The run up to Christmas can be a little stressful… well, it is for me at least! Trying to find that perfect present for my wife that she will like and use. Something a little bit special that shows that I haven’t just been pretending to listen to her for the last 12 months. And I know that I am just as hard to buy for. My main hobby is learning languages which tends to be a solitary activity. Watching videos on YouTube or reading articles on my phone. That’s why I thought I would help out any other long suffering partners and friends, with my own Gift Guide. A selection of special treats that any language lover will adore.
I have broken this guide down into 14 categories (with a little help from the wife). Different areas that you can look in to depending on your partners taste, style and language. I have also given a single recommendation for each category that I have bought (or been bought for me) in the past. That way you have a starting point if you want to dig deeper.
None of these links or products are sponsored in any way. I just love them and think you will too.
So, let’s dive in!
1. Books about Learning or Studying
The first section is not a language specific one, if you can believe it, but related more to the idea of learning. From my own experience, I am always looking for ideas on how to improve my process. Understanding how I learn to make my time more valuable. That’s why I have chosen Ultralearning. A book I have been reading recently about principles behind intense learning projects. A great book for beginners and veterans alike, who want to take their learning to the next level.
2. Books for studying a language
Now onto something language specific. Reading in a new language can be really daunting, so I find parallel texts to be a great way to get started. The basic idea is that the whole text is written in the target language and your native language (in my case English). That way they will be able to check their understanding by reading both sections together. The Penguin series is particularly good as the stories are interesting. I own the Spanish and Italian versions and will definitely invest in the other version for any new language I learn.
3. “Fun” Language Books
If you want something a little more lighthearted, and fun, then look no further. There are lots of books about jokes, funny stories and even swear words. My wife bought me this particular book a few years ago which has become a great source of learning and giggles. Learning some rude words to use in my Skype calls with my language partner always generates a fun response. Saying something that he doesn’t expect always makes me feel great!
4. Beautiful language books
When we are getting new books for our bookshelf, it is always nice to have some beautiful books. They probably aren’t going to be something you spend hours pouring or studying intensely over. More like something fun that they can pull off every so often to get some inspiration or look at the pretty pictures. That’s why I love these books about untranslatable words. An easy way to get a glimpse into different cultures and inspire them to learn other languages so they can use them.
5. Books about the culture
Languages are more than words and phrases; they are part of the culture. The people that use them. Their little idiosyncrasies and unique behaviours that you will need to learn. The things a traditional text book can’t teach you. That’s why a book like The Little Book of Icelandic is perfect! A funny tale about the unique people that live on the isle of frost and fire. Why they do some things we find crazy, and how that has influenced their language.
6. Language Card Games
Language gifts don’t have to be books though. There is a whole world of languages out there with unlimited possibilities. So why not choose something a little more playful. Like a language based card game that you can play with them (if you like!). Say What With Friends has a great selection of card games based on Asian languages. You can use them to learn the basic structure, practice and play with the language. Great if they are already learning the language and even better to convince them to start a new one.
7. Calendar – Irregular Endings
We all need a way to plan our year, so how about a calendar that is bilingual? All the days and information shown in English and their target language. The perfect way to get a little practice everyday and record your language successes. Irregular Endings also includes an amazing array of other language stationary that you need to see. Plenty of options for the aspiring polyglot.
8. Clothes – Duolingo T Shirt
We all like a fashionable new addition to our wardrobe for Christmas, but why does it have to be a pair of socks? Why not get a cool T shirt that will show everyone their love for languages. Duolingo has a great selection of T shirt designs that I personally own 2 or 3 of. It may even start up a conversation and give them a chance to speak the language. Bonus!
9. Stationary – Leuchtturm and grammar pencils
We have all seen the pretty notes on Instagram and wanted to be able to make them ourselves. That’s why I think a Leuchtturm and some grammar pencils are the perfect present. The right stationary to make their own Instagram notes that will make all their language learning friends jealous! Because, who doesn’t want to be the talk of the gram?
10. Home Decor – Scratch the world map
We have talked about something pretty for their notes, calendar and body, but what about on their wall? How about a poster where they can scratch off all the countries they have visited. Something to inspire them for their next trip and to add a little flair to their office or study space.
11. Notes – Flashsticks Vocab Notes
If you are anything like me, post-it notes are an essential part of my life. My walls are currently covered in dozens of thoughts and ideas on notes of varying colour. But why can’t it also give you some new words and phrases in the language you are learning? Flashsticks has fixed this problem by adding vocabulary in multiple languages to notes so they can organise their mind and fill it with some new words. Smart, right?
12. Noise Cancelling Headphones
Imagine the scene… you are sitting down to study. You have your drinks, snacks and books open ready to go. And then the road works start outside. Drilling, banging and tons of noise. Study session ruined! Or maybe not. With some noise cancelling headphones there won’t be any distractions now, and you can enjoy your study time even with the zombie apocalypse raging outside.
In all honesty, I don’t have any noise cancelling headphones (yet) so I have found one with good reviews on Amazon for you. I suggest doing a little research based on their budget, needs and use to find the perfect pair for them.
13. Lessons – Book one
What about if they have been learning for a while but not sure where to go next? Then it’s time to call in the cavalry and find someone with the know how to help them on their journey. A language coach (like me) can help them to find some new ideas, plan their next steps and take their language learning to the next level. For this one, all you need to do is get in touch and we can work out the best plan for the lucky recipient.
I’ve mainly added this final one to give my wife an idea what to buy me… *COUGH COUGH*!
Why do most of us learn languages? To travel the world and see amazing places. So, why not help them on their way and book them a trip. A small city break or a big backpacking adventure (honestly, I’m not fussy. Anywhere would be great!) When I am planning my next adventure, I use Skyscanner to find my flights and start the journey. They usually have good deals and the flight alerts helps to get some competitive prices too!
Now that you are bursting with ideas, get shopping! I’d love to know what you are planning to buy your polyglot partner or fluency friend. Let me know in the comments below!
Until next time!