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Tandem Small World Coffee Hour

In collaboration with ISSS, TandemPlus hosted a sensational Small World Coffee Hour event on April 3, 2015. Thirty-five students participated in this first Tandem event on the St. Paul campus, many having braved the long journey from Minneapolis. With falafel and hummus from Wally's and Dunn Bros coffee on the table, a series of scavenger hunts, and an enthusiastic crew of language learners, it was a great event. Thanks to the collaboration, a number of participants learned about TandemPlus for the first time!

Summary of April 2015 Language Center Events

TandemPlus Goes on the Road to St. Paul

The next TandemPlus activity is Small World Coffee Hour on Friday, April 3, 2015 from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m at Coffey Hall. TandemPlus is co-hosting this popular event along with International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS) in the most daring and exotic locale yet -- the St. Paul Campus! Everyone is invited to venture to the "other" twin city (quickly and easily reached via the free Campus Connector buses which run every 5 minutes) and join us for food, multilingual conversation, and of course coffee. Like all TandemPlus events, this is free and open to all language learners. We hope to see you there.

TandemPlus Goes Bowling

Despite the lovely pre-spring weather, or perhaps due to it, TandemPlus participants flocked to Goldy's Gameroom at Coffman Memorial Union on Friday, March 6, 2015, to throw down lanes, chow on appetizers, and to practice that uniquely human skill: speaking languages. Talent and the results of hard work could be witnessed from one end of the hall to the other in both bowling prowess and language capacity. Portuguese, Arabic, English, German, French Spanish, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese are among the languages that could be heard from the nearly sixty participants who were conversing and having fun. For those involved, it was an encouraging time to witness a number of polyglots code-switching while bouncing from lane to lane.

If you missed out on the fun, don't despair! Tandem will be hosting a Small World Coffee Hour on Friday, April 3, 2015, in St. Paul. This event will be catered. Stay tuned!

Summary of March 2015 Language Center Events

TandemPlus Bowling this Friday!

TandemPlus is hosting a bowling event this Friday, March 6, 2015 at Goldy's Gameroom in Coffman Union from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m. Shoes are free on Fridays. The lanes are on us, and so are the appetizers! This event is open to all current TandemPlus participants, partnered or not; come, meet more Tandem friends, have fun, listen to and speak other languages, and enjoy some bowling. The appetizers are first come, first served and they go quickly!

TandemPlus Arabic-English Pizza Party on Friday

TandemPlus and the Arabic language program are hosting a pizza party on Friday, February 27, 2015 from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m. at Punch Pizza in Stadium Village.

If you have ever been to one of our Punch Pizza events, it will be very similar, except this time it is just for Arabic speakers and learners!

Bring your partner, or if you don't have one, come join us and look for one. Get out of the cold, hang out, speak in Arabic and English, eat delicious fire-brick pizza and enjoy beverages -- on us!

This event is for all speakers and learners of Arabic, whether you are participating in Tandem or not.

TandemPlus Orientation Kicks Off Huge!

TandemPlus held its semesterly Orientation and Kick-off event on Wednesday, February 4. Lured by the possibility of meeting new friends and speaking in their second languages -- as well as the appeal of chicken shawarma and hummus from Wally's Falafel -- more than 70 people crowded together in Peik Gym, making this the biggest Tandem event yet. Attendees from a multitude of cultures and languages came and participated in the interactive, online orientation session (utilizing NearPod), and utilized their first- and second-language skills to chat with other attendees; many new language partnerships were formed, including Chinese-Spanish, Korean-Spanish, English-French and Arabic-English. You can see pictures on Facebook.

Tandem's events are growing in quantity and frequency; check back soon for information about our next event, tentatively scheduled for the week of March 9. Registration for Spring is still open at

TandemPlus Spring Kick-off & Orientation on February 4, Peik Gym

The TandemPlus Kick-off and Orientation Event has been moved to Peik Gym G65. It is still scheduled for Wednesday, February 4, 2015 from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m.

The event is open to all TandemPlus registrants as well as interested students and community members. At the event, participants will be able to meet other Tandem folk, try out Tandem speed chats (such as Spanish-English, Arabic-English, Chinese-English, and just English), learn about Tandem Plus, and enjoy food and refreshments from Wally's Falafel in Dinkytown, courtesy of a generous Community Building Grant from ISSS. It's a great way to start the semester!

Summary of January and February 2015 Language Center Events

TandemPlus Spring Kick-off & Orientation Rescheduled for February 4

Do you know students who want to be bilingual or bicultural? If so, tell them about the Language Center's TandemPlus program, which matches people who are learning each other's native languages for a one-semester exchange of language and culture. Spring Registration will open soon at Anyone who is learning a second language is welcome to register, and participants who registered last semester and want a new (or additional) partner should re-register again this semester.

TandemPlus Spring Kick-off and Orientation Event has been rescheduled for Wednesday, February 4, 2015 from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m., location TBA. The event is open to all TandemPlus registrants as well as interested students and community members. At the event, participants will be able to meet other Tandem folk, try out Tandem speed chats (such as Spanish-English, Arabic-English, Chinese-English, and just English), learn about Tandem Plus, and enjoy free snacks and refreshments. It's a great way to start the semester!

TandemPlus Punch Pizza Party

TandemPlus had its third and final get-together of the semester on Wednesday, December 3rd at Punch Pizza in Stadium Village. This event was extra special thanks to generous funding from an Innovative Community Building Grant from ISSS, which allowed Tandem to buy lots of pizza and pop (or "soda" if you're not from Minnesota) for the more than 50 participants who came with their partners or solo to chow down on Neapolitan style pizza and escape the frigid winter. It was a rare and wonderful thing to have speakers and learners of English, Spanish, German, Portuguese, Russian, Japanese, Arabic, Chinese, Korean, and French gathered together sharing pizza and conversing in multiple languages, and a great time was had by all.


TandemPlus will open registration for Spring Semester in late January. Have a great Winter Break!

Summary of December 2014 Language Center Events

TandemPlus Punch Pizza on December 3

Tandem will hold its third and final Fall Semester event on Wednesday, December 3, 2014 from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m. at Punch Pizza in Stadium Village.

All current TandemPlus participants (partnered or not) are invited. Tandem will provide the first round of pizza and drinks, so come early! Join us with your partners or come alone for pizza, conversation, and camaraderie.

For more information about the Punch Party, contact Tandem at

This event is partially funded by an Innovative Community Building Grant sponsored by ISSS.

TandemPlus Bowling: Scoring a Strike!

On Friday, October 24, 2014, TandemPlus held its second get-together of the semester -- a bowling party at Goldy's Gameroom in Coffman Union. About 50 people attended this event and discussed the different ways to say "strike" and "7-10 split" in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Japanese, Korean, and Spanish, while savoring the untranslatable flavor of Goldy's tater tots and onion rings.

Join TandemPlus for our third and final event of the semester on Wednesday, December 3 from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m. for the ever-popular Punch Pizza Party at Punch Pizza in Stadium Village. Like all TandemPlus events, this is open to all Tandem participants, paired and unpaired.

TandemPlus Bowling Night at Goldy's Gameroom

Go bowling with TandemPlus on Friday, October 24, 2014, starting at 3:30 p.m. at Goldy's Gameroom in Coffman Memorial Union.

All current TandemPlus participants (partnered or not) are welcome to come. Bowling shoes are free, and TandemPlus will provide some appetizers and will pay for the first game.

Join us, chat with new and old friends in your first and second languages, chow on snacks, and knock down some pins!

For more information about the Bowling Night or registration, contact Tandem at

TandemPlus Kicks Off!

TandemPlus is off to a great start this fall. The orientation kick-off event on September 24, 2014 was quite a success. With around 60 participants, the event was lively, fun, and many languages could be heard at once, including English, Arabic, Korean, Norwegian, Spanish, and Portuguese. Participants met new friends, played games, shared stories, snacked on food, and learned more about the program.

Get ready for more Fall events! TandemPlus is hosting a bowling night at Goldy's Gameroom on October 24 from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m., and a pizza party at Punch in Stadium Village on December 3 from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m. Look for more information about these events in upcoming issues of ElsieTalk, or check the TandemPlus website.

TandemPlus registration for Fall Semester closes this Friday, October 10, so anyone interested in a second-language conversation partner should register soon.

TandemPlus Fall 2014 Registration & Kick Off

Student registration for TandemPlus is now open! With the beginning of a new school year come new opportunities for language partnerships. This semester there are some exciting developments happening with TandemPlus.

  • There are a large number of Portuguese speakers on campus this year who are seeking native English partners for exchange; Portuguese learners are needed!
  • It is now mandatory for Arabic learners to participate in Tandem -- Arabic speakers are virtually guaranteed a partner.

To register, sign up at

Also, Tandem will hold its Fall Semester Kick Off on Wednesday, September 24, from 3:30-5:00 p.m. in Nolte 140. Everyone is invited to come learn about Tandem, play language games, enjoy refreshments, and meet other language learners.

