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Published on July 4, 2012, by in Au Pair.

Learning a new language is no small task, and when you’re travelling to a new country to work it’s essential that you quickly pick up the country’s language. At the very least in the beginning you at least need to be able to understand the conversational basics of the language, and these ten different ways can help put you on the fast track to language mastery success.

  1. Rosetta Stone – There’s not many languages that Rosetta Stone doesn’t cover, and people have long touted the effectiveness of the program. Rosetta Stone will give you a comprehensive understanding of a new language quickly and effectively by combining several different learning methods.
  2. YouTube – If you’re looking for a free way to learn a new language, YouTube is chock full of great lessons. Seeing actual people pronounce words will also give you a good grasp of how to correctly articulate tricky words.
  3. Traditional Classes – There’s something to be said for going the traditional classroom route. You’ll be able to get support from fellow classmates and turn to the teacher anytime something confusing leaves you stumped. Regular tests and quizzes will give you benchmarks to show how you’re progressing.
  4. Online Classes – If you don’t have the time to attend a traditional classroom setting but still want the structure of a class then online classes could satisfy both of those requirements. Since it’s entirely online you have more freedom to study when the time is right for you, while still being able to interact with a professor if you get stumped along the way.
  5. Immersion – Sometimes the best way to learn is by fully immersing yourself in the culture. You’ll pick up on social cues and real-life interactions and learn about the culture in the process.
  6. Audio Books – Listening to audio books is a great way to learn a new language because you can listen to the books when you’re in the car, working out, or just doing every day activities. Hearing pronunciations and being able to recite them back after listening to them is a great way to get used to actually speaking the language.
  7. Private tutoring – Whether it’s from a member of your host family or someone that you’ve hired, private tutoring can give you one-on-one attention that other options lack. The individualized attention can help perfect the language in no time.
  8. Language Books – Like audio books, language books give you the freedom to study a language whenever you have some free time. Languages aren’t all about speaking and hearing, you will have to learn how to read the language as well, and books about the language are a great introduction.
  9. Watch movies with in a foreign language – Picking a movie in a foreign language when you’re already familiar with the plotline and story gives you a chance to pick up the language in a unique way. You can choose one with subtitles if you’re just starting out and gradually work up to not including the subtitles as you become more comfortable with the language. It’s a good way to test if you’re actually understanding the language or not.
  10. Language Swaps – In a language swap you will partner up with someone who knows your desired language and is attempting to learn your native tongue and you will mutually help each other learn the other language. This is a great way to learn because both parties benefit.

As difficult as learning a new language may be there are several different ways to tackle learning it that will appeal to all types of learners. And if one method doesn’t work out, don’t give up! Just pick a new one and keep trying.

 
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Published on June 25, 2012, by in Au Pair.

Childcare providers wear many hats and come in many forms, but it’s important to remember the differences between each. Specific titles indicate much of their expected workload and experience level, which can be very helpful when placing ads or putting out feelers. Here are ten of the ways that au pairs are different from traditional babysitters.

