24 Gifts for Language Lovers (2021)

Gifts for language lovers

Picking out gifts for language lovers and learners (if you yourself don’t study languages) can be hard!

The idea for this article came from my own problems finding a great gift for a new language learner in my life… even when I myself have learned plenty of languages!

So before we even start this, I want to promise you that every gift on this list is:

  • something I myself use or have gifted other language learners
  • hand-picked by me (a polyglot)
  • free of corporate product placement

And now, let’s get onto the gift ideas!

FYI, I’m affiliated with some of the products I use and recommend. I may earn a small commission for items purchased at no extra cost to you.

Why I wrote this list of gift ideas for language learners

Like I said, the idea for this list of gifts for language lovers came from my own experiences.

When my mom retired last Christmas, I was stumped. Her goal was to learn Italian in retirement, so my idea (as a total language lover) was to get her a gift that was both practical and fun.

 

Gift packaging idea for travel lovers. Two small boxes with travel stickers on them
This is how I assembled my own gift boxes of stocking stuffers for my language lover mom's language gifts

Unfortunately, no list of gift ideas like this one existed then.

So eventually, I put together a big box of mixed-up language learning surprises and decorated it to be opened on her first morning of retirement.

Thankfully, the present box was a hit.

So why am I telling you this?

My mom and her husband on the first day of her retirement opening the gift boxes. (We had to video call since I wasn't in the country!)

Because all the gifts for language lovers on this list is either something that I bought her that year or something I myself want this year.

(That’s right: my mom follows me on social media, and I fully intend on sharing this article where she can see it.)

So if you’re looking for gifts for the language lovers in your life, I hope this list treats you well.

And if you’re my mom, anything with the 🙋🏻‍♀️ emoji next to it means that you should totally buy this thing for me for Christmas 😀

Happy gift shopping everyone!

19 stocking-stuffer gifts for language lovers

All of this section’s gifts for language lovers in this section are all affordable at almost any budget. For more expensive gifts, you can keep scrolling!

Why I love it: These anchor bookmarks hold textbooks open better than anything I’ve ever seen. I use them constantly when working through language workbooks or even when reading novels in one of my languages.

Why I love it: This tiny, compact journal comes in a variety of colors and with options for dotted pages instead of lined. For language students who might be drawing charts or diagrams, I think the dots are the best option for our note-taking. (And: the notebooks look so nice, they’ll be a treat to use.)

Why I love it: Markers are awesome for organizing notes and bullet journals. But I’ve tried every fancy marker on the market--and Crayola, surprisingly, has the best color variety and least bleed of anything else. (Plus: they’re by far the cheapest.)

Why I love it: Even better than markers, a variety of colored pens or fine liners help organize notes. When taking multilingual notes I assign a different color to every language; when drawing out mind maps or diagramming sentences, I want to take notes in a way that helps me review them at-at-glance.

Why I love it: Not all language learners are linguists. But if someone in your life adores not only language learning but the study of languages, they’re going to flip out over this mug. (And while I don’t normally get excited about cheapy mugs or merch, this mug was designed by actual linguists)

Why I love it: I don’t know what it is about language learners, but our desks are always a mess. Do your language learner a favor and gift them a stationary organizer to help save their desk (and organize any new pens and markers you got them).

There are a ton of options available in various colors, sizes, and functions all around the Internet, so go shop around.

7. Short stories for language learners

Why I love it: Many language learners struggle to read in the language they’re studying in. A common mistake is trying to jump into novels right away. Instead, there are two better solutions (which make awesome gifts):

  1. The Short Stories by Olly Richards series is available in a number of languages and the easiest book series on the market. These are good for (1) public school students under 16; (2) university students who have taken less than 2 semesters of the language; (3) adults who are still struggling to have conversations in the language.
  2. The Short Stories by LingoMastery series is personally my favorite. These are good for (1) public school students who have taken more than 4 years in the language; (2) university students who have taken 3 semesters in the language; (3) adults who are starting to become conversational in the language.
  3. Is your language learner fluent in the language? Or studying a language that isn’t offered by either of these companies? Check out some of my novel and short story book recommendations for language learners here.
8. Cookbooks in their target language
Cover of a Polish cook book

Why I love it: One of the secrets of successful language learners is that it’s not just the languages we love. It’s the people and their cultures. Buying a cookbook is a great way to gift a language learner someone an at-home cultural and linguistic immersion where they can learn and practice vocabulary in a fun, real-life way.

