The word TANDEM implies a duality: two languages, two people, two cultures, two learning experiences, two lives. The history of the school dates back to 1982, when it was founded in Madrid with the symbol of a bicycle has proved to be a marvellous vehicle for exchange, contact, dialogue, work, discussion and fun.
In 1982 the Goethe-Institut in Madrid experienced enormous growth in terms of the number of students and people interested in the German language and culture. As a result, the TANDEM courses were created based on an idea by Jürgen Wolff, whereby a group of Spaniards and Germans would meet to learn together on their own. At the time, it was a revolutionary approach to the traditional student/teacher relationship.
Indeed, the courses were revolutionary in many ways: firstly, they pioneered the practice of a concept that emerged later on –self-learning- and, secondly, they paved the way for the creation of awareness and the development of intercultural competence, and the introduction of the TANDEM method in Spain.
In 1982, we became independent of the Goethe-Institut and founded TANDEM MADRID, but continued to have the former’s full support and endorsement; and we also created the TANDEM Spanish-German Cultural Centre learning cooperative. We started from very humble beginnings: premises of approximately 120 square metres in the Chueca district, furniture we had made ourselves, and a staff of 8 cooperative members engaged in the most varied tasks.
The TANDEM courses continued and our centre became the only private institution in Madrid specialised in the teaching of German. At the same time, and to give our work full meaning, we pioneered the foray into the teaching of Spanish as a foreign language. Other languages, such as English, were later introduced, also with great success.
Alongside this, the TANDEM network of language schools emerged. Independent of one another, there are now 30 centres in 11 countries, in addition to the TANDEM Foundation, which is engaged in the promotion of the Tandem method and the intercultural aspects of language teaching. Based in San Sebastián, the foundation is managed by the founder of the network, Jürgen Wolff.
Today, TANDEM Escuela Internacional Madrid is one of the most prestigious training centres in Spain. With a workforce of 80 people, it is located in a beautiful 19th-century mansion beside the Prado Museum, and the Círculo de Bellas Artes.
And we say “training centre” because we are much more than just a language school: we train teachers, have agreements with universities, organise internships in companies, coordinate European Union Projects, participate in multimedia activities, write books and manuals, give talks and create cultural programs.
Dozens of people who have worked at TANDEM remain in contact with us through institutions and companies, and continue to spread the spirit of tandem in their teaching and work. This spirit is also embodied in our slogan: