person holding amazon kindle ebook

Why You NEED A Kindle for Language Learning! [Tips + Tricks]

Why you need a kindle for language learning. A Kindle is the best tool for language learners. Plurilingualism.com

The Kindle is an amazing product for language learning and is an often overlooked and uncommon tool in the language learning sphere. This is a shame, as this product is an amazing way (in fact one of the BEST ways!) to advance in your target language.

In fact, it is one of my favorite language learning tools I have bought in the last 10 years!

As you already know if you read my post on the many phenomenal benefits of reading for language learning, reading is one of the best ways to gain fluency in your target language(s).

It exposes you to the language (and culture!) in ways most textbooks cannot.

Reading allows you to take in new vocabulary, slang, grammar, language nuances, expressions or idioms, cultural knowledge, and so much more – all while having fun! This is not to mention all of the mental and emotional benefits of reading, as well!

Reading in another language has never been so simple as in the 21st century. The convenience and functionality make the Kindle (or any e-reader!) a real powerhouse tool for language learners.

Keep reading to learn why the kindle is so amazing, if its a great fit for you, and how to use it best!


Disclaimer: This blog contains affiliate links. I may earn a small commission to fund my language learning addiction if you use one of my links to make a purchase. You will not be charged extra, I only recommend what I genuinely love, and you’ll help keep this site running! It’s a win for everyone, really πŸ™‚


Short on time? Here is a quick overview!

If you just want to know what I believe is the very best e-reader for language learners, here is the 16 GB version of the Kindle that I have and love so dearly. I cannot recommend the Kindle Paperwhite enough πŸ™‚

An irreplacable language learning tool!
Kindle Paperwhite (16 GB) – Black
$169.99

This product is amazing for language learners. Did you know that you can read in multiple languages and you can access dictionaries, Wikipedia, and Google Translate all at the touch of a button?

That makes this tool invaluable for language learners! Your language level will progress rapidly when you start to read and understand the language so greatly and so easily, due to the helpful tools offered within your Kindle!

We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
10/03/2023 08:27 am GMT

And if you want a quick look at why using a Kindle for language learning is so amazing before I go over the main features below, here are the top 10 reasons:

  1. Reading is a massive benefit to language learning and its so easy with a Kindle!
  2. Bilingual and monolingual dictionaries are available for download and use.
  3. Kindles come with a built-in flashcard feature!
  4. You can make notes and store text highlights.
  5. Kindles are compact – they roughly the size of a physical book.
  6. They have incredibly long battery lives, lasting weeks!
  7. It is easy to find lots of books in various languages to download for any budget.
  8. You can download textbooks and other language resources – not just novels!
  9. They have massive amounts of storage and the capability to upgrade your storage if needed.
  10. There is never any glare on the screen (not even on the sunniest of days!) and you can adjust the warmth and brightness – keeping your eyes happy.

Table of Contents:

What is a Kindle?

What are the Main Differences Between Models?

Why a Kindle is Worth the Money for Language Learners!

Which Language Learners are Best Suited for a Kindle?

Where to Find Dictionaries?

What is the Kindle Vocabulary Builder and Why is it Important?

Where to Find Good Books?

Final Tips and Tricks!


What is a Kindle?

person holding amazon kindle ebook. Kindle for language learning
Photo by ΓΆzgΓΌr on Pexels.com

The Kindle, whose full name is the ‘Amazon Kindle’, is a device created by Amazon in the year 2007.

Kindles are e-readers, which means that this device allows you to browse, buy, download, and read books, magazines, newspapers, or any other texts on a fully portable device!

Whether you take your Kindle on a road trip, on vacation, on your commute to work or school, etc – your kindle can easily be packed away and allow you to read wherever and whenever!

The name was coined by designer Michael Cronan. It was inspired by the idea that books are like kindle to light a fire for reading and gaining knowledge. Cronan’s wife Karen Hibma stated, “I verified that it had deep roots in literature. From Voltaire: β€˜The instruction we find in books is like fire. We fetch it from our neighbors, kindle it at home, communicate it to others and it becomes the property of all.'” (Print Mag).

There are currently, as of 2023, a whopping 11 generations of Kindle products. Each generation has anywhere from one specific product to five!

