The main idea behind the au pair program is cultural exchange. Besides having new experiences, your au pair also wants to improve his or her language skills by being in your country. Living with your family, the au pair will learn very quickly how to communicate in the new language.
However, if the au pair wants to work on grammar and other language skills, it is necessary to take language classes at a language school in your area. As a host family, you have to give your au pair enough time off for language classes. Keep in mind that going to a language school in your area will also give your au pair the chance to meet other young people that live close by.
There are probably various language schools in your area. If you search online you will also find many language classes especially for au pairs. Many big cities have language schools that offer these special courses. Language classes at private institutes are usually more expensive.
Normally, there are morning classes as well as evening classes. So, think about how to coordinate your au pair’s language classes with her and your work schedule. Also, don’t forget to factor in the time it takes for your au pair to get to and from the language course. Then, decide if you would prefer your au pair to take the language course in the morning or in the evening.
Keep in mind: if your au pair already speaks the language very well, you should make sure the au pair signs up as soon as possible for the course since the more advanced levels usually fill up early. One host mother says: “It would have been really unfortunate if we had found out after the arrival of our au pair that the language course that she wanted to take had already been filled. That would have meant one opportunity less to meet new people and make friends.”
An au pair language course is usually around 100 – 250 Euros (without materials), depending on the type of course and on the amount of hours per week. Normally, the au pair pays for the language course.
However, it has become quite common for au pairs and host families to negotiate the costs. Obviously, it is easier to find au pairs for host families that offer to pay for the language classes. Also, they will have more au pair candidates to choose from.
If your au pair arrives during the summer months, the language schools will probably still be closed. Language classes usually start in September/October and February/March. This means that your au pair will start speaking right away, but won’t be able to work on the grammar.
This can be dealt with easily, because many public libraries offer a variety of foreign language computer programs. All your au pair needs now is headphones and a microphone. From here, improving the general language skills will be easy and fast. Your au pair could also choose from among a variety of language courses online.