Carolina is from Colombia and Spain, she has a degree in Tourism and a Master's in Destination Management and she speaks some French and Catalán.
As part of The Big Fish English Writing Project, Carolina has written an article about becoming an Au Pair:
Improve your English by being an au pair.
By Carolina Muñoz
After years and years studying English, I decided the right way to improve was to move to London -but I didn’t have enough money to travel and for the moving expenses, on top of that, I wasn’t brave enough to come to a new country without a job. The solution was to work as an Au pair. What’s an au pair? An au pair is the person who takes care of the children when the parents are working, an au pair drops them off and picks them up from school, gives them lunch or dinner and helps generally with the children. Normally au pairs get accommodation and food as well as small monthly allowance in return for their work.
Tips before coming
- Be patient, you won’t find the right family in one day, which is better, because you will have the opportunity to do a lot of interviews by Skype.
- Have a lot of interviews with your host family and ask, ask and ask again don’t forget anything; on aupairworld you can find some typical questions.
- Set up a timetable with your family and also the tasks you have to do, it is so important to make things clear before you arrive.
- If you really want to improve your speaking, look for children who go to school, because you can speak with them, help them with their homework – With babies you won’t be able to do it.
- If you are a beginner in English you can spend one year with the family, because you will learn a lot of things, but if you have an intermediate level I recommend you spend less time with a family and look for a job in customer service.
Tips for your stay
- Don’t spend too much time with people from your country, because you will end up speaking your mother tongue.
- Try to speak a lot of English, even with yourself.
- Take advantage of your free time and study, there a lot of grammar, listening exercises on the Internet
- Don’t be shy
- Go out to clubs, parks, pubs… places where you will have the opportunity to speak, you can go with the children to a lot of places and speak with the other parents.
- If you have a hobby (such as DIY, flower arranging, sports, knitting) it’s the time to practice it, you can attend courses about your hobbies. You will improve your English at the same time as enjoying yourself.
- If you are an au pair you will watch a lot of cartoons: Peppa Pig, Mickey Mouse, Doc Mc.Stuffin, but don’t worry because you are going to learn new useful vocabulary.
- If you have enough free time you can be a volunteer in a charity shop, you will have the opportunity to speak a lot.
- Visit the nearest library, you can find a lot of activities there.
- Although, there are a lot of ways to do it, sometimes you don’t find the opportunity to speak or you end up saying the same things, so you can go to speaking classes, where you can speak and listen to other people, this way you can learn from your mistakes and their mistakes.
- I know we want to speak fluently, but living here in England, I have also realised the importance of pronunciation, so we must be careful how pronounce words. In my English class there was a girl who spoke English fluently and she has a lot of vocabulary but nobody could understand her – even the teachers!