Tandem: a fun way to practise Spanish!
We know most of the Au Pairs go to Spanish classes to learn the language, but sometimes that is not enough to become fluent. Sometimes you need an extra activity that helps you push your limits and practice Spanish in a different environment than in class.That is why we would like to introduce you to the concept of tandem. A tandem refers to two people that speak different languages. This allows each of you to learn and practice the other language having the support of a native speaker. By working together, you can communicate and learn more quickly and effectively. Also, you will learn some idioms or slang words even that people use on their daily basis that you might not learn in class!
Both partners should benefit equally from the collaboration. The time spent on each language should be divided equally and the partners must both make a similar effort. At each meeting, both languages should be used. Tandem partners can serve as a model, help if there is something you don’t understand, help if you want to say something, correct your mistakes and give information about life in their country. Tandem partners can also teach you slang words, idioms, proverbs, etc.
It is important you get along well with your tandem partner so you both feel comfortable hanging out. You can share activities (cooking dishes for each country, making trips, visiting museums, etc.), watching films in the original language, visiting cultural events or just hang out together having a coffee. Doing a language tandem is also a great way to make local friends!
Having a tandem partner (or several) is also a great way to get to know the locals. I am sure that by now you all have a nice group of Au Pair friends, but I would like to advise you to get to know Spanish people and make local friends. After all, they can teach you a lot about the language, culture, places to go, tips for travelling, etc.
How to find a tandem
Nowadays, it is really easy to find a tandem partner, as there are many people interested in learning new languages or practice those that they are learning. There are many ways to find one or several tandem partners, as in big cities there are usually groups of people having exchange meet-ups. One of the easiest ways to find these language exchange meet-ups is through Facebook. Just type in the search bar intercambio idiomas X (your city), language exchange X (your city) or tandem X (your city). When you join a tandem Facebook group, write a post saying that you are from X country, that you like to practice Spanish and if there is anyone interested. There will be many interested for sure!
Signing into the website Couchsurfing is also a great idea to find language tandem partners. Couchsurfing is a service that connects members to a global community of travellers. You can use it to find a place to stay or share your home and hometown with travellers. Couchsurfers organize regular language meet-ups in most of the cities, so there's always something to do and new friends to meet! Just join and write the city you are placed in the search bar and go the Events section; you’ll find all the events there.
If you are to join a Couchsurfing language exchange meet up, just go to the place indicated (usually a bar) and just introduce yourself. If you are going with friends, it would be better if you don’t stay together and if you try to meet new people. Don’t be shy! Everyone’s there to learn and they’ll be happy to meet you.
If you are not so into meet-ups with some (or a lot!) of people, you can also post a small ad in which you say that you are a native speaker of X language and that you are looking to do a tandem in Spanish. You can write your email or your phone number, whatever you feel more comfortable with.
You can place the ad on some faculties (like language faculties such as Translation or Philology) or also in your own school if they also have classes for Spanish people to learn other languages. You can also post it in the Official Language School (Escuela Oficial de Idiomas).
¡Esperamos que practiquéis mucho español!