24 Gifts for Language Lovers (2021)
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.
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?
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: 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: 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: 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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.
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.
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: 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.
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: 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.
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.
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.
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.
🛑 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!