Tandem Language Learning

How many languages are there in the
world? More than you might have thought! In 2009 Ethnologue
) made a list of 6909 distinct languages. So why do we
actually learn languages and which methods do we use to improve our langauge

People all over the world learn new languages because
of various reasons: their beloved one is from a different country, they need it
at work, they love to travel or it’s just a hobby. No matter the reason,
langauge learners are offered with diversified mathods of learning, one of which
is Tandem Language Learning. A language tandem is a method based on language
exchange between tandem partners; ideally both being native speakers in the
language the proponent wants to learn/improve). Obvious effects of such an
exchange are improvement in language skills and development in cultural
competence which both are emphesized by Anna Jachimek, a PhD student at the
University of Münster:

“I do a German-English tandem mainly because I develop
my language skills. With nobody else can I practise it better than with a native
speaker. Thanks to it I can get to know many new expressions which can’t be
found in textbooks or even idiomatic dictionaries. And what is the most
important thing is that thanks to the interaction with native speakers I have
the opportunity to master the nuances of phonetics and improve my pronunciation
of the language. A language tandem enables me to get to know new cultures from
the inside. Thanks to tandems I have already started many new friendships which
I hope stand the test of time”

One of our EVS volunteers also decided to start a
language exchange – a Spanish-German one. Even though Sabela González
attends a German course in
learns German online, it’s still not enough. She gives even more reasons why one
should start a tandem:

“I start thinking about tandems because I am here in
Germany and I am doing a German course just for one month and a half. In that
course I am getting basic knowlegde – vocabulary and grammar. But of course
it’s not enough for practising, talking and writing. And talking is the hardest
part because German pronunciation is hard for a Spanish person. We are 15
people in the course so we can’t practise enough and we have not enough time so
a tandem is a great opportunity just for talking and learning more informal
stuff, how Germans are talking in real life. Also the other person is
interested in you and learning your language. It’s a great way for both sides
to learn. You give and you receive.”

Some people, like Sylwia Jarzyńska, values
comfort and freedom which undeniably a tandem gives her “I prefer learning the
language in a very small group because the whole attention is devoted to my
questions, meeting new people, the possibility of giving something from
yourself and learning about your own culture; getting to know another country
with informal perspective. We choose the topis of our conversations, not the
coursebook. We meet wherever we want – on a meadow, in a pub, anywhere! That is
a pleasure!”

For those who are digitally addicted, there is also
an app which allows you to make
a tandem with people from all around the world. “The best way to learn languages
is to practice speaking as much as you can. The Tandem method makes language
exchange easy. With our language learning app, you can practice conversing with
native speakers who can help you learn and get fluent in no time. With more than
1m members already, become part of a buzzing language learning community.”
(taken from:

Jim Jones from Brazil is starting his Portuguese-Polish
tandem very soon. Why? “Native speakers are the best when it comes to languages.
So, if you want to be good, you have to learn from the best.”



Beata Jaranowska


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