Communication in the Au Pair Program

Advice from LCs

SoilyLocal Coordinator and Former Au Pair
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“Host families and au pairs thrive when there is a clear communication and mutual understanding. Picture the au pair program as a dance, a duet. Embrace the rhythm of a shared experience, learn each other's moves and let flexibility be your guiding Waltz. To maintain that open line of communication, prioritize your weekly meetings! This is a dedicated opportunity to refine your routine, discuss any concerns, and ensure harmony.”
VanniaLocal Coordinator and Former Au Pair
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“Always have good communication. I say this to both my Au pairs and their host families in every monthly meeting - talk about things as much as you can. Even if you don't understand something, ask and you will see that communicating makes things go better and smoother.”

Weekly Meetings

Communication is key to success. Hosts and au pairs should have a scheduled weekly meeting to facilitate open communication and prevent potential issues. Hosts should schedule 15-30+ minutes each week either at the start or end of the au pair’s work schedule. Refer to the weekly meeting checklist in your household guide for discussion points. Provide praise and feedback. Review any areas of improvement. Ask your au pair for feedback as well and if she has any support needs.

Read more about our Household Guide here:

English in the Home

Hosts should speak primarily English in the home. Host families in bilingual homes need to be mindful of how they communicate around their au pair. Communicating with an au pair in their native language can become a crutch and hinder their program goal of English language development. Speaking a language unfamiliar to the au pair can isolate the au pair, making them feel shunned or ostracized and unable to connect with the family unit. Proper etiquette is to default to spoken English when conversing when the au pair is present.

Language Barriers

While au pairs are expected to be proficient in English, hosts do need to be prepared for common language barriers, especially in the first few months as the au pair develops new vocabulary and becomes accustomed to your household. Speak in slow, simple English. If you use idioms, slang or regional dialect, pause to explain meanings and clarify. Add closed captions to your TV’s and use Google translate as needed. Avoid rushed and multi-step verbal directions. Child care expectations, safety rules, lists and instructions should be provided in writing and thoroughly reviewed. Visual reminders and picture schedules often used for children can be especially helpful for your au pair.

Cross-Cultural Communication

Communication styles can vary among cultures and are often the root problem when placement issues between host families and au pairs occur. Dedicate the time to build a trusting relationship with your au pair. Maintain a calm, friendly tone and be patient. Smile and provide a welcoming environment for your au pair to approach you.

Learn more about cultural competency here: