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Practice and improve your German language through a Tandem Partner

25/09/2015 - 08:39-1 Comment by | mexico flag

Besides pursuing my Master, I came to Germany to experience the culture and learn the language. The culture of a country can be known by reading its history, visiting its museums, learning its language, attending its festivals, and directly through the people. The mean I find most interesting and enriching to learn from a new culture is by knowing its people.

Since my Master program is in English and it consisted only of international students (no Germans), I searched through my own means to know German people, then I decided to search for a German Tandem.

What is a Tandem?

In a literal sense, the term Tandem is used for a bicycle designed to be ridden by more than one person.

The word Tandem, in this case, refers to language exchange partners. The idea is to learn a language by practicing it with a native speaker who is learning your language.

Benefits of a Tandem

The difference of training a language with a Tandem rather than with any other person is the high level of empathy that can be created between both partners. Each part of the Tandem knows about the struggle implied on learning each other’s language, hence the stress and shame of speaking the language is reduced.

My experience with my Tandem has been very successful. I got to meet a very good friend this way. We have been Tandems for about eighteen months, and now we are close friends. We still meet at least once a week and do different things together like small excursions, cooking and hiking.

Even if your level of German is proficient, this is a possibility to sharpen your German skills, by learning “slangs” or expressions of the place you are living in, which will help you to ease knowing new people within the region you are living in Germany.

How to find a Tandem?

There are many ways to look for a Tandem. The most common is through internet sites, like; http://www.mylanguageexchange.com/default_gmn.asp.

Also, you can post an add in the blackboard of your Hochschule or University campus.

Even if your mother tongue is Hindi, Hungarian or Vietnamese and you find difficulties finding someone interested in learning your language, you can always offer English. You would not believe how many Germans are looking for an opportunity to practice their English and to get closer to different cultures.

Some tips to make your Tandem successful:

First of all, if you decide to get a Tandem, you need to show commitment in order to make it work. Remember that both parties will engage for a common purpose. A Tandem partner is not just another acquaintance or someone you meet whenever you get time. If you don’t show commitment, your Tandem will lose interest and you both will drop it.

Therefore, I suggest you:

  • To get a Tandem partner with a similar level of proficiency as the one you have in German. It means, if you are currently a level B1, try to find someone who is between A2 and B2 in your idiom.
  • Meet always the same day at the same time.
  • Cancel just when it is really needed and with at least one weeks in advance. If you have to cancel propose a new date to compensate that session.
  • Respect your Tandems’ time. Avoid being late and, if it happens, don’t forget to call. We are in Germany!
  • One or two hours per week is ideal. You can decide together with your Tandem if you want to split the time of each gathering evenly to practice both languages or to speak just one each session.
  • Sometimes, it can be very hard to break the ice if one of the parts or both are not very outgoing, in that case, you can propose a topic in advance.
  • Give constant feedback to your Tandem. That’s what the Tandem is for. Don’t wait until he or she ask you question. Identify each other difficulties and work on them. Try to explain as clear as possible.
  • Avoid asking your Tandem to do your German homework or any other task as letters. Nobody likes to feel used. Of course, you can ask questions and guidance.
  • Motivate your Tandem by recognizing his/ her efforts and progress.

There are many Germans out there who speak different languages and who are looking forward to learn more about new cultures. Sometimes we just need an excuse to meet each other and a Tandem is a great way!

Tags: English Blog Post, German Language, Useful Links & Tips

Comments

1 Comment

    Hi there, thanks a lot for this article and your link to mylanguageexchange. I am already into learning with a tandem partner and I usually found my partners through http://www.awali.de/ but I didn’t know the site that you mentioned. I will check it out today and see how it works 🙂

    Comment by Nina created 25/02/2016 - 07:46

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