  1. Au Pairs Are Visiting Foreign Students – To be considered an au pair, young adults must be visiting their host country with the intention of returning to the country of their citizenship at the end of a specified period. Some families create arrangements similar to those that govern a host family/au pair relationship with a young person who is a citizen of their country, but they aren’t technically considered au pairs.
  2. Au Pairs Live In – Babysitters almost always live outside of the family home; domestically-born caregivers that live in usually fall under the heading of “nanny.” However, au pairs always live in their host family’s home, as this is the foundation of the au pair model.
  3. Au Pairs Have Education Requirements – Almost all host countries with au pair programs recognized by their government have education and language class requirements for visiting au pairs. The number of coursework hours may vary from country to country, but there are very few without secondary education guidelines and regulations.
  4. Au Pairs Are Part of a Cultural Exchange Program – Au pairs live with a foreign family and provide light childcare in exchange for the opportunity to immerse themselves in that nation’s culture while also sharing their own. One of the basic tenets of the au pair working model is that families and their au pairs share cultures and customs with one another during their time together.
  5. Au Pairs Have Special Visa Requirements – Babysitters usually live in your neighborhood or are locally based, and as such don’t require a visa. Au pairs, however, must arrange for a special visa before arriving in their host country in order to legally remain on foreign soil.
  6. Au Pairs Receive Pocket Money, Not Paid Wages – Instead of paying a babysitter’s wages, host families provide an au pair with pocket money. This money is similar to an allowance, and is designed to facilitate exploration and provide au pairs with an authentic cultural experience during their off hours.
  7. Au Pairs Have Regular Schedules – While babysitters are on-call workers that parents arrange to hire for a special outing, au pairs live with their host families and can expect to have a reasonably regular childcare schedule.
  8. Au Pairs Are Limited in the Number of Hours They Can Work Each Week – In addition to the education requirements, host governments usually dictate the number of hours than an au pair is legally expected to work in order to protect them from being overworked or isolated within the home instead of experiencing the local culture.
  9. Au Pairs Accompany Host Families on Vacations and Outings – Families that would consider inviting the babysitter along on vacations and day trips are very rare, indeed. However, host families are expected to bring au pairs along on any outings or vacations, as they’re expected to be treated as a part of the extended family.
  10. Au Pairs Are Not Employees – It’s important for prospective host families to note that au pairs are not to be considered employees; rather, they should be treated as an honored guest or part of the extended family unit.

Because international au pair culture dictates that host families are not to treat au pairs as domestic servants or employees, they might not be the best fit for a family who’s simply seeking in-home childcare. Host families should be prepared to offer guidance and assistance in navigating local culture and helping their au pair to have a fulfilling foreign travel experience, rather than focusing on the childcare and household aspects of the arrangement.

 
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Published on June 7, 2012, by in Au Pair.

Au pairs play a big role in many of the fairy tales that are so commonly told and retold. You might be surprised where they will pop up. Here are ten fairy tales that have an au pair in them.

  1. Little Brother and Little Sister by Brothers Grimm – A sister and brother are abandoned to the woods by their evil step mother. They live well there, but the brother accidentally drinks out of a cursed well and turns into a deer. The sister takes care of him until a King comes along and marries her, taking her brother along also at her request. When the sister has a baby, an evil witch curses her and makes her a ghost, taking her place. The love the sister has for her child and brother is too strong, so she can still appear at night to nurse her child and greet her brother. The au pair that is taking care of the child sees her and tells the King, who kills the witch and rescues her from her curse, and also frees her brother from his curse. Thanks to one watchful au pair, everyone lives happily ever after.
  2. Princess Rosette by Madame d’Aulnoy – A princess is destined to marry a faraway king. Her brothers find the king and the king says he would marry her if she was beautiful, but kill them both if she was not. Princess Rosette goes to meet the king with her au pair. The au pair bribes the boatman to throw the princess, into the sea in the middle of the night and the au pair put her own daughter in the princess’s place. The outraged king was about to execute her brothers, who persuaded him to give them seven days to prove their innocence. When the princess woke, she was convinced that the king had decided not to marry her after all, and so had her thrown into the sea. She is helped by an old man and eventually the brothers find her. The king marries her and they live happily ever after.
  3. The Nurse, Japanese – The story of a loyal au pair, Matsu, who keeps a sacred sword safe for a prince who is banished by an evil stepmother. When the stepmother discovers she has hidden the sword, who keeps her locked in the dungeon until she dies. Her ghost retrieves the sword and gives it to the prince.
  4. The Fairy Nurse by Andrew Lang – The story of a woman named Molly who is trapped by the fairies as an au pair. Her neighbor sees her and concocts a plan to rescue her.
  5. The Fairy Nurse by W. R. Wilde – A good mother named Biddy is kidnapped to be the au pair for a fairy king whose queen is ill. When the queen feels better, they release her and, as a reward, she gets the cure for a little girl’s illness.
  6. The Fox as Nurse, Finnish – A wolf has three cubs but their mother is dead. He goes looking for an au pair. He finds a fox who says she will do the job. The fox ends up eating the cubs and tricks the wolf into letting her escape.
  7. Nurse Matilda by Christianna Brand – The inspiration of the Nanny McPhee movies, this classic series of fairy tales has a magical au pair that can love naughty children and make them ‘proper’ with just a tap of her cane.
  8. The Nurse and the Wolf by Aesop – An au pair threatens to feed a whiny child to wolves and a wolf overhears it. When the child wines again, the wolf comes out, expecting to be fed. Instead, the au pair calls for help and the wolf is chased away.
  9. Rumpelstiltskin by Brothers Grimm – An evil little man demands a princess’ first born child when he does her a favor. When he comes to retrieve the child, and au pair protects her as the princess bargains with him. Eventually, the princess guesses his name and he goes away empty handed.
  10. Blondine, Bonne-Biche, and Beau Mignon by Comtesse de Ségur – The tale of a princess who is left in an enchanted forest by her evil stepmother. When her father remarries, Blondine is left in the care of her au pair, because the queen is so evil. When the queen can no longer take her presence, she tricks Blondine into the forest. Her father, the King, searches for her but does not find her. She stays with a talking deer and the deer’s son, a white cat. There she stays until she is lured away by an evil magician. Eventually she finds her way home with the help of a prince and they marry.

