Tandem is a form of second language learning that brings together speakers with different linguistic competencies and backgrounds to share their knowledge and learn from each other, guided by the principles of learner autonomy and reciprocity.
(Vassallo & Telles, 2008).
UBC tandem language learning program was founded by a former graduate student, Mary Leighton, who started the program in January 2011 as a pilot project. After an initial highly successful start, the program was further developed and refined, based on an increased demand from interested participants. Centre for Intercultural Language Studies became involved in the UBC tandem language learning program at first to offer a place to administer the money from the grants and from the Provost office (and now the Vice-president Students’ Office) who financially supported the coordinators and the assistant to the coordinator.
When the program was launched, Mary Leighton wrote a manual that became a helpful document for the coordinators, primarily. Subsequently, several materials were developed by other individuals involved with UBC tandem. Furthermore, a group from the Centre for Intercultural Language Studies applied for a Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund (TLEF) in order to produce this research-based handbook. The purpose of the research was to revise the tandem manual so it would provide a guiding document for the continued development and practical application of the tandem program, as well as a reference for other institutions. Based on that research a new Handbook has been produced.
This handbook is intended to be a live document that will be edited and improved as more experience is gathered in running the UBC tandem language learning program.