Expectations for a Rome Abroad Traveler (Au Pair)
Many people ask, "What does the family expect me to do?" Here are what most parents hope and expect when an English speaker comes to stay with them. We've also included what doesn't jive well for an Italian family.
1. Do: Interact With Their Children
The sky's the limit when you ask how to interact with children to help them learn a language. Rule number one: it should be fun and not feel like a mandated, required class. Make it fun! Make bubbles, paint, go for a walk, tell stories and jokes, read books, watch a movie (occasionally), and be creative in your activities!
2. Do: Care About Them
Anyone, even (and especially) a young child can feel when you're being sincere and when you're faking it. Believe it or not, ninety-percent of the time, they will know when you're having fun with them and when you consider it a chore to be with them. So relax and have fun! Ask them questions about them, open up and tell them about yourself. Think of your time with them as a learning and growing experience (for them and for you!) and it will be much more enjoyable for both of you.
3. Do: Be Patient But Keep Tabs on Their Progress
Helping children learn English doesn't need to be intense or even charted. If they are having trouble with certain sounds, words, or phrases, be patient. Even native speakers take a few years to learn their own language and heck, it took Einstein four! So be patient and kind in your corrections. If the child is making a mistake, just repeat the phrase in the correct way without pointing out their mistake.
Child: It go like this. [Incorrect]
Speaker: Oh, it goes like this? [Correct]
Doing this will help them naturally correct their speech without making English a negative experience. In your own mind or in a private notebook, keep track of how well the child is progressing in their speech. If they're having trouble with a difficult sound like th make note of it and chart their progress.
1. Don't: Get Angry
Kids will be kids. They will probably do something annoying or unfriendly at some point. Depending on their maturity, this could include pulling your hair, screaming, or simply being irritating. Whenever this happens, remember to be the bigger person (this is not to be taken literally, we definitely don't want you to get into a wrestling match or anything) and if you need to, take a break from the situation. Take deep breaths. Namaste.
2. Don't: Stay Shut Up in Your Room
The last thing a host family wants is to go through the whole process of finding you, getting to know you before you take a transatlantic flight to their home is for you to spend the whole time in your room. Remember: this arrangement is a very friendly one, so they're not going to force you to come out of hiding. However, you should be aware of how much time you spend in your room and how much time you're actually interacting with the family.
3. Don't: Forget to Be Grateful
Saying thank you goes a long way in life. Those two words, when spoken sincerely can make the difference between a positive experience and a negative one.
I bet you can remember a time when you did something nice for someone and it didn't even cross their mind to say a simple thanks. And I'm sure you can also think of a time when someone went out of their way to tell you thank you.
Who would you want staying in your house?