For more information about the Kick Off or registration, contact Tandem at

TandemPlus Punch Pizza Event

The party at Punch Pizza in Stadium Village on July 22, 2014 was a great success. Thank you to everyone who showed up and dug in on the food and conversation. More than 35 people came to partake and share in their first and second languages. Eight languages could be heard spoken at any given time: Portuguese, Spanish, Japanese, German, English, Korean, Arabic and Chinese. The gathering made for a wonderful mix of people and cultures! Below are a few insights from Tandem participants who made it to the event.

"I really enjoyed that it was a group event. We got to meet more people than just our partner."
"Here I can meet a lot of people, and since my partner is not yet in the U.S. I can enjoy spending time with them."

Tandem would also like to thank Punch Pizza for once again hosting our large group and providing delicious wood-fired pizzas, salads, and drinks. Stay posted for upcoming Tandem events!

The Heat is On: Cool Off, Get Up and Chow Down with TandemPlus

TandemPlus is off to a great start this summer with 133 participants; we have record number of Portuguese, Chinese, Korean and English partners! Registration will close Friday, July 18, so register ASAP if you haven't already done so.

TandemPlus will be hosting its first event on Tuesday, July 22 from 3:30 - 5:00 p.m. at Punch Pizza in Stadium Village near the University campus. All current summer TandemPlus participants are invited to come and enjoy pizza and soft drinks for an opportunity to talk in your first and second languages. TandemPlus will cover the first round of pizza, so come early to get it free. Participants should email to let us know you will be there.

See the menu at Punch Pizza!

TandemPlus Summer Registration Now Open

Summer registration opened on June 16, 2014 for TandemPlus, the Language Center's free, voluntary cultural and conversation exchange program. Anyone who wants a second-language conversation partner is encouraged to join. Matching of participants will begin soon, and we'll announce our summer events soon as well.

Tandem Plus for Summer: Small but Vibrant!

Language instructors: The TandemPlus will open registration for Summer Semester on Monday, June 16, 2014. The summer program is small but incredibly diverse, so please encourage your language students to register, even if they have tried and have not been paired before.

Registration will open online at the TandemPlus registration site.

Also, we welcome Jonathan Prestrud as the summer TandemPlus assistant. Jonathan has worked in Classroom Support at the Language Center since Fall 2013 and is currently helping with TandemPlus is addition to his Classroom Support duties.

Language Center Staff Graduations!

After this spring semester, five long-term Language Center employees will complete their undergraduate programs. All of them held unique positions in our department and made valuable contributions to language education at the University of Minnesota. Please join us in congratulating the following graduates, and wishing them the best in their future endeavors!

Will Benton, Classroom Support Assistant, will graduate with a Bachelor's degree in Individualized Studies, focusing on Chinese, Business and the History of Technology. After graduation he hopes to make his way to China and teach English while becoming more fluent in Mandarin.

Mackenzie (Kenzie) Haws, Multimedia Lab Lead Student through Fall 2013, will graduate with a Bachelor's degree in Supply Chain and Operations with minors in International Business and Spanish Studies. This August, Kenzie will move to Nashville, Tennessee to begin working in a plant for General Mills. Before her move, she plans to spend time with her family in Chicago and enjoy country music concerts.

Anna Kaminski, TandemPlus and World Languages Day Assistant, will graduate with a Bachelor's degree in both Art and Global Studies with a triple minor in Art History, Asian Languages and Literature, and Social Justice. She plans on continuing to make art over the next year and remain in academia by eventually pursuing a PhD in either Art History or Philosophy.

Saoirse McMahon, Main Office Assistant and Elsie Speaks Editor, will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. She will continue working at Fraser with children with special needs and hopes to obtain a position working in clinical mental health then pursue graduate school to become a therapist.

Alaina Witt, AV Assistant, will graduate with a Bachelor's degree in Korean Language and Literature and a minor in Linguistics. She will continue working in the AV Studio throughout the summer. She hopes to teach in Korea this upcoming academic year before returning to the U.S. to attend graduate school.

Spring in to Annie's Parlour with TandemPlus

Spring (and Spring Jam) is almost here -- celebrate one day early with TandemPlus! On Wednesday, April 23, from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m., TandemPlus will hold its final event of the semester at Annie's Parlour in Dinkytown. All current TandemPlus participants are invited to come and enjoy fries, malts and more while conversing in their first and second languages. TandemPlus will cover the cost of the first round of appetizers; come early to get the free snacks. Participants who want to attend should email to let us know you'll be there.

Congratulations to the 2014 SELPie Winners

Did you know that the Language Center employs approximately twice as many undergraduate student staff as continuing non-student staff? Our undergraduate student staff provide primary assistance to students and instructors in public areas like the Main Office and Multimedia Lab, and provide Classroom Support for our four classrooms. In addition, undergraduate students play a vital role on the following teams: Dev Studio, TandemPlus, Technical Support, Testing, Instructional (Moodle) and World Languages Day. The Language Center could not run without our dedicated and skilled undergraduate team members.

The Student Employee Leadership Program (SELP) provides an opportunity to recognize student employees who go above and beyond expectations in their work at the university through the annual SELPie awards for Outstanding Student Employees. Award winners will be honored Wednesday, April 23, 2014, 3:30 - 5:00 p.m. in McNamara Alumni Center, Memorial Hall.

The 2014 winners from the Language Center are:

TandemPlus Spring Partnership Highlight

For Katia Paz and Sangho Yun, meeting twice a week for coffee, Korean and English conversation is just a part of their routine. Every Monday and Friday, Paz, a freshman from St. Cloud studying nursing and Korean, and Yun, a PhD student from Seoul, South Korea studying electrical engineering, meet at a campus Starbucks for their TandemPlus language exchange.

At their meetings they speak half of the time in Korean and half of the time in English and both help each other to improve their language. Paz feels that she can comfortably ask Yun language questions and ask for clarifications on grammatical concepts, while Yun feels that Paz helps him by correcting mispronunciation of English words. They often talk about cultural, social, and political differences and both feel they have gained crucial cultural insight over the past few months. In addition, both participants feel that their confidence has greatly improved in speaking their second languages. Paz feels that due to her growing confidence she is "more vocal in class." Both students share the goal of using their second languages in a future career; Paz hopes to work at a base in Korea, and Yun hopes to use English regularly in a career for multinational technology company. Both participants feel that Tandem language exchanges are essential to improving their language.

The Enduring Spirit of Labor Featuring the Art of Anna Kaminski

TandemPlus and World Languages Day Assistant Anna Kaminski will exhibit and participate in a public lecture on April 23, 2014 at 6:00 p.m. at Regis Center for Art. The exhibition called The Enduring Spirit of Labor speaks to injustices rampant in labor industries and services and celebrates the struggle against systemic forces of injustice. Anna and other artists featured in the exhibition have worked collaboratively and individually on projects that speak to deeper dimensions of human rights violations in labor industries, challenging participants to consider elements of injustice existing beyond physical and explicit violence.

The Public Program for The Enduring Spirit of Labor will feature artist introductions and a discussion led by Anna Meteyer, Anna Kaminski, and Lindsay Keating. The discussion will highlight the role of artistic advocacy in social justice, the critical need to fuse art and political activism, and the advantages--and challenges--of incorporating interdisciplinary work into the fine arts. A Public Reception with the artists and curators will follow.

Summary of March Language Center Events

TandemPlus Pre-Spring Pizza Party

It's the week before Spring Break. Your language students hungry and their second-language skills are depleted after midterms; what can they do? Tell them to refresh themselves at the TandemPlus Spring Pizza Party on Wednesday, March 12 from 3:30 - 5:00 at Punch Pizza in Stadium Village! Like all Tandem events, the pizza party is open to all TandemPlus registrants as well as interested students and community members. There will be many great opportunities to practice one's language of study and maybe even dabble in learning a new one! We'll provide the pizza -- you provide the conversation!

Game Night at the Language Center: Seeking Suggestions!

The Language Center hopes to host a regular game night where students can gather, use the target language, and enjoy playing board, card, or video games with friends new and old.

We're seeking suggestions from students and instructors as to which games they'd like to see available at these events, and also looking for volunteers to help us plan.

Both international games and U.S. games that can be modified to encourage speaking would be appropriate. Please share your ideas by filling out this short form. Please note that games must not be rated "M for Mature," and should not be violent.

Interested in learning more? Read this IALLT article about selecting video games for use in language learning.

TandemPlus Kicked Off With Style

On Tuesday, February 11, TandemPlus held its Spring Kickoff Event in Nolte Hall. More than 40 attendees came to check out the new Tandem registration system, enjoy refreshments, and most importantly meet other Tandem participants to engage in multilingual conversation circles. The biggest groups were Korean-English and Arabic-English, reflecting the growing numbers of learners and native speakers of those languages on campus. Also, an enthusiastic, multi-national French-English group conversed, along with a large Chinese-English group.

Spring registration for TandemPlus will close on Friday, February 28, so tell your students who are interested to sign up soon at

TandemPlus Spring Kick-Off and Registration Reminder

On Tuesday, February 11, TandemPlus will host the Spring Kick-off and Orientation Event from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. in Nolte 140. The event is open to all TandemPlus registrants as well as interested students and community members. At the event, participants will be able to meet other Tandem folk, try out some Tandem Speed chats (such as Spanish-English, Arabic-English, Chinese-English, and just English), learn about Tandem Plus and the self-matching feature, and enjoy free snacks and refreshments.

