In many countries, au pairs are required to have a certain level of the national language before entering. This is to ensure a smooth transition for them as they integrate and culturally immerse themselves during their au pair experience. They may have to prove their language level with official testing and provide a certificate when they apply for their visa.
It is also the case in some countries that the host family must also meet specific language requirements. Especially in the case if they are a foreign-born citizen in the host country, then they may need to show that they use the country’s official language in everyday life to ensure a proper cultural immersion experience for the au pair. This is typically shown through conversations with the sponsoring agency rather than through an official test. Each country has specific regulations regarding language requirements, so select a country below to learn more.
Many host countries require au pairs to have some language skill requirements in the local language or in the language of a neighboring country. While au pairs often take a language course during their au pair year, many sponsoring governments like to already see a basic knowledge and interest in the local culture before approving a visa.
The au pair agency can assess certain language levels, particularly for English levels of au pairs, and give a recommendation as to whether or not they are fit for the program. Other times, like in the case of Germany for example, the au pair must take an official certification to prove their level. In cases where this is not as strict, online tools such as Duolingo can be helpful at getting au pairs to the needed level.
Most of the time, the host family should know the language of the host country well enough to speak with and support the au pair in improving her language skills during her stay. In some countries, this is a hard requirement in order to be eligible to be a host family to ensure the au pair is getting cultural immersion from the host country itself, which is important to many governments.
The au pair program can be further enhanced through this with the host family introducing the au pair to other locals in the area and their extended family so that she has more opportunities to practice her language skills, even if they are still in a more foundational level.
Many countries have certain language levels as an official requirement for visa applications to become an au pair, while others have this as a guideline. There are a variety of program requirements that differ per country from childcare experience, to number of work hours, to a criminal background check, to proof of being a secondary school graduate.
Each governing body is allowed to make the final decision regarding this, but language is often intertwined with the purpose of the cultural exchange aspect of au pair programs. Plus, many host families find it respectful and enjoy it when the au pair makes an effort to learn at least a basic knowledge of their language alongside their culture.
Below you will find a table about the holidays for au pairs in different countries.