A conversation exchange or tandem is quite simple: if you speak French and want to brush up your Greek, for instance, you’ll need to find a Greek partner who is learning French. Assuming that you meet for an hour, you should split your time 50/50 — half an hour in French and half an hour in Greek. This is a unique opportunity to broaden your horizons, and maybe to make new friends as well. It’s also worth remembering that a good command of one or more foreign languages can be a major asset on the labour market.
Tips for a successful tandem
1. Check your timetables are compatible and establish how often you want to meet.
2. Remember your partner isn’t a teacher and may not be able to answer tricky grammar questions.
3. Take it seriously! Write down new vocabulary and review it before your next meeting.
4. Don’t be scared of making mistakes. Let your conversation partner know how much you want them to correct you. Usually it’s best to take the middle way; don’t correct your partner down to the last detail, which is demoralising, but don’t ignore serious errors either.
5. Be fair — don’t try to spend more than half your time together speaking the language you’re learning.
6. If you want to focus on a particular topic, let your tandem partner know. If you have nothing in common and conversation won’t flow, it’s not a big deal; look for another partner instead.
Usually you meet via a website or an app. Alternatively, you could search for a tandem partner there and meet in person. Another option is looking for a penpal. Here are some useful platforms that can help you start a conversation. Some may have premium paid options with tutors.