TandemPlus is still in need of students of Arabic and Chinese so don't forget to register and make it to the event if you can! See you Tuesday!

TandemPlus Spring Kickoff & Orientation

We are excited to announce that on Tuesday, February 11, TandemPlus will host the Spring Kick-off and Orientation Event from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. in Nolte 140. The event is open to all TandemPlus registrants as well as interested students and community members. At the event, participants will be able to meet other Tandem folk, try out some Tandem Speed chats (such as Spanish-English, Arabic-English, Chinese-English, and just English), learn about Tandem Plus and the self-matching feature, and enjoy free snacks and refreshments. Everyone is invited!

Language instructors: Are you interested in learning about telecollaboration, or "class to class" virtual exchanges between students in different countries who are learning each other's native language? If so, you will be interested in this talk. Catherine Clements from the Language Center and Ginny Steinhagen from the German, Scandinavian and Dutch Department will present "Telecollaboration: Trials, Tribulations, and Triumphs" at a CARLA seminar on Tuesday, February 11, from 12:20-1:10 p.m in 140 Nolte. The presentation will examine best practices for establishing, arranging, and maintaining telecollaborations with complementary universities around the globe, and will provide ideas and guidelines for instructors who are interested in starting a telecollaboration. Come and find out more about this exciting and evolving topic.

Beth Kautz on Professional Leave Spring 2014

Beth Kautz has been awarded a P&A Professional Development Leave by the College of Liberal Arts during spring semester 2014. Beth will divide her time between a writing project and traveling in Germany. During the first part of the semester, she will focus on writing a book chapter for a forthcoming volume: "Exploring Environmental and Sustainability Issues in the Intermediate-level Foreign Language Curriculum." Content-Based Foreign Language Teaching: Curriculum and Pedagogy for Developing Advanced Thinking and Literacy Skills. Ed. Laurent Cammarata. Routledge, Forthcoming.

During her 6-week trip to Germany, she will be networking with colleagues, visiting many secondary and post-secondary institutions (a curricular focus in German 1003), and absorbing as much as possible about current events related to sustainability and Germany's transition to renewable energies or "die Energiewende." Major stops along the way include: attending the annual conference of the Fachverband Deutsch als Fremdsprache (Association of German as a Second Language) at the University of Münster, shadowing two undergraduates (her niece and nephew) at the University of Leipzig, meeting with the Tandem coordinator at the Leuphana University in Lüneburg, with whom Beth has successfully carried out Skype exchanges with German 3011 and 1003 students the past several years, and finally attending a two-day event "Nachhaltigkeit: Wirtschaftsbremse oder Zukunftschance" (Sustainability: Economic Constraint or Opportunity for the Future) at the University of Applied Sciences in Mainz.

She will return to the CLA Language Center and GSD on May 19th, just in time to teach her Green Germany class at World Languages Day 2014!

TandemPlus Spring Registration is Open Now

Are you becoming bilingual or bicultural? If so, TandemPlus is for you. The TandemPlus program matches people who are learning each other's native languages for a one-semester exchange of language and culture, and Spring Registration is open now.

The newly-renovated Tandem software allows participants to view and self-match with other compatible language partners, create persistent accounts and update their own information, and more. Register at

TandemPlus Turkey Bowl


On Friday, November 22, TandemPlus hosted the TandemPlus Turkey Bowl at Goldy's Gameroom in Coffman Union. In the Thanksgiving-themed Turkey Bowl, participants tried to bowl three strikes in a row (referred to as a "turkey"). Anyone who bowled a turkey would win a plush turkey prize from Goldy's

Although none of the participants managed to bowl a turkey, everyone had fun bowling and talking with each other about language and culture, and getting a crash-course in bowling-related second-language vocabulary.

This was the final Fall semester TandemPlus event. Stay tuned for more information about Spring registration and Spring TandemPlus events!

Interested in Telecollaborating Next Semester?

Attention, language teachers: do you want your students to have virtual language partners who are native speakers of the languages they're learning? Would you like them to learn from their partners while negotiating language meaning in both their first and second languages? Would you like them to have an unforgettable and fun language experience in your class? If so, consider trying a Tandem exchange next semester. Whether you call it telecollaborating, a class-to-class exchange, teletandem, or something else, the concept is the same: domestic language students get paired with university students in a different country who are native speakers of the target language (for instance, students in a French class at the U of M would be paired with students in an English class in France), and the students converse in their first and second languages to learn more about their partner's language and culture. TandemPlus can find a complementary language class for your students at a partner university in another country, arrange the partnership, provide support for you, and even provide activities. If you'd like more information, e-mail us at

Join TandemPlus for Turkey Bowl!

The TandemPlus Culture and Conversation Program will host Bowling Night on Friday, November 22 at Goldy's Gameroom in Coffman Union from 4:30-6:30 p.m. The event is open to all TandemPlus participants, both paired and unpaired. TandemPlus will cover the cost of games and it is Free Shoe Friday. As an added bonus, it is Turkey Bowl at Goldy's, meaning if you bowl 8 pins with no tap, you win a plush turkey, or other prizes. Join us for fun, food, plush turkeys and foreign languages!

Parlez-Vous Pizza?

TandemPlus hosted a Pizza Social at Punch Pizza in Minneapolis on Tuesday, October 29. This event, which was attended by approximately 60 TandemPlus participants, provided language learners with an opportunity to use their first and second language skills while enjoying free pizza and beverages.

Native Spanish speaker Malca Garavito commented, "It's nice being here because you have the opportunity to listen to native English speakers, or people who speak the language you're practicing, so you get used to it.

Native English speaker Chris Senn said, "I'm really happy I found someone who can help me with my Chinese."

The next (and final) TandemPlus event of the semester, which is open to all participants (both partnered and unpartnered) will be bowling at Goldy's Game Room in Coffman Union on either November 21 or 22; stay tuned for more details.

TandemPlus Upcoming Event

The next TandemPlus event is scheduled for Tuesday, October 29 from 3:30-5:30 p.m. at Punch Pizza in Stadium Village. Attendees can get to know other TandemPlus participants and use their first and second languages while enjoying pizza and beverages, courtesy of Punch and TandemPlus. This event is open to anyone who is registered for TandemPlus this semester. If you'd like to attend, please email to join the guest list.

Also, TandemPlus registration for the Fall semester ended on Friday, October 18. Thank you for your continuing participation and support! Stay tuned for updates about Fall events, and Spring registration.

TandemPlus Past and Upcoming Events

The TandemPlus Conversation Program hosts several events throughout the semester which allow language learners to meet each other, use their second- and first-language skills, and enjoy refreshments in a fun, casual environment. We hosted our initial kickoff event on Friday, September 27, when about 60 people met and played multilingual games such as "2 Truths and a Lie" in two (or more) languages.

Our next event is scheduled for Tuesday, October 29 from 3:30-5:30 p.m. at Punch Pizza in Stadium Village. Attendees can get to know other TandemPlus participants and use their first and second languages while enjoying a snack of pizza and beverages, courtesy of Punch and TandemPlus. This event is open to anyone who's registered for TandemPlus this semester; if you'd like to attend, please send email to get on the guest list.

Updated: On and Near Campus Conversation Groups Fall 2013

Thank you to everyone who informed us of new conversation groups (or ones that were new to us). Please see an updated list below. It now includes Chinese and Dutch, and a new time for the Finnish group.

  • Chinese: Chinese Tea Hour - Fridays 3:30 -4:30 p.m. in Folwell 4
  • Dutch: Koffieuurtje - Fridays 1:15-2:15 p.m. at Bordertown Coffee
  • Finnish: keskustelutunti - Fridays 11:15-12:15 p.m. at Bordertown Coffee
  • French: French Café - Thursdays 6 p.m. at Bordertown Coffee
  • German: Kaffeestunde - Fridays, 1:15-2:15 p.m. in Folwell 317
  • Italian: Ciao! - Tuesdays 4-5 p.m. at Bordertown Coffee
  • Japanese: J Café - Fridays 2-4 p.m. at Nolte Dining Room
  • Korean: Korean Café - Wednesdays 12:15-1:00 p.m. in Folwell 113
  • Norwegian: Norwegian Coffee Hour - Fridays 12-1 p.m. at Nolte Center Dining Room
  • Spanish: SPACO - Thursdays 4-6 p.m. at Bordertown Coffee
  • Swedish: "fika" with Den Svenska Klubben - Wednesdays, 4:30-5:30 p.m. at Bordertown Coffee
  • Swedish: Swedish Coffee Hour - Fridays 11-12 p.m. at Nolte Dining Room

In addition to conversation groups, TandemPlus can be a great resource for students to practice their speaking and listening skills. In the case of the following languages, we currently have more native speakers seeking partners than we do learners: Arabic, Chinese, Korean. If you are learning one of these languages, you are very likely to find a native speaker partner on campus.

If you would like to use a variety of languages in a fun, informal setting try the Small World Coffee Hour every other Friday.

To become more deeply involved with a language at the University, join a language-related student group.

Any groups we missed? Email so we can help spread the word!

On and Near Campus Conversation Groups Fall 2013

Practice your speaking skills on campus or at a nearby business this semester. Below is a list of language-specific opportunities for students.

