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The Language Tandem

Learning a language through a tandem is appropriate for anyone who would like to practice their language skills in personal contact with a native speaker. The pre-condition is that you can set aside a certain amount of time per week and that you have basic skills (A2) in the target language.

In principle, any combination of language is possible. However, we cannot guarantee that a suitable tandem partner is soon available for all language preferences. For beginners, a language tandem is not advisable.

There are useful YouTube videos giving you an insight into how learning a language in a tandem works.

In the following video, US-American Gusty Banters shares with us her tandem experience from her student days in Marburg.
At the beginning of the video, she clarifies basic questions:
> What is a language tandem?
> How does it work?
> How can you participate yourself?
Beyond the basics, she points out numerous advantages of the language tandem program.
She herself benefited from language tandem not only in learning the language authentically through native speakers, but also in gaining a foothold in a foreign country and making connections.
Based on her own experiences as a language learner, she also links to useful materials for language learning.

If you are interested, you can register online.

If you have any questions about the registration or assignment of learning partners, please read our FAQ.

Handout & assistance with general questions
(What is a tandem? How does it work? How do I register?)

Basic Rules for Learning a Language in a Tandem

  • The tandem partners meet regularly (once or twice per week)
  • Equal amounts of time are dedicated to each language
  • The two languages are practiced separately

Everyone is responsible for their own learning. That means: for any given meeting, the person whose target language is practiced must decide on the preferred activities. These may be completely different for both languages. For instance, a German student may wish to prepare their stay abroad while a French exchange student is need of support for a presentation they are going to give.

This is also why there is no issue about both partners not having the same level in the respective target language. That being said, they should both have sufficient skills in order to avoid having to switch to a third language for communication purposes.

Quite clearly, you do not have to be a trained language teacher in order to take part in a tandem. This also means that you will not teach each other as expected from a language teacher. You do, however, know the target language of you partner so that you can indicate to them what errors they make and offer alternative ways of expression. In addition, you have first-hand knowledge about life in your country. This gives you both a chance to learn a great deal. 

You will find additional ideas in our pool of tips and materials.