(For beginner language learners, you can sometimes even find bilingual cookbooks!)

Why I love it: This is one of the nerdier gifts on the list. If you’re not familiar with language learning or linguistics, you might not know that nearly all European languages (as well as many Middle Eastern and South Asian languages) share a common linguistic ancestor. The language that our ancestors spoke 10,000 years ago is called Proto-Indo-European.

This amazingly nerdy dictionary will help budding polyglots learn languages faster by teaching them the connection between several of the languages they’re trying to learn. But because it’s rather technical, I only recommend it as a gift for language lovers who speak or study 3+ languages.

10. Bullet journal stencils

Why I love it: If your language learner already has a ton of stationary stuff, they might be looking for new and nice ways to decorate their notes. Head over to Etsy and search “bullet journal stencil” for tons of fun gift ideas.

(As a pro-tip, stay away from letters, numbers, or anything they can draw themselves. Instead, check out things like themed trackers, geometric patterns, list makers, monthly trackers, or wheel planners.)

Why I love it: Ultralearning isn’t just a language book--it’s one of the only books on the market that talks about the practical and applicable art of teaching yourself anything. One of the many things the author talks about is how to apply scientific learning strategies to learning 4 languages in a year, and it was one of the best books I’ve ever read on language learning.

Is the language learner in your life a bookworm? Check out this list of amazing linguistics books they’ll love.

Linguistics books for language learners

Why I love it: If your language learner is taking online classes or living with roommates, noise-canceling headphones with a built-in mic are going to solve a few of their major study problems. Low-end headphones can go a low as $35 per pair, but for a name brand like Sony or Bose tend to run $200-350 per pair.

Why I love it: Does your language learner love taking beautiful notes? In online language learning communities, sharing photos of notes is increasingly popular. Let them practice their handwriting in a fun and creative way so studying becomes not only productive but fun!

Why I love it: If someone is studying a language with a foreign script (think: Russian, Greek, Arabic, Korean, etc) they’re going to need a new skin for their keyboard so when they install new hardware on their computer they can see what letters they’re typing. Unfortunately, keyboard skins wear out quickly, so having an extra on hand isn’t a bad idea.

As of right now, these are manufactured in Russian, Greek, Arabic, Korean, and Thai, but if you’re looking for something else you may be able to find it by searching “[language] keyboard skin”.

Why I love it: 2021 was a bummer, but these tiny highlighters are adorable. Sprinkle them in as filler to a gift box or use them as a bonus for a larger gift. Look at how cute they are uwu

Why I love it: For multilingual families or friend groups, see who can get the right words in the right languages! For single-player mode, quiz yourself on a number of different languages all at once.

Why I love it: This book is pure fun without the practicality of other gifts and requires no specific language level. However, it’s rather large and difficult so I would suggest it only for older teens and adults.

Why I love it: Babble is a fun, clever, and intellectual magazine all about languages and linguistics. It’s the perfect gift for language lovers who want to enjoy languages more than increase their speaking skills.

Read Issue #1 here.

Why I love it: We love language-learner-owned businesses here, because we know what we love! Irregular Endings has different well-designed products that you can print out at home, and for $16 a pack, you can get crafty with some scrapbooking supplies and put together an adorable customized gift.

Irregular Endings also have amazing greeting cards, notepads, stickers, and totes available for shipping in Australia 🇦🇺.

The inside of one of the gift boxes
Here's one of the two boxes I packed for my mom. For this one, I took bought her favorite k-cups and used them as "stuffing" in the box full of other language learning gifts.

Why I love it: If you want to make a gift box, I suggest filling it with some good snacks, tea, K-cups, whatever. I added a sprinkling to my mom’s gift box as a cute touch and she loved it. Just open the bags the snacks come in and use them as box filler. (I used Lindt chocolates and Nespresso cups for my gift box filling.)

5 Premium Gits for Language Lovers

These premium gifts for language lovers are priced higher, but I’ve personally used and tested every one of them.

They’re worth the money.

So if you’re looking for that big show-stopper how-did-you-know present, check out these gift ideas.

Why I love it: You’ve probably heard of DuoLingo or Rosetta Stone. The problem with most apps is that not only do they have very few languages on them, but that they don’t work.

