Written by Dyami Millarson
Since italki has retired the Language Partners feature on 31 August 2020 (see their explanation here), I read a discussion post by a Dutchman on italki, and Tandem was mentioned in the discussion thread below his post as an alternative way for getting a language exchange. I had been using italki in the past as a way to make foreign friends and get language/culture exchanges, and so I was not to too happy about the change, because it had become harder to find people on italki.
I haven’t ever used Tandem before, but I decided to give it a try since italki no longer fulfilled its intended purpose for me and I thought that I should try finding a proper replacement for italki. So 15 Oct. I registered on Tandem. The first thing I noticed is that Tandem required me to register with a picture of myself. This was the first hurdle for me, because I am not particularly fond of uploading pictures of myself. However, I decided to just to go along with it and register on Tandem.
During registration, I filled in Norwegian as the language I wanted to learn. I was a bit worried that I would only be allowed to pick one language. However, when I had registered, I discovered that I could add other languages on my profile as well. I added a whole list of languages I wanted to learn in order to increase my chances of finding language partners. Even though I had filled in a whole list of languages I wanted to learn, it proved very hard to find language partners.
I have been on Tandem for a couple of days now since 15 Oct. I managed to practise some German with someone from Germany. However, I noticed that it was really hard to get closer with people on Tandem, most people didn’t even reply my messages and so I found that the Tandem community isn’t such a hospitable place for making foreign friends. Moreover, I couldn’t really get anyone to exchange contact details with me for talking outside the Tandem environment.
I will try Tandem for longer and just keep using the app in order to keep an open mind to the possibility that there might be people out there who are interested in a language/culture exchange with me. However, I am not holding my breath. As I have already seen, it is quite hard to make contact with people over there and I didn’t really get the chance to practise the languages I wanted to practise. Therefore, I think that Tandem isn’t really as convenient as italki was before the change.
That’s bad. Maybe some of them may lost their chance to find partner on Italki.
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I can’t imagine how many people aren’t able to find people to talk with now. It is especially tragic that this feature has been retired during this time when people have increasingly turned to the internet for their social interactions. italki was one of the places where it was easy to make friends and I think that this is what originally helped their platform to grow so fast.
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It may simply be the language you’re learning — I have seven languages on my profile, and regularly have Tandem exchanges in five, but have never gotten a nibble from a Swedish speaker or ASL user. ASL is a different issue, but I’ve found that most Swedes who are interested in English are quite fluent already and aren’t looking to improve via an app connecting them with natives. 🙂
A couple of other tips: Make sure your status is “online” so people can find you in the community feed. And when you introduce yourself to others, say something interesting (perhaps about something in their profile) in the very first message.
I like Tandem a lot. For practicing five of my languages, it’s been terrific .