Which language level do I need to become an au pair?

(Also to be found with keywords Language Skills and Knowledge host country language)

Improving skills in the language of the host country is one of the major goals of the au pair stay. Even before the start of the stay, au pairs should have a basic knowledge of the host country language. This can be necessary to obtain an au pair visa or work permit and it is also important in avoiding serious problems in communication with the host family. 

Language skill requirements for the au pair stay

The required language level for an au pair stay differs depending on the host country and also whether a visa is necessary for the stay. A basic knowledge of the host country is necessary in any case so that the au pair can deal with basic situations in the host country and have a basis for communicating with the host family. For this au pairs should be able to ask and answer basic questions. 

Language level required for different host countries:

Country  Language level   Proof required? 
Australia No official requirement for subclass 417
Functional English for subclass 462
For Work & Holiday visa subclass 462 a school record or certificate is required
Austria Basic knowledge of German (at least A1 level) Yes
Belgium Basic knowledge of German, Dutch or French (depending on region) No
Canada No official requirement No
Denmark Basic knowledge of Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, English or German Yes. Proof with school leaving certificate
England (United Kingdom) No official requirement No
Finland Basic knowledge of Finnish or Swedish Yes
France Basic knowledge of French (at least A1 level) Yes
Germany Basic knowledge of German (at least A1 level) Yes. Often handled with a personal interview at the German embassy or consulate
Iceland No official requirement No
Ireland No official requirement No
Italy No official requirement No
Liechtenstein Basic knowledge of German Yes
Luxembourg Basic knowledge (at least A1) of Luxembourgish,  German, French or English No
Netherlands No official requirement No
New Zealand No official requirement No
Norway No official requirement No
Sweden Basic knowledge of Swedish or documented interest in the Swedish language Official document or proof of language skills or interest
Spain No official requirement. Native language of au pair cannot be Spanish No
Switzerland No official requirement. Native language of au pair cannot be the same as that of the host family No
USA (America) No official requirement No

Why some basic language skills are important even at the beginning of the stay

Even if the au pair and the host family share a language that is not the language of the host country, this is not sufficient to ensure basic safety for all concerned. If the au pair is looking after the children when the host parents are not present, the au pair must be in the position to interact with emergency services in a language that is generally understood in the host country in case this is necessary.

For further information regarding safety aspects of an au pair stay, please see our Safety and security section.

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