One of the best ways to practise a language is to have someone to talk to regularly. People, who meet over a certain period of time regularly in order to practise their language-skills, are called tandem-partners, if they are two and learn the language the other one has learned as mother tounge.
Why to have a tandem-partner
Meeting your Tandem-partner provides a big variety of goodies.
- You can hear the language spoken by a native
- You can practise your pronounciation
- You can talk about stuff that interests you
- You get corrected immediately
- You may build new friendships
- Having a weekly appointment helps sticking to the routine => Check out “habits and routines“
- You`ll come across new vocab just on the flow
- You will have to speak, which gives you confidence in this important skill
- And most important: It is fun!
Especially for me, since I learn a language, that is not that common over here, I had some trouble finding people in real life for this.
How to find a tandem-partner
As I said, I couldn`t find a good – or any – partner in real life. So I just got to the next-best version of real life: The internet. 🙂 There are a ton of sites that provide you with connecting to other language-partners all over the world. I use ialki.com and interpals.net to find my partners, but there are others as well. Just be careful to not use sites that charge any money for this. The people you will meet there are not better or worse than anywhere else, so why pay money?
Of course not everyone you come across will fit your interests and needs, so you may have to experiment a while, but I can just tell you by experience, that I have found some really good friends. Currently I have two partners, both girls form Slovakia, whom I meet weekly.
How a tandem-partner-session is organized
To talk to your partner, you should schedule a certain time of the week. You should have a secure time for this special appointment every week. This does not mean that you have to stick to the same time and day every week, but you should make sure, that you meet once a week (or more often, if you both agree on that).
How to organize a meeting is very personal. You have different options to choose from, but something that really works for me is to split the given time in separate parts.
In the beginning we talk about 30min in my mother tounge or hers and then we switch to the other language for the second 30min. This gives you the opportunity to “get into” the language and reuse phrases you just heared from your partner. Be sure to have a notebook close by so you can jot down new vocab, grammar issues and other things you just learned so they wont get lost.
After this time we normally try to just get a loosely conversation in both languages, because we both get a little tired after some time and this way it is easier to stick to the topic. I gives you the opportunity to relax inbetween.
So in short:
- Meet once a week (or more, if you both like!)
- 30min 1st language
- 30min 2nd language
- open end with a mixture
With all this the most important rule is: Correct your partner as soon as there are mistakes! You are responsible, that he/she will not get used to wrong grammar or vocab, just because you were lazy! You will trust him/her in this point as well, don`t you?
What to talk about
You can basically choose any topic you like. I often tell my partners about my last week, what was new and what was special. It is easy for me to chat along so I have no big trouble finding some topics.
But you can also tell your partner to prepair a certain topic for the next week.
- take topics from your book that you work through in the moment
- take a topic that fits the vocab you want to learn
- talk about a book you recently read or a movie you watched
- talk about things you read in the newspaper
- talk about events that take/took place and you are interested in
- talk about seasonal events like christmas rituals or summer vacations
- talk about your family and friends
- play a round of the Mnemogame I introduced in another post
- play other language-learning games (I will introduce more in the future. You can find them all here under the topic GAMES)
If you prepair a topic you may have some advantage in talking, because you can look up words in advance. But there is no need to do so. Let me tell you it works both ways! 🙂
Where to meet
I use skype very often for this. It is free and works quite secure. Bur of course you may choose a differnt programm as well. Any place where you may connect via Video-conference is fine. I highly recommend that you do not use any source that only provides oral transfer.
Tips and tricks
We often show each other things to make clear what we talk about. This may include stuff, that you may find in your home, but also a quick draw of something.
Often I show her a note, where you want to be sure to write words correctly. I often ask my partners to write down some new vocab for me so I can look them up more easily…
Sometimes we get some problems, because the question the learner has for your language is not easy and you can´t answer him/her right away. In those cases I always take a note and check the question with friends/teachers/family so I can give my partner the answer at the next meeting. Be sure to check with others before you give an advice, that you are not sure about.
Last but not least – maybe the most important hint:
Have fun with this! A tandem is only working, if you WANT to meet the other person and do not feel like it is a lot of work to talk with him/her.