My au pair speaks English poorly

Question of the week (8 August 2011). Host mum Arleen from the UK is unhappy with her Spanish au pair: Mercedes speaks English so poorly that Arleen has difficulties explaining various issues to her. Arleen has asked Mercedes to return home to Spain. However, the earliest plane she can catch will leave in three weeks time. This is just too long for Arleen. "What shall I do now?", she wonders.

Dear Support Team,

On 29 June, our 19-year-old au pair Mercedes arrived from Spain. I am having serious concerns about Mercedes. She speaks very little English. I cannot give her any directions as I cannot communicate with her. My son is only 7 months old and I am very worried about Mercedes caring for him. Whenever I return home asking her how my son is, she just looks at me not knowing what to answer – she just gesticulates to explain when he slept. Whenever I return home from work, Mercedes is sitting on my sofa using her computer. She does not do any housework, as I am unable to communicate with herand explain what she shall do. Unfortunately, she does not know how to cook either.

At night, when she is in her room, she talks on skype with her parents. However, sometimes she talks so loudly that she wakes up my son. This is a disaster. I am very concerned. Mercedes is due to return to Spain on 26 August 2011. However, I feel that it would be better for her to return to Spain as soon as possible. Please let me know what I can do. Your assistance is greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Yours sincerely, Arleen from United Kingdom

Reply of the AuPairWorld Support Team

Dear Arleen,

Quite frankly, we are wondering about your enquiry. AuPairWorld offers a choice of matching au pairs to host families, however – and this forms the actual great advantage – it is you who takes the final decision whom to host. Naturally, your au pair also decides whether you are the right host family for him/her. You both search for and find each other on your own initiative and responsibility. For this purpose, one thing is very important, as it is generally the case in life: communication! Therefore, we wish to give you some short advice in this context: terminate the contract with your au pair. Do not even wait until her placement terminates. Normally, a notice period of two weeks applies. Start searching for your next au pair right now. You will find more information on this topic on our new pages "Au Pair Programmes".

To avoid a similar situation with your next au pair, you should talk to each other beforehand. This is essential and helps you clarify important matters! Phone – or even better – skype your au pair. Thus, you can check his/her language skills. Furthermore, this is the only way to clarify important questions together. You should also most definitely talk to your au pair about the general procedure, requirements and expectations before his/her placement starts. Please check which questions host families should ask their au pairs prior to the au pair placement. 

The earlier you clarify these questions together, the clearer requirements and tasks are defined for both parties. The clearer the au pair placement is discussed and defined, the more likely it will become a successful and great experience for both parties.

Your AuPairWorld Support Team

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