Today we’re talking about how to get on with your host kids even if they speak a different language! This is something that troubles a lot of au pairs, but really there are many ways to overcome the language barrier.
We definitely recommend trying to learn as much of the language as you can before you move abroad (including the top 100 most used words). Check out this article on how to do that.
Finally, if you have any useful tips or tricks, be sure to let us know via social media! We regularly post on Instagram where we share useful advice for au pairs. Let’s get into it:
1. Play Lots of Games Together
Games are THE best way to get to know your host kid. They take away any awkwardness and you can learn the rules in your own language. Try to play games that your host kid already enjoys or ask your host parent to translate new game rules (or use Google Translate to let your host kid know the rules!)
Then, you’ll find yourself playing Uno or Snakes and Ladders for hours. This is a fun way to chat away with you host kid, allowing them to listen to English, without overwhelming them.
2. Constantly Chat in Either Language
This may feel very embarrassing when you first move abroad, but let your host parents know that you’re simply going to chat away in English to your host kid so they pick some bits up. They’ll definitely be pleased.
If you’re struggling to know what to say, simply talk about the things around you. « I am making pasta now using a pan! » It could be as simple as this. Your host kid won’t be speaking fluently within a month but they will start understanding you after not much time at all.
3. Read Lots of Books Together
One of the best ways to learn a new language is to read in that language. This applies to both kids and adults. So, why not bring some of your favourite English books as a present for your host kids?
You could also go to the library and pick up a range of English language books. Kids love being read to and if you choose picture books, then it will be easy for them to pick up what is going on. This is especially the case for younger children.
Furthermore, you could try reading in French to help you learn. Don’t be surprised if your host kid laughs at your pronunciation but don’t be put off! This is a great bonding exercise and they can teach YOU things.
4. Watch TV Together
If your host child is allowed to watch TV, then this is a great way to bond together. You can choose an episode of your favorite series of English speaking TV to show your host kid and encourage them to do the same.
You’ll have an understanding of what they like to watch and will be able to joke about your shared experience of watching the same show. You may be surprised to find how much you can learn from watching kids TV with the subtitles on!
5. Physical Humour
There is a reason why Mr. Bean is popular worldwide. EVERYONE can understand him. Whether you love him or hate him, his comedy is universally enjoyed. Take a leaf out of Mr. Bean’s book and be silly with your host kid.
Make them laugh by pulling silly faces, dancing around together, tickling, or generally being over the top with your humor. This is a great way to overcome a language barrier.
Check out this video by Au Pair, Oh Paris for more tips and tricks on how to chat with your host children.
Click here if you want more information about being an au pair!