Language learners are not the easiest group to shop for. It’s not like a typical hobby, where there are always more add-ons a person can purchase. One of the best parts of language learning, really, is that there’s no real barrier to entry. All you need is access to the internet or a book in another language, and you’re on your way. As the end of the year rolls around, though, you may be trying to think of something to give the person in your life whose first love is language. With that in mind, we put together a 2022 holiday gift guide specifically for language learners.
Our 2022 Holiday Gift Guide For Language Learners
Babbel As A Gift
To kick off the 2022 holiday gift guide with perhaps our most obvious choice, a subscription to Babbel is an excellent option. If your friend is learning Spanish, French, Italian, German, Swedish, Danish, Dutch, Norwegian, Russian, Polish, Turkish or Indonesian, then they’ll love using Babbel to tackle the language. With lessons, reviews, games, podcasts and articles all available on the app (or online), Babbel offers more ways than ever to learn a language, all while focusing on getting you speaking as quickly as possible.
Off-The-Beaten-Path Travel Guides
Physical travel guides have taken a bit of a hit in the past few decades. When people can look up tourist destinations online, they don’t see as much need to fill their shelves with “Italy 2016,” “Cancun 2019” and so on. To get your language learner a guide they’ll really cherish, you’ll want to find one that they’ll want to pore over multiple times.
One book we love is Atlas Obscura, the world travel guide that highlights fascinating locales all around the world. Even if someone isn’t traveling soon, this book can provide inspiration for future trips. Another good option for the food-motivated traveler is Anthony Bourdain’s World Travel, which posthumously collects Bourdain’s thoughts and musings on many of the places he visited during his long career. If you’re looking for something more specific, you can also try finding quirky old travel guides at used book stores or online. They might not be helpful when your giftee is looking for a restaurant, but they often have fascinating insights into the past.
Books They Can Read In Their Learning Language
If your giftee has always wanted to read Marcel Proust in French or Elena Ferrante in Italian, you can’t go wrong with getting them a book in the language they’re learning. It might be an aspirational gift depending on how far along they are, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. You also can start them off with something simpler, like a comic book or children’s book. If you’re stuck for more advanced ideas, we also have quite a few guides to the best books to read in other languages for learners.
In addition to books, your learner might also be interested in movies, TV shows or music in another language. These days, the best way to provide that to someone is buying them a subscription to one of the many, many streaming services out there. If you’re overwhelmed by options, rest assured there are some places better for language learners than others.
The Criterion Channel is probably one of the best for a language learner looking for movies in other languages, and Netflix also notably has a number of foreign-language shows and movies. For music, things are slightly simpler because most music streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music have mostly the same content. If you want to try something a little less common, though, you could gift your friend a subscription to Radiooooo, which is a streaming site that allows the listener to find music based on the decade and country it was recorded in.
Travel is one of the biggest motivators for learning a language, but booking someone a whole trip isn’t necessarily the most realistic gift. Still, a travel-related gift can be a good nod toward someone’s jet-setting intentions. You could get them packing cubes to keep their luggage organized, or an airplane footrest to make their flight more comfortable. If you’re really looking to contribute to their journeying itself, you can even get them a gift card to an airline like RyanAir (though, it might be best to check if the person you’re buying for actually wants to fly RyanAir in the foreseeable future).
Tastes Of A New Language
Is your giftee constantly going on about how they’re learning Italian to go eat authentic Italian food, or that they’re learning Spanish because of an undying love of paella? It only makes sense that learning a new tongue could be closely tied to a desire for different flavors, so food gifts are a great choice for your language learning friend. You can try to find something on the food delivery website GoldBelly, like macarons from Ladurée Paris or gnocchi from Nonna Dora’s of I Trulli. If your friend is more of a do-it-themself type, there are also countless great cookbooks out there for every type of cuisine. Nothing gets someone’s language learning motivation up quite like a delicious meal.
A new notebook has been a staple of holiday gift guides for time immemorial. Even people who have shelves of half-filled journals can’t resist feeling a bit of joy when they unwrap a new one. Language learners in particular have a lot to gain from having a notebook specifically for their studying, because it can allow people to track their progress, record vocabulary and make their own study guides. If you want to really level up your gift, you can also include highlighters, colored pens, sticky notes and more for them to really personalize their language learning journal.
Joint New Year’s Resolutions
Not every gift has to cost money. One of the most thoughtful things you could do for someone is join them on their language journey. There are plenty of ways to get involved, whether you take classes together, practice speaking with each other or simply hold each other accountable. Even if you don’t have the time to commit to learning an entire new language, you can find ways to support your friend or family member along the way.