Tandem programme

Language tandems are a different - but efficient - form of language acquisition, which costs nothing. You work with a partner to learn the foreign language of your choice. In a language tandem two people with different native languages meet so that they can learn each other’s language. For example: a French student who would like to learn German meets up with a German student who would like to learn French. This way, one learns the language by using it, through conversations with the tandem partner.

TANDEM REPORTS

"My name is Martina Traub-Kaiser, I work at the ESB Business School. The Tandem
program gives me the chance to practice my oral English."

“My name is Martina Traub-Kaiser, I work at the ESB Business School. The Tandem
program gives me the chance to practice my oral English. My tandem partner, Lorita and I soon realised that we had a lot of common interests and themes. We normally meet once a week. Sometimes it is a bit difficult to find a date. During our meetings we usually change the language several times. Sometimes even Afrikaans helps to explain words (so I’ve also learnt a little bit Afrikaans). And once Lorita read a German poem to me to practice her pronunciation.
We talk about similarities and differences in our native countries. I’ve learnt a lot about South-African history and traditions. Now I know that the 16th of December is an important public holiday in South-Africa: Reconciliation Day or Braaidag, the day everybody forgives the others. The time with Lorita was a great experience for me. I have become acquainted with an interesting young woman from South-Africa. Furthermore I have learnt a lot about her country and practiced English and I did things, which I would have never done without her: for example going for a walk during a normal week in the afternoon. At the end of February, Lorita will go back and I will miss our meetings. Bye, bye Lorita, I hope to see you again in South-Africa.”

„Ich bin Lorita Jacobs und komme aus Südafrika. Meine Muttersprachen sind Afrikaans und Englisch. Seit März bin ich in Reutlingen. Am Anfang konnte ich nur: „Bitte, zwei Kaffee“, sagen ;-) Jetzt bin ich noch immer Anfängerin, aber ich kann besser sprechen und verstehe fast alles. Dieser Fortschritt ist auch meinem Tandem mit Martina zu verdanken. Ich finde die Gespräche mit ihr sehr interessant. Wir reden abwechselnd Deutsch und Englisch, z.B. über deutsche oder südafrikanische Politik, Schulsysteme, Feiertage, Geschichte, Sprichwörter und Familien. Wenn das Wetter gut ist, gehen wir spazieren. Einmal hat es geschneit. Ich kenne Schnee nicht und war fasziniert. Bei jedem Schritt habe ich auf Afrikaans gesagt: „Knirsknars, knirs-knars“, und so habe ich gelernt, dass man auf Deutsch sagt, dass der Schnee knirscht. Für mich ist das Tandemlernen toll. Es geht dabei nicht nur um die Sprache, sondern auch um die Kultur und die Personen. Ich kann mich an viele Dinge beim Tandem besser erinnern als an den Stoff einer Vorlesung. Tandem ist in meinen Augen ein supertolles Programm!”

Tandem Reports

"My name is Sebastian Tritsch, I study Textile Engineering at Reutlingen University and the Tandem program gave me the chance to improve my Japanese language skills."

私はセバスティアン・トリシュともします。私はロイトリンゲン大学でテクスタイル・エンジニアリングをまなんでいます。タンデムプログラムはわたしの日本語がうまくなるためのよいチャンスでした。子どものころポケモンのゲームをしたり、アニメみたりしていたので、日本語と日本文化がすきになりました。かれと私は、おおくのいっしょのきょうみやかんしんをもっていることがすぐにわかりました。私たちはいろいろなわだいについてじゆうにはなすことにきめました。生まれた国やそだちのちがいによっておきるおたがいのかんがえやいけんのちがいを知ったり、りかいすることができました。日本語のレッスンのとき、私たちはぶんぽうと文化を勉強しました。すこしずつ、私はむずかしい文のつくりかたやあたらしいことばを知ったり、日本や日本文化のおもしろいとくちょうについても知ることができました。

一週間に二回あうことで日本語や日本文化をたくさん知ることができ、ドイツか日本でまたあいたいと思えるともだちにもなれました。私はこのすばらしい出会いにかんしゃしています。ほかの国の学生とまなびたいすべてのひとにすすめたいです。

(My name is Sebastian Tritsch, I study Textile Engineering at Reutlingen University and the Tandem program gave me the chance to improve my Japanese language skills. My interest in the Japanese language and culture began in my childhood while playing Pokémon and watching Anime. Therefore, getting to know Kohei, my tandem partner, was a huge opportunity for me to polish my skills and take a big step towards my desired stay in Japan. My tandem partner, Kohei, and I soon realized that we had a lot of common interests and themes we would like to talk about. Out of this we decided to talk about various topics in a very personal way. We were able to see and understand each other’s views and opinions which were often influenced by our origin and nationality. For the Japanese teaching lessons, we came up with a 2-unit-model: Grammar and Culture. Step by step I learned how to construct difficult sentences, learned new words and very interesting features of the Japanese country and culture. For example, the Hanami-Festival in spring when the Japanese people celebrate the start of the cherry blossom season.

Meeting each other two times a week allowed me to get to know more than just a teacher of Japanese language and culture, but a friend that I’m really looking forward to meeting again here in Germany or maybe Japan! I’m very grateful for this amazing opportunity and recommend the tandem program to everyone who likes to support intercultural exchange in our globalized world.)

