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Tandem tips

The Ultimate Guide to Language Exchange Etiquette

So you’ve downloaded the Tandem app and you’ve just had your first ever language exchange. However, your new partner isn’t replying. Wait, they blocked you! But why? You’re a nice person. What did you do to deserve this treatment?! When you chat to a stranger far away through your phone, it can be easy to forget that you’re having a conversation with a real person. You can easily make a mistake and offend someone without even meaning to! Here are a few good etiquette tips from the community gurus at Tandem to help you stay polite and respectful on Tandem, and keep all your language exchanges sweet.

Your language learning journey will require some helpful tools and resources to gain fluency. That is why Tandem is here to help! With the Tandem app, we connect language learners to native speakers to help them speak any language, anywhere.

1. Check before you correct

Remember when you gave in a paper at school and it came back covered in red lines? Tandem doesn’t always have to be like that. Sometimes your partner will just want to chat freely, rather than having every small mistake corrected. Check with your partner before you start editing their messages, so you know what their learning goals are.

2. Don’t get offended

Aw, it can be sad when someone doesn’t reply. But don’t take it personally! Some people get lots of messages; others forget to turn their profile offline when they’re busy doing something else. Either way, it’s unlikely to be anything personal, so move on and make friends with someone else. If no-one is replying to you and you’re starting to feel unloved, you might need to edit your profile a bit. See our FAQs for more tips!

3. Don’t spam

This is a sure-fire way to get blocked! You might have found something you want to share with the world, but Tandem is not the place to share it. Imagine shouting the same message over and over at random people in the street - they would think you are totally crazy! The same goes for sending lots of messages to someone you don’t know before they reply, which can be overwhelming for your potential partner. Check our list with great conversation starters!

4. Ask before you call

Though our community is full of keen language learners, remember your partner might not be as confident at speaking as you! Always ask before calling to make sure they are ready to go.

5. Check you have a language match

Check for signs in the person’s profile that they are a good match for you. If they are learning lots of languages, they may be focusing on one language in particular - always check their info to see if they have specified which one.

6. Find out their language level - tactfully

After a friendly greeting, it’s good to start with some basic questions to work out your partner’s language ability in a tactful way, rather than opening with the level you are at. “I am an C2 super-genius” is not a friendly way to begin! After all, some people use Tandem for cultural exchange as well as pure language exchange so sometimes levels don’t have to be perfect matches.

7. Keep an open mind

Remember that Tandem members come from all over the world and have totally different backgrounds - this is part of the magic so make sure you come ready to learn something totally new!

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