  • Finnish: keskustelutunti - Fridays 12-1 p.m. at Bordertown Coffee
  • French: French Café - Thursdays 6 p.m. at Bordertown Coffee
  • German: Kaffeestunde - Fridays, 1:15-2:15 p.m. in Folwell 317
  • Italian: Ciao! - Tuesdays 4-5 p.m. at at Bordertown Coffee
  • Japanese: J Café - Fridays 2-4 p.m. at Nolte Dining Room
  • Korean: Korean Café - Wednesdays 12:15-1:00 p.m. in Folwell 113
  • Norwegian: Norwegian Coffee Hour - Fridays 12-1 p.m. at Nolte Center Dining Room
  • Spanish: SPACO - Thursdays 4-6 p.m. at Bordertown Coffee
  • Swedish: "fika" with Den Svenska Klubben - Wednesdays, 4:30-5:30 p.m. at Bordertown Coffee
  • Swedish: Swedish Coffee Hour - Fridays 11-12 p.m. at Nolte Dining Room

If you would like to use a variety of languages in a fun, informal setting try the Small World Coffee Hour every other Friday.

To become more deeply involved with a language at the University, join a language-related student group.

Any groups we missed? Email so we can help spread the word!

TandemPlus: Orientation

TandemPlus will hold its Fall Orientation on Friday, September 27 from 3:30-5:00 p.m. in 28 Folwell. This event is open to everyone who has registered for Tandem or is thinking about registering. Refreshments and language games will be provided; come and meet other participants, use your second-language skills, and have fun! E-mail us at for more information about orientation or registration.

TandemPlus: Register Now, Have Fun at Orientation Later

TandemPlus registration is open for Fall semester. Everyone at the University is invited to join the program for a one-semester partnership of language and culture exchange. This semester, the software used for registration and pairing is brand-new, and participants will find many options for forming and maintaining their partnerships. Register today at

Also, TandemPlus will hold its Fall Orientation on Friday, September 27 from 3:30-5:00 p.m. (location TBA). This event is open to everyone who's registered for Tandem or is thinking about registering. Refreshments and language games will be provided; come and meet other participants, use your second-language skills, and have fun! E-mail us at for more information about orientation or registration.

World Languages Day - Please Welcome Anna

Please welcome back Anna Kaminski to the Language Center. She will serve as the new World Languages Day Assistant. Anna says:

I am excited to start working on planning this important annual event at the U of M and work to make it the best WLD yet! After a year studying Arabic in Amman, Jordan, it is great to be back in Minneapolis and at the University of Minnesota. Prior to my year abroad studying at the Middlebury School in the Middle East, I worked both in the Main Office as well as in the TandemPlus program. I feel that these positions prepared for the large organizational task of planning WLD and hopefully this year will see lots of positive growth and changes. It's great to be back!

TandemPlus Registration Now Open!

TandemPlus registration is open for Fall semester. Those who have registered previously for a second-language partner with TandemPlus will notice that the registration form looks completely different this fall. However, the form is not the only thing that has changed -- the entire TandemPlus software system is new. The Language Center team has worked with CLA-OIT to create a powerful, dynamic TandemPlus software that allows users the ability to create and edit their own accounts, see other participants who are possible language partner matches (and extend partnership invitations to those participants), keep track of the hours they've spent on their partnership, leave feedback for TandemPlus staff, and much more. It's all part of our effort to make TandemPlus -- and second language studies overall -- fit into students' busy lives. To view the software, or to register for TandemPlus, go to

TandemPlus Summer Survey

The results are in from Tandem's Summer Survey!

  • 81% of respondents reported hearing about TandemPlus in class or from a friend. Clearly word of mouth is working out well for TandemPlus.
  • 69% of respondents reported meeting with their partner one or more times a week.
  • Of those participants who did not meet regularly, 70% said this was due to them, or their partner, being too busy to meet.
  • Meetings were fairly long on average, as 75% of respondents stated that their meetings lasted between one and three hours per meeting.

All respondents stated improvements in speaking and listening, as well as vocabulary, confidence using the language, and cultural understanding. There were no reports of negative interactions with Tandem Staff. All in all, this summer leaves TandemPlus with a sunny outlook!

TandemPlus Summer Update

The TandemPlus summer session is coming to an end. With the registration for summer now closed, and virtually all possible matches completed, Tandem matched 63% of interested students, and served a total of 149 participants. The most commonly matched languages were English & Spanish and English & Japanese.

The most common partner requests were English speakers seeking Spanish speakers, Chinese speakers seeking English speakers, and Arabic speakers seeking English speakers. Unfortunately, few Arabic language students registered this summer, although we did see an increase in Chinese language learners. We hope to see this number increase in the coming year. In other words, if you are learning Arabic or Chinese, please sign up for TandemPlus!

TandemPlus Event: Summer Pizza Social

On Wednesday, July 3, 2013, TandemPlus hosted its summer event, a Pizza Social. The event was cozy and personable with approximately ten attendees. Guests broke into two groups and exchanged friendly conversation about cultural differences and the difficulty of learning a new alphabet. Everyone enjoyed lunch from Mesa Pizza and lemonade.

Congratulations Kate and Welcome Baby Boy Knisley!


Congratulations to Kate Clements and family, and welcome Baby Boy Knisley who arrived Monday, June 24 around 9 am, weighing 7 lb 14 oz.

Kate will be on leave for the next eight weeks. In her absence, please refer TandemPlus questions to Bri Lopez or email, and Lab questions to Meghan McFadden or email


TandemPlus Summer Session Registration Now Open

Registration for the TandemPlus summer session opened Monday, June 17, 2013. You can register at the TandemPlus site. To increase your chances of being paired with a second language partner, sign up as soon as possible. Being open with your preferences (e.g., not having a preference as to what gender or age your partner is) also increases your chances of being paired.

Cold Nose, Warm Onion Rings

TandemPlus's final event for the spring semester was an Ice Cream Social held at Annie's Parlour in Dinkytown on Friday, May 3. Due to the cold, snowy weather, Tandem provided the 25+ attendees with hot appetizers like french fries and onion rings, and many participants shared malts with their friends.

Participants at the event discussed academics, student life, plus their experiences with Tandem. Student Sean Nelson, who is in a Japanese-English Tandem partnership, said: "The events put on by TandemPlus ... have opened up new connections between people who are learning the same language as me along with other people who are learning different languages. They've also contributed to my understanding of how interconnected languages can be. Speaking with the Chinese students along with students who are learning Chinese, has taught me how certain things in Japan have come to be. It has also taught me certain differences between the Chinese characters used in Japanese compared to the Chinese characters used in China."

We're thrilled that Sean and other students have gotten so much out of the events, and look forward to hosting more TandemPlus events again starting in Fall.

Click on <, > or o to view additional pictures.

TandemPlus: Connecting Cultures and Communities through Communication

Anyone who's studied second language knows the difficulties. One is the discrepancy between book-learning and real-life language use; for example, the dialogues in second-language textbooks are scripted and complete, but real-life dialogues are full of false starts, interruptions, and other complications which are notoriously hard to negotiate on the fly. Also daunting are the cultural differences involved; ways of saying "How are you?" can vary one from one country to the next, even in those speaking the same language. Also, to attain true linguistic fluency, extensive and frequent conversation with native speakers of the language is required. Fortunately, a program exists at the University of Minnesota that allows participants to gain experience in all these areas, without leaving campus or even spending any money.

The TandemPlus cultural and conversation exchange program offers University of Minnesota students and community members the opportunity to use their second language skills with native speakers of the languages that they are learning. TandemPlus has different facets, including the Face-to-Face (F2F) Exchanges and the Class-to-Class (C2C) Exchanges.

The most popular facet is the F2F program, in which individual students voluntarily enroll because they want to improve their second-language skills. After registering on-line and being matched by Tandem staff based on their personal and linguistic preferences, participants meet with one another in person on or around campus on a regular basis. These partnerships often grow into strong friendships. U of M student Sean Nelson, who participated in a Japanese-English F2F exchange during the Spring 2013 semester, stated,

Tandem has helped more than I would have ever imagined. I initially didn't know what I'd gain from a Tandem partner, but it has become such an amazing experience. I have become very comfortable with speaking Japanese, my listening comprehension has improved tremendously and my cultural understanding has improved greatly.

According to Nelson, his F2F partnership has also increased his vocabulary, helped him improve his performance in class, and more:

Along with all that, I've gained an amazing friend. I've gained experiences and information I don't feel I would have ever been taught in class. It has also helped prepare me for studying abroad this summer. And finally, it has connected me to the Japanese community at the University. Without my Tandem partner, I would have never thought about signing up to join the board of the Japanese Student Association, where I am now an officer and love every second of it.


