This weekend, the independent bookseller scene in the GPT/BWK/WB adds another player: Idlewild Books, a travel bookstore with a twist—it offers foreign language lessons in a space dedicated to exploring different cultures through reading, travel, and language learning.
The mini-chain of language school/bookstores began in the Union Square area in Manhattan in 2008, expanded to Cobble Hill in 2012, and adds a third today by opening in the Bedford Avenue Mini-mall. According to store founder, former United Nations Media Officer David Del Vecchio, “We opened our first store near Union Square in Manhattan in March 2008, as an international bookstore with novels, guidebooks, and non-fiction organized by country, along with some books in French, Spanish and Italian. We added language classes in 2010, and opened our second location in Cobble Hill in early 2012.”
Del Vecchio has lived in Williamsburg in the early 2000s, and is a long-time devotee of the Mini-mall’s other bookstore tenant, Spoonbill & Sugartown. He says “There’s already a great bookstore in the mini-mall, so in addition to our classes, the new store will carry books in foreign languages only, along with a selection of maps, prints, posters, cards, notebooks, and cool random things from around the world.”
In 2012, New York Magazine named Idlewild’s language classes “Best of New York,” and they’re now taken by more than 3000 New Yorkers every year.
Idlewild’s teachers are all native speakers, all have several years’ experience teaching in New York, and “offer an experience that is fun, practical, culturally authentic, and makes students excited to learn.”
Language class size is limited to fourteen students, and the winter program meets once a week for eight weeks. According to Del Vecchio, classes sell out fast, and availability is first-come, first-served.
Classes in different stages of French, Italian, and Spanish are offered, as well a class in Arabic for beginners. Find a full list of classes here.