Language support, Linguistic diversity

SFU Tandem Program Continues to Grow

January 23, 2017

With a team of eight volunteer facilitators, CELLTR’s student-led language exchange program, SFU Tandem, continues to grow. Led by coordinator Yuki Kaneki, a fourth-year linguistics major, this term saw nearly 200 students apply to be matched to a language partner, and we were able to match more than 80 students into more than 40 pairs, most of whom meet in two student-facilitated sessions hosted at CELLTR. Interest in the program continues to grow, and student engagement is high. Many of the partnerships include one partner who wants to improve their English. In the coming terms we plan to expand the program further, opening it up to faculty and staff.

Tandem was highlighted in “Talk the Talks: Multilingualism at SFU,” an article in SFU’s student newspaper The Peak, in January.  The authors write:

“Tandem enthusiastically embraces multilingualism as an asset. Using a casual learning environment — free from the stress of a graded, classroom setting — participants are free to progress at their own pace in a fun, low-stakes way. But Tandem is not only about learning languages. Dr Joel Heng Hartse, a founder of Tandem at SFU, suggests that it can be a place to make friendships across divides that would normally not be crossed….Tandem’s outreach is particularly diverse; thus allowing a wide range of students to come together to teach and learn.”

This summer, we will also produce a report on Tandem’s first year, highlighting multilingual students’ positive experience of English and other languages. For more information about SFU Tandem, please contact Yuki at

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