Below is a brief overview of the most common ones you will see nowadays and the differences between them. As well as the one I would recommend (spoiler: it’s the Paperwhite!).

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What are the Main Differences between Models?

Right now, there are a LOT Kindles on the market.

Several of the older models would not be recommended for use today, though. The software is quite old (and no longer updated), the storage is fairly small, they are missing many features, and they are not very hardy. The newer models are much better suited for language learning!

For the purpose of this article, using Kindles for language learning, I will be highlighting the models that will work best below!

(If you do decide to search for a older model not mentioned in this post, just be sure to double check if it has the capabilities mentioned in this post that you wish to take advantage of. If so, you are good to go!)

Here is a great overview of the specs of all Kindle models.

Most Kindles are around 6-7 ounces (~170-200 grams) and about the size of an average novel. However, unlike a physical book, the Kindle contains thousands of books!

The exact amount of books your Kindle can hold depends on the Kindle you choose. The smallest size is 8 GB and can hold a couple thousand books or over 35 Audible audiobooks. They also have 16 GB, which can hold a few thousand books or over 75 Audible audiobooks. The next size up (and the one I own!) is 32 GB and can hold several thousand books or over 160 Audible audiobooks. The largest Kindle size offered, with the Kindle Scribe, is an enormous 64 GB and can hold over ten thousand books or over 300 Audible audiobooks, on average!

Keep in mind that if you also store lots of notes, download extremely large books or files, use the Scribe to store lots of larger notes, and/or if you use several other features (like storing vocab, highlights, etc) this will all reduce the space. You might therefore not be able to hold thousands of books at once, perhaps just a couple hundred or less depending on your model. However, this is almost always still more than enough space!

Now to look at the specific models I would recommend for language learners!

As you can see via the table below, the most expensive Kindles are great for a more luxurious experience, but they all have roughly the same general features.

The Kindle Oasis does have one feature that is nice for language learning that the other models do not and that is cellular connectivity. While dictionaries are downloaded and can be used offline, Google Translate and Wikipedia are not. Therefore, this feature really helps if you’re away from WiFi and need to look something up outside of your dictionary!

However I personally do not believe that would be enough to warrant the high cost, for me. I do not find myself missing this feature too terribly much on my Kindle Paperwhite.

