Have you been so busy working, studying, or downing eggnog lattes that you forgot to get a gift for that special someone in your life? Here are some great last-minute gift ideas for those you know (including yourself!) learning Japanese. All but one of them are digital products that can be emailed to the recipient, so there’s no need to worry about shipping times. I’ve also made sure to select gifts that focus on action and application, not theory and academic “procrasturbation.” Have a wonderful holiday season and a fruitful New Year!

iTalki Gift Card

If you’ve read this blog for long, you know how much importance I place on practicing with native speakers. There is no substitute for the messy, organic process of communicating with Japanese speakers in Japanese. While input (reading and listening) is an essential part of the language leanring journey, no amount of passive input will ever get you ready for output (speaking and writing). So how does one go about finding opportunities to practice? If you live in Japan, just leave the house! But don’t despair if you still live in your home country; using online tutoring sites like iTalki provides you an easy, affordable, and highly targeted way to practice with native Japanese speakers. In fact, the tutoring context can be even more ideal for language learners than random conversations since your tutor will be more likely to point out mistakes in pronunciation, grammar, word choice, etc. than Japanese friends, colleagues, etc.

To purchase an iTalki gift card:

  • Click the button below.
  • Scroll down to the bottom and click “Buy a Gift Card” under “More”.
  • Select an amount and enter the name and email for the recipient.
  • You can send the card now or choose a date (e.g. Christmas day).
  • Enter a personalized message (optional). 

Gift Cards can then be redeemed for italki credits which can be used to schedule time with a Japanese tutor or professional teacher, get one’s writing corrected, and more.


Glossika Membership

Glossika is an innovative science-based, audio-focused language learning tool developed by Mike Campbell, an accomplished linguist and polyglot. He designed Glossika to overcome many of the common problems with traditional language learning tools. Instead of focusing on reading and isolated vocabulary, Glossika uses a more natural, sentence-based approach that focuses on training your ears and mouth and helping you reach spoken fluency as quickly as possible.


Japanese Picture Dictionary

Tuttle’s new Japanese Picture Dictionary is a great way for beginning and intermediate Japanese learners to familiarize themselves with 1,500 of the highest-frequency vocabulary items they’ll need for daily life. I’ve long been a fan of picture dictionaries, but they always had one major flaw: they were not culture-specific (the publisher would make one version and then just localize the vocabulary for different languages). Fortunately, author Timothy Stout includes heaps of useful Japanese-specific language and cultural guidance in the book, all paired with beautiful Japan-specific images. And as an added bonus, you can access free companion audio recordings online to mimic correct pronunciation of all vocabulary items and sentences from the book.


Lonely Planet Japanese Phrasebook & Dictionary


Phrasebooks are a highly underrated source of useful, high-frequency Japanese vocabulary, phrases, and structures. Though they are designed for travelers, don’t underestimate their potential to help you master the basics of the language you will need to live and work in Japan, too. And best of all, phrasebooks tend to be small and portable, so you will always have some foreign language material handy when “hidden moments” arise throughout your day for language study. There are many excellent phrasebook publishers to choose from (and the best of the best varies a bit from language to language), but for Japanese, I find the Lonely Planet Japanese Phrasebook & Dictionary to be the best designed and have the most useful vocabulary. I also really appreciate that Lonely Planet goes to the trouble of including phrases in English, Japanese (written in kanji), and roumaji (a phonetic transliteration of Japanese using English letters). This allows learners of all levels to get use out of the book, and also enables absolute beginners to point to a Japanese phrase in the book, if efforts to convey it aloud to a native Japanese speaker fail.


Master Japanese

Master Japanese is my step-by-step how-to manual and resource guide for learning Japanese the fun way. The guide shows you:

  • How to create a Japanese immersion environment no matter where you live.
  • How to choose resources that fit your unique interests, learning style, and needs.
  • How to use brain-friendly, adult-friendly methods and techniques.
  • How to learn all four language skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing.
  • How to save time, save money, and learn on your own terms.
  • How to have a damn good time along the way!

In addition to the digital version (available in PDF, iBooks/EPUB, and Kindle formats), you can now get Master Japanese in print on Amazon!

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