While the F2F program is individual and voluntary, the C2C program is done in conjunction with a language class at the University. In it, students are paired with a partner in a complementary language class abroad -- for example, students in a Spanish class at the U of M could be paired with students in an English class in Spain. Students communicate with each other in their first and second languages, using Skype or another on-line medium, and learn about different cultures while utilizing their language skills. Rick Treece is a French instructor at the U of M whose students have participated in C2C exchanges for several semesters. According to Treece, the program offers some great incentives for U of M students:

I liked the idea of giving my students authentic contact with native speakers their own age. The experience would be motivational from two standpoints: showing them how much they can really achieve in French already, and showing them what they need to work on in order to be more successful. The chances for cross-cultural insights (which is a big element of our French 1004 curriculum) was also attractive.
Treece pointed out that the opportunity did not come without challenges:
The mismatch of the academic calendars is a hassle. When we're putting together our Fall syllabus, the French are on vacation; they're not at work answering their emails, and even when they do reply, they don't know their enrollments or perhaps even their course assignments yet. The delay between the start of our Spring semesters is even worse, so that we end up with only about 5 weeks of course-time in common in the Spring, once you take out Spring Breaks, etc. The solution is just that we've learned to be flexible, to plan based on expectations, and then adjust in midstream.

Despite the challenges that came with the program, the benefits far outweighed the cost, according to Treece. He noted that while a "handful of students found it frustrating, even negative," the majority of his students had "pleasant and cordial" exchanges, and that some even had "life-changing experiences," such as the opportunity to visit their partner overseas.

All in all, TandemPlus is a free program that offers the potential for increased linguistic fluency, greater cultural awareness, or even a life-changing experience. The F2F program operates during all semesters of the academic year, including Summer, while the C2C program operates mainly during the academic year. Students or instructors who want to learn how to participate in these exchanges should get in touch with TandemPlus at

Upcoming Participants' Choice Event ... and the Winner is: Ice Cream!

TandemPlus will hold its final get-together on the afternoon of Friday, May 3, 2013. The theme of this final event was decided on by Tandem participants, who overwhelmingly voted for an ice cream social. Participants will meet at Annie's Parlour at 313 14th Avenue SE in Dinkytown at 3:30 pm. We've reserved a private room for the event, which is open to all current TandemPlus registrants.

The event is limited to 40 people. If you are interested in attending, please email to join the guest list.

TandemPlus Spring Pizza Party is a Success!

TandemPlus hosted its second pizza party of the year on Friday, April 5th. The Spring Pizza Party was enjoyed by all who attended. The event lasted from 4 pm to roughly 5:30 pm, with approximately 35 Tandem participants in attendance. Punch Pizza graciously offered free drinks and Tandem provided about two rounds of free pizza to those who attended. Participants had a great time chatting with one another about language and culture, as well as playing games of 20 Questions.

Click on <, > or o to view additional pictures.

New this Semester: TandemPlus Care Packages, just for you

This semester, TandemPlus has been sending out e-mail Care Packages as a helpful guide for language exchanges. In the past, participants have had trouble navigating various aspects of their exchanges, such as thinking of topics appropriate for discussion in a language exchange, finding good meeting places, and handling communication problems that might arise. The weekly Care Packages are meant to help with these issues, since they contain tips, advice, reminders, and ideas for new conversation topics and meeting places. Participants have found them to be helpful in getting started and continuing with their new language partnership. If you have any ideas or suggestions about topics for future Care Packages, please let the TandemPlus staff know at

As an example, here is the first Care Package we sent to participants during the first week of the Spring program.

Week 1:   Before Getting Matched -- Judge Your Level

How do you rate your own language level? Knowing this will help you decide what you should discuss with your partner and what skills you should try to improve.

If you are a beginner, you can:

  • Say a few things, but get stuck frequently, either because you don't have the vocabulary or you don't always know how to communicate in sentences.
  • Reproduce memorized chunks of language, but in controlled conversations.
  • Understand some basic questions/comments on personalized topics, but you need the speaker to repeat himself/herself quite often.
  • Give personal information: your name and age, where you're from, talk a little about your family
  • List your classes, and some of your likes and dislikes (interests, foods),
  • List objects (things in your house or things you need for school), colors, months, seasons

You are at an intermediate level if you:

  • Can carry on a simple conversation, especially on concrete topics such as home, family, work, school, and leisure time.
  • Your sentences may not always be grammatically correct, but you can usually communicate your intended message.
  • In everyday conversations with native speakers, when they speak slowly, you can usually get the gist of what is being said (even if you miss a word or a phrase)

You are at an advanced level if you:

  • Say just about anything you need to say. If you don't know a word, you can get around it with the vocabulary you have
  • Participate in conversations on a wide variety of topics, both personal and more general or abstract
  • Understand most if not all of what a native speaker says. If you don't understand, you have the language to ask for clarification.

In general, the lower your language skills, the more you will need to prepare for your Tandem exchange. You can do this by going over vocabulary in advance and prioritizing what you want to work on most, i.e. listening skills, pronunciation, or vocabulary. When you have assessed your own language level, you can decide what you'd like to work on in your exchanges.

If you are a beginner, you have many options. You can:

  • Practice pronunciation of common phrases
  • Learn new vocabulary
  • Learn about the target culture (in your first or your second language)

Most intermediate level learners can:

  • Extend and build vocabulary, especially for familiar or frequently-used topics or items
  • Learn about the diversity of cultures in the country/countries that speak the target language
  • Perfect use of simple verb tenses, and work on becoming more comfortable using complex tenses (present perfect, past perfect, conditional, subjunctive) or cases
  • Improve ability to talk about a topic for several sentences (1 paragraph)

Many advanced level learners can:

  • Learn idiomatic expressions
  • Learn about dialectical differences that exist within the language
  • Perfect grammar, including complex verb tenses and less-commonly-used cases
  • Become comfortable expressing hypothetical situations
  • Improve ability to converse about a topic at length (over the course of several paragraphs)
  • Develop your ability to speak and write in different registers, i.e., formally or informally, and to people of different social status

For more information about proficiency, see the ACTFL proficiency guidelines.

TandemPlus Bowling Night - A huge success!

Last Friday, March 1, TandemPlus hosted a Bowling Night in Goldy's Gameroom. The event lasted from 3:30-5:30 PM and drew a crowd of approximately 25-30 people, who spoke languages including Japanese, Chinese, Arabic, Russian, Malay, Farsi, Portuguese and English. It was such a hit that participants continued bowling and conversing long after the free bowling period ended! Many participants made new friendships and learned about many different cultures and ways of life. The next TandemPlus event will take place Friday, April 5. Stay tuned for more details.

TandemPlus: A record number of individual matches for Spring

Spring registration for TandemPlus is now closed, and we are thrilled to have such a large group of participants. This semester, 586 people registered, including many students from universities overseas, including Mexico, Russia, China, and France. Notable this semester is the large number of non-English Tandem pairings, including some Portuguese-French exchanges, Chinese-Korean exchanges, and Chinese-Japanese exchanges. Summer registration will open in May.

On-Campus Language and Conversation Group Meetings for Spring 2013

Here are some resources for students looking to practice their language skills in a friendly environment on campus. Please email if you are aware of other groups missing from this list.

Language Name Place Date & Time Additional Information
Finnish keskustelutunti Bordertown Coffee* Friday
12-1 pm
French French Café Bordertown Coffee Thursday
6 pm
All levels welcome
German Kaffeestunde Folwell 317 Friday
All levels welcome
Italian Ciao! Bordertown Coffee Wednesday
6-7 p.m
Japanese J Café Nolte Restaurant (Basement) Friday
2-4 p.m.
Korean Korean Café Folwell 113 Wednesday
Bring your lunch! Meet for fun & conversation.
Norwegian Norwegian Coffee Hour Nolte Restaurant Friday
12-1 pm
Spanish SPACO Bordertown Coffee Thursday
4-6 p.m.
On March 7 and April 4 Conversation hours will be in the Library Room from 4-5 and then moved to the main part of Bordertown from 5-6 p.m.
Swedish "fika" with Den Svenska Klubben Bordertown Coffee 2 Mondays a month
Swedish Swedish Coffee Hour Nolte Restaurant Friday
12-1 pm

Students who would like to use a variety of languages in a fun, informal setting should visit Small World Coffee Hour every other Friday. Students who would like to become more deeply involved with a language at the University can also join a language-related student group.

*Bordertown Coffee is located at 315 16th Ave. SE, Minneapolis

Tandem Plus Orientation & Kick-Off a Huge Success

Last Friday, February 1, Tandem hosted its first event of spring semester, the TandemPlus Kick Off Event. Approximately 45 people attended, speaking Chinese, Korean, Arabic, Spanish, Malay, Norwegian, and English. The Kick Off included skits and demonstrations of how a good language exchange could be done, and what to do when problems arise in a language exchange. We also played Taboo and had multilingual conversation groups, and enjoyed snacks and refreshments.

Join Tandem on March 1 from 3:30-5:30 p.m. for Bowling at Goldy's Game Room!

TandemPlus & Small World Coffee Hour Event


This past Friday, November 30, Tandem Plus co-hosted the biweekly Small World Coffee Hour event from 4-6 p.m. in Yudof Hall to promote student engagement, language learning, and cultural diversity.



The theme was "Americana" and refreshments included traditional American goodies like sweet corn, stuffing, and cookies, plus coffee and tea.




TandemPlus presented a short movie about Tandem, and student TandemPlus participants put on humorous short skits showing what a Tandem partnership should (and should not) be.

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All participants then played multi-cultural Taboo in small groups. Between 150 and 200 people attended, and many said that they really enjoyed the event, particularly the skits.




