An au pair’s reasons for coming to their host family’s country very often, almost universally, includes a wish to become more conversant or to learn the language of the country that they are staying in and to fully ensconce themselves in the culture.
While learning a new language is always a challenge, the most effective way to help an au pair learn is to make them communicate in their new language so that they can practice at all times, in any situation that presents itself. Their ears constantly hear the language which assists them too.
Any language learned in a classroom environment is on hand to be utilised so the lessons the au pair attends extend through every area of their life, whether that’s looking after children, making a shopping trip, doing the school run, organising an appointment or meeting new people. It will make learning swifter and much more comprehensive than if the au pair defaults to their native language habitually which they may be tempted to do if their host family can speak it.
Getting out and about in the local community and making friends will expose an au pair not only to the culture but to alternative accents, speaking rhythms and to colloquial words that aren’t always in a dictionary.
As will watching television, movies and listening to the radio. The comparisons of tone and syllable use of a Scottish accent versus a Cornish accent or a Welsh one will help their language skills mature, very few people speak in a “classroom” accent, with no inflections in their voice so this offers realism.
Language settings for DVD’s can be changed so if an au pair has seen a film in their home country they can watch it again in their new language and develop in a fun way.
Although great emphasis is given to the au pair’s opportunity to learn and use a new language one of the benefits for a host family of an au pair from another country who is obviously proficient in their native language is that they can help your child or children, perhaps the adults too, with learning their language. For example, you intend to go to France for a skiing holiday and your au pair is French, you have an instant teacher in your house. For children, learning a second language from an early age is proven to help their learning skills develop and their knowledge base grows, often through play, singing songs and story time, in other words, they won’t realise they’re learning.
For au pairs and their host family this can be an incredible time of learning. The host family and the au pair will be compelled to use their language skills to communicate effectively and a cycle of perpetual learning exists to everyone’s benefit.
At the end of the au pair’s stay they will have lived, breathed and talked in their new language thoroughly and picked up some local sayings too.