What was the best gift you ever received?
For me, it was probably a 10-speed Raleigh racer bicycle for my 10th birthday. I’d been dreaming of owning this particular bike ever since I’d seen it in a local cycle shop a few months prior.
On the morning of my birthday, I jumped out of bed and bounded down the stairs three at a time, hardly able to contain my excitement at finding out if my parents had taken my (numerous and heavy-handed) hints about it over the previous few weeks.
As soon as I saw it there in the hallway, my face lit up. Almost instantly I was putting on my shoes and opening the front door so I could take it out for a spin. I raced up and down the road as fast as I could, almost hitting lamp posts and pedestrians as I careered wildly all over the pavement, a smile plastered from ear to ear.
Naturally, the bike gave me years of fun (and led to my first paid employment as a paperboy) before I eventually grew out of it, my knees knocking against the handlebars as my lanky frame told me I needed an upgrade.
In fact, as great as gifts are, it’s pretty tricky to find one that stands the test of time. We physically grow out of bicycles or clothes, we mentally grow out of toys and games, we lose interest in sports equipment. Even cutting edge electronics end up becoming obsolete within a few years. And it’s been even made harder in recent years.
Research shows that millennials (those who reached young adulthood in the early 2000s) value experiences over possessions. This means they tend to opt for concert tickets, an extreme-sports experience or a weekend away over the traditional consumerist fare of jewelry, clothes or unnecessary electronics.
What this means in practice is that we have to find the perfect intangible present that will bring a smile to their faces by creating some fond memories of how they spent their special day. Of course, these “experience” gifts are great, but inevitably the memory starts to fade until it’s just a distant speck on the horizon.
But what about something that they can still enjoy years, or even decades, later?
Well, I’m going to suggest something that perhaps you haven’t considered: giving the gift of language learning. Think about it. This is something that is personally enriching, that aids us in our professional, social and academic lives, that opens windows of opportunity for us to travel and work abroad and that helps us make new friends. It makes us feel good about ourselves, it opens up an entire new world of movies, music and literature, it trains our brains in one of the most effective ways possible and it gives us loads of self confidence.
The gift of language learning is truly the gift that keeps on giving.
Why language learning is the best gift you can give
Let’s look at some of the ways language learning is so much better than a physical gift.
- It’ll never break.
- It’s impossible to “grow out of it.”
- It doesn’t need an entire pack of AA batteries.
- It flatters the recipient.
- It can last a lifetime.
- It has the potential to open up thousands of new opportunities.
- It reminds the recipient of the gift giver every time you use it.
How to give the gift of language learning
But, how do you go about this? Well, fortunately italki has made the whole process a lot easier. italki offers Gift Cards in the form of italki Credits, which can be redeemed directly with any of the teachers on the website. You can send it directly to the recipient, or wait for it to be delivered on a certain day, such as their birthday. You can even print it out and present it to them personally in a card.
Gift Cards can be purchased for the value of 200 italki Credits (US$20), 500 italki Credits (US$50) or 2,000 italki Credits (US$200), meaning that you can choose between buying someone an hour or two of lessons (depending on the tutor) or an entire package, which is easily enough to give them a great head start in learning a language.
What this means in practice is that you can introduce a friend to the joys of learning a language online with absolutely minimal fuss. The best thing about giving a Gift Card is that you can even suggest which language you think they should try out. Perhaps they’re planning a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Tanzania and you think they’d get a kick out of learning some Swahili before they’ve landed? Or maybe they’ve always talked about their love of Italian food and culture, but never really got past guide book Italian? Well, now’s the opportunity they’ve been waiting for.
Learning a languages doesn’t have to be a lifelong journey from the absolute basics to full fluency. Sometimes it’s just nice to learn a few useful phrases in anticipation of a trip abroad and, even better, to get the opportunity to chat with a local about some of the amazing things you should do when you arrive in their country.
And, if you’re wondering about when to surprise your best friend with this gift, then it may be sooner than you think.
The International Day of Friendship
The International Day of Friendship is an initiative of the United Nations with the intention of fostering goodwill and friendship between peoples, countries, cultures and individuals. It will be observed this year on Saturday, July 30 with a series of events and activities that promote friendship.
And it’s the perfect opportunity to show your best friend what you think of them. Why wait for an upcoming birthday when you can get your friend started on their language learning journey this month? So, how should you go about it?
Well, think about which of your friends would be receptive to learning a new language. One idea is to think of a friend who’s expressed an interest in learning your own target language. In fact, what could be better than introducing them to the language you’re currently learning? And if we’re looking at slightly selfish reasons, there’s nothing wrong with securing yourself a friendly study partner along the way.
Alternatively, maybe it’ll be for a friend who’s currently struggling with their language learning. Perhaps they’re not enjoying the course they’re taking or they feel like they’ve hit a brick wall in terms of their progress? A couple of hours with an italki tutor could be just what they need to get them out of the rut.
So, take advantage of the International Day of Friendship this month and give your friend a gift that could change their life for the better.
Hero Image by asenat29 (CC BY 2.0)