Christmas gifts for language learners

Posted on 20/10/2011

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The nights are drawing in; the leaves are beginning to turn and fall; there’s a chill in the air. This can only mean one thing: the Christmas shopping panic is only weeks away. But fear not, dear reader: if there is a language lover in your life, panic is unnecessary. Instead, you can have a look at our suggestions and find the perfect gift.

Fridge Magnets Who can resist a bit of fridge poetry? And all the more so when it’s educational as well as fun? Go to funkyfridge.com for magnet kits in French, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Swedish and Norwegian.

Board Games Scrabble is, of course, the quintessential word game, available in a wide variety of languages, and you don’t even need an opponent. Challenging yourself regularly is a great way to build vocabulary. Bananagrams is another good one to try, as well as other games such as Pictionary and Taboo: for learners up to intermediate level, I’d recommend the children’s version of these.

Magazine Subscriptions A specialist language-learning magazine is an invaluable tool. For French intermediates and up, there’s Bien Dire; for Spanish, you can’t do better than Punto Y Coma. Authentik also publish a range of materials of A Level standard in German, French and Spanish. For more advanced learners, a great option is to find a mainstream magazine allied with their interest: Vogue, or National Geographic, or France Football, for example. Whatever your friend or family member is into, there’s bound to be something for them.

iTunes vouchers There’s a wealth of apps out there that can help with language learning, as can films, music and audiobooks from the country whose language they are learning. Just make sure you specify the purpose of the voucher on your Christmas card to ensure it doesn’t get used on  Angry Birds or Tetris apps.

Language Lessons  Maybe you know someone who would really value the occasional feedback on their language skills, or the opportunity to practice conversation or ask questions on the more tricky aspects of grammar. Some language tutors, including this one, offer gift vouchers: you can buy anything from half-hour sessions to 100 hours of hour-long lessons. The vouchers available here are valid for one year, so the recipients can take the lessons whenever is most convenient for them: in the run-up to an exam or a holiday, for example.

A Practical Guide Whether they’ve tried to learn before and got stuck, or are starting from scratch and are not sure where to begin, this eBook will help. It’s packed full of tips about strategies and resources for learning, and answers questions like “how can I stay motivated?” and “do I really have to learn grammar?”. You can snap it up on amazon.co.uk for just £1.99, or on amazon.com for $2.99, and you don’t even need a Kindle to read it – it will work on any electronic device, including PCs and iPhones.

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