by Susan Parks, Professor at Laval University, Québec

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Would you like your ESL students to engage in exchanges with English-speaking peers their age? In Tandem language learning Quebec ESL students partner up with FSL students from English-speaking areas who are learning French. Partners give each other equal time (e.g. 20 minutes videoconferencing in English, 20 in French).

By drawing on their implicit knowledge of their first language and the strategies they are learning in their language classes (e.g. How do you say X in English?), partners help each other learn. Within a tandem approach, planning is simplified: Teachers of partner classes choose topics relevant to their own students and at their proficiency level. To engage in tandem language learning, students need to have at least a basic ability to communicate (e.g. Grade 6 intensive class).

The recently launched ESL-FSL Tandem Canada platform – – provides teachers with the technological and pedagogical support to set up such projects. Use of the platform is cost-free and secure.


The platform provides a variety of tools. Teachers have access to all their students’ work.

Videoconferencing. Webcams enable partners to see and talk to each other as in a Skype exchange. Other features include a chat box, whiteboard and the ability to upload images and documents. Most importantly, all the exchanges are recorded so students can review them for enhanced language learning. The videoconferencing tool can also be used by students to record messages for their partners who can view and respond to them at a convenient time.

Chat. Partners discuss topics in real time. Chat exchanges can be printed out.

The wiki and the forum. These tools are particularly useful for written work. Work can be printed out.


Once registered, you will be able to post your class profile(s) and look for partner classes. Teachers who are already involved in school exchanges can use the Tandem Canada platform to enhance those partnerships.


Suggestions for activities and materials are provided on the platform. For information about how to set up activities, see our YouTube channel: Tandem uLaval


I would very much like to collaborate with teachers for the purpose of research and a more complete understanding of the potential of the tandem approach to language learning. If interested, please contact me: