How to do tandem exchange

Posted on June 03 2017

For students that have already learned the basics of a language, doing an tandem conversation exchange with a native speaker is one of the best ways to improve further. Especially for learning how to have real conversations and learn common expressions. It will also help you learn more about the culture and make new friends from over there. 
This guide is aiming at helping you find a partner and planning a first conversation together. 

Language level

When you sign up on the site we first ask you to enter what languages you are learning and your current level. This is really important, as it helps other people to find a partner matching their own  level. If theres a too high imbalance of skills then the exchange wont be as beneficial as it could be and often leads to one side loosing motivation to keep it up. 

Common interests

Since you are likely to spend a fair amount of time together, it’s a good idea to search for people with some common interests to yourself. It will make it easier to find interesting topics to talk about and improve the chances of a good personal chemistry between you both. So it’s really imporant that you have already taken some time to fill out your profile here on the site. 
In the beginning it’s maybe less of an issue though, since just talking about the language and culture often becomes big enough discussion topics anyway for the first couple of meetups.

Pick the place carefully

A cafe or even a bar that you really like can make an excellent place to meet up at. However, if too many of your friends are around or if it’s too lively it might be hard to focus on what you are doing. For some people a quiet place can make the dialogue a bit stiff, especially when you feel a bit insecure about your skills. Then it can actually be beneficial with a bit more of background noise.
Since feeling comfortable and having a good dialogue really is one of the most imporant things here, we normally recommend people to try out a few different places and see what works best for both sides. 

Meeting up regularly 

Depending on how busy you are, this might be an issue. But in order to make some real progress you’d need to meet up at the very least once a week. Less than this and you’ll forget too much of what you’ve learned last time and you’d have to start almost from the beginning each time.

First time meeting your tandem partner

Plan topics ahead that are suiting each others level. It can be anything that you’re curious about like for example cultural differences, food, hobbies. 
  • Read books / articles together
  • Translate texts
  • Discuss the topics you have prepared

Stick to the plan

Try to follow through the plan and don't cheat by switching to English. At least 30 minutes in each language so that you really have to try hard to make up sentences and use a dictionary or any other tool you might have available to fill up the missing vocabulary. Remember that the harder you try the more you’ll learn :)