Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Language Centre

What is Tandem?

Learning languages in TANDEM

  1. Principles of Tandem
    • Learning in Tandem is a form of autonomous, intercultural learning with a partner
    • Principle of mutuality: both partners should benefit equally from the collaboration. The time spent on each language should be divided equally and the partners must both make a similar effort. At each meeting both languages should be used
    • Principle of learner´s autonomy: both parties take personal responsibility for their respective part of the Tandem collaboration and determine their own learning objectives and methods. These are rarely the same for both parties. Your Tandem partner can be consulted as an expert in his/her language and culture, can read out texts if so desired, speak about selected topics, correct mistakes, make suggestions for improvement etc. However, s/he will not usually be a trained teacher, i.e. s/he may not be expected to define learning objectives and learning strategies, conduct assessments, or systematically prepare the subject matter (grammar rules etc.)
    • Tandem partners can:
      • Serve as a model: you learn from what your partner tells or writes you in their language
      • Help if there is something you don´t understand
      • Help if you want to say something
      • Correct your mistakes
      • Give information about life in their country
  2. Suggestions for Tandem collaboration:
    • Sharing activities, including cooking food from your respective countries, doing sports, visiting theatres and museums, making trips and city tours
    • Watching films in the original language
    • Visiting cultural events (see "Zitty" or "Tipp")
    • Visiting conversational events (see adverts and the internet)
    • Playing party games together
    • Using various spaces depending on the activity: cooking or watching TV at home; using language courses, reading newspapers and watching videos together in the media library
  3. Ideas
    The following ideas could serve to get you started:
    • Exchanging information:
      • To get to know each other: filling in questionnaires about your respective study, family, leisure activities
      • Describing favourite pastimes: favourite food, music or books
      • Discussing differences and similarities, suprising subtleties, life in general and family life in particular in Germany, feeling German, superstition, studying and working in both countries (work, unemployment, studying, school)
    • Exchanging points of view and discussing them:
      • What is art/love/work? What does …….. mean to you? And to me?
    • Creative activities:
      • Come up with your dream holiday/weekend
      • Describe photos
      • Tell stories, fairy tales, and legends that are typical to your respective countries
    • Talk about language and communication:
      • Idioms or proverbs;
      • Cursing and swearing;
      • Equivalents in the other language;
      • Clarifying differences in regional vernacular
  4. Links and addresses