Here is a brief overview of the most popular kindle options on the market today:
Best Basic Pick
My TOP Pick for 16 GB
My TOP Pick for 32 GB
Top Luxery Kindle
Top Creative Kindle
$99.99
$169.99
$189.99
$299.99
$304.99
Pros:
  • Ultra light and compact (6" screen)
  • Simple
  • Extended battery life
  • Glare free screen
Pros:
  • Light and compact (6.8" screen)
  • Extended battery life
  • 17 LED front lights
  • Flush front design
  • Waterproof (IPX8)
  • Adjustable warm light (easy on the eyes)
  • Glare free screen
Pros:
  • Light and compact (6.8" screen)
  • Extended battery life
  • 17 LED front lights
  • Flush front design
  • Waterproof (IPX8)
  • Adjustable warm light (easy on the eyes)
  • Auto adjusting light
  • Wireless charging
  • Glare free screen
Pros:
  • Light and compact (7" screen)
  • Extended battery life
  • 25 LED front lights!
  • Flush front design
  • Waterproof (IPX8)
  • Adjustable warm light (easy on the eyes)
  • Auto adjusting light
  • Automatic page orientation
  • External buttons to turn pages
  • Ergonomic grip
  • Glare free screen
  • Cellular connectivity
Pros:
  • Extended battery life
  • 35 LED front lights!
  • Writing capability
  • Flush front design
  • Waterproof (IPX8)
  • Adjustable warm light (easy on the eyes)
  • Auto adjusting light
  • Automatic page orientation
  • Glare free screen
Cons:
  • Only offered in 16 GB
  • Only 4 LED front lights
  • No adjustable warm light
  • Not waterproof
Cons:
  • Cons? None!
Cons:
  • Cons? None!
Cons:
  • Fairly expensive without many extra features (compared to other models)
Cons:
  • Bigger and heavier than other models (10.2" screen)
  • The most expensive model by far!
  • Still fairly new, so there are still some bugs and limited capabilities
Best Basic Pick
$99.99
Pros:
  • Ultra light and compact (6" screen)
  • Simple
  • Extended battery life
  • Glare free screen
Cons:
  • Only offered in 16 GB
  • Only 4 LED front lights
  • No adjustable warm light
  • Not waterproof
My TOP Pick for 16 GB
$169.99
Pros:
  • Light and compact (6.8" screen)
  • Extended battery life
  • 17 LED front lights
  • Flush front design
  • Waterproof (IPX8)
  • Adjustable warm light (easy on the eyes)
  • Glare free screen
Cons:
  • Cons? None!
My TOP Pick for 32 GB
$189.99
Pros:
  • Light and compact (6.8" screen)
  • Extended battery life
  • 17 LED front lights
  • Flush front design
  • Waterproof (IPX8)
  • Adjustable warm light (easy on the eyes)
  • Auto adjusting light
  • Wireless charging
  • Glare free screen
Cons:
  • Cons? None!
Top Luxery Kindle
$299.99
Pros:
  • Light and compact (7" screen)
  • Extended battery life
  • 25 LED front lights!
  • Flush front design
  • Waterproof (IPX8)
  • Adjustable warm light (easy on the eyes)
  • Auto adjusting light
  • Automatic page orientation
  • External buttons to turn pages
  • Ergonomic grip
  • Glare free screen
  • Cellular connectivity
Cons:
  • Fairly expensive without many extra features (compared to other models)
Top Creative Kindle
$304.99
Pros:
  • Extended battery life
  • 35 LED front lights!
  • Writing capability
  • Flush front design
  • Waterproof (IPX8)
  • Adjustable warm light (easy on the eyes)
  • Auto adjusting light
  • Automatic page orientation
  • Glare free screen
Cons:
  • Bigger and heavier than other models (10.2" screen)
  • The most expensive model by far!
  • Still fairly new, so there are still some bugs and limited capabilities
10/01/2023 05:37 pm GMT

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Why a Kindle is Worth the Money for Language Learning:

person holding a kindle
Photo by Eugene Liashchevskyi on Pexels.com

You may be reading this and think, “I am just not sure. Kindles are awfully pricey…”, and I can tell you with 100% certainty that it is worth the money!

I have not one single time regretted my kindle.

In fact, I am often kicking myself for not researching this amazing device and getting it sooner! I cannot even imagine how I lived so long without paying much attention to a kindle.

Not only is the Kindle so practical (carrying thousands upon thousands of books), but it is truly well made.

Almost all Kindles are unbelievably light and compact, except for the older, chunkier models or the slightly less compact Scribe model.

They have amazing features that make reading easy – no matter where you are or what time it is. You can adjust the warmth of the screen to reduce eye strain (and also prevent headaches, insomnia, dry eyes, and more!), you can adjust the brightness and even move from a white theme to black for nighttime reading, all screens are anti-glare, most newer Kindles are waterproof, and the built-in software and features (talked about below) are so helpful.

Whether you are reading in direct sunlight on a beach or winding down for the night in the dark next to a sleeping partner or stuck on a train on your way home, you can easily use your Kindle.

Which means you can easily practice your target language(s)!

The built-in features that I find best suited for language learners include the dictionaries (talked about in-depth below), the vocabulary builder (talked about in-depth below), and the fact that you can create highlights and notes.

All you need to do to look up a word, find a Wikipedia page on a topic, Google Translate whole phrases, make a saved highlight, or write your own note is just hold your finger down.

All you need to do to access automatically created flashcards from any words you look up is to go to your settings.

It is so easy.

And the knowledge that comes naturally from reading comes easy, as well! Did you know that you typically only need 6-20 exposures to a single word to learn it!

This means that just by picking up your Kindle and reading in your target language, you will learn. If you use even just one of the many features talked about in this post below, you will learn even more. And if you use all of the amazing built-in features? You will skyrocket your language learning.

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Which Language Learners are BEST Suited for a Kindle?

person using e book reader while drinking coffee. Kindle for language learning
Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

Those learning languages with a Latin script will find the kindle best and easiest to use. You will be able to find the most foreign language books and the most foreign language dictionaries online, no matter where you look.