No matter what culture you come from, there are fairy tales with au pairs present. Some are good, some are bad, but they are an important part of fairy tales and of life.

 
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Published on May 11, 2012, by in Au Pair.

The concept of au pairs in movie plots isn’t anything new. For years filmmakers have been depicting au pairs on the big screen. Whether they are scary, with super powers or singing they all portray one thing, being an au pair is always interesting. Here are 10 popular movies that feature au pairs:

  1. Mary Poppins (1964) – Julie Andrews stars in this classic and well known musical movie about an au pair that comes flying into watch over The Banks family. She uses her special powers to create fun for the whole family and help the children use their much needed imagination.
  2. Spanglish (2004) – Au pair, Flor and her daughter venture from Mexico to the United States to help a misfit family get through awkward and somewhat funny times. Adam Sandler and Tea Leoni star in this comedy, definitely a must rent.
  3. The Adams Family (1993) – Joan Cusack finds herself au pairing for mischievous children in your not so normal family. This definitely not your typical family or typical au pair.
  4. The Others (2001) – Nicole Kidman plays a rather overprotected mother of two light sensitive children. She is convinced her home is haunted when her au pair shows up with a few surprises.
  5. The Sound of Music (1965)- Julie Andrews makes her second appearance on this list with this big musical hit about a troublesome nun sent to help an Austrian widow and his 7 unruly children. A sing a long for the whole family!
  6. Nanny McPhee (2005) - When a widowed father hires Nanny McPhee to contain his seven unruly children, the kids start mysteriously behaving and it’s not because of practice, patience and love, but because of her magic.
  7. The Hand that Rocks the Cradle (1992) – A couple living in the suburbs hires a sweet and soft spoken au pair for their baby. The parents start to realize the au pair is not what she seems and are desperate to protect their lives in this chilling thriller.
  8. Uptown Girls (2003) - Brittany Murphy plays childlike au pair of adult like Dakota Fanning. Funny mishap after mishap things get better and a relationship is formed and lessons are learned.
  9. Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)- And who could you not adore a movie about a loving father dressed up like an older woman pretending to be a well-trained au pair, starring Robin Williams.
  10. Corina, Corina (1994)-Whoopi Goldberg saves a father and daughter from drifting apart with her good ol’ fashion and child rearing ways. It’s a great movie for the whole family!