We won’t get bogged down in the details of 2020 — you probably don’t need another lengthy reminder of everything that’s happened — but suffice it to say that the holidays probably won’t be the same this year. What can be the same? Gifts! Presents are still a great way to show someone that you care. And if someone you know has started learning a language this year, there are lots of options out there that’ll show you’ve been paying attention. Our 2020 language learner gift guide has great recommendations for any price point.
8 Gifts To Get For The Language Learner In Your Life
A Streaming Service Subscription
- The Criterion Collection ($11 a month or $100 a year)
- Netflix (Price Varies)
- Fandor ($25 for three months, $90 for a year)
There are a million streaming services out there, we know. And you probably know about many of them. We suggest a few above, but we want to highlight the Criterion Collection for a couple of reasons. First, it’s much less common than Netflix or Hulu, meaning it’s less likely the person you’re buying for will already have it. Second, the Criterion Collection has the best streaming library for international movies. Watching movies in the language you’re learning is a great way to supplement grammar and vocab lessons, and the Criterion Collection provides film options from all around the world.
A Short Story Collection
One of the most difficult parts of learning a new language is finding something engaging to read. Textbook dialogues are boring, but maybe your friend isn’t ready to dive into Dostoyevsky in the original Russian. One happy medium is a short story collection. There are lots of options out there for that, but not all of them are appropriate for beginner learners. But publishers like Teach Yourself have dozens of books specifically designed for language learners of various learning levels. Whether your giftee is learning Spanish, Turkish or Russian, you should be able to find something to fit their needs. Bonus points if you order it from your local indie bookstore.
- Oxford Compact Spanish Dictionary ($20)
- Collins French Dictionary & Grammar ($15)
- Collins Italian Dictionary ($16)
The ubiquity of the internet has, for many people, sounded the death knell for the physical dictionary. But we think that a high-quality reference dictionary is still an invaluable tool in the language-learning arsenal. The best dictionary will likely vary depending on the language, but there are a few factors to keep in mind. First, dictionaries can vary in size a lot, but if your giftee wants to travel with it, don’t splurge on anything too massive. Second, at least check the reviews to make sure there are no big problems with the translations. It’s not the most glamorous gift, but your friend will be thanking you the moment it comes in handy (and it will come in handy).
- Leuchtterm1917 Bullet Journal ($25)
- Shinola Large Hard Linen Journal ($24)
- SlimNote Bulk Blank Journal ($6)
Notebooks are already a very popular gift, but we’re not recommending that you simply add another Moleskine to your friend’s pile of fancy notebooks. We’re suggesting that you get them a notebook that’s meant for language learning. A blank notebook can serve this purpose just fine, but if you’re artistic and want to go the extra mile, you can add some personalization inside. Add sections for them to write down vocab and grammar rules, and a place for them to plan out their learning schedule. To bump this up from a good gift to a great gift, art supplies like pens and highlighters are an excellent option.
An Online Experience Gift Card
Research has shown that many people prefer experiential gifts over physical ones. This year, of course, that’s a bit harder to achieve as many in-person experiences have been canceled. Many places have adjusted, however, by offering innovative experiences online. We in particular recommend Atlas Obscura, because they have fun things to do all over the world, from behind-the-scenes tours of famous museums to embroidery workshops taught by experts. Airbnb has also supplemented its vacation rentals with online activities led by people from countries across the planet. It’s not exactly the same as traveling the world, but it’s a worthwhile runner-up.
A Souvenir From Somewhere They Love
- Paris Reproduction Travel Poster Postcards ($11)
- Michelangelo’s David Planter ($38)
- Canned Air From Prague ($14)
The art of souvenir shopping has taken a hit this year, but the holidays are a great time to revive it. A souvenir is an object that’s meant to evoke the memory of a place, and your friend who misses travel could probably use that right now. And on the flip-side, artists all over are in need of support. You can help both of them by purchasing fun, artistic souvenirs from online shops like Etsy. There is a lot of leeway on what exactly to get — postcards from Paris, keychains from Kiev, T-shirts from Tokyo — but you’re bound to find something your giftee will love. And yes, the canned air from Prague is kind of a joke, but also…kind of not.
A Babbel Subscription
Recommendation: Babbel as a Gift ($49-$299)
It probably doesn’t come as any surprise that we’re including a Babbel subscription in our language learner gift guide. Babbel is an excellent digital choice, especially if your friend has been getting by solely on what they can find for free. Babbel has been proven effective by research studies, and the bite-sized lessons can help your friend stay on track with their learning even during the busiest times of the year (you know, like the holidays).
Learn With Them!
Recommendation: Friendship ($0)
Our last option in our 2020 language learner gift guide doesn’t cost any money, which makes it ideal for the thrifty shopper: offer to learn a language with your giftee. There are many benefits to learning a language with someone else. You can keep each other on track, correct each other’s mistakes and work together through some of the most difficult part of the grammar. This is a gift that will show you really care.