Who better to give tips on how to be a good language partner than a Tandem superstar! Jefferson has been using Tandem for two years and has over 300 references and 1800 followers. Jefferson found out about Tandem through an online article recommending mobile apps to help you learn foreign languages.
His first conversation was with a native Chinese speaker, which was an exciting experience for English native speaker Jefferson. They found their first video chat a little nerve-wracking, as neither of them had done anything like that before. But after they had overcome the initial nerves, they had a great video chat. Here are his top tips for being a great language exchange partner!
Speaking is the fastest way to fluency. But getting the chance to speak a language is a challenge when you’re not living in the country. What if there was a way to befriend a native speaker and practice any time, any place, totally for free? Enter the Tandem app, where you can speak any language, anywhere.
Jefferson highly recommends using video for language exchange: “For those who really want to learn and practice a language, video chat is the best option in my opinion” he explains. “You can talk freely without using any support such as language translators and you can have eye-to-eye contact with your partner which is also good for your shyness”. So that just goes to show - even if you are feeling nervous, a video chat could be just the ticket.
For anyone new to Tandem, Jefferson also has some great advice about how to find new friends. “The filters are really important for Tandem to be able to select the best language partners for you”, he says. These filters can help you find suitable partners by allowing you to show your language requirements, which will ultimately result in you being shown the best possible matches for those needs.
Once you have been shown those potential language partner matches, Jefferson says, “don’t be afraid to just say hi!”. There’s no pressure to come up with something creative to start the conversation, although that might help you have a more engaging language exchange. Jefferson finds that the best way to keep conversations with a Tandem Partner interesting is “to try to talk about subjects and topics that you both find cool, such as food, travel or culture. And if you don’t know what to speak about, ask your partner what he or she would like to talk about. If you keep trying, you’ll eventually find a topic you both like”.
Having a look at your Tandem partner’s profile is also a really handy way to see what kinds of things they are interested in. “When people fill their profiles, a lot of them give excellent tips about what they want to talk about,” Jefferson says, “so try to focus on that as a starting point when thinking about what to say to someone”.
Another great tip for users to become better language partners is to try scheduling conversations with your Tandem Partner. “By making a regular time to meet online and practice together, you will improve together”, Jefferson says. He advises you not to worry about making mistakes - it’s a natural part of learning a language. “Always remember that both of you are on Tandem to learn from each other and practice languages,” he notes. “Making mistakes is a big part of the language learning process, so don’t worry about it!”
What about the best way to make conversations last beyond the introductory stage? “Just don’t give up speaking to your partner”, Jefferson asserts. “If you message your partner regularly, the chances are you and your partner will start to get used to each other and feel comfortable to talk about even more topics”. This in turn allows for an even more exciting language exchange, the chance to have amazing practice and cover some new vocabulary - a win-win situation all round!