A driving desire behind many Au Pairs when completing an Au Pair program is the hope of learning and advancing in a particular language through language classes.
While you still might not become fluent, depending on the duration of your stay, it is still quite possible to reach a very advanced level.
The best way to get value for money from your language class, is to use the skills learnt in every possible situation and to get help from your host family.
We’ve put together a few friendly tips to get the most out of skills learnt, and how best to put them into practice.
Firstly, practice using your numbers when you engage in monetary transactions while shopping; improves your vocabulary at the market. Also use the language when you read signage or ask an associate the name of a product; get used to exchanging directions when you or someone you know is lost or ordering dinner or a coffee.
Set Language Usage Rules with Friends
It might be comforting to have friends who speak your language when studying abroad. Keep in mind, however, this perk also comes with its downfalls. (In our regular surveys, this is the biggest downfall for Au Pairs).
While it is most recommended to pursue a study abroad program alone, it’d be unrealistic to assume that you won’t eventually find at least one friend that speaks your native tongue and in essence, meeting this friend often counters against home sickness.
Enjoy the commonality but be careful — you might stray away from your program’s purpose: to learn a new language.
Another tip that was recently suggested to us by one Au Pair was to become friends with a local Au Pair who doesn’t speak your language but wishes to learn the same desired language as you. I.e., its easier learning together.
Bring Your New Knowledge Home
- Keep practicing on a language app like Duolingo
- Join networking sites and seek local language clubs
- Keep notes of difficulties an unrecognised words, discuss these with your host families and ask them too correct your pronunciation.
- Encourage general conversations with your host family on a daily basis.
- Visit the library and ask for recommended material in that language.
- Read a book or daily newspaper in that language.
- Challenge yourself with more difficult situations.
- Start following more TV shows, movies, music, blogs, and social media in the new language (I found this the most helpful when I travelled abroad).
Before finishing we’d ask an potential host family that may be reading this to consider the importance of language classes when making their decision in choosing an Au Pair. By considering the importance of this goal for the Au Pair your able to consider your ability to be able to facilitate language classes and secondly to encourage it.
If advancing their language skills is high on their agenda, the Au Pair may become quickly disillusioned if their expectations are not being met.