Our tandem experiences
Last semester Anika and Gregor have participated in the Tandem Language Learning Program - they have described their experience for our blog:
When I first decided to sign up for the Tandem program I thought to myself, “Sure, why not”. But it wasn’t until late June when I realized how great of a decision I made. I got matched with my partner, Gregor, and was first anxious because I couldn’t find him on social media, which is extremely uncommon in American culture. Nonetheless, we met at the library cafe and talked over coffees, and my experience only blossomed from there. We met quite frequently and were able to teach each other about Austrian and American culture, as well as practicing speaking English and German to each other. Prior to starting my study abroad experience in Vienna I had only taken one basic German class at my university in San Diego, so I was unsure how much Gregor could teach me because I hadn’t learned all of the basic verbs and tenses, yet. To my surprise I did end up learning a good amount of sentences and phrases to help me navigate living in Vienna, with minimal German knowledge. If you are an exchange student like me, with extremely minimal German language practice, don’t set the bar too high for yourself; after all, you and your partner are just students and can’t possibly perfect each others language skills. During my meetings with Gregor, I found myself more interested to learn about how Austrian culture varied from my American/Californian culture I am so used to. Gregor was an extremely understanding and eager partner, which I greatly lucked out on. Although we did spend a large amount of our time practicing speaking English and German, we also set aside time to talk about how our two lifestyles varied and also if we could find any similarities.
Being an exchange student is an intimidating but also extremely rewarding experience, and participating in this program is just one of the many ways I found my second home in Vienna. by Anika Rohlfes
I heard from a good friend of mine about the Tandem language program, and the idea sounded very appealing to me. Looking back, I can honestly say that my Tandem experience surpassed all my expectations. My tandem partner’s name was Anika and she was on exchange at the Vienna University of Economics and Business.
When I first heard that Anika was from California, I was delighted because of multiple reasons. Some friends of mine went abroad last semester, and most of them were in the US. Through the tandem program, Anika brought a touch of being on an exchange semester to me. I was also very interested in the American way of life. This interest mainly focused on Politics, Sports and Culture. Anika was a perfect teacher in this instance, and she gave me some nice insights in the life of a student in the US.
The main goal that I wanted to achieve was to improve my skills in the English language. In the long term, this would help me to be more prepared for any future conversations and interactions. Especially in an international university like WU, being able to speak and understand English is key. Our almost weekly meetings focused on different topics and were split equally into English and German. The high levels of conversation, and the fun of teaching your native language to another person, formed a perfect challenge in my opinion.
To sum up, I enjoyed my tandem experience very much. I would definitely recommend it to my colleagues, which I already did since the start of the program. The thing that helped me the most was simply the natural way of speaking about various topics. Most significantly, I improved my confidence in speaking English, which was mainly due to of our regular meetings.
I would really like to thank Anika for being so obliging and patient. I hope that she had a great tandem experience as well.
I am personally thinking about applying again for the program in the next term and might try a different language, like Italian, to improve my versatility.
by Gregor Eitermoser
Since the inception of the program in 2002 we have had almost 9500 participants in the Tandem Program. For many participants, the cultural exchange aspect and the idea of learning outside the classroom are the most important features of the program, while others appreciate the opportunity to use it to prepare for their foreign language courses at WU.
Besides the obvious language combination like Englisch/Spanish/French/Italian-German there have been some exotic combinations like German-Lithuanian, French-Bulgarian, Dutch-Slovak or Serbian-Spanish.
Students can opt to earn credit for the Tandem Program as a free elective (2 ECTS) if desired. Alternatively, you can choose to take part in the Tandem Program without the obligation to fulfill any requirements.