If you have a target language or a native language that has a script that is not Latin, it gets a bit more tricky to find good options, but it is still possible for some languages!

Especially as technology increases, more and more options are becoming available. Japanese and Chinese are also increasing in popularity, as well, and seem to be very suitable for the Kindle! (I am keeping my fingers crossed that Korean also starts to increase in availability, as well! Right now it is sliiiim pickings).

Other, lesser studied languages might prove difficult to use on Kindle, as finding dictionaries and text files are much harder, if not impossible.

However, if you can manage to find an online, downloadable dictionary (for e-book use) and if you can find some e-books or files of any text in your target language, then a Kindle will benefit you! If you are advanced enough to not even need a dictionary, then you only need to find text files in your target language.

Just note that many languages with different scripts will not be supported on the Kindle and therefore, you will be able to read texts, but you will not be able to take advantage of the built-in features like Google Translate, Wikipedia, or the Vocabulary Builder.

It is best to try to find someone in your position who already has a Kindle to see if these features will work with your language choice or not.

If you are unfortunately unable to find a dictionary that suits your needs and/or are unable to find many book options that interest you, then I would suggest holding off on getting a kindle for the purpose of language learning. I would still recommend getting a kindle for leisure reading (it really is so amazing!), but you might want to wait a year and check back to see if things have improved on the language front.

Luckily the market is changing and advancing so quickly, I truly believe that you will not need to wait too long for your target language(s) to be better supported if they are not already!

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Where to Find Dictionaries and how to use Them:

person holding kindle e book reader
Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

Whenever you look up info on Kindles, you tend to hear all about the screen, the storage, the weight, the light features, etc. But you hardly ever hear about the built in features for language learning!

The top of which being that all Kindles come with several dictionaries already installed.

Many languages are included and so you might be good to go from the get go! However, it is possible that your language is not supported or that you might just want a different option.

You can buy great dictionaries on Amazon (here is an example for French or you could just visit the bestsellers page), but you can usually find a couple for free online, if you search!

Reddit is a great spot to find info about the Kindle. I have found some great recommendations for dictionaries on there, as well. Here is the Kindle Subreddit!

Once you have a dictionary you like, you can download it to your device and confirm under ‘settings’ -> ‘device options’ -> ‘language and dictionaries’ that it is on your device and installed properly. You can select one dictionary to be the default for each language.

Once this is confirmed, you are ready to go!

Just click on any word while reading and it will automatically pull up the dictionary entry for said word in your chosen dictionary.

I find the built-in dictionaries that come with the Kindle to be great for general use, but I do prefer a monolingual dictionary for my more advanced languages.

I always recommend a monolingual dictionary for anyone at or over the B2 level! At this point in time, it is highly beneficial and likely very possible for you to understand a new word in your target language when it is explained in that language.

If you ever happen upon a word that your dictionary cannot find among its entries, no worries. You can always swipe over to Wikipedia (if available for this word), or Google Translate.

Kindles have a built-in Google Translate feature that allows you to translate any phrases or tricky vocab that will not show up in a dictionary (for example split verbs, reflexive verbs, very specifically conjugated verbs, etc).

As much as I truly despise Google Translate for general use (particularly for those trying to learn that way!), I find it to be an amazing feature on the Kindle. So often I do not recognize a verb I know if it is conjugated unusually or I do not understand a reflexive verb in the context, etc. In these cases, a dictionary cannot help me, however Google Translate can!

No matter how you use it or which specific dictionary you choose, I am sure it will be a feature that you too grow to love and appreciate every time you pick up your Kindle!

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What is the Kindle Vocabulary Builder and why is it so Important?

Kindle for language learning. Kindle Vocabulary Builder as a language learning tool

Just as the dictionary is such a simple, yet helpful feature, so is the built-in vocabulary builder! And just as not many people talk about the benefits of the dictionary feature, even less talk about the vocab builder!

In fact, I did not even know about this feature until I had had my Kindle for months! I learned about it via a random comment in the Reddit Kindle Subreddit.

Important to note: this feature is not available on all Kindle models.

I have tried to find out exactly which models it is available on and the only thing I can confirm is that it is present on Kindle Paperwhite models.

