Finding New Tandem Partners in Finland, Argentina, Spain, or . . .

April 23, 2018

Whenever talking with instructors about starting a tandem exchange, one of the first questions is "How do I find a partner class?" The answer? "There are a variety of strategies we can try. Let's work on it together!"

This semester, the TandemPlus program helped facilitate exchanges with three new partner institutions: a high school in Finland, an online university in Spain, and a liberal arts focused college in Argentina. The path to finding the partners was different in each case.

Finnish 1004 instructor Laura Tuomainen contacted us by email and we met to consider how to set up an exchange for the very first time. Since she is a native of Finland and teaching in Minnesota as a Fulbright Teaching Assistant, it made sense to use her contacts among English teachers in her home country. She posted an ad on a Facebook page for English teachers in Finland and quickly found a high school teacher with students close in age to her own Finnish 1004 students.

After a positive experience integrating a class-to-class exchange in his Spanish 1003 classes last semester, Michael Arnold wanted to find a partner class for his Business Spanish class this semester. When we searched the Uni-Collaboration website (a site designed to support class-to-class exchanges in high education), we found the perfect match: a Business English class in Spain. Michael contacted the instructor and they began planning content specific topics for their students to discuss.

In January, Gabrielle Sweet, the former Language Center Sustainability Coordinator, who now works in the CLA Career Readiness Program, introduced us to a visiting scholar from Universidad de San Andrés in Buenos Aires. The visitor was excited by the idea of Tandem, because students at her institution are expected to use English during their course of studies, but English classes are not offered. Conversation partners in Minnesota would provide her students with the real-world experience and practice of communicating in a second language with people from another culture. After discussing the differing semester schedules and the voluntary nature of the proposed exchange, we decided to have the students in Argentina enroll independently in our virtual face-to-face exchange program. In March, nearly 40 students signed-up, which meant we could offer many more university students a chance to participate in Tandem outside of the formal class-to-class exchanges.

If you are curious about how your students could have a language partner in another country, talk with us about the possibilities. As you travel the globe this summer, please keep Tandem in mind. You never know where or how you might meet future tandem partners!