. Hence a public declaration of this New Year’s Resolution.

I’ve not plucked Persian from thin air. As those who have now seen the movie of my love-life will know, my wife is from Iran and is a native speaker of Persian. I have visited Iran four times in recent years, yet I’m acutely aware of how little of this vast and varied country I’ve seen.

It will not be easy. I will not suddenly speak and write Persian without expending great efforts. I’ve always blamed my lack of language skills on some innate disability with which I am specially blessed – this, of course, is bollocks. The reality is that life in England does not require a second language.

Fully immersing myself in a country in which my mother tongue is barely spoken will introduce a real need to communicate. I will literally be forced to learn. This is something I have never before attempted; scary enough that it simply has to be worth trying.


So that’s the plan. A personal exploration of my wife’s home nation, and to learn her native tongue in order to do so. It promises to be a fascinating journey – more details to follow. I depart at the end of next month!

This gives me just a few weeks to get the basics down. To apply further pressure, I am committing to a weekly blog, bearing the catchy title ‘Farsi Fridays’, in which I’ll report upon the progress I’ve made. Week 1’s instalment will be online tomorrow. It will be interesting to see how Week 52 turns out.

I have never before made a public commitment like this to achieving something that scares the living daylights out of me. I am prone to laziness and distraction, and I know I’ll struggle to keep this very difficult resolution if I don’t put it up for scrutiny.

What’s your simple, personal and challenging journey (literal or metaphorical) for 2013?

Comments (skip to respond)

8 responses to “My 2013 New Year’s Resolution, or قصد سال جدید من”

  1. […] big part of this attempt, I previously wrote, would be done by totally immersing myself in the language on trips to Iran, a country to which […]

  2. I started my round the world trip in November 2012 and stepped into North Africa on New Years Day. Having traveled through France and Spain, I was embarrassed by my lack of language skills (the only other language I speak is German) and like you Tom, I have resolved to learn a new language (or two) starting with French. Not easy at my age, but I’ve certainly got the time at the end of my cycling days.
    On another topic, I treated myself to a download of Janapar for Christmas. Really enjoyed the honesty and you putting yourself up for scrutiny, a really great story. I look forward to following your new adventures.

    1. Glad you enjoyed Janapar! And good luck with French and with your continuing trip!

  3. cool!:) should check out Tim Ferriss´tips on learning language. he learned japanese in a few months of a poster 🙂

    1. Thanks for the tip! (The link is here for anyone else interested…)

  4. Nice one Tom. Have a great time in Iran. Well jealous. I am still trying to get back this year in June but we shall see. 2013 promises to be a big year there with elections etc. Have fun buddy.

    1. Crap, forgot about the elections! I’ll be well clear by then…

      Don’t fancy coming in April, by any chance?

Something to add?