What is an eTandem and how does it work?

The eTandem programme is a form of self-directed language learning whereby participants use digital media such as e-mail, video calls, or text chat to communicate over long distances and across national borders. This programme allows students with different first or native languages to connect regularly and mutually advance their respective foreign language skills.

Participants are free to choose the digital media they wish to use, for instance a laptop, tablet or smart phone, as well as the frequency and length of their joint sessions. The eTandem programme thus offers a particularly versatile and individualized option for learning a foreign language. 

Who is allowed to participate?

Generally, students can participate if they are enrolled at the University of St Andrews, or at one of the partner universities, and can demonstrate A2/B1 level skills in the respective foreign language (according to the CEFR). 

How do I sign up?

To participate in the eTandem programme, please first complete the registration form. Secondly, please attach a document showing your language abilities at the minimum required level (A2/B1) or above. Acceptable documents include the transcript of a successfully completed University language course (A2/B1 or higher), an international language certificate, or a placement test conducted by an authorized lecturer. Please send the document, together with the completed registration form, to etandem@slz.uni-bonn.de. If you need to prove your language level, please contact the local DAAD lecturers.

When can I sign up?

You can register for the eTandem programme at any time. 

How long is my registration valid?

Your registration in the eTandem programme is valid for six months. Prior to the end of this period, you will receive an e-mail from the eTandem office asking whether you wish to extend your registration. Should you not respond to that message, all your information will be deleted for data protection reasons. 

What happens after I signed up?

After validating your documents, your information will be entered into the eTandem data base. Using an individualized matching procedure, the eTandem office will pair you as quickly as possible with a suitable partner. You will receive an e-mail with the contact information for your assigned eTandem partner, whom you can then contact immediately. 

Which digital media can I use for the eTandem sessions?

Principally, you can use any media at your disposal for the eTandem session, for example a computer, laptop, tablet or smart phone. It may be best to determine the best option together with your eTandem partner. We recommend communication via e-mail, video call or text chat. For a list of available software suitable for the eTandem sessions see Starter Kit

Do I need specific communication software?

Which type of communication software or app you choose depends on your general preferences and the specific learning goals of your eTandem partnership. To initially contact your assigned partner via e-mail, you can use your private e-mail address. Communication via video call or text chat may require downloading software or a suitable app. For information on available options see Starter Kit

Where can our eTandem sessions take place?

By using digital media, you are versatile in choosing the location for your eTandem sessions. You can be stationed at your home computer or use mobile devices, including a laptop, tablet or even smart phone. However, we recommend that you choose a reasonably quiet environment to avoid complicating your communication in the foreign language through background noise. In the case of video calling, you should make sure it is actually permitted in your chosen location. 

The first eTandem session: What should we discuss?

Since you jointly organize your eTandem language learning process, you should discuss the most important organizational questions when you first contact your eTandem partner. Decide together when and how often you hold joint sessions and which digital media and which communication software you would like to use. For further information and tips on how to organize the first meetings see Starter Kit and Support Material

My eTandem partner and I do not know what to talk about. Where can we find suggestions?

A number of suggestions to start your conversation are included in the starter kit resources. Alternatively, contact the eTandem team for advice! Just send an e-mail to etandem@slz.uni-bonn.de.

During the course of the project, we are constantly expanding the stock of accompanying material for eTandem sessions.