Here's an idea for a holiday gift - a language course. There are lots of introductory language products that are inexpensive, educational and fun without being too ‘academic’ (let's face it, who wants to be ‘academic’ during the holidays?) They would make a great gift for a student or language enthusiast, or even for someone taking a trip in the near future.
You can buy books, book and audio combination packages and audio-only products in traditional booksellers like Barnes and Noble, Borders Books, Books-a-Million and others. Software products can also be found in Wal-mart, Best Buy and other large stores that carry any kind of software. All these retailers also have online stores, and of course there is always Amazon.com. If you want to limit your exposure to holiday shopping traffic and crowds, buying online is the only way to go.
There are products for all the major languages (like Spanish, French, Chinese, Japanese, Italian and German) and also for many other less common languages as well. Introductory courses are often inexpensive, less than $20 and in some cases less than $10.
Some popular book and audio packages are the Living Language series and the Teach Yourself books which have a very wide variety of languages to choose from. Both of these sets are sold with two or three audio cds and both can be found for under $20 in most bookstores.
Instant Immersion and Transparent Language both make software products that can be found in almost any major retailer that has a bargain software shelf. Both companies make more expensive advanced versions, but for under $20 you can't beat the flexibility you can get from an introductory language software product.
My favorite approach to language learning is with all-audio products. They allow you to study when you aren't usually doing anything productive, like driving to work. For audio products, there are the popular Michel Thomas titles, but my favorite language method of all is the Pimsleur all-audio line. The Pimsleur Quick and Simple set is an inexpensive introduction to a language that is easy to use and a lot of fun, and is less than $20.
If your giftee likes their present, there are a multitude of more advanced courses in all of these different formats. If they want to continue studying their new language, there are ample opportunities to do so. Sure, an educational holiday gift might seem kind of boring for some people, but for the right person, an introductory language course (or even a full course for the really ambitious!) can make a great holiday gift. If you know of anyone who might like a gift like this, why not take a small chance. It could lead to a world of opportunity and a lifetime of enjoyment.
Ron is a long-time language enthusiast, exploring Spanish, French, Swedish, Esperanto and others. Learn more about studying a language on your own at Language Learning Advisor This guide for self-study language learners has reviews and recommendations of language learning methods and products, links to online learning resources, learning tips to maximize your study time and effectiveness and articles on language learning.