I would highly suggest researching the model you would like to purchase (if it is not a Paperwhite). Perhaps try asking on a forum, to confirm with others who own your intended model if the feature is present or not!

If you cannot confirm the model you want has this feature or, worse, if you confirm that this feature is not on the model you want, I would highly suggest reconsidering your model choice.

This feature is hands down one of the best tools on the Kindle for language learners.

Whenever you select a word to view the dictionary entry, it is automatically stored on your Kindle under the Vocabulary Builder tool. To access this tool, you just need to click on the three dots in the upper right hand corner while in any book.

When you click on this tool (as you can see in the image above), you get a list of all of the words you looked up on your Kindle – no matter the book. If you want to narrow this list down to only the words you looked up in a single book, this is possible. You just need to click on ‘books’ and select the book you wish.

When you click on a word, you can see the full dictionary entry again and even examples of the word’s usage in your book(s). You also get the option to delete that word from the Vocabulary Builder or mark it as mastered!

If you want to view flashcards, you just need to click on the bottom button that says ‘Flashcards’. This will pull up a flashcard with the front side being the sentence in which you first looked up that word! You can then mark the word as mastered, view the dictionary definition (the backside), or move forward and backwards to other words.

The only downside with the Vocabulary Builder is that it has no sound or visuals and does not use SRS to work. It is, at its heart, just a very basic flashcard system.

I still find it to be an absolutely amazing tool, I just also use my favorite flashcard service, Memrise, on the side!

I tend to use my Kindle Vocabulary Builder before or after a reading session for a few minutes and then Memrise every morning regardless. Ill typically transfer the most difficult or new vocab to my Memrise decks, while keeping the more simple or already partially mastered words on my Kindle.

There is a company that is working on a service that removes these downsides, though! I have not tried it yet, but it might be worth a try for those who have not yet found a different SRS service they like!

Either way, using this feature before or after a reading session will phenomenally advance your language skills. You will certainly notice in no time that your reading sessions are having an amazingly positive impact on your studies!

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Where to find good books:

black tablet computer on brown wooden table. Kindle for language learning
Photo by @felipepelaquim – on Pexels.com

You can find great Kindle books in tons of places online!

The easiest place in the Kindle Unlimited library. This is a monthly subscription which grants you access to millions of books, audiobooks, comic books, magazines, and more! Right now the fee is $9.99. You can always get a free 30 day trial from Amazon, though, and they often have deals on longer plans! I would always suggest giving this a try and seeing if it is a good fit for you. It is for most people – especially those studying more common and popular languages!

Also from Amazon and included in any Prime subscription is Prime Reads. However this is a fairly small library (I am not even sure if there are any non-English books!). I would highly suggest Kindle Unlimited or the below options instead. If you already have Prime you could give it a peek, though!

The second easiest place is to get a library card and use the app Libby. This service is almost free. You just need to pay any fees due to the library for your card (usually a yearly fee of 50 USD or so, depending on the city) and then you will have access to the library’s entire catalog. From Libby, you can easily send any e-books you borrow straight to your Kindle.

Just note that it is a library and so there is limited stock (yes, even with digital items!). You might have to wait weeks for a copy to be free. I have been waiting 16 weeks to read a book on my TBR in Spanish right now!

Another con is that if you’re not in the US, it can be tricky to find a library in the Libby system. Many countries seem to have at least one library on Libby, though! You can search for your country on the Overdrive site here.

If your country has no library in the Libby system, or if you cannot get access to the option(s), then there is one last thing to try! You can contact a US library and see if there is any way to get a library card as a non-resident.

Here is an article with some libraries in the US that offer cards to non-US residents. I think that this list a bit dated, though, so be sure to contact several, if not all, on the list to check. I personally tried to contact Fairfax and they claimed that they were not offering their cards to non-US citizens anymore. Most of the time, libraries are no longer offering this due to payment issues. If you happen to have an account in the US or a way to pay via a US account, then let them know! That might just be your ticket in.

Another (completely free!) option is to find books online, through …. other means. *Cough*pirating*cough. There are a few websites that are good for this. Send me a message via the contact form on my site here or on social media and I will share the link to my favorite site to get just about ANY e-book for free.

