Where to Buy Language Learning Products

Where can you buy language learning products? There are lots of places that carry language products, both online and traditional brick-and-mortar stores.

Bookstores. Most bookstores have a language section. The larger stores, like Barnes and Noble or other bookstore chains, have a pretty good selection - all of the most popular languages, like Spanish, French, Chinese, German etc, and at least some of the less commonly studied languages like Irish, Turkish, Vietnamese etc. Here in the New York area, the stores have a very large Spanish section, and even have a few bookcases of just Spanish language literature. You might find a similar situation if the area you live in has a large population of speakers of another language.

The range of products you will find varies, of course, but for the most part, you will find Living Language, Teach Yourself, Pimsleurs, Pentons, Michel Thomas, Barrons and many products written or published for specific languages only. Prices tend to be in the low to mid range, the most expensive products are not sold in great numbers, so they are usually not stocked. If you are looking for something in particular that isn't there, just ask, they can probably order it for you.

Online Retailers. Online booksellers, such as Amazon.com or Barnes and Nobles, are the obvious choice here. There are other possibilities though. There are a number of online merchants that specifically sell language products. Some carry products from many of the most popular publishers, such as Pimsleurs, FSI (although you can get old FSI courses for free on the internet) and Rosetta Stone products, others specialize in their own product lines. Transparent Language and Auralogs Tell Me More are two of the most reputable publishers for language products. Each of these sites has free demos and downloads to try out their products before you buy :


Rosetta Stone

Used Bookstores. I love used book stores. I've always been a book nut, but since I discovered that used bookstores often have a language section (usually near the reference section) I have been a regular at a few used bookstores around my home area. In general, dictionaries are plentiful and verb books, old grammar books and phrasebooks are the most common type of product you'll find. Audio products are few and far between, but you will see them from time to time. The best part is the price - cheap! For the most part, I get my supplemental materials this way. For Pimsleurs, software or any full method or package, I'll get those somewhere else.

ABE Books.com Taking used bookstores to its online extreme we have ABE. This is an exchange of used bookdealers around the world. If you know exactly what you are looking for, you can search for the author or title. Otherwise you can search by keyword to find lots of different choices. I've used this for years and have never been disappointed.

eBay. If you are comfortable braving eBay, then you can generally find what you are looking for, but the price will vary considerably. You can also get used products and save yourself some money on the more expensive language products. If you are so inclined, you can sell a product after using it to recoup at least some of your initial cost. I have bought and sold Pimsleur products this way successfully.

If the cost of some of the products you are looking for is too much, there are some things you can do to bring down the price.

Shop Around. If you are willing to spend the time, you can always do some comparison shopping. There is no shortage of merchants selling language learning products on the internet. There are some online merchants that may sell a particular product or two at a lower price than a retailer that has everything under the sun. So if you are cost conscious, look around.

Buy Used. There are lots of opportunities to buy stuff used. Don't worry that if you are buying used that you are somehow not getting a product that's as good as a new one. As long as it works - that's all you really need.

Share the Cost. If you can group together with others learning the same language, you can share the cost of some products. This works well with audio products such as Pimsleur. One person uses the first disc, then hands it off to the other person while working on the next disc. Or you can simply hand it off after the completed level or course. If two people each get a different product they can switch when the first is completed. The other benefits of learning a language with another person are many (such as speaking with each other, comparing notes and vocabulary etc.)

Libraries. Public libraries often stock many language products. Besides books, they will sometimes have audio, video and software products as well. In addition, libraries can sometimes order a requested product from another library or they can purchase it from the publisher. The price is really right on this one - free!

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"Being widely spoken does not make a language any better, more intelligent, or more perceptive than a language that has never spread beyond its birthplace."

- Mark Abley

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