Merry Christmas! Here Are Some Last Minute Gift Ideas + 40% Discount On

Qatar Souq Waqif

G’day from sunny Qatar!

I’m spending a week here in Doha at the moment for the first time ever and it’s been a really great opportunity to meet lots of Arabic speakers from loads of different countries.

I’ve had the chance to speak Arabic with Qataris, Lebanese, Jordanians, Egyptians and Tunisians over the last few days. :)

It’s really surprising to me considering so many people have said that Qatar is a terrible place to learn Arabic because there are few opportunities to practice.

My experience has been the complete opposite!

There’s a huge population of Arab workers here from other countries so it’s actually a very good place to meet people if you make the effort.

For those of you in the Gulf region who are putting off learning the language because you can’t find opportunities to talk to people, I say get off your butt and open your eyes! :)

Shortly I’ll be heading back to Cairo for a few weeks and then heading home to Australia for a much needed Christmas break with family and some relaxing beach time before another big year in the Mid East and elsewhere.

I’ll be putting in loads of time and work to improve my pet project throughout the year and aiming for some new language goals as well which I can’t wait to share.

So as I like to do every year at this time, I want to wish all of you a Merry Christmas (some of us still believe in it! :)) and happy holiday season, and to share a few last minute Christmas gift ideas with you if you’re shopping for anyone who’s into languages or wants to learn a language.

Here are just a few of the many many recommendations I would make for Christmas shopping this year:


Experience is the best gift for a language learner

As I said last year, just about the best thing you could give a language learner for Christmas is not something that might end up on the bookshelf gathering dust.

The reality is that a lot of people do want to learn a language but even if they’re given a great book or program, they might not know how to use it effectively.

A great gift ends up not being used.

So I say instead of giving them a thing, give them an experience.

Give them prepaid lessons with a teacher who they can get guidance from and practice the language with.

The good thing is you can easily buy gift cards from italki and have them emailed to your friends and family so that they can use them to purchase sessions with native teachers of their choice.

Or you could even schedule the sessions yourself for them. :)

I know that I personally would much prefer someone give me a voucher for 10 or so lessons with a native speaker than another book or program!

Click here to purchase an italki gift card and have it sent straight away.


40% discount on membership

When I first announced that we were starting to mailing list subscribers a short while ago, we set the price at only $9 a month for full access to all current and future content.

Ever since the price was raised to its current $15 a month price, I’ve received a number of emails from people saying something to the tune of, “Hey! What happened to the $9 a month price?”

So… just because it’s Christmas, for the rest of this month we’re going to cut 40% off the price of membership.

If you’re learning Arabic or know anybody who is then take advantage of this opportunity while you can.

It’s the only website of its kind for Arabic dialects and it’s continuing to grow and improve each week.

Click here to check it out.


The perfect Bon Voyage gift ideas

Do you know someone who’s heading off overseas soon?

Perhaps they’re not a serious, dedicated, long-term language learner but you want something that’ll help them get started and to be able to travel around a bit easier.

Here are a few ideas that will only set you back a few bucks and always make great Christmas gift ideas.

First of all, as always I highly recommend Earworms Musicial Brain Trainer.

Think of it as a better alternative to a language phrasebook. It exploits the same part of the brain where music gets ‘stuck’ when we can’t get a song out of our heads, and it’s amazingly effective at helping you remember language.

It’s the kind of thing that a person could enjoyably listen to on a long-haul flight or journey somewhere (speaking from experience).

I’m also a big fan of Berlitz phrasebooks which are as cheap as chips, very comprehensive and small enough to fit in your pocket.

The Confident series are excellent as they’re quite comprehensive but really simple and easy to follow.

For a bit of a gag bon voyage gift you could also consider the Dirty or Making Out (definitely not recommended for Arabic though!) series of phrasebooks which are only a couple of dollars too.


Game of Thrones fan?

Dothraki Language

I mentioned this recently on Facebook but in case you missed it here it is again. :)

I’m a huge Game of Thrones fan myself so I was delighted to hear that Living Language recently created a Dothraki book and CD set to teach fans the language of the nomadic horsemen from the series.

