Best Last Minute Christmas Gift Ideas For Language Learners

  • Donovan Nagel
    Written byDonovan Nagel
    Donovan NagelTeacher, translator, polyglot
    🎓 B.A., Theology, Australian College of Theology, NSW
    🎓 M.A., Applied Linguistics, University of New England, NSW

    Applied Linguistics graduate, teacher and translator. Founder of The Mezzofanti Guild and Talk In Arabic.
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Best Last Minute Christmas Gift Ideas For Language Learners

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?

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Cardinal MezzofantiCardinal Guiseppe Mezzofanti was a 19th century polyglot who is believed to have spoken at least 39 languages!Learn more
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Donovan Nagel
Donovan Nagel - B. Th, MA AppLing
I'm an Applied Linguistics graduate, teacher and translator with a passion for language learning (especially Arabic).
Currently learning: Greek


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Helen Ludwick

Helen Ludwick

Cool! Thanks for this anyway. You really give some last gift unique Christmas gift ideas. “Joyeux Noel” to all, which means Merry Christmas in French. There’s a lot more to great in different language. Happy Holidays everyone.



I am really curious to try Glossika. I am actually considering trying it to learn Russian (I hesitate with Assimil).

I believe my own book would be an excellent gift for French learners. It’s a short guide full of advice and resources to learn French independently. I would be happy to send you a copy if you like.

"The limits of my language mean the limits of my world."
- Ludwig Wittgenstein
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