How to organise language learning in Tandem?

When learning a language in Tandem, the principles of mutual responsibility and autonomy apply. Therefore both Tandem partners should keep the following rules in mind:

  • The meetings take place regularly once a week and last at least two hours.
  • Each language should be given equal time.
  • Both languages are practised separately and not mixed together.
  • Both partners are learners as well as listeners, advisors and experts.
  • Both partners respect the mutual agreements reached and are responsible for their own learning progress as well as for that of their Tandem partner.

The Language Counselling Service will assist you with the planning, carrying out, reflecting upon and evaluating of the language learning in Tandem. Use this offer to maximise your full learning potential!


The Tandem partners can organize and decide the following completely independently:

1. Time and Place

Choose the time and place of meeting with your Tandem partner according to your respective learning objectives.  

2. Aims and Topics

Formulate learning objectives and stick to them. Reflect after each meeting as to whether you are getting closer to your objectives, and write up minutes of each meeting to help you do so. Respect your partner's learning objectives and his/her method of learning. Give feedback and ask for it, too. Remember: you are not to act in the role of a know-it-all teacher.
Choose topics that suit your learning objectives. Ask for appropriate materials and search for suitable materials for your partner. Choose topics that really are of interest and of use to both of you (e.g. questions that have arisen in language courses, language questions concerning projects, subject-related topics and intercultural problems).  

3. Working Methods and Materials

There are many different methods of working that can help you achieve your learning objectives. You can have a discussion, dictate passages, read and learn poems, give presentations or simply ask and answer questions. In doing so, you can, for instance, practise the correct use of phrases and expressions, target specific grammar problems and broaden your vocabulary. Always discuss the working methods with your partner and reflect after every meeting whether the selected method has been motivating and effective, or not. Keep trying out new methods. The materials you use (newspapers, books, pictures, films, cooking recipes etc.) should support the joint learning process by providing topics to talk about and helping you to practise specific structures. Make use of the Language Counselling Service should you run out of ideas! 

4. Feedback and Correcting

Ask for feedback and corrections and offer both to your partner as well. This is the only way you will both of you will benefit language-wise. You don’t have to know everything but you will know what is correct in your mother tongue. Be positive, encourage your partner, give praise and motivate him/her. Correct any mistakes by repeating the phrase correctly. Point out mistakes to your partner and try to correct them together. Observe in successive meetings whether your partner is making progress or not. Make use of the Language Counselling Service to learn more of the art of providing feedback and your options for correcting mistakes.

"One of the things that I really enjoyed was that we could meet outside of the university and I learned words and phrases as I experienced things. I feel like this also helped me learn more about the culture in Germany and specifically in Münster because we went to places such as the Weihnachtsmarkt and my Tandem Partner pointed out things that I probably wouldn't have noticed or understood by myself. I also had the opportunity to eat my only home-cooked German meal at my Tandem Partner's house; goulash that was sehr lecker!" (Grant, USA)