Granted it’s a constructed language and completely useless in the real world like Tolkien‘s Elvish or Star Trek Klingon, but for fans and enthusiasts of constructed languages it’s a good bit of craic. :)

And for less than $15 it’d be a great gift for a hardcore Game of Thrones fan I’m sure.


Gifts for more serious learners

My friend Mike from Glossika has done an absolutely phenomenal job this year in putting together a tonne of of language products that are sure to be helpful to many people.

I personally sampled, used and loved the Russian version they put together.

Have a look at all the languages available here.

For those of you learning Egyptian Arabic specifically and not at a complete beginner level, I want to recommend two books which I’ve sampled recently:

Umm al-Dunya Kalaam Gamiil

Umm al-Dunya and Kalaam Gamiil (both volumes) from AUC Press here in Egypt.

I’ve been meaning to put a video review together for both of these but I’ve just been so busy with and travel lately that I haven’t had a chance to do any video work.

Definitely get these books.

If you know somebody who’s learning Spanish, tell them about my friend Jared’s website

It’s a treasure trove of useful stuff, especially for people who are interested in Latin American Spanish. There are lots of really inexpensive Spanish products on there that would great as gifts.

For learners of Korean and Russian, I recently checked out Korean Made Simple by Billy Go and The Everything Essential Russian Book by Julie Stakhnevich which are both affordable and excellent resources for both languages. I ordered a copy of both of them myself.

For Irish, I still have to say that nothing beats the Gaeilge Gan Stró series. I reviewed it a while back here and have recently decided to use it to reactive my very rusty Irish.

You could also get the Irish translation of The Hobbit (An Hobad) to coincide with the upcoming release of the last film in the trilogy.

I reviewed that here.

Finally, you might also remember that I reviewed Rocket Languages not too long ago.

Well since I wrote that review, there have been lots of changes and improvements in the works for the Rocket series (which address the concerns I raised in my honest review).

They cover a lot of different languages and as I said in the review, the audio content is outstanding and well worth the investment.

Check that out here.


Since I can’t cover every language and every awesome resource here, what would you recommend as a great, last minute Christmas gift idea for somebody learning your language?


This was written by .

Did you find this interesting, useful or encouraging? A quick share on Facebook or Twitter will make my day! Thanks. :)

Comments: If you’ve got something you’d like to add to this or some constructive criticism you can do that at the bottom of this page. Just please be respectful. Any abusive or nonsensical comments will be deleted.

Learning To Speak Arabic But Can’t Find Resources? Here’s Your Answer…

Learn to speak Arabic

As you probably know from following me on this blog, I started learning a spoken dialect of Arabic about 12 years ago.

At that time there were no decent, reliable resources available for learning it at all which meant that it was a constant uphill battle for me learning Arabic.

What’s hard to believe is that even today – 12 years on – things have hardly improved.

Most resources are geared toward teaching you Modern Standard Arabic, a literary language that no person anywhere on earth speaks as a first, native language.

It’s a bit like walking into the Spanish section of a bookstore to buy resources and finding that most of the books are for Latin! It just doesn’t make any sense and it creates another barrier between learners and ordinary people in the Arab world.

On top of this, a lot of the stuff that does exist for spoken dialects is not very good at all.

I believe this lack of decent resources for spoken Arabic today is the main reason why a lot of people don’t bother or give up early.

It’s a problem that really needs addressing.

So over the years I came up with the idea to work together with some Arab friends of mine here in the Middle East and North Africa to put together something that’s really unique and that responds to this problem in a very simple way!

And it’s something I’m sure you’re going to love.


It’s called

Talk In Arabic

If I could sum the site up in a single sentence this is how I’d do it: is a resource for all spoken dialects of Arabic (or at least most of them) which is full of natural, relevant, high quality audio and video, transcripts and subtitles, and new content guaranteed every week.

Not another course.

Not a program.

But content.

It’s what people ask for more than anything else when it comes to Arabic dialects.

I’m meeting with native Arabic speakers here in the Middle East every day in fact to gather more and more material that addresses the needs and requests of learners like yourself.

