Tandem: Autonomous Language Learning
What is tandem learning?
Language learners with different first languages – or a very high level in a second language – come together and teach each other their respective languages.
What does tandem learning look like?
- In-person meetings: the tandem partners meet in person and exchange languages in face-to-face interactions.
- Distance learning: the tandem partners make use of electronic forms of communication and exchange languages by way of email, chat and/or Skype.
Recommendations for an effective language exchange
- Both tandem partners should benefit equally from the language exchange, hence both should invest the same amount of time in their learning partnership.
- The tandem partners should first define and then clearly communicate their individual language learning goals along with their preferred learning methods.
- Both target languages should be practiced for the same amount of time, during which spontaneous code-switching should be avoided.
- Possible language activities include: discussing various topics, reading through texts while clarifying vocabulary, and reading aloud to each other.
Checklist for successful tandem learning
When starting a language exchange partnership, we recommend that you consider the following aspects:
|Day and Time||Agree on day, time and length of your tandem meetings. Also decide on what goals you want to achieve in what time frame.|
|Location||Choose a meeting location that allows you to focus on your language exchange without too many distractions and interruptions.|
|Learning Materials||Discuss which and what kind of materials you would like to work with. This decision depends on your individual language learning goals. Also consider each other’s preferred learning methods when choosing input materials.|
|Correction||How and when would you like to be corrected by your tandem partner? For instance: do you prefer to be corrected – and thus interrupted – instantly when making mistakes during a conversation, or would you rather receive feedback and suggestions afterward? Regularly check in with each other on expectations and preferences.|
|Goals||Make sure to discuss your individual language learning goals early on: would you like to speak as much as possible? Would you like to focus on improving your oral and/or written skills? Do you have to specifically prepare for an upcoming studies- or job-related opportunity?|