Tandem tips

How to correct mistakes

TandemNovember 30, 2012

DON’T BE AFRAID TO MAKE MISTAKES!

When learning a new language, you’re probably going to make some mistakes along the way. Just know that this is a very normal part of the learning process, so don’t ever hold back because you’re worried about getting something wrong. You’ll be surprised how much you can learn from your mistakes!

YOUR CORRECTION PREFERENCE

In the Learning Preferences setting on your profile, you can set when you’d like your Tandem partner to correct your mistakes. Choose between:

  • Every single time I make a mistake
  • Only when I make the same mistake repeatedly
  • General feedback once in a while is ok, but do not correct single mistakes
  • You can change your preference at any time, so just pick the one that feels right for you.

CORRECTING OTHERS

Check your Tandem partner’s preferences on their profile and try to follow it when correcting them. Remember that your corrections are crucial to your partner’s progress!

Patience is key here as it’s likely they’ll continue to make the same mistakes even after you’ve pointed them out, especially with things like pronunciation or word order. Just continue correcting the mistake so they eventually start to internalize the right form.

In text and audio messages:

  • Use the “Correct” feature on Tandem.
  • Be diligent and accurate, but if your partner prefers not to have every single mistake corrected, focus on the ones you find most important.
  • Ask your partner to read the correct form out loud in an audio message. It will help them remember.

In audio and video calls and when meeting in person:

  • Don’t interrupt the conversation too often. Instead, pay attention to which mistakes are made, note them down, and discuss them at the end.
  • Be diligent and accurate, but try to find the right balance between accuracy and keeping the natural flow of the conversation. One way to do this is by not pointing out the correct form directly, but rather including it in a question or one of your following sentences.
  • Use writing to clarify your corrections, or ask your partner to write down the correct form. On Tandem, you can exchange text messages while still in an audio or video call.
  • In video calls and face-to-face tandems, you can agree on discreet gestures to point out mistakes.
  • If you meet in person, consider audio recording your conversation. Then you can review it together afterwards and discuss the mistakes.

YOUR PARTNER’S LEVEL

If your Tandem partner is a beginner, focus on basic grammar, spelling and pronunciation mistakes. Don’t give up correcting mistakes just because there are simply too many.

If your Tandem partner is more advanced and you understand each other well, they can still learn a lot from you, like how to express themselves like a native speaker or which idioms and slang words are bound to impress!

UNDERSTANDING THE MISTAKE

If your Tandem partner is a native speaker, they’ll always be able to tell you when you made a mistake and what the correct form should be. However, as native speakers often lack a complete understanding of grammar in their own language, they might not be able to explain exactly why you’re incorrect. If you’re in need of some help from a grammar expert, book a lesson with one of the Tutors on Tandem.

DON’T BE AFRAID TO CORRECT OTHERS

So, you shouldn’t be afraid to make mistakes, but that goes for correcting others, too! Did you know that German speakers on Tandem correct their partner’s mistakes 10 times more often than Chinese speakers?

While in some cultures it’s impolite to correct someone’s mistakes, in others it’s almost rude not to do so.

Here’s a list of which nations correct the most on Tandem:

  1. Germany
  2. France
  3. Italy
  4. Spain
  5. USA
  6. UK
  7. Canada
  8. Colombia
  9. Mexico
  10. Brazil
  11. Korea
  12. Russia
  13. Turkey
  14. Japan
  15. China

If you ever catch yourself holding back from correcting someone, remind yourself that by correcting them, you’re doing them a huge favor. You’re helping your partner progress and that’s what we are all here on Tandem for – to help each other learn languages!

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