How a Bilingual Au pair can teach your child a language
Hosting a bilingual Au Pair in your home can be a fantastic experience for families who would like to expose their children to a new language and culture, while also saving costs on childcare. An au pair is a brilliant alternative to language lessons, which can be often too formal and quite expensive. Your child can learn a new language simply by being exposed to the language daily in a natural environment.
What is an Au pair
An Au pair is a young adult usually from another country who comes to stay with a family on a cultural exchange. As a live in part of the family, she can provide help in the form of childcare and light domestic work in return for a room, board, and some pocket money.
An au pair is not to be confused with a nanny, who is a professional. While nannies are usually qualified, au pairs do not usually hold formal qualifications, though you may be lucky and find one who has. Usually they have some experience working with children in the form of babysitting back in their home country or abroad. An au pair becomes a temporary part of your family and acts as an older sister to your children.
5 Reasons to Hire an Au pair
Families choose to hire au pairs for different reasons:
1. Busy or Large Families
Busy families or those with multiple children often need an extra set of hands with daily tasks, and this is where an au pair can help. While you prepare breakfast, your au pair can help get your children get ready for school. While you are working late, she can pick the kids up and entertain them until you arrive home. If you have an event or a dinner to go to, or just feel like a date night with your partner, your au pair can babysit the kids while you are out.
Flexibility is a huge benefit especially for parents who work shifts. Day cares and nurseries are often not open for night shifts, or on weekends, therefore families need to find another option. Families who live in rural areas where childcare is hard to find, often turn to live in nannies or au pairs for the flexibility of hours.
3. Childcare can be Expensive
An au pair can also save you money on expensive childcare. As day care and nursery rates are rising, the demand for au pairs is becoming quite high. While going back to work with one child seams feasible, for families with multiple children, it means childcare costs are sometimes more than one parent’s salary. An au pair can be a practical and cost effective option.
4. Teach kids a language and help them to become bilingual
Hosting an au pair from a foreign country can give your children the chance to learn a new language as well as learn about a new culture. With someone living with your family speaking her native language daily to your children, they will be able to pick up words quite quickly and soon learn to speak.
To be consistent, parents should hire Au Pairs from the same part of the world continuously to allow the language immersion to continue. Constant exposure is the key. Some families continue to host au pairs from when their children are babies, until they are well into their teens. It is a cost effective way to give your children the gift of bilingualism.
5. Improve your child’s language skills
Some families have children who are bilingual and already speak a second language, or have children who are learning a second language at school. Hosting an au pair who speaks the minority language can help give your children the extra exposure they need to improve their fluency.
How an au pair can help your child’s language skills
There are many ways an au pair can improve your child’s language skills through natural immersion
Reading books together
Reading books is a great way for au pairs to bond with your child while helping them improve their language skills. You could set up a reading corner so they can read together, or it could also be part of the bedtime routine.
Kids naturally love singing. Whether it be nursery rhymes for younger children, or other songs for older kids, singing is a great way to learn a language. Your au pair could create a playlist of some age appropriate songs for the kids in his/her native language. Music can be played in the background while they play, or they can learn to sing the songs together.
Games and Activities
Play is how children learn best. An au pair can simply play with your child each day using their native language. This may be playing sport together, riding bikes, or going for a walk, or it could be playing a board game, drawing or colouring in.
Another great way for an au pair to teach kids their native language is to cook together, even if it is just something simple. Cooking together creates the opportunity to talk, work together, and discuss what the task is, therefore exposing your kids to different vocabulary than they are used to day to day. The au pair could even choose something to cook from their culture to expose the kids to something new.
Making the right choice
A lot of the time, au-pairs come to a new country to learn the local language. Therefore, it is best to speak with to any potential au pair about your goals beforehand to make sure you are on the same page. Some au pairs may prefer to speak the local language, rather than their native language.
If you do find an au pair who is happy to speak with your kids in their native language, it is a great way to immerse your children in the language naturally on a daily basis.