You can also just search the book title you are searching for on Google + ‘epub’ and you should find several results, as well. Just be sure to be cautious, perhaps have a virus blocker in place (and/or other preventative measures), and be wary about anything you download!

Once you have your e-book downloaded, you can follow the directions according to your Kindle to add it onto your device!

For my Kindle, the Paperwhite, I just send any downloads I have in epub format to my Kindle email. That gets sent directly to my Amazon devices library and onto my Kindle. I do not need to do anything other than confirm that my Kindle is connected to WiFi! It is that easy.

One final, important thing to note with finding and downloading e-books is the format. Nowadays, you can find e-books in many different formats. The best format is epub, however a PDF can usually also work in a pinch!

Other formats may or may not work depending on the Kindle model you have. It is always worth a try, as your Kindle will let you know if it does not support a certain format after you try.

If it does not support a certain format and you cannot find that book in the format you need, you can use a service to change your format! Just google the name of the format you have + ‘converter’ and then the name of the format you need. You should find some great options!

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Final tips and tricks to learn best:

  • Kindles do not have speakers so you will need Bluetooth speakers or headphones to listen to any audiobooks. I personally just listen to any audiobooks on my phone and keep only e-books on my Kindle.
  • You definitely need a screen protector and a cover!! And a cover that closes, like a book, specifically. I have a patterned one like this one and I love it so much (it is so lightweight and cute!), however any cover will do. Your kindle will likely go everywhere with you and it will get all sorts of banged up if it is not protected properly. On top of that, Kindles will stay on for quite a while if the screen is not covered. This can waste quite a bit of battery. With a cover that closes, like a book, the Kindle will automatically go to sleep the second you close the cover.
  • If you want to transform your reading session into a more active learning session, just read aloud! Practice pronunciation, perhaps listen to the audiobook of your text while you read and then mimic the narrator. Note any words or phrases that are tripping you up and study them later on! And, of course, take advantage of the Vocabulary Builder and actively study your new vocabulary, as well. All of these ways will skyrocket your language learning!
  • If you are a beginner or lower intermediate learner, look into getting “graded readers” in your target language. These are books written specifically for certain language levels and they are incredibly helpful. Oftentimes they will have tips and tricks in the side notes, new vocab, comprehension questions, and more! You can find several by just searching “graded reader + your target language” on Amazon!
  • Choose what you read carefully! Like the tip above, make sure that you are picking a book that is your level. If its too easy, you will not be challenged. However, if its too hard, you will likely give up and leave your Kindle to gather dust. I always suggest to start easy, gain some confidence, and then work your way up. My top tip, though? Read your favorite book in your native language in your target language! You will know roughly what should be happening and when and you will enjoy the text (which is perhaps most important in forming a good, maintainable habit!).
  • Make sure to take advantage of the notes and highlights feature. You can save any tricky phrases or vocabulary for later study. Perhaps to transfer to a flashcard service, to go over with a tutor or in class, or just to research more later – after you are done relaxing and reading! Everything will be saved on your Kindle. You can even export these notes via a PDF or Excel spreadsheet to your email address! You just go to the notes tab and then select ‘export notes’ at the bottom of the screen.

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I am sure you are now thoroughly convinced that a kindle is an amazing tool for you in your language learning journey!

If you do want to buy one new, please consider using the link below to help keep this website running πŸ™‚

Thank you!

An irreplacable language learning tool!
Kindle Paperwhite (16 GB) – Black
$169.99

This product is amazing for language learners. Did you know that you can read in multiple languages and you can access dictionaries, Wikipedia, and Google Translate all at the touch of a button?

That makes this tool invaluable for language learners! Your language level will progress rapidly when you start to read and understand the language so greatly and so easily, due to the helpful tools offered within your Kindle!

We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
10/03/2023 08:27 am GMT

I hope if you already have a kindle, you have learned some new tips and know how to really take advantage of all of the benefits now!

And most of all, I wish everyone a very knowledge filled and joy filled language study ~


Don’t forget to also check out my language learning printables on my shop here! πŸ™‚

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From study packs and charts to goal creation to vocab help to weekly language planners and so much more!

These printables will help any language learner - no matter the level or language!

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