The site already has tonnes of recordings and transcripts on it in various dialects, and there are literally thousands more (as well as videos) being edited and gradually uploaded to the site each week.

We’ve already started uploading content for Egyptian, Levantine, Iraqi, Saudi, Moroccan, Algerian, Tunisian and Sudanese :)

As you can imagine, it’s a massively ambitious and time consuming project but totally worth it!


So what kind of content is it and how can I use it?

Well it’s two things primarily:

First of all there are straight-to-the-point answers to ‘How do I say…’ questions with sample sentences to show you exactly how it’s said by native speakers (e.g. ‘How to say ‘as soon as’ something in Levantine Arabic’).

Highly practical and straight-to-the-point.

No dry textbook grammar explanations.

Just simply and clearly demonstrating how they’re actually used by real people.

I tell every person I record with the same thing:

Speak exactly as you would speak to your friends and family. 

Not how the textbooks say you speak but how you actually speak to each other.

Very often with colloquial dialects the translations aren’t literal and people will often use their own colorful ways of saying things (including slang and local expressions).

We learn languages naturally and best by lots of high-repetition (listening and repeating) of small pieces of natural language.

In other words taking a single phrase or sentence and using it repeatedly until it becomes habit rather than trying to work backwards from a rule you read in a book.

You listen to the phrase over and over, you repeat it over and over, and it sticks.

Now although this is the approach I would take personally, I want to make it clear that this content is going to useful to you no matter which approach you prefer to take. is about providing you with fresh, quality content – not a limited learning style that might not suit your tastes.

Talk In ArabicThe other thing you’ll find is higher level listening material (we’re in the process of uploading more of this at the moment).

These are in the form of both publicly available audio recordings and video content (of course with transcripts and subtitles).


Where to from here and what’s ahead

Most of the site’s content is (and will always be) publicly accessible which means it’s free to listen to by anyone, anytime but there is a membership option as well (which lets you download the transcripts, access better audio lessons and watch videos for example).

This helps me to employ part time native Arabic speakers to continue improving and building on the content to make it even more useful for you.

I’ve recently posted a list of current updates that are being made to thanks to the feedback that early users have been giving so you can see the improvements that we’re working on now.

There’s still tonnes of work to be done through adding more content for all levels and improving the overall design and functionality.

The response from our members who have joined so far has been overwhelmingly positive and encouraging – we know we’re on the right track with based on the feedback people have given.

I hope you find it useful!

You’ll find more information on the site if you click here or visit the FAQ.

Or join now by clicking here.

If you know anyone who’s learning Arabic then help us out by sharing this post with them. Thanks!


This was written by .

Did you find this interesting, useful or encouraging? A quick share on Facebook or Twitter will make my day! Thanks. :)

Comments: If you’ve got something you’d like to add to this or some constructive criticism you can do that at the bottom of this page. Just please be respectful. Any abusive or nonsensical comments will be deleted.

Merry Christmas! Here Are Some Last Minute Gift Ideas + 40% Discount On

December 9, 2014 – 12:26 am

Christmas in Russia G’day from sunny Qatar! I’m spending a week here in Doha at the moment for the first time ever and…

Learning To Speak Arabic But Can’t Find Resources? Here’s Your Answer…

November 20, 2014 – 12:23 am

Talk In Arabic As you probably know from following me on this blog, I started learning a spoken dialect of Arabic about 12…

Why languages with different scripts aren’t as scary as you think

November 12, 2014 – 5:49 am

Lindsay Dow Today you get to hear from Lindsay who has an awesome language learning blog called Lindsay Does Languages. Lindsay’s

8 Ways That My Punishing Fitness Regimen Has Enhanced My Learning

November 4, 2014 – 9:12 pm

Language Learning I find that the gym is one of the best places to meet new people and practice the language when…

About The Mezzofanti Guild

Learning another language or want to? This site is aimed at offering you unique foreign language learning tips, travel advice, anecdotes, encouragement and providing another handy place for language learners to connect.

Click here to read more about The Mezzofanti Guild.

Like this blog?