Christmas And Birthday Gifts For Language Lovers
If you’re thinking about getting a gift for a friend or loved one who’s obsessed with language learning, but you have no idea what where to start, you’ve come to the right place!
It just so happens that us language lovers have a lot in common; where language are concerned, we like many of the same things. For that reason I’ve put together this list, in the hopes that those unsure about the types of things their language learning loved one would appreciate can get some ideas.
I’ve separated this list into categories for easy navigation, with explanations, details and links on where to find the items.
Every language learner needs a notebook to write down the new vocabulary they encounter, in order to go over them and burn them into their memory. Any old notebook will do, of course, but if you’re buying gifts, you might want to consider a designated vocabulary builder, as the receiver will appreciate the personal touch.
Language Learner Vocabulary Notebook: Learn 5 new words a day - Gain fluency fast!
This vocabulary builder prompts the user to write 5 new words a day, and gives them space to test their new words out in a sentence. There are 120 pages, which means, if used every day, 600 new words will be learned in 4 months.
Flashcards you can draw and write yourself are a great resource for any language learner, as they won’t have any of the vocabulary limitations the pre-made ones do. They can draw memorable images and write whatever words they want in order to help them remember.
Blank single-use flashcards
Amazon Basics Blank Index Cards, 3" x 5", White, 10-Packs of 100 (1000 Cards)
This Amazon Basics mega-pack includes a whopping 1000 blank, white flashcards. That’s 1000 brand new words! There’s plenty of space for drawings and writing on both sides. And it won’t break the bank.
Pacon PAC1721 Index Cards, 4" x 6", Unruled, 5 Bright Colors (Pack of 100)
Also on Amazon, this Pacon 5-color set of flashcards includes 100 blank cards. These are slightly bigger than the white ones, and would be great for separating different words into groups, by color. For example, green cards could be used for nouns associated with nature.
Blank reusable flashcards
Dry Erase Index Cards, Reusable Flash Cards (3" x 5"), 48 Reusable Cards, Index Cards, Flash Cards, Study Guide & Note Cards
You can get this 48-pack of dry erase reusable flashcards from Amazon. Reusable flashcards are the gifts that keep on giving. Once words are learned, the user can simply wipe everything off and start all over again with new words and pictures. Saves trees and money in the long run.
Gifting someone a subscription to a language course is another great way to show them that you support their new hobby. You can buy short ones, long ones, and sometimes even lifetime ones. From there, they can choose which language they want to learn, if they’re not yet sure.
There are plenty of reputable programs that offer affordable courses in dozens of languages, and they’re available to use across multiple platforms.
Babbel’s been around since 2007, and has amassed millions of users who swear by their method. With courses designed by over 100 linguistic experts, it’s no wonder. They aim to quickly get users speaking in their new language by focusing on conversation right from the start. They offer 14 languages, including the most popular European ones.
Amazon offers 4 subscription types: 3 months, 6 months, 12 months, and 24 months.
The download code will be emailed to you, and you have the option to send it as a gift. The recipient can choose one language once they sign up.
Rosetta Stone is a well-known brand that’s been in the language instruction business for over 25 years. They know their stuff, and have been used by millions of people and institutions all across the world. They offer courses in 28 languages, among them most of the popular European ones.
Amazon offers 2 subscription types: a 12-month subscription and a lifetime subscription. The best part: both allow unlimited access to all 28 languages. You can choose to send the download code as a gift, and include a personal note. This will be sent to your loved one via email. They can then activate it when they’re ready.
Note: Per the company’s own words, this product does not currently work on Kindle Fire. You can use it on your Apple or Android devices, however.
Books about language learning
Any language learner will want to read all about the art of learning a new language. Some of these guides can be valuable, and could teach them new ways of learning they hadn’t thought of. Also, reading about other people’s experiences with languages can inspire and encourage them.
All links in this section are for Amazon.
Fluent in 3 Months – Benny Lewis
Fluent in 3 Months: How Anyone at Any Age Can Learn to Speak Any Language from Anywhere in the World
Written in a conversational, easy to understand style, this book aims to get new learners speaking from day one. The book’s author, Benny Lewis, is a self-taught polyglot who speaks several languages, and he attempts to teach readers how to do the same in a fraction of the time most people insist it takes to learn.
Polyglot: How I Learn Languages – Kato Lomb
Kato Lomb was a Hungarian polyglot and translator who spoke or worked in more than 16 languages. Her methods for learning will intrigue any aspiring polyglots.
Paperback copies of the book are hard to come by these days, but Amazon does have a few available (for now).
Fluent Forever: How to Learn Any Language Fast and Never Forget It – Gabriel Wyner
This bestselling book is written by a polyglot who started learning languages in adulthood, using his own methods, and now speaks 6 languages fluently. In the book, he details how he went about acquiring them, and how everyone else can, too.
There is also an audio version to accompany the paperback, but the physical book would be a better choice, I think, as passages and paragraphs can be highlighted and reread for clarity.
Amazon has both versions.
The Power of Babel: A Natural History of Language – John McWhorter
The Power of Babel: A Natural History of Language
Not so much about language instruction but language evolution itself. This book, written by a linguistics professor at Columbia University, is a lot of fun, and would make a great gift for any lover of language and etymology. The illustrated book looks at how language formed and mutated over millennia.
Harry Potter in several languages
If you really want to make someone’s day, get a copy of Harry Potter in the language they’re learning. If they’re a fan of the books, or even if they’ve never read them, I promise they’ll be eternally grateful.
It’s somewhat of a rite of passage in the language learning community to read Harry Potter in as many languages as you can. It’s not uncommon to see polyglots with copies of the series in several different languages, sometimes ones they’ve yet to start learning!
