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Am I crazy to choose an au pair who speaks very little English.

(14 Posts)
Fieldday Mon 04-Dec-17 21:29:56

I'd be very grateful for any advise on this issue. We have found an au pair who seems perfect in almost every way except that her level of English is very basic. She is a midwife in her home country and she is looking to move to the UK to practise midwifery. She needs to take an English exam which is in a full year from now to be eligible. So she would like to stay for a full year. This is very important to us. She has been a nanny to two families in her home country and I have spoken to both of them (in broken English) and they both sing her praises. She seems warm and smiley, and I know she would be amazing if she spoke English.

I have two young children (6 and 4) and a baby (six months). I am at home but there will be quite a lot of times where the au pair is on her own with the older kids e.g. getting them ready for bed, taking them to some after school activities etc. They are great kids, but one does need to negotiate with them to get them to do lots of everyday tasks!

Has anyone had an au pair who started with very little English? Was it manageable? Did the kids form a bond with the au pair?

Thanks very much for any guidance on this issue.

NotSureThisIsWhatIWant Mon 04-Dec-17 21:36:20

I thought the vast majority of au pairs were “aupairing” in order to improve their English.

There is a big difference between an aupair’s and a nanny’ responsibilities. For basic responsibilities like picking up the children or tidying up a bit, things should be fine.

Justmuddlingalong Mon 04-Dec-17 21:38:58

I would have thought that someone who has any time of sole responsibility for children, would have to have more than a basic knowledge of the same language.

MrsPestilence Mon 04-Dec-17 21:42:17

One of our Au pairs had rubbish English. He learnt really quickly and is now (10 years later) a police translator in his own country, You will be surprised by how much can be mimed / written in weird multi language notes.

underneaththeash Tue 05-Dec-17 14:20:31

I wouldn't leave a child in the care of someone whose English wasn't good enough to make a call to 999 and be understood. Could she do that? If she can't it may well be that you can't leave her alone for long with the children without you being there.

If you do decide to host her, I would make attending English lessons non-negiotable, we've found with ours their English improves so much more quickly with the lessons.

Our children do find it more difficult to bond with the au pairs who have a poorer command of English, yes. But as she's already had some nanny experience she may be experienced enough to overcome that hurdle.

OVienna Wed 06-Dec-17 23:38:27

We went for au pairs with very strong English when my DCs were the age of yours. Our current one sounds more like what you're describing. But my kids are year 5 and secondary. It can be very challenging but she is improving. - I like to text and email things to give her time to digest them. I am happy to support her but you need to judge whether she'll try or seek out people from her home country primarily. In which case- have the downside but not the fun part of seeing people improve. We dont feel like we know this one very well either. I find the girls who speak less well can be a bit more solitary. You need to judge her motivation levels. If you are mostly home she will probably learn quickly.

Yerazig Thu 07-Dec-17 09:25:35

As someone said is her English good enough that if she had to communicate in an emergency she could? If not I wouldn’t even consider it. I’m a nanny I previously had gone for an interview and bumped into the nanny the family had picked. Without realising it was the same babies, I was asking her where abouts she worked. She literally couldn’t even pronounce the road or the main road that it led off her English was that poor. So again if this au pairs level of English is that poor (even if you are going to be around a lot of the time) for children who are the young side of primary school I would want someone with a decent amount of English.

Fekko Thu 07-Dec-17 09:27:06

Off tangent a bit - what language does she speak?

SantasLittleMonkeyButler Thu 07-Dec-17 09:31:34

If she is eager to learn English (as it sounds like she is), then it could work.

My deciding question would also be "does she have enough English currently to communicate in an emergency?" If so, and she is perfect otherwise, I would be very tempted to employ her.

Fieldday Thu 07-Dec-17 23:07:55

Thanks all. It’s so emotionally draining choosing an au pair - someone who will share your home and be so important in your children’s lives for the time they are with you!

Anyway, we have just offered the position to someone with a much better command of English. I can’t say yet whether I’ve made the right decision - but she does seem amazingly qualified for an au pair. I’m just hoping she doesn’t leave us too quickly!

Fellow, she was Italian.

Delph123 Sat 09-Dec-17 18:37:44

Fieldday, good decision - I gave my au pair the benefit of the doubt with basic English and it has been nothing short of a disaster, she is unable to follow basic instructions and thought the emergency number in the UK was 911, despite the correct number being on page 1 of the handbook I gave her when she first started. Needless to say I'll be giving her 2 weeks notice soon, starting another thread on that shortly.

Booboostwo Sat 09-Dec-17 19:25:20

Glad you sorted it OP but by the by doesn't 112 work in the UK for emergencies?

MrsOprah Mon 01-Jan-18 10:42:12

Having read this thread, I just tried '911' on my mobile, calling from in the uk....it went straight through to uk emergency services (oops!) But good to know it works!

autumnleaf1 Sun 04-Feb-18 17:35:24

We have an au pair with very little English. We communicate through Google Translate, and it's not been a problem so far. She doesn't have sole care of the children for very long, though. I'm not sure I'd trust her to be out and about with the children as if anything happened, she wouldn't be able to get help.The children (aged 2 and 5) adore her. She speaks to them in Spanish and they respond in English. I don't think they care what she says, so long as she is playing! On the plus side, this constant immersion in Spanish has made them start to learn Spanish, which can only be a good thing.

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