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Language creates barriers but can also break them

Published on December 21, 2018

Gaurav discovers the benefits of language exchange sessions with locals and makes new friends, including one who speaks his native tongue.

Learning a new language is always interesting and if you are visiting a country you should try to learn the local language. One way to learn a new language is to find someone who is interested in learning your language. This kind of language exchange or swap is called tandem. In Switzerland there are many opportunities to do this. It is also a fun way to make good Swiss friends.

My first tandem experience was with a Swiss woman who is fluent in French, German and Italian. She helped me with French and in return I helped her with English. Besides French, I also learned about her research and we are still good friends.

Another good friend I acquired via tandem is a Swiss man from the German-speaking part of country. Fabian helped me work on my limited knowledge of German. In return I helped him to improve his Hindi. Strange but true: he is learning Hindi and speaks it quite well. Fabian works for the Swiss Federal Railways but is very knowledgeable about a variety of subjects like history and different cultures. It is always a pleasure to meet him and have an informative conversation.

I also had the pleasure to visit his apartment which is amply stocked with Hindi movies. He is a fan of Bollywood songs and listens an FM radio station based in Fiji. It is the only Hindi FM station he can access in Switzerland. I chatted with him about his interest in Hindi and India.