Christmas is coming! In fact, it’s just around the corner, but if you’re like me, you probably still need to buy some gifts, or maybe you’re thinking of buying yourself something nice for the holiday season.
If you want to buy a present for someone who is learning English, the good news is that there a many, many gifts to choose from. In fact, there are so many that it’s difficult to decide which are worth buying.
That’s why I’ve prepared this gift guide; all of the things on this list are things which I have personally used or had experience with, which are good resources for someone who wants to improve their English. None of the suggestions below are paid advertisements, and I don’t receive any money if you buy products using the links below, unless you buy a lesson from me!
As always, if you have any questions or suggestions, please send me a message or an email or let me know.
Although online dictionaries (such as Wiktionary) are very useful and becoming better all the time, a good monolingual (English-English) dictionary is a valuable resource for a language learner and will help to improve their English much faster than translating everything.
It’s important to choose a dictionary which is written for learners, and is appropriate to the learner’s level of English. The Cambridge Learner’s Dictionary (for B1-B2 level) and the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (for C1-C2 level) are good choices*. Some Learner’s dictionaries, such as the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, are also available as phone apps.
*If you’re searching for these on Polish shopping sites such as Allegro or Empik, make sure that it’s the English-English version, not the English-Polish/Polish-English Version.
Reading, listening to, and speaking English are all important for improving your skills, and can also be a lot of fun, but anyone who’s serious about learning English will also need to study some grammar. That’s why it’s important to find a good grammar textbook, and a book like this can also make a good gift for your favourite English learner.
As I mentioned earlier, my favourite grammar textbook, and one which I often recommend, is English Grammar in Use by Raymond Murphy. The book has clear grammar explanations and useful practice exercises, and versions are also available for higher- or lower-level learners.
To help with learning vocabulary, my number one choice would be English Vocabulary in Use byMichael McCarthy and Felicity O’Dell. As well as featuring vocabulary explanations and exercises for a wide range of useful topics, it also includes advice for learning vocabulary and what to do when you don’t know the meaning of a word. This series also includes books for a range of levels from Elementary to Advanced.
Now we come to the fun stuff! Board games are a great way to practice English while also having a great time. Most people know Scrabble, a game where players must make words to score points–be careful with your spelling!–but there are many other games which can be both entertaining and helpful depending on your level of English.
Taboo is one of my favourites: players have to make their team-mates guess a word without saying any of the “forbidden“ words. It’s great for practicing describing things in English and paraphrasing.
Scattergories is another fun game, in which players must think of words to fit into different categories starting with the same letter. It’s a fun way to practice vocabulary and trying to find the right word under pressure!
When buying a board game, just make sure that you find the English language version, as games like Taboo have Polish versions as well.
If you know someone who enjoys cooking, using English-language recipes is a good way for them to practice not only vocabulary for different types of food and cooking techniques, but also numbers, weights and measurements. Choosing recipes for familiar foods will make it easier to understand and absorb the language being used.
With that in mind, I recommend this cookbook, written by a friend of mine, which includes recipes for traditional Polish dishes, written in English, with lovely pictures, descriptions and explanations of the cooking process.
Watching movies and TV shows in English is a good way to practice listening and gain more familiarity with English, and thanks to services like Netflix it’s now so easy to do this. Netflix has a wide range of content, including movies and TV shows for all ages, from the USA, England, and other countries. Most programmes also offer the option of using subtitles in case some help is needed with listening. If you’re searching for an easy gift idea, why not buy someone a Netflix subscription? Prices in Poland start from 34zł per month.
Reading is an important habit for improving your language, but reading can also be frustrating when the writer uses a lot of unknown language and the text is difficult or impossible to understand. One solution to this problem is using graded readers. A graded reader is a book which has been chosen for a specific level of ability, and often includes other features to help language learners to understand and enjoy the book.
Macmillan Readers are a good choice, as they are available in a range of levels, and have many different books to choose from, including many famous and classic works, the books include a glossary to explain difficult words, and many books also come with a CD or audio download so that you can listen to the book as well as read.
GIFT VOUCHER from English with Josh
Last, but not least! If someone you know needs a little help with their English, and would benefit from a one-on-one lesson with a native-speaking English teacher, consider buying them a voucher for a 90 minute English lesson with me.
Give the gift of English this Christmas!