On the flip side, uTalk hosts over 150 languages and uses really really good learning science. (As a polyglot, this is the only app that I personally swear by!) A lifetime subscription will give your language learner access to all of them indefinitely. (If you want to know more about this app, check out my unsponsored video here.)

Price: Depends

Why I love it: iTalki is the largest directory of online language teachers on the internet. If the language lover in your life is already taking online classes, odds are they’re taking them through iTalki.

 

Generally, hiring a language tutor is $10-20/hr and hiring a professional teacher is $15-35/hr (depending on the language). My recommendation is that you do at least a $50 gift card so you can pay for several lessons unless you know that your language learner is already using the platform.

Why I love it: For a language student, Kindles are a great investment. First of all, their textbooks and workbooks going forward will likely be much cheaper. Second, they’ll have access to books from foreign countries that they couldn’t have shipped over in snail mail.

But third, Kindle also has several built-in bilingual dictionaries. Language lovers can read novels much more easily when they can find a translation in one-click.

As for which edition you should buy, I like my basic Paperwhite a ton. (That version costs $129 at the time of writing this article.) Anything more expensive seems like a lot of bells and whistles that I’m not sure are necessary for language learning.

4. Language Coaching

Why I love it: When I was first getting serious about language learning, I had plenty of problems I couldn’t solve myself. I needed a language mentor--someone to guide me and help me navigate the long road ahead.

Ask the language lover in your life if they have a favorite language podcast or YouTuber.

If they listen to the Fluent Show, check out Language Coaching with Kerstin Cable. I worked with Kerstin for 6 sessions, and it helped me with a ton of my problems.

There are also a few dozen others, which you can find via quick Google search. (I just won’t link to them here since I don’t know them personally.)

Why I love it: The Language Habit Toolkit is an online course that functions as a language learning planner. As you move through the course, the user will learn not only about the powerful habits of successful language learners, but will get actionable steps and printable resources that will help them become better language learners themselves.

3 language gifts to avoid

If you’re not a language learner yourself, you might be tempted to buy some of the more obvious gifts for language lovers. (AKA, the things you’ve actually heard of.)

But all of these gifts for language lovers are either mass-produced in sweat shops or simply have high advertising budgets. They’re not something language learners will actually want or use.

Here are a few gifts I truly do not recommend getting any language learner, even if you’re tempted.

A pinterest image flag with the words "gifts for language lovers" written above some gift examples
 🛑 1. Rosetta Stone 🛑

Why this gift will fall flat: Rosetta Stone was the 90’s go-to language software. But if you’ve ever met someone who tried using it, they likely have a number of reasons why they never got anywhere with it.

Rosetta Stone’s technology was groundbreaking at the time, but ultimately it coupled limited vocabulary with bad teaching pedagogy. It’s still a household name, but no language learners actually use it.

 🛑 2. Corny T-Shirts or Hoodies 🛑 

Why this gift will fall flat: Cheap t-shirt companies pop up everywhere online in time for the holidays. They are run by robots who comb hashtags on Instagram, Tumblr, or Facebook and automatically repost random popular images onto shirts, using the same hashtags to help shoppers (like you) find them.

The problem with this is that there is no quality oversite. Jokes or memes might be offensive to those who don’t speak a certain language. Grammar charts or linguistics jokes might be printed incorrectly. The material is often very cheap and made in sweatshops.

So skip cheap apparel this year.

 🛑 3. Textbooks 🛑 

Why this gift will fall flat: Not only do you not know the language level of another person, but you don’t know their learning style. Unless they specifically ask for a certain textbook, this present isn’t going to win anyone’s heart.

Do you have any questions about potential gifts for language lovers? Or any ideas that you think belong on this list?

Feel free to leave any idea in the comments to be added to a future edition of this list, or to get feedback from me!

Multilingual Marissa

I'm Marissa, and not only did I fail out of high school Spanish, but I also managed to forget my native language (Polish) in the process. After 10 years of establishing my career in the arts I decided to give language learning one last chance, and many years (and languages) later, I now help others online learn or relearn languages. I now speak English, Spanish, French, Catalan, Portuguese and am relearning Polish, my heritage language. I've also studied Italian, German, and other languages to low- or intermediate-levels for fun. If you want to relearn a language, I'd love to help!

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2 Responses

  1. Alison says:

    Lovely post, so many great ideas!! Have you heard of DiGlot books? They start in English but by the end they are in the target language. They’re amazing, they would be a great addition to the list!

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