- Meet language partners quickly and easily
- More 160 languages on offer
- Free tier offers lots of value
- Huge and active community
- Response time varies
- Paid tiers are overpriced
Tandem is an easy-to-use messaging app for language learners to connect with speaking partners around the world. The experience you have really depends on the quality of each speaking partner but overall, the app is fine.
On Tandem, I found an international community with the same goal – to learn a language through authentic conversation.
The gist: on your profile, indicate the language you want learn, indicate your native language, and select preferred conversation topics. The app matched me with people who were good at what I was weak in (and vice versa), and compatible with me in making conversation.
Think of it as being similar to a dating app for language learners. 😊
Soon, I got a whole page of conversation threads with people who wouldn’t judge me for my lousy Mandarin, whom I in turn helped speak and write in English!
Like I said, it’s a bit like a dating app (same thing is true with HelloTalk), but for learning a language (also, Tandem offers a gender filter for the purpose of filtering out the gender of your speaking partners - for learning purposes of course!).
The chat functions are similar to most chat apps: you can type, send audio (for pronunciation) and other media, and even make video calls.
There’s also a translation button to help you craft messages which I found helpful, so your Tandem partner doesn’t have to do all the work correcting, and conversation flows better.
Click on any message from your partner, and options appear for you to correct or translate their text.
You might already have guessed this: the effectiveness of Tandem largely depends on the commitment and expectation between you and your Tandem partner.
Learning was slow-moving for conversations that began in my native language (i.e. someone who wants to learn English immediately initiates with a “Hello, how are you doing?”).
I felt obligated to maintain the language first spoken, and I didn’t get much of a chance at practising my Mandarin until I felt comfortable enough to ask them to switch gears.
So, you have to be happy with the pace of turn-taking.
Also, depending on how busy they (or you) are too, conversation might die off within a week or so.
Have you used Tandem before?
Share your thoughts below.