This was Tandem's final group get-together of the fall semester and was a great way to wrap up the semester.


TandemPlus Roundup!

TandemPlus is pleased to announce that it has had a very successful fall semester! There was an approximate total of 481 language partnerships through Tandem's Face-to-Face Exchange program. The most popular language partnerships were Chinese seeking English, English seeking Spanish, and Arabic seeking English. There was also an exciting amount of Korean/English partnerships this year. It was a great fall semester and we are eager to start spring semester off on the right foot. Registration for TandemPlus this spring semester is expected to open during the first week of classes (late January).

Small World Coffee Hour with TandemPlus on November 30

TandemPlus will be hosting its third, and final, fall semester event with Small World Coffee Hour on the evening of Friday, November 30 from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. in the Yudof Hall Club Room. The event will be a celebration of multiculturalism and multilingualism with an "Americana" theme of corn on the cob, mashed potatoes, other American foods, and of course limitless coffee, plus multicultural themed games such as Taboo. We hope you can make it!

TandemPlus Punch Pizza Party a Success!

We are pleased to say that the TandemPlus Pizza Party at Punch Pizza in Dinkytown on Friday, November 2 was a great success! Approximately 40 people showed up, enjoying pizza and great company while playing conversation games such as Taboo in Spanish, Korean, Chinese, and English. The next TandemPlus event is Small World Coffee Hour on November 30. Stay tuned for more details.

TandemPlus Punch Pizza Party!

On Friday, November 2, TandemPlus will host our second event this semester, the Punch Pizza Party at Punch Pizza in Stadium Village! The event is open to the first 40 TandemPlus participants to respond (rsvp at "attending" if you wish to attend -- when capacity is reached, a notification will be posted on twitter and facebook). TandemPlus will provide the first round of pizzas. This fun food event will give TandemPlus participants a great way to converse and connect with each other while using their first and second language skills. Stay tuned for more information on this event.

TandemPlus Kick-off a Huge Success

On Friday afternoon, September 28, TandemPlus hosted its Fall Kick-off and Orientation Event. Approximately 70 people attended the event, and played multilingual (Spanish-English, Arabic-English, Chinese-English, and just English) Taboo games, partook in multilingual conversation circles, and enjoyed snacks and refreshments. The event was open to TandemPlus participants and interested parties and was enjoyed by all. Stay tuned for more information about the next Tandem event in late October.

FYI -- there is still (some) time to register for a TandemPlus second language culture and conversation partner. Registration for Fall semester will close on Friday, October 5, so if you're interested in registering, do it soon!

TandemPlus and ESL at the St. Paul Saints Game

On Friday, July 27, TandemPlus co-hosted a night of baseball and fun with the Minnesota English Language Program. This is the first event co-hosted by these university programs and it was a great success! Both American and international students attended the Saint Paul Saints baseball game at Midway Stadium in St. Paul and spoke a variety of languages including Arabic, German, Japanese, Chinese, English and Spanish. Overall students had a great time and after 11 innings the Saints pulled through and won the game. The night ended with a spectacular fireworks show and celebration over the Saints win. We hope you will join us for our next event, and don't forget to mark your calendars -- Fall registration is less than a month away!

Welcome Bri, the new TandemPlus Assistant

We are pleased to welcome Brianna Lopez to the Tandem Plus team. Brianna, or Bri, is a junior at the University of Minnesota, majoring in English and minoring in Spanish and Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies (GWSS). In the past she participated in a Spanish-English TandemPlus exchange and continues to pursue an interest in language learning and social justice. She looks forward to graduating in the spring of 2014 and hopes to pursue a career in international law. Stop by Jones 135A and say hello to her!

Congratulations Anna!

Congratulations to Tandem Plus Assistant Anna Kaminski, who received a Boren Scholarship to study in Jordan next year! Anna, who is a junior at the University of Minnesota, has been studying Arabic for three years, and currently is a student in Hisham Khalek's Arabic 5102 class. She studied in Oman in Summer 2011 and is very excited to be going abroad again.

Boren Scholarships provide up to $20,000 to U.S. undergraduate students to study abroad in areas of the world that are critical to U.S. interests and underrepresented in study abroad, including Africa, Asia, Central & Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East. To learn more about Boren Scholarships, click here.

International Buddy Program - Last Chance to Become a Student Mentor!

Adjusting to a new cultural environment can be exciting and challenging. New international students at the University of Minnesota often have a lot of questions and concerns during their first weeks on campus. The International Buddy Program (IBP) eases the transition, with current undergraduate students helping new international undergraduate students.

Why become a mentor?

  • Be an ambassador to new international students

  • Gain insight on different cultural values and world views

  • Join a globally mind community

  • Build your resume

  • Have FUN and enjoy lots of FREE activities and food!!

Go to the International Student and Scholar Services website at for more information. Trainings begin on May 3 for the IBP mentors.

Congratulations Bethany, Fulbright Scholar!

Bethany Schowengerdt, TandemPlus and World Languages Day Assistant, has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) grant to travel to Rwanda. From January to September 2013, she will serve as a teaching assistant at a university in Rwanda and also do volunteer work.

Bethany is graduating at the end of Spring 2012 with a double-major in Global Studies and French, and a minor in Teaching English as a Second Language. Her areas of concentration are Africa and the International Political Economy. While an undergraduate at the U of M, Bethany participated in a study abroad program in Senegal, and also served an internship at BestPrep, a non-profit that facilitates guest speaker presentations and an email exchange between high school students and business professionals.

We will always remember Bethany for her friendliness, positive energy, willingness to take on any task, and her commitment to second language education and student support. We wish her the best in her latest international endeavor!

TandemPlus Class-to-Class Exchanges in the Minnesota Daily

One of the missions of the Language Center's TandemPlus program is to support instructors in the establishment and management of class-to-class exchanges involving Skype. Courtney Johnson, a student in Trina Whitaker's hybrid French 1004 class, wrote a very insightful op-ed piece in the Minnesota Daily last week about her Skype exchanges with her partner in Troyes, France. Courtney described this as "a task that was hard for me to get outside of my comfort zone for, but it has been well worth it." She also said that "this interactive opportunity has opened the door to an entirely new way of learning about culture." We are thrilled to hear great stories like these.

Instructors: if you would like to arrange a class-to-class exchange with a school overseas, contact TandemPlus at

Anna Kaminski Wins Inna Meiman Human Rights Award

On Friday, April 20, LC student staffer Anna Kaminski was presented with the second annual Inna Meiman human rights award from the Human Rights Program and the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at the University of Minnesota in recognition for her outstanding human rights work. Kaminski, a junior majoring in Art, Global Studies and Social Justice, has been a tireless advocate of human rights, working abroad in 2011 with the Iraqi and American Reconciliation Project in Najaf, Iraq and domestically in 2011-2012 on the HeART show in Minneapolis.

Anna has been working at the Language Center for two years. Currently she is the TandemPlus assistant, but true to her generous and helpful nature, she also assists in the Main Office and Multimedia Lab.

Congratulations, Anna!

TandemPlus: Mocktail Event

On Friday, April 20, TandemPlus will host its final get-together of the academic year. The Mocktail Happy Hour will take place from 4:30 - 6:30 p.m. at the Tea House restaurant on 2425 University Avenue SE, Minneapolis. Everyone who registered for TandemPlus this semester is invited for an afternoon of fun, food, and foreign languages!

Instructors -- would you like to integrate communicative exchanges between your students and students in other countries who are native speakers of the language you are teaching? If so, the TandemPlus team can help. E-mail us at or call 612.626.6050, and we can help with any aspect of this project, from finding partner classes to finalizing details of the exchanges. We're currently setting up international exchanges for Fall 2012 classes; your class can be one of them.

TandemPlus: Where can I use my language skills?

Are your language students eager to speak Svenska, or converse in Castellano? The TandemPlus staff has created a list locations on and off campus where students can use their second language skills in authentic, exciting contexts. See the TandemPlus site for this list, and if you know of any locations that we've missed, let us know at

Dance, Dance, Bowl! TandemPlus Bowling Night

On Friday, February 24, TandemPlus hosted a Spring Bowling Night at Goldy's Gameroom in Coffman Union.


More than 30 CLA and international students came to bowl, play Dance Dance Revolution, enjoy some of Goldy's famous appetizers, and speak a variety of languages including Korean, Farsi, Arabic, Chinese, French, and English.


Students also engaged in lively cross-cultural dialogue about everything from politics to American pop culture and cinema. The event was a great success that reflected the amazing growth of the TandemPlus program over the past two semesters.


TandemPlus: Article in Minnesota Daily

The Tuesday, February 21, 2012 edition of the Minnesota Daily features an article on the TandemPlus program that includes interviews with the coordinators and student participants. You can read the article online or pick up a paper copy on campus.

TandemPlus Bowling Night this Friday, February 24

The TandemPlus Culture and Conversation Program is hosting its spring semester Bowling Night this Friday, February 24 at Goldy's Gameroom in Coffman Union from 4:30-6:30 p.m. The event is open to all TandemPlus participants, and matched language partners are especially encouraged to attend. TandemPlus will cover the cost of games and it is Free Shoe Friday. Join us for fun, food, and foreign languages!