Harry Potter has been translated into a staggering 80 languages (though, sadly, still not one African language…). Latin and Ancient Greek are among some of the translations.
It’s not always easy to find most of the translations. Some would only be available in-country. However, a great resource for the books is The Book Depository, which boasts an impressive 48 languages. Usually only the first book has been translated, but that’s enough to keep your loved one occupied for a while.
Check out the full selection of translated Harry Potter books. – Book Depository
This site also has a handful, though the selection is limited. – The Wordery
Individual language stuff
These are just a few products that would make good gifts for people learning the most popular languages.
Short Stories for Beginners – Lingo Mastery
A collection of stories written specifically for new learners, along with exercises designed to test their knowledge. Will boost vocabulary and get readers more comfortable with using their target language. Languages available:
These come complete with pictures and words, sometimes in both English and the target language. They’re available in several languages, from different manufacturers. These can all be found on Amazon.
Spanish Words and Phrases You Need to Know
Barron’s Spanish Words and Phrases You Need to Know – Over 400 flashcards with pictures and descriptions, plus pronunciation guides.
French Words and Phrases You Need to Know (Barron's Foreign Language Guides) (French Edition)
Barron’s French Words and Phrases You Need to Know
Chinese Flash Cards Mandarin Sight Words for Kids Adults Toddlers, 250 Vocabulary Cards for Chinese Learning Beginners with 5 Rings(Stage One)
Mandarin Chinese Flashcards – 250 cards with pictures and helpful guides for writing the symbols. Laminated and portable.
CARDDIA German Vocabulary Flashcards for Beginners (Illustrations - with Example Sentences)
Carddia German Vocabulary Flashcards for Beginners – 218 cards with illustrations and sample sentences in both English and German.
Hiragana & Katakana Flashcards - Learn The Japanese Alphabet with Dr. Moku's Japanese Flash Cards - Learning The Japanese Language for Beginners has Never Been Easier.
Dr. Moku Japanese Hiragana & Katakana Flashcards – Practice for over 350 words, complete with pictures and instructions for writing and reading.
Korean Alphabet 112 Cards HANGUL Study Flash Cards Vocabulary Picture Book
Korean Hangul Alphabet 112 Cards – Picture flashcards with hangul characters and the roman alphabet spellings.
American Sign Language Flash Cards, Double-Sided ASL Flash Cards With 122 Sight Words With Signing Illustrations, Alphabet, Numbers, Feelings, Animals, Food, Educational Games for Toddlers 4+ (105 pc)
Carson Dellosa American Sign Language Flash Cards – 105 illustrated flashcards for learning ASL. Covers 122 different signs.
Every language learner needs a good dictionary in their collection. Although digital ones are great, and one should always have a couple of those on the smartphone, a physical dictionary is just as good, because you can write and highlight in it. There’s also some scientific evidence to suggest that information we read on paper is more likely to stay in our memory than information we read on screens.
DK 5 Language Visual Dictionary – This is the perfect gift for anyone learning one or more of the 4 most popular European languages – Spanish, French, German and Italian. Having pictures and translations in 5 languages means aspiring polyglots need look no further than this dictionary from popular brand Dorling Kindersley.
Other individual language visual dictionaries in the series:
- DK Japanese-English Bilingual Visual Dictionary
- DK Mandarin Chinese-English Bilingual Visual Dictionary
- DK Portuguese-English Bilingual Visual Dictionary
- DK Korean-English Bilingual Visual Dictionary
- DK Russian-English Bilingual Visual Dictionary
- DK Hindi-English Bilingual Visual Dictionary
- DK Arabic-English Bilingual Visual Dictionary
- DK Polish-English Bilingual Visual Dictionary
American Sign Language Dictionary, Third Edition
American Sign Language Dictionary by Martin L. A. Sternberg – A comprehensive, illustrated dictionary with over 5000 signs. It’s a must have for anyone studying ASL.
Inventing a language
Wanna get the nerdiest yet coolest gift out there, and go down in history as the best gift giver who ever lived? Consider getting your loved one a book that lets them invent their own language. Yes, it’s actually a thing!
Constructed languages have been around for a while, and exist not just in popular literature or media but in real, everyday life. If you haven’t heard of Esperanto, the oldest and most used conlag in the world, check out my post Why you should learn Esperanto in 2022 where I talk about it in detail.
Language enthusiasts the world over have been inventing their own languages for years, and now there are actually a couple of books that walk the avid conlanger through the process.
Inventing Your Own Language: The Ultimate Beginner’s Workbook – The Polyglot Conlanger
Invent Your Own Language: The Ultimate Beginner's Workbook
This is a fun, easy-to-use workbook that is great for children and adults alike. Not only will the user have a fully-formed, brand new language by the end of the book, they’ll also know a lot more about grammar and linguistic concepts, making it easier to learn natural languages.
The Language Construction Kit – Mark Rosenfelder
[098447000X]  The Language Construction Kit-Paperback
This is a much more serious book than the other one, as it goes into semantics and things like that. Not a workbook as such, but still really good for the more advanced user. Also great for sci-fi and fantasy writers who need to create languages and history for their worlds.
Miscellaneous funny stuff
Of course, we cannot forget those gifts that aren’t exactly helpful, but will be appreciated just the same. Language lovers enjoy being able to tell the world what their passion is. And what better way to do that than with a T-shirt?
You can get these T-shirts on Etsy.
I hope you’ve found this post useful, and that it’s given you some neat gift ideas for the foreign language addict in your life. Check back in the future, as the list is likely to grow.