Enke Spänkuch
Studierendenhaus (SH), Room 2/220
Tel +49 (0)234 32 23818
Office hours: by appointment


When learning in tandem, you should avoid falling back on a third language, most typically English. Accordingly, your competence in the target language should be equivalent to level A2/B1 according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). This enables adequate communication with your tandem partner.

Core Characterstics

A tandem partnership requires no teacher, no curriculum and no course book. Tandem language learners decide for themselves:

  • What goal do I want to reach with my tandem language learning project? What do I specifically want to improve? Which topics am I interested in? Which linguistic structures do I want to work on?
  • How will I proceed? How can my tandem language partner help me? Which materials can I use?
  • Where and how often shall I meet and work with my tandem partner? How much time can I invest?
  • How will I measure my progress? How can I evaluate whether I have reached my tandem learning goal? Who or what can help me with this process?


  • SelfreliabilityTandem language learners take decisions with regards to their learning process independently and thereby assume responsibility for the outcome of their learning. They plan their own work, monitor their progress and reflect on their course of action. In doing so, learners enhance their chance to benefit from the full potential of tandem learning.
  • Reciprocity: Tandem language learning is a matter of fairness. Each tandem partner can expect as much return on investment as he or she is willing to invest themselves. Two language learners profit to the degree that they reciprocally support each other.


  • High degree of communicative interaction: In a tandem, you profit from a learning situation that is very different from the ordinary classroom setting: a one-on-one learning context with a native speaker. This creates a learning environment with a high degree of communicative interaction which especially facilitates the improvement of oral competence in a foreign language.
  • Authentic communiacation: In a tandem, you not only communicate more, but you also communicate authentically with each other. You decide on relevant and motivating topics and themes as partners. A tandem partnership is not about language teachers working with each other. As native speakers you are experts of your own language and can serve as language model, offer examples, enhance understanding and correct mistakes.
  • Mistakes as a learning cause: Your tandem partner is just as much a language learner as you are. Do not be afraid to speak and possibly make mistakes. This is part of the language learning process and you will mutually profit from corrections. Obviously, you decide which mistakes, and in which manner your partner should correct mistakes.
  • Intercultural learning: In addition, tandem partnerships always provide a setting for intercultural encounters and communication. This means that you will not only profit linguistically, but are able to learn from your partner’s experience and take part in a cultural exchange.