I discovered Tandem, a language exchange app, about a month before my two-week trip to France (Paris and La Rochelle).
I wanted to brush up on my French in order to enhance my travel experience. I’m about an intermediate French speaker and needed some refreshers.
Tandem pairs you up with people who can help with the language or languages that you want to learn, while you should be a native speaker in the language that they want to learn. One of the most useful aspects of Tandem is that you can narrow your matches to people within certain locations. I was able to find language partners in Paris and arranged to meet one of them while I was there.
It was a good experience. I learned about Paris from a local perspective and got to practice speaking French while also helping someone with her English.
When I got to La Rochelle, I found a young woman on Tandem who was willing to meet me along with her boyfriend. They were a fantastic couple who had a zest for travel. They were in the process of making plans to move temporarily to an English speaking country.
We spent an evening learning about each other over tequila and beers. By the night’s end, the bar staff gave us a free round of tequila shots and pints of beer as our story had been circulating.
Certainly, these meetings with locals made my experience much more memorable. Arranging them, however, does take some effort and perseverance. It was important to first build rapport and clarify your intentions. Quickly showing my willingness to correct people’s English built credibility. I was also able to show decent fundamental French skills and an honest desire to improve.
I plan on staying in touch with these Tandem partners through the app. I may again meet some of them elsewhere in the world.
Met this very nice couple through Tandem to practice English and French together in La Rochelle