In October 2016, we asked our community to share their stories of language exchange with us to win the chance to meet their partner on Tandem face-to-face in Berlin. Here is the story of our winners, Seray and Eduardo….
Country: Mexico Age: 25 Known languages: Spanish Practicing languages: English, Turkish
Tandem Tip: Don't be nervous! We are all on Tandem to learn, so don't be afraid to go wrong, people here really will help you to learn and improve!
Eduardo had tried out a number of language apps to practice his English, but immediately saw the benefits of being able to connect with other learners around the world. Seray was the first person he talked to when he downloaded the app. Their similar studies offered something in common immediately: industrial engineering in Turkey for Seray, and metallurgical engineering in Mexico for Eduardo.
Seray was keen to improve her Spanish and find out more about Mexican culture, while Eduardo was happy to share his knowledge of Mexican dishes and recipes. Another favourite activity was both watching the news from each other’s country and then talking about it together. Through these conversations with Eduardo, Seray was able to gain more confidence in her language abilities, and eventually got to the point where she could speak with, and help, the Spanish language students who were visiting her school for an exchange semester. Eduardo improved his English and began to learn Turkish. During the course of these conversations Seray and Eduardo got to know one another quite well, and eventually became close friends.
Country: Turkey Age: 19 Known Languages: Turkish, English Practicing Languages: Spanish, Polish
Tandem Tip: Come up with activities together. For example, read the same book or watch the same show and discuss it
Helping each other through tragedy… On the night of 29th June 2016, a terrible tragedy happened: Atatürk Airport in Istanbul was hit by a terrorist attack. For Seray, it was difficult to know what was going on, even though it was in her own country. Seray says, “We didn’t have access to the news for hours and hours. I couldn’t get on Twitter, and Facebook was very slow, so it was nearly impossible to get information about the attack”. Upon hearing about the tragedy in the news, Eduardo immediately got in touch with Seray, and was able to support and console her. “Eduardo wrote to me about the explosion straightaway and shared many details with me that he had found through the news in Mexico,” Seray says. “He tried to calm me down and helped me through the tragedy, even though he was far away.”
Once communication lines in Turkey improved, Seray received the sad news that one of her friends had died in the attack. Eduardo remained supportive throughout this difficult time: “Eduardo was a great friend to me, even though we have oceans and many countries between us,” Seray says. “Before I had this experience, I thought religions and nations were the most important things to have in common. But now I know that humanity is the most important thing in the world. I have to thank my partner on Tandem for teaching me that.”
The friendship continues… When Seray and Eduardo sent in their story, we were so inspired by the the way language had the power to connect them through the good times, but, more importantly, the difficult ones, despite their different countries and cultures. That’s why we have decided to award them both with a trip to Berlin to meet each other in person, and continue growing their cultural exchange and language skills together. It’s amazing that something so small as deciding to practice another language could lead to such a close, important friendship. We’re very proud that Tandem was able to make this possible, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds for them both.
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, totally for free? Enter the Tandem app, where you can speak any language, anywhere. Check it out - you might even make great friends along the way.