 

I‘m Kohei Mizuno and I‘m from Japan. My native language is Japanese.

Since January, I am in Reutlingen. When I came here, I could not even have a casual conversation with someone confidently, which resulted in being shy and reluctant. I think applying to tandem learning was one of the best decisions I could make. I am still far from speaking English fluently, but I feel I am getting better step by step thanks to my tandem partner, Sebastian. During speaking sessions for example, we did short discussions of various topics such as the cultural differences between Japan and Germany, or many casual things like hobbies, favorite sports, and so on. Additionally, helping his Japanese learning was quite useful for myself as well. It was a great opportunity to find appropriate English words or sentences to explain meanings and feelings in Japanese. At the same time, I could learn more about communication skills through these activities. As a result, I could improve English skills effectively and learn more than just a language. I am sure that tandem learning is a program I would absolutely recommend.

Who can join the tandem programme?

Anybody who wishes to learn a new foreign language or brush up their existing skills can join the tandem programme: students, professors, lecturers and all other members of the university staff.

What's next?

  • If you would like a tandem partner, fill in the compulsory fields on the application form.
  • We will contact you when we have found a tandem partner for you. We will make every effort to find a partner for everybody who is interested as quickly as possible, but we cannot guarantee anything.
  • If you have any questions about the tandem programme, feel free to contact us.
  • REGISTER HERE

Important hints and tips

Principles of a tandem:

Basically there are no mandatory rules in a language tandem, but there are two principles that  should be kept in mind:

  1. Mutuality Principle:
    Language tandems depend on mutuality. Both partners should be able to profit the same amount from the tandem work. So make sure that both tandem partners have about the same amount of talking time.
  2. Learning Autonomy Principle:
    Each tandem partner is individually responsible for their own learning progress. Make it clear to both yourself and your partner why you would like to learn the other language and exactly what you want to learn or practice.
    Maybe one partner would like to learn how to speak Spanish on vacation,  whilst the other partner requires help with German homework, for writing applications or as preparation for an oral exam. Remember: tandem partners are native speakers – but they are not trained language teachers! They do not exactly know the rules of their own language. Don't demand too much from your tandem partner!

Tips and Ideas for tandem partners:

Set out the rules for the tandem together with your partner.

Where, When and How Long?
How much time do you want to invest, and how much can you invest? Make arrangements with your tandem partner about how often, how long and when you will meet. Experience has shown that it is best to meet regularly, especially at the beginning. Ideally you should have a fixed appointment once a week (for about two hours). Keep the appointment if at all possible. If you don't have time, let your partner know in good time.
o It is important for each language to budget for around the same amount of time (eg: 45 minutes for each language)
o The best place for the first meeting is somewhere neutral where you can converse undisturbed (cafeteria, café, seating area on campus etc.).
o Prepare for the meeting in advance. You can bring books, newspapers, music, an application or an assignment from your studies.
o How long are you hoping to work with your tandem partner? (By the way: you can also keep up your language tandem via email, Skype, or the like.)

What?
What expectations do you have about the tandem? Talk with your tandem partner about your wishes and learning objectives. Consider:

  • Why would you like to improve your knowledge of foreign languages? (studies, travel, career…)
  • Which language skills would you especially like to practice? (talk in the foreign language, read and understand texts, expand your vocabulary, get to know the other culture better…)
  • Which style of learning is the best for you? (dialogue, visual…)
  • Which subject areas interest you?
  • Which tasks should the tandem partner be helping you with? (presentation, application…)
  • How would you like to be corrected?

Suggested Topics and Tasks for the tandem can be found online (available in several languages) at:

You can also do something specific together e.g.:

  • Go to the movies, theatre or a concert
  • Do a sport (jogging, swimming, bike riding…)
  • Go on an excursion (to Stuttgart, Munich, etc.)
  • Go to a restaurant or bar

What happens if I don’t find a tandem partner?

Those interested in the tandem program, but who have not found a partner, can also register on the online tandem listing: The Mixxer – Language Exchange for Everyone.

If you have questions or suggestions regarding the Tandem programme, you're welcome to send an email to: Tandem@dont-want-spam.Reutlingen-University.de.

Tandem Partners Wanted

Last updated August, 2019

In the Summer Semester 2019, we have matched 50 pairs. In the following overview, you can see the languages that are currently being offered or looked for in our Tandem Programme.

Native German speakers looking for speakers of:

Language wantedNumber
Italian1
English7
French6
Arabic1
Japanese1
Portuguese4
Spanish4
Dutch1
Norwegian1

 

Native German Speakers Wanted by Speakers of:

Language OfferedNumber
Arabic3
Chinese12
Hebrew1
Latvian1
Malay(an)1
Russian3
Ukrainian1
Polish1
Vietnamese2

Other Language Combinations

Language offeredLanguage wantedNumber
SpanishPortuguese2

English

Spanish

Arabic

Russian

Chinese

Chinese

English

French

French

English

English

English

Korean

Spanish

1

2

1

2

2

1

1

Native speakers of the languages listed on the left have already submitted requests for tandem partners. Speakers of the language listed on the right side are being searched for.

Photo in header: ©Thomas Leitermann; Photo in text: ©Reutlingen University