Chapter 4
Learning with Native Speakers: Language Tandem Possibilities

Learning with a native speaker is the culmination of your personal lan­guage studies. In the Internet age, there is no longer any de­pend­ency on native speakers available locally.

Powerful communication methods are available to you for a distance lan­guage tandem: Teletyping, PC telephony, video telephony, and the exchange of e-mails and read aloud texts in the form of sound files. If you do not have your own Internet connection, prepare your texts and sound files at home, take them with you to a USB memory de­vice and then send them to an Internet café (or a comparable fa­cil­ity), where you can also make PC calls and video calls as stand­ard.

A large number of possible language partners are available via the In­ter­net, and there are also numerous specialized communication platforms on the subject of lan­guage. Finding the right language partner, however, requires a holistic inner attunement, which must be preceded by a detailed list of personal (fil­ter) criteria if one does not want to waste unnecessary time in the search. Both aspects will be discussed in chapters 5 and 6 which will be published later*. This chapter assumes that you have already found a suitable language partner.

In the following, all basic aspects of a language tandem on site and via the Internet will be discussed.

* Chapters 5 and 6 will probably appear in the course of 2021.

Table of Contents Chapter 4

4.1 Recommendations on Language Learning Partnerships

A language learning partnership, also called a language tan­dem, is a two-person learning unit consisting of na­tive speakers (first lan­guage). Its goal is mutual support in the context of the development and expansion of language skills and abilities. The competence of native speak­ers enables a mutual check on natural language skills.

4.1.1 Preparation and Conduct of a Meeting on Site or on the Net General Aspects

Meetings should take place at least once a week, for two hours each, with one hour reserved for each language part­ner. For shorter or longer meetings, a 50:50 time schedule should always be ob­served.

Meetings can be held on site or via the Internet. Public places with seating and writing facilities are ideal, e.g. li­brary areas with seating groups and tables, and cafés and res­tau­rants with sufficiently large tables.

From the very beginning, make sure that you have a bal­anced give and take. There are highly reputable language learn­ers who will call you at 06:00 a.m. if your ap­point­ment is unavoidably cancelled or postponed, so that you have enough time to re-arrange your daily schedule. Still oth­ers try in a parasitic way to claim advance services un­til their work is completed. Such character factors can only be estimated in advance to a limited extent. The pre­para­tory search for and selection of a suitable language part­ner is a holistic undertaking which will be described in de­tail in Chapter 5 and in Chapter 6. Always pay attention to a 50:50 time division ratio, make a note of the hours if you go in advance or if you are granted advance payment. Time Coordination for Meetings via the Internet

When meeting over the Inter­net, two time dif­fer­ences must be taken into ac­count, Standard time and daylight saving time (sum­mer time). The time at a particular location can be obtained directly by entering the name of the location and “time”, e.g: Pasadena Texas time. Many place names oc­cur more than once, even within a nation, you may need to enter additional information, such as country and state. Many Internet services are dedicated to the top­ic of time differences.

Find out about “Greenwich Mean Time”, GMT (and the term “UTC”) For example, enter as a search term: [Your town] Time GMT. For example: Freiburg i.Br. Germany GMT. You will then see the difference between your time zone and GMT.

To avoid date misunderstandings, please note that the sum­mer time changeover has been abolished in some coun­tries (for example, Russia) and that it takes place at dif­fer­ent times elsewhere.

In Texas (USA), the change to daylight saving time takes place at a different time than in Germany. If you do not ob­serve this, your language learning partner might assume that you are not on time.

4.2 Pronunciation Optimization through Reading aloud

Prepare your text and meet with your language partner in a suitable place, e.g. on a park bench.

Now read your text over and over again and have your (moth­er) language partner correct it and give detailed rec­om­men­da­tions for pronunciation optimization. This pro­cedure is one of the most effective learning methods.

4.3 Recording Texts on the Computer

Make recordings for yourself or for your lan­guage learning partner. If your lan­guage learning partner has a book (or a text) written in your target language (e.g. Eng­lish) that deals with or teaches your mot­her tongue (e.g. German), you could rec­ord individual chapters and send the respective sound file by e-mail.

Create reference texts for your language partner, read to her texts written in your mother tongue. Larger text units can be joined together in two ways. Recordings can be paused and then continued, or separate re­cord­ings can be made and later merged.

Finished sound files can also be compressed, for example in MP3 format. If the recording files are very

large, it is rec­om­mend­ed to upload them to a (free) file service pro­vid­er so that your language learning partner can download them from there afterwards (also works with encrypted files). For more information, see ection 1.10.1 File Hosting Ser­vices. This is recommended when you have a certain amount of files; check with your email service provider for file size restrictions.

You can also record texts in your target language yourself and listen carefully to them to identify pronunciation op­ti­mi­za­tion needs.

Depending on the level of audio compression, distortions (fal­si­fi­ca­tions) could occur, this also applies to com­pressed PC telephone calls. The frequency range of clas­sic analogue telephony technology may also lead to the loss of certain subtleties.

4.4 Correcting Written Texts

When correcting word processing docu­ments on the computer, one or more cor­rec­tions or options and suggestions can be writ­ten in inserted blank lines and, for better dif­fer­en­tia­tion, be kept in italics or in color through­out. Corrected versions of erroneous word or sen­tence elements may also be highlighted in bold.

Educational institutions such as universities usually give bind­ing guidelines for correction (interline), for example a line spacing of 1 ½ lines for term papers.

Naturally, many good text design or improvement ideas only appear in the mind after the meeting has taken place. Write down these ideas and communicate them to your lan­guage partner as soon as possible. Ideally, of course, you should have the opportunity and time to read through the text in advance.

4.5 Translating together with and without a Computer

Read the section 3.3, “Methods of Translation Op­ti­mi­za­tion”. Always keep several online dictionaries open at the same time, in separate tabs, so that you can make term queries for several services if necessary.

You can easily switch between the individual opened ap­pli­ca­tion programs with the key combination ALT + TAB.

Within your browser, you can switch between the in­di­vid­ual tabs at the touch of a button, under Firefox with (CTRL + TAB), under Chrome or Chromium also with CTRL + Tab, as well as under Microsoft Edge.

The joint translation on site or via the Internet enables di­rect enquiries to be made in the event of uncertainties or pos­sible ambiguities, as well as an immediate check for natu­ral language.

Some programs offer an online whiteboard functionality with which one can draw and write on a common surface dur­ing PC telephone calls or telex dialogues.

4.6 Direct Corrections during Meetings and Walks

Always correct your language partner immediately and sharp­ly, right from the start. Example: You're going for a walk and your partner uses a wrong article: “Guck, das schö­ne Baum.” – “Guck, der schö­ne Baum!” Correct whole sentences and have your language partner re­peat them. Present several possible formulations de­pending on the situation; make sure that the words are em­pha­sized correctly.

Always carry a mini-notepad or piece of paper to write down words and phrases.

4.7 Conversation Training and Preparation of Presentations

Simulate conversations with conversation partners and pres­entations with listeners (ask questions, dig deeper), in your mother tongue and target language to determine which words and phrases they need to look up.

March 26, 2020

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