Spring 2012 registration for TandemPlus will close soon. If you'd like to register for a culture and conversation partner, do so now on-line through the Tandem Registration Page.

TandemPlus Spring Kick-Off Event - Success!

On Friday, January 27, TandemPlus hosted its annual Spring kick-off event in 140 Nolte Hall. The event, attended by around 60 people speaking more than eight native languages, provided everyone with a chance to use their second-language skills in a fun, relaxing environment while enjoying refreshments.


After a short introduction by TandemPlus informing attendees how to sign up for the program, students broke into small groups of 6-8 participants, each led by a native English speaker. They engaged each other during an activity discussing a variety of topics provided on small "TableTopics" conversation cards.


After this activity, conversation group leader James Katsev and TandemPlus assistant Anna Kaminski led a game of "University of Minnesota Taboo" created specially for the event. Students were divided into two teams and had to describe different aspects of the University of Minnesota without saying words deemed "taboo". This was extremely difficult at times but overall the game got a good laugh out of all in attendance.


After this, a short and spirited round of karaoke was led by James Katsev, Anna Kaminski and French instructor Rick Treece.


TandemPlus currently has 344 people registered for exchanges. We hope to keep growing over the next couple of weeks and possibly beat last semester's record of nearly 700 registrants!


TandemPlus Spring Registration is Open

Registration is now open for TandemPlus, the program that pairs native speakers of different languages for language and cultural exchange. The program is growing every semester and now includes options for face-to-face (in-person) partnerships or "virtual" face-to-face (online) partnerships with people from around the globe. This great program is voluntary and completely free. You can learn more or register on-line here.

TandemPlus News

On Friday, December 2, TandemPlus hosted the second annual "Mocktail Happy Hour" at the Tea House Restaurant close to campus. Seventeen students attended the event and spoke languages like Japanese, Arabic, Chinese, and English. We discussed everything from linguistic similarities to culture to politics, all while enjoying a delicious variety of Chinese appetizers. This was the last TandemPlus event for the Fall semester. The Tandem team hopes that you will all join them again next semester.

New Hybrid French 1004 Class Development: A Conversation with Rick Treece

The French program debuted two sections of hybrid French 1004 this Fall semester. The five-credit classes meet three days per week, and have two online contact hours. Other language programs have also experimented with online learning, and Spanish has a long running hybrid 1022 class. French hybrid 1004 is distinguished by its incorporation of TandemPlus partnerships into the curriculum, as well as the fast pace of development. The majority of curricular development occurred over a single summer.

I spoke to the lead developer, Rick Treece, about the development process and plans for the future.

Students enrolled in the hybrid sections have a TandemPlus partner in France with whom they they communicate using Skype, and they are expected to complete seven activities during the semester. How will this opportunity enhance their acquisition of French, and their understanding of French culture?

There are three important benefits of the Skype exchanges:

1. Students in class speak for only a few minutes during a typical class session. And a disadvantage of small-group work is that weak students may have a too-sympathetic partner (who understands their English-influenced French too readily) while strong students may be frustrated by weaker partners who fail to understand their more advanced remarks. With TandemPlus partners who are native speakers of French, students get at least 15-30 min. per week of French conversation (often far more) in a situation that is far more authentic. This more than compensates for the speaking practice they're missing Tuesday and Thursday in class.

2. Research shows that language acquisition and retention are enhanced by the process of "negotiating meaning" in the target language in real communication. This is exactly what is occurring in the TandemPlus class-to-class exchange.

3. The over-arching theme of French 1004 involves comparing French and American cultures and their influence on personal identities. The Skype exchanges are based on detailed worksheets on which students prepare for their Skype sessions, take notes during the interview, and then follow-up on the personal and cultural insights acquired with meaningful Récapitulation assignments, which are evaluated with rubrics tailored to each type of assignment.

When students first learned that their sections would be partially computer-based, and that they would communicate with a partner in France, what were the general reactions?

General reactions were positive and even enthusiastic. Only one or two students said that they would have preferred meeting every day.

Did any students decide to switch to a standard section of 1004?

Only one!

Spanish 1022 has been offered as a hybrid-only class for several years. How were you able to use the experiences of the Spanish developers and instructors as a model, and what did you find was different when targeting higher-level students?

Because higher-level students bring more skills to the process, we thought that we could let them have more flexibility in their assignments, so we gave (or imposed) much less structure on the assignments than Spanish 1022 typically does. This has worked out for the most part, but in the case of at least one major large-group assignment, I think that we should have been more "hands-on" in the early organizational phases. But frankly, I don't think that the issue was lack of French skills, but rather just general generation of the escape velocity to get the project off the ground.

Spanish 1022 makes significant use of online exercises in My Spanish Lab, which is apparently quite good, but we found that the French equivalent was not up to our standards. The online substitute that we adopted, Tell-Me-More, is a bit pricey and has had a mixed reception from the students (and from us, truth to tell). We're meeting soon to decide on a strategy to tweak or replace it.

What has surprised you most about the Skype exchanges and the activities that students are doing as part of those exchanges?

I've been surprised to find that some students on both sides of the Atlantic simply fail to show up for their scheduled Skype sessions. Though overall the number is probably fairly small, every instance is a moderate to major irritant to the student inconvenienced by the missed rendez-vous.

Right now, Spanish 1003 is being developed as a hybrid class, and German is exploring options for hybrid development as well. How has this simultaneous development impacted French 1004, and provided opportunities for collaboration?

The coordinators of French, German and Spanish are meeting regularly to share updates on successes and challenges. In fact, our current French 1004 TandemPlus model was developed in imitation of one that Italian used last year, so we're all open to consideration of models and experiences from a variety of levels and sources.

Moreover, the Language Center Instructional Team addresses issues relating to hybrid-course development at our bi-weekly meetings. German, Scandinavian and Dutch liaison Beth Kautz and I will meet regularly with the Director this year as a particular task-group to foster hybrid-course adoption.

What is the most important piece of advice you would give a student enrolled in a hybrid language class?

Allow me to quote from a message that I sent to my students and posted on our Moodle site at the beginning of the term:

The student that will thrive in this hybrid setting is:
  • self-motivated
  • regular and disciplined
  • a good time manager
  • comfortable using the web
Conversely, this approach could be perilous for a student who:
  • puts off things to the last minute
  • relies on regular class attendance or personal over-qualification for the course level to skate by without doing much work outside of class
  • does not work well independently
  • is a technophobe

For more information on hybrid courses see this recent article on how sustainability content is being integrated into several classes, including lower-level hybrid Spanish.

TandemPlus and the Multimedia Lab: Having an Awesome Autumn


All work and no play?
Students enjoy the new lounge furniture in the Multimedia Lab

The Fall semester has gotten off to a great start for TandemPlus -- this is by far our biggest semester yet. There are 639 people registered, and 427 people have been matched for exchanges in 17 languages!

We hold many events for all Tandem participants, both matched and unmatched. So far we have hosted a kick-off party, and are currently planning a bowling night for all Tandem registrants at Goldy's Gameroom in Coffman Union on November 11.

Our Skype matches are growing and an interest in Tandem is spreading through our international partners in countries such as France, Japan, and Russia.

Our class exchanges are also growing. This semester we have collaborated with 12 universities overseas to bring language classes and students together through technology. Students are assigned partners from a class overseas and spend half the time speaking in both of their native languages, allowing them to practice their second language and gain cultural insight.

We are enthusiastic about the future of the TandemPlus Program and so excited to keep moving forward as the program expands!

The redesigned Multimedia Lab in Jones Hall is also having a great semester. Students are flocking to the new design, which features hexagonal computer tables which allow more collaboration between lab patrons while better utilizing the lab's available space. Students are loving the "laptop bar" where they can work and charge their laptop and portable devices, or even print wirelessly to the lab's laser printer from their laptops, while they enjoy lots of natural light from the west-facing windows overlooking Pleasant Street. Students are also using the lab's new sectional couch and tablet-arm chairs to study and relax. Lab use has increased greatly this semester, but don't worry -- we still have space for you.

We still are looking for a new name for this awesome study space, so if you have a suggestion, post it in the comments section of this blog post!

Upcoming plans for the Multimedia Lab include live international programming on the lab's two flat-screen TVs. We will have a full list of programming, including news, game shows, and movies, from around the globe, in a variety of languages. Look for this Spring semester!

Tandem Plus Fall Kickoff Event

Last Friday afternoon TandemPlus celebrated its sixth annual kickoff event. This year 125 American and International students attended the celebration in Nolte Center and enjoyed conversing in different languages, eating treats, and even singing songs. There are 571 students registered for TandemPlus this semester, making it the biggest semester yet! We hope to continue to grow the program and expand our international and community ties. Thanks so much for coming out to the event and for making the beginning of the sixth anniversary of Tandem a success!

TandemPlus Registration is open; more partner countries added

TandemPlus Fall 2011 registration began Tuesday, September 6 for both Face to Face and Virtual Face to Face exchanges. Students can be matched with a language partner either on campus or overseas at partner universities in Honduras, Germany, Israel, Russia, Mexico, and more.

Register on-line at:

TandemPlus news

The TandemPlus website has been updated with more information about the popular virtual face-to-face exchange program, as well as a short video on TandemPlus.

