How does tandem language learning work?
Tandem learning is based on the principles of self-regulated learning within a partnership. Both tandem partners benefit equally from their work together, bringing skills into the partnership which the other wishes to acquire and using those skills to help their partner learn.
Both partners are responsible for their own learning - in other words, they both decide on the goals and methods for their part of the exchange. Two learners will rarely have exactly the same objectives and approach, so it is important that they discuss their goals and needs with each other, and then set about achieving them in their share of the tandem time.
Tandem partners are both experts for their respective language and culture. Together they may choose to read aloud, discuss particular topics that interest them, correct mistakes, suggest improvements, practise conversations or undertake any number of other activities.
One of the most important aspects for successful tandem learning is that the partners meet as often as possible. This helps learners to become familiar with the foreign language more quickly, increases learning frequency, and makes sure that they get plenty of practice.
To make tandem sessions as interesting as possible for both partners, they should deal with topics that are of equal interest to both learners. In other words, it is important that tandem partners find shared interests to discuss. While goals may vary, tandem language learning itself should first and foremost be an enjoyable experience!
Tandem language learning is based on communication between two people. Conversation helps learners to gain a better understanding of a foreign language, which is why the interpersonal level is so important. Initially, tandem learners will need to find a level on which they can communicate about various topics. However, that is not to say that they must have everything in common. After all, one of the reasons for learning in tandem is to get to know more about a different culture. Tandem learning partners must above all be open with each other, show an interest in their partner and be willing to engage with and understand them.