Magazine topic: 
Life around the world

Tandem - a great way to learn a new language!

by : 
Miranda Clark

Have you ever heard of Tandem? The word itself means a bicycle with two saddles for two people sat one behind the other, but the idea when you're learning a language is that you have two (or more) people with different mother tongues who both want to learn to speak another language and help each other learn it. Usually that other language is spoken by their 'Tandem' partner and so both languages can be spoken in a language exchange.

For example, I'm a native English speaker but I want to learn to speak some Spanish. I go along to my local Tandem meeting which is part of my University and I can find a Spanish speaker who wants to improve their English. The idea of this language exchange is great as it means that you learn the intricate details of a language and funny expressions that you would not always learn in a classroom or text book! A Tandem exchange usually functions in two (or more!) languages, so I might speak English with my Spanish Tandem partner for 30 minutes and help them with any problems or expressions in English, and then we can switch to speak in Spanish for around the same amount of time.

If you want to arrange a Tandem meeting then it can also be really useful to bring along something to read, as then you or your partner can practise some pronunciation and reading in another language. Your Tandem partner can also help with any words which you don't understand. You can then discuss the text and have a more general conversation about it, which is great for practising your languages in an informal and relaxed setting! I really recommend getting involved with a Tandem exchange if you can because you can then make friends with people from all around the world and learn lots of new words! Always remember to stay safe, tell someone what you're doing and meet in a public place if there is not an organised Tandem session where you live but enjoy the opportunity of learning a new language and understanding a new culture!


Have you ever participated in a language exchange? What was it like?


Wesal's picture
Wesal 26 February, 2015 - 09:23

It is believed that talking with a partner on a language which is studying by both of you is easily way to get the language, the only thing that can improve your proficiency of communication on foreign is considered the practice, so I am totally eager with the above idea.

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ilyaKZ's picture
ilyaKZ 24 June, 2013 - 14:33

Unfortunately, I’ve never had participated in a language exchange, but I want to do it very much…
Tandem is a great idea, of coarse. People can learn languages without boring books. They need to have only a little knowledge of the language they want to know. The speaking makes the speech better. If an interlocutor can express his thoughts and knows grammar then the dialog will be also cognitive (not only developmental). It is necessary for learning foreign languages.
There is a serious problem if you live in the place where people speak in one language and are not interested in studying others. You cannot find a foreign interlocutor… Certainly, we have The Internet, but, in my opinion, it is difficult to replace a real conversation.

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frankenstee's picture
frankenstee 21 May, 2013 - 04:33

Learning another language is quite interesting .But learning a language exchange is really more interesting and it will be my unforgettable moments if I will participate on that ..

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Mali's picture
Mali 16 May, 2013 - 14:10

Hi everybody!
I've never exchanged languages ​​in this way. It's a great idea to learn languages​​. I would like to try it. I think this is very interesting because you talk to a native speaker. And you can have fun in riding a bicycle. People can "kill two birds with one stone." I hope I will try to participate in a language exchange and improve my English, and maybe teach other people russian and kazakh.
Thanks for your article! I found out a great way to learn a new language! :D

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Natalija's picture
Natalija 15 April, 2013 - 20:59

I've been in the both USA and the UK, so I had the opportunity to talk to native speakers. I lived in a boarding school, and later, I spent a month with a host family in the USA, so I could learn a lot from that experience. I lived in Spain for years, so we also talked in Spanish, because they wanted to improve it. I think that language exchange is really a great opportunity and I'd like to participate in such exchange again as soon as possible, 'cause it's irreplaceable.

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MALINE's picture
MALINE 14 April, 2013 - 00:04

i´ve never participated in a language exchange but it sounds great to talk in an informal enviroment and learn things that maybe only the locals know.

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Demy's picture
Demy 10 April, 2013 - 20:03

Hey ;)
Unfortunately I have never participated in a language exchange. But I would like to, because it's will be great and unforgatable experience for me. Some of my adult friends was in America and live in other family. And they feedback that there are very good and they are all very much. I also noticed that their English was perfect. As for me I would like to come in England or Australia to make my English more good. I hope, that my cherished dream will come true as soon as possible...

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