TandemPlus Assistant Bethany Schowengerdt has left for a semester abroad in Senegal. She is blogging about her experience at

Anna Kaminski is the new TandemPlus Assistant. Anna is returning next week from a study abroad program in Oman, for which she received a critical language scholarship to study Arabic.

Tandem Plus Summer Registration Begins June 6!

Learning a second language this summer? Planning on studying abroad this fall? Want to practice your language skills and learn about another culture right now? Register for the TandemPlus summer session!

Language learners are invited to join Tandem Plus this summer for second-language conversation and cultural exchange. Find out more at the : TandemPlus Website

World Languages Day Welcome Video News

Lindsey Lahr has produced alternate versions of the WLD welcome video at the request of Discover CLA.

A full-length video was re-cut to eliminate references to WLD, so that it could be used to promote language-learning at the U of M in general:

In addition, three short videos were produced that highlight unique language learning opportunities available at the university:

Living and Learning Communities:


Learning Abroad:

You can view the original video here:

TandemPlus: New Matching Option, Mid-Winter Mixer

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Attention Spanish/Portuguese/French/German/Hebrew/Russian language students -- do you want to practice your second-language skills with native speakers, without leaving campus? The Tandem Plus program at the Language Center can help you with our new Virtual Face-to-Face program, which joins U of M participants with conversation partners in different countries. Participants meet on-line via Skype or a similar platform to practice their second-language skills with students at universities in Mexico, Honduras, Chile, Peru, Brazil, Russia, Germany, France, and Israel. To sign up for Virtual Face-to-Face, you need to register online for a Face-to-Face exchange through the Language Center:

From there, we'll find a partner for you.

Tandem Plus held a Mid-Winter Mixer on Friday afternoon, February 18. More than 65 Tandem Plus Face-to-Face participants and international students came to play English-language games, enjoy refreshments, and just converse. As always, it was great to see all the participants who make Tandem Plus so successful!

New at Tandem Plus Spring 2011

The new semester brings new excitement to the Tandem Plus Program.

We are pleased to announce the formation of Guided Conversation groups for Spanish, ESL, and Japanese. These groups, which meet weekly for 1 hour, are led by students who are either native speakers or are fluent in the target language, and include 2-3 participants who would like to practice their second language skills. The Guided Conversation Groups are theme-oriented, which means participants talk about topics that the group leader provides. It is a little more organized than having a "free conversation," but participants can still meet over coffee and relax. These groups will be formed and start meeting in the next few weeks.

Brand-new this semester is "Virtual Face-to-Face" pairings, which join U of M participants with conversation partners in different countries. The participants will meet virtually via Skype (or a similar platform) to practice their second-language skills with students at universities in Russia, Germany, Mexico, Honduras, and more. This is a great option for people who would like a conversation partner but don't get paired with one via our Face-to-Face program. To sign up for Virtual Face-to-Face, students need to register online for a Face-to-Face exchange through the Language Center.

Finally, Tandem Plus will be presenting at the Quality Fair on February 3 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Carlson School of Management. Stop by, say hello, and check out our poster presentation!

Converse With Native Speakers Without Leaving Campus

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A recent article in Education Week confirms what language instructors already know: that social engagement and live interactions with multiple native speakers are crucial to language learning success. Now instructors at the U of M can provide their students with exactly this kind of second-language practice, without leaving the U of M, via class-to-class exchanges.

In class-to-class exchanges, your students will meet virtually through computer technology with partners who are fluent in the target language and are learning English -- for instance, students in a French class at the U of M will meet with students in an English class in France. Students take turns conversing in both their own and their second languages. Classes can do synchronous (real-time) or asynchronous (recorded) video exchanges. Send a message to the Tandem Plus program at and let us know if you're interested in establishing this exciting partnership for your Spring classes.

This fall marks the launch of a new curriculum in Italian at the University of Minnesota. The previous textbook, Prego is being phased out in favor of Avanti!, a new textbook from the same publisher (McGraw-Hill) that is more communicative and less grammar-focused, co-authored by Diane Musumeci of "performed culture" fame. The textbook is being adopted for use in Ital 1001 through 1003; other materials, still to be determined, will be adopted for 1004 starting in Spring 2012.

The new initiative exploits technology in its pursuit of a more communicative, student-centered approach. Student blogs, hosted as Moodle Forums, are an essential component of the courses. Even more stimulating is a pilot in two sections of Ital 1001 using Google Video to facilitate student-to-student exchanges with liceo students in Ancona and Ravenna, Italy. Because of the time difference, students use email to set up a time over the weekend to video-chat with their partner in Italy. The exchange, coordinated through professional contacts by Italian DLI Carlotta Dradi-Bower with a hand from Kate Clements, Director of the Language Center's TandemPlus program, is 50% in Italian and 50% in English, so that both sides benefit. Students, though beginners, are excited to discover that they can communicate successfully in Italian, and teachers are gaining skills in serving as coaches to prepare the students (theme-specific vocabulary, etc.) for the weekly exchanges.

The Avanti! materials provide cultural context for the content presented through web-based video (also available on CD-ROM). The workbook is accessed through Centro on the Internet. Students (and teachers) find the new culture-based approach challenging, but tests scores are high, even though exams now assess culture and content as well as grammar and vocabulary.

From the Director, Fall 2010

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As students repopulate our campus with the onset of a new semester, the Language Center continues to evolve to support the teaching and learning of languages at the University. As you walk through Jones Hall, you will notice quite a bit of activity and some significant changes this semester.

A New Classroom

In response to increasing class sizes we have remodeled Jones 15. We have replaced the rows of booths with a more open floor plan, placing tables along the perimeter of the room and two islands of tables in the center. We have effectively divided the space into quadrants. This way, we can accommodate up to 28 students simultaneously, working individually on brand new iMac computers, or convening either in small groups or four medium groups to work collaboratively on tasks. In addition to the new floor plan, we have also installed a new instructor desk that includes the standard equipment - iMac computer with MacDiLL software, video and audio players, as well as a document camera. In design, the remodeled classroom resembles our most popular classroom, Jones 30, with its open and accessible floor plan. Please come by to take a look and book your class in the new space. Let us know what you think!

TandemPlus / Multimedia Lab Coordinator

We also welcome a new staff member this semester. Kate Clements has joined us to serve as both the Coordinator for the Multimedia Lab (Jones 135) as well as the Coordinator for the TandemPlus program. Kate is no stranger to the technology available at the University and in the Language Center. While earning an MA in the ESL program here at the University, she served as the IT Fellow for the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. In addition to assisting individual instructors, she spearheaded the transition of Spanish language courses from WebCT Vista to the Moodle course management system. Since receiving her degree, she has taught in the Minnesota English Language Program, often meeting with her classes in the computer classrooms in Jones Hall. She has shared some of her experiences with technology by presenting several workshops in the Language Center's iTeach workshop series. Her involvement with the TandemPlus program includes participating as a student with a native Spanish speaker in the Face-to-Face program, as well as recommending her students in the MELP program to participate in order to develop their English conversational skills. We are delighted to have Kate with us. Please welcome her to the Language Center.

Testing Program Grant

Our Testing program has received funding as a part of the Title VI grant administered by the Institute for Global Studies to develop new Language Proficiency Tests. Overseen by Monica Frahm, the project is directed by Gabriela Sweet who brings many years of test development and administration to the task. Their group is in the process of developing test items for Italian, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, and a second exam in Spanish. Temporarily located in Jones 110F, they are working at a fever pitch to produce these materials by the middle of November.

CLA-OIT Support

The CLA IT Fellows program has also undergone changes this fall. While previously the program provided up to 20 graduate fellows who were assigned to specific departments to help instructors with technology issues, the program will now rely on 15 undergraduate students to perform work such as developing Moodle sites for courses and working with multimedia. Instructors will work directly with 5 graduate students to develop concepts, who will then pass on the construction responsibilities to the undergraduate students. All language departments and the Language Center will be served by one person now, and we are extremely fortunate that the program has hired Lindsey Lahr to be the contact person for our area. Lindsey has been the IT Fellow for the Language Center and the Department of Asian Languages and Literature for the past two years. She has been working in our Development Studio in Jones 127 and helping instructors to digitize a variety of media as well as to make and edit professional level audio recordings. She will now work through the CLA-OIT office. If you have a request for Lindsey, the best way to contact her is through the CLA Help Desk. You can send an email to or call 4-HELP.

As the relatively new Director of the Language Center I am delighted to be working here at the University of Minnesota with such a dedicated staff and with such excellent facilities and support. Our mission is to promote and support the teaching and learning of world languages. Technology is an excellent tool to accomplish this mission. Our state-of-the-art facilities and equipment provide both access to information as well as tools to help students complete interesting and engaging multimedia projects. Our staff is extremely knowledgable about the possibilities of technology and continues to explore a wide variety of emerging technological applications that connect students with authentic materials and cultures, and with speakers of the languages that students are learning. We support students and instructors with technology assistance, and we also serve as a place for exploring the nature of language and second language acquisition itself. I encourage you to take advantage of the opportunities that the Language Center offers.

Wishing you all the best for a successful and productive fall semester,

Dan Soneson

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