Introducing language at home with a granny-aupair

Nowadays most people have heard at one point or other the term “aupair“. Originally from the French, meaning “equal to”, it defines a foreign worker who in exchange of board, a small salary and the chance to immerse themselves in the local language offers her or his services looking after the children and doing domestic tasks. Bilingual Children The term aupair has become synonym with young student on gap year or taking a summer break abroad. However, recently a German entrepreneur had a great idea, Michaela Hansen, owner of the original Granny Au Pair in Munich has opened a new niche market, older women. Thus, opening the aupair market to hundreds of women who would like to brush up on their language skills or simply have an extended working holiday abroad. The market for granny-aupairs is starting to open. Granny-aupairs can be generally women who have retired early, or with no work commitments, they may have brought up their own children in the past, and with that experience and the thirst for knowledge they would travel abroad to stay with a host family. The advantages for a family would be the same as having a standard aupair, plus the added benefits of the wisdom and experience that come with age. Verena is a Swiss grandmother who had always wanted to travel to England to improve her English. When she was younger, she met her future husband and life got busy, so she put her plans on hold. However, some decades and a couple of children and grandchildren later, she finally had the free time and freedom to do just that, take a job as an aupair and fulfil her dream of a language learning stay abroad. IGCSEs_SPANISH She stayed with a multilingual family, where the parents spoke French and German to the children, two languages that she speaks fluently. For her family the main reason for wanting to have a granny aupair was so their children could maintain their fluency in French and German. Serena could help them with this, and at the same time she had the time and money, thanks to the aupair salary, to do some travelling around. She also met local people and made some good friends that she hopes to stay in touch with. However, as all experiences, they teach us positives and negatives. These are some of the hints that Verena wanted to share with any women thinking of becoming grannyaupairs: Be clear of your expectations, as well as the family’s expectations. If your main reason to travel as a grannyaupair is learning a language, make it clear to the family. If the family is looking for an aupair so their children can practice a language, make it clear that you also want to practice the local language and make an arrangement with the family. For instance, speak your language with the children, but the parents should always speak to you in the local language. Set clear working hours and tasks with the family before traveling. Sometimes sharing the same space with a person could make it difficult differentiating where the boundaries are. A host family may consider that watching television is not a very important thing to do, but if it’s in your free time and that’s what you choose to do, then they cannot ask you to look after the children or do any other task at that time. Babysitting. Being an aupair also includes some babysitting, this should be agreed beforehand with the family so there are no surprises. These are other important points that both families and prospective granny aupairs should bear in mind: Sharing the space. After living on your own or sharing your home with your family for most of your life, having to share the space with near strangers can come as a bit of a shocker. You may have to adapt or change some of your habits for a while. Learning the language. If you are thinking of becoming a granny aupair looking to improve your command of a foreign language, this is a good opportunity. But before you embark on this new adventure think about all the challenges ahead, good challenges of course, but tiring nonetheless! Being immersed in a foreign language most of the day will be tiring, so be prepared, eat a good breakfast in the mornings! If you are part of a family thinking of hosting a granny aupair as a way to improve your children’s command in a foreign language, also take into account that most likely this lady will want to learn your language, so you will have to be prepared to provide for her opportunities to hear and use your language as well. All in all, both being an aupair and hosting one can be a fantastic and fun experience for the whole family. Originally the idea of granny aupair originated in Germany and most of the agencies you will find on the Internet are probably from there, but a search for “granny aupair” in other countries will also bring up some results.

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