Which language should I mostly speak with my host family?

Question of the week (23 May 2011). This question keeps au pairs and host families occupied: which language should the au pair primarily speak? Au pairs wish to learn the national language of their host country. Host families, on the other hand, wish to learn their au pair's native language. How can you come to an agreement in this context?

, in Archive

Today, our question of the week looks slightly different:

Every now and then, we receive similar questions from host parents and au pairs with regard to certain topics. This time for instance, some of them wished to know which language the au pair should primarily speak in once he/she has arrived in the host country: his/her native language or rather the host family's language?

Families are especially keen on learning the au pair's language, if he/she speaks one of the "popular" languages. However, their wish is not always in accordance with the au pair's wish, as he/she wishes to learn the national language of the relevant host country. Therefore, the question arises as to which language both should speak in?

The AuPairWorld Support Team's Reply

We at AuPairWorld have a clear opinion concerning this topic: an au pair is generally not a language teacher. The au pair travels abroad to learn the language of his/her host country. After all, this is the au pair's motivation behind the travel. Naturally, the au pair placement also includes the mutual exchange of culture and language.

The term "au pair" meaning "mutual" also points out this fact. By sharing lives for a determined period, both au pair and host family benefit from each other in terms of language and culture. At the same time, au pair and host family should ensure that this exchange remains fair and enriching to both parties.

The framework conditions and expectations of both parties should be discussed beforehand. It is important that au pair and host family agree on the language and the extent to which it should be spoken prior to the start date. Thus, eventual disappointments can easily be avoided.

Your AuPairWorld Support Team