What exactly is tandem language learning?

Tandem language learning is a partnership between two students with different native languages, who work together to improve their language skills and learn about the other’s culture.

Communication between two speakers of different native languages is the basis of tandem language learning. Together, learners practise real-life conversations, talk to each other about their respective country and its people, and get to know all sorts of interesting facts about their partner’s culture in the process.

Learning in tandem does not follow set rules, nor is it subject to fixed learning objectives or testing. It works on the principle of self-regulated learning within a partnership. How tandem language learning progresses depends entirely on the individual needs of the two learners.

The first step for the tandem partners is to set the timeframe for their partnership and decide what and how they wish to learn. They are each responsible for determining their own learning objectives and the methods they wish to use in their half of the available time (principle of autonomy).

What is important is that both learners benefit equally from the learning partnership. Both partners have skills the other wishes to acquire, and both use these skills to help the other to learn (principle of reciprocity).

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