If you have never done a language tandem and are afraid of it, then this is understandable but absolutely unnecessary. Basically, a tandem won’t differ a lot from your daily communication. However, there are some experiences and hints that can make it easier for you to start the new foreign language communication experience and make it more positive.
You have now exchanged a few pings with an interesting language partner and it goes to the first personal meeting.
How to start?
You do not know how to get into the conversation, then inform yourself about your opponent if possible in advance. Possibly based on his profile at SprachDuo. Or prepare some open questions. Are your foreign language skills possibly the obstacle and you do not know at all, then look for a foreign language dialogues and let yourself be inspired.
Keep it simple stupid
Try to start the first conversation with simple topics. Even if your foreign language skills are already advanced. So you get used to the pronunciation of your language tandems or he/she to yours step by step. Show that you are listening and listen carefully. It comes faster to confusion in new languages than you think ;)
Speech and pauses vary by culture. While the Spaniards almost jump over in conversation, English is a little slower and in Japan the breaks between the phrases may seem like an eternity. So be sure to adjust your pace down so that your language partner does not feel overloaded.
Short but enriching
Do not make the first meetings too long. Listening to and speaking a foreign language can literally make you headache and tongue twisting right at the beginning. Stop before your concentration visibly falls for the other one.
Do not make the conversation like an interrogation even if your enthusiasm about foreign culture overcomes you and you want to know everything as quickly as possible.
Don’t miss the connection
In the beginning, the conversation often leads to an exchange about one's own enthusiasm for foreign languages. Hardly surprising! That's the first common interest of you two! However, this topic is exhausted at some point. Make the transition to more personal interests. Especially if your partner isn’t making a tandem for the first time, he or she could have spoken not for the first time about foreign languages...
Be a good teacher
If you act as a "teacher" at the meeting and help your language tandem to learn your native language, then it is important to point out the mistakes that occur during speech. But please not all the time !!! In favor of the flow of conversation, you should only point out the mistakes that often occur and have repeated several times in the conversation. Anyway, usually you can not remember more than a few corrections after a conversation.
Move your ass!
Many arrange to have a drink in cafes or bars, especially if you live in a big city. It is a nice way to avoid the cold in winter, but usually not the best way to contact a foreign-language person. In the bars it can often be loud, which inevitably leads to the problem with hearing comprehension. This would arise for those with the lesser language skills. Which automatically leads to constant unpleasant demands and interrupts the beginning dialogue flow. If such a location is unavoidable, then at least choose a quieter corner.
Preferably choose a place with more external impressions. There is nothing worse, when the first smalltalk topics and the superficial getting to know exhausted, and you continue in a café sitting across from each other in an unpleasant silence... A good way is the walk. This automatically relaxes the atmosphere. The eye contact can be interrupted naturally and not like in the café, in which you have to look artificially to some wall. Outside there is more happening around you and it stimulates to new topics of conversation.
If a café is unavoidable, do not sit down opposite the table, rather around the corner. This will on the one hand spend the distance, so you do not have to "scream" again over the table, if your foreign language pronunciation was ambiguous. On the other hand, it loosens the eye contact again.
After several meetings with your new language partner, it can happen that the conversations settle on one of the two languages, so that only one-sided learning success can be felt. Do not let that dissuade you from the basic idea of tandem. Because that's normal. There are always two types of tandems:
- Those who want to learn your language in order to integrate as quickly as possible.
- And those who, after the particular phase of integration, miss their original mother tongue and want to speak freely again.
Therefore, look for at least two or even more language partners! So both parties get the chance and in any case you will learn more about other cultures.
You lack ideas for joint activities, then you can inform you about more foreign language activities via AEGEE. Or subscribe to the AEGEE News directly at SprachDuo in your profile. Local AEGEE antennas regularly send information about such events. You can also see these on the page of your city.
Send us your review
If you have had positive experiences with language tandems, or you are missing important points in the top list, or just don’t share our opinion, so please just contact us or send a report directly. By the way, you will find more interesting tips and tricks how to start conversation in this article from wikiHow.