1-  Do I need any previous knowledge in order to do tandem?

Yes. In order to have a language exchange with a partner in your spare time, without having to do a course , you should be able to do the following:

a) form sentences with two objects (“I’ll send a photo to you.”)
b) speak about the past (“When were you in Germany?”)

2-  What can I learn in a tandem partnership?

Nearly everything. Most people use it in order to improve their fluency and expand their vocabulary. In addition to this, there is the opportunity to get a perspective on your  partner’s culture.
Finally, it is possible to help each other during the reading of difficult texts, to correct texts, or to practise translating. It may be best to leave the following to a qualified teacher:

a) correction of pronunciation
b) grammar explanations.

3- For which languages is tandem suitable?

All languages! If there is someone whose language you want to practise, and who is interested in yours, you can begin any time!

4-  How does it function exactly?

There are a few basic rules:

a) you speak for a roughly equal period time in one language and then in the other. Thus, you are a learner, and at the same time you help the other to learn.

b) You separate the languages and remain in the target language, which is straight to the point. Otherwise you will run the risk of speaking more in the language that is easier for both and in the language of the person with the better command.

5- How much time do I need, and how often should we meet?

One meeting per week, or if necessary, every two weeks, is regarded as a minimum. When speakers are at a relatively low level, two half-hours at a time should be enough. You can enlarge that at higher levels. Play it by ear!

6-  Where do I find a partner?

a) Anywhere! For example, in your own vicinity: with institutions which teach languages, such as TANDEM® schools, universities, adult education centres, etc. If they do not have Tandem mediation, a notice on the black-board often helps

In large cities you can search also in the Internet:

Tandem (or: Exchange) +  languages + (name of the city)

but not: bicyclecomputerprograms / jump

Further,  the app ‘Tandem’ facilitates searching  for language partners  in your own town.

b) Prior to travelling abroad, look up TANDEM® schools, universities, adult education centres and comparable institutions or send a notice. The internet is helpful here also.

7-  Does it cost anything?

You are both exchanging your precious time so it does not cost anything! The mediation, consultation and possible provision of learning materials may cost a nominal fee. The fee can be up to 30 €/person for up to three couples in one year, maximum.

Some institutions offer in addition to the mediation a complementary course. The cost of this course can be calculated as a language course.

8-  Does it matter with whom I do a tandem, or is there anything else I should know?

In your search for a partner, total compatibility is not everything. A common interest or hobby is sufficient in order to be able to find a starting point.

Since language learning is an important goal in Tandem, you should make sure that your partner has an approximately equivalent level in the target language, so that it is equally interesting and challenging for both. Naturally, a person who is involved in a language course abroad  will learn it faster because of the daily language and social encounters.

9-   Can I work with several partners at the same time?

Yes, but  the actual tandem meetings run  better between two people, in order to avoid interferences. You can have your interaction based on leisure activities together with any or all of your tandem partners , or alternatively, together with other pairs of tandems.

10-  Do I need any special books or other materials?

The topics and thus the material is selected by you. There are no Tandem-specific text books. You may get tips on procedure from the mediation center ( please enquire!). Otherwise, there are some available on the Web, e.g. http://seagull-tandem.eu/.

11-  Where can we turn if we need assistance?

In the first instance, to the source of your mediation.

If you found your couple independently, you can learn from the experience of others, e.g. experienced tandem pairs, or perhaps by asking a question in forums.

12-  Is it OK to do a tandem only without attending a language course?

Yes. You can take Tandem in addition to a language course, or as a break between language courses, or even as a replacement. The higher the level, the shorter the language course input is needed.

13-  Can a tandem help me in my job ?

Absolutely! In ‘Tandem for special purposes’, people who learn languages for vocational reasons, work together on a word-bank of technical terms, correct commercial correspondence, train for negotiations, compare and contrast institutions etc. For this, tandem partners would need to have a good working knowledge of the target languages.

Naturally there is also the possibility of having a knowledge exchange. Even sophisticated training such as software development or engineering can be exchanged in a Tandem partnership, e.g. “I correct your business letters, you teach me computer programming”. This is the goal of the platform http:/skillharbour.ch .

14-  My partner lives very far away. Is there any tandem by telephone, for example?

There are partners who call each other regularly with low-cost prepaid cards, and others who meet in audio and video conferences ( app ‘Tandem’ ), or keep in contact by e-mail, chat etc.

It is best, if people can get to know each other first personally, face to face if possible, and then continue communication through electronic media .

15-  How is it different if I do a tandem by distance?

With some forms of communication, such as e-mail, it doesn’t need to be live or in real time, as they say.
As a rule, there is the danger that the partnership can become stale if you do not see a face or hear the voice of the other partner.
There are many useful references to Distance Tandem learning on the Tandem Server Bochum (https://web.archive.org/web/20071029124141/http://www.slf.ruhr-uni-bochum.de:80/bochum-eng.html ) under ‘eTandem’.

16-  Do I get certification for my work in a tandem partnership?

Normally no. There is no central institution responsible for the awarding of certificates. Some schools and universities recognize tandem activities in their certificates, or make a reference to it if a progress report is presented by the students.

Of course before and after an intensive tandem you can do a placement test or use a self-assessment facility in order to measure your progress.

17-  What happens, if I have to stop for any reason?

A Tandem partnership is a voluntary agreement between two learning partners and can be terminated at any time. We would, however, urge you to heed to inform your partner in good time and in a way which respects his/her aspirations and sensitivities. You may also help your partner to find a replacement in your absence.

If you still have any questions about the Tandem method which your mediator is unable to deal with, then make a search on Internet. We regret that inquiries about language courses, job vacancies, tandem partners etc. cannot be answered. Please look at the recommended links .