The Language Place

au-pair study programme terms and conditions

The following terms and conditions for an au-pair who is going to study English at The Language Place on our au-pair study programme have been drawn up to protect both the au-pair and the host family in accordance with the guidelines of the European Agreement on Au-Pair Placement.

Au-pair selection and host family placement:

The au-pair applies in writing to our school. If she is deemed a possible candidate for our au-pair study programme, she is then interviewed in English by the Academic Director and the Managing Director of The Language Place. This interview may be held face-to-face or via Skype and this is an in-depth interview. She must complete an English language level test and she must also produce the following documentation during this initial interview:

  • at least one reference from previous childcare work
  • a police clearance certificate which permits her to work with children
  • a recent medical certificate (no older than three months) to ensure there are no underlying health problems which may interfere with her childcare duties.

Successful candidates for our au-pair study programme will:

  • have some verifiable childcare experience
  • be responsible
  • be enthusiastic
  • be caring
  • be prepared to commit to the host family for a minimum period of four to twelve months (or two months in summer if on the July/August study programme)
  • have sufficient English to carry out her duties and engage fully with the child(ren) in her care and with her hosts. In general, a minimum of A2 level English is required for the au-pair study programme but most host families will prefer B1 level or higher..
  • commit to improving her English by registering for a part-time English course (6 hours per week) at The Language Place for at least 8 weeks.

All our host families are selected after a long interview process. The families usually have between 1 and 4 children who the au-pair will help to take care of. If the au-pair successfully completes this stage of the placement process, her details will be sent to suitable host families. The host families will then select the au-pair(s) they feel best suits their requirements. The host families will conduct their own Skype interview with suitable candidates before making their final selection. Once the au-pair has been selected by the host family and the dates of the placement agreed by both parties, The Language Place will send her a formal letter of invitation offering her a place on the au-pair study programme for the agreed dates. Her contract with her childcare duties and pocket money will also be drawn up and sent to her at this point.
When the au-pair has accepted a place on the au-pair study programme and has booked her English language course with us, The Language Place will send her a welcome pack with useful information about the area including a map, bus timetables, The Language Place Social Programme, icebreakers to use to get to know the parents in the host family, games to play with the host family children, etc.

Arrival and settling in:

The au-pair pays for her own flights to Ireland and we recommend looking for very cheap flights with Ryanair or another low cost airline to Dublin which is the nearest airport. The host family will collect the au-pair from the airport and assist her with transporting her luggage to the host family home. One of the directors from The Language Place will contact the au-pair and the host family within 48 hours of her arrival to ensure the au-pair is settling in and to confirm her English class timetable. Some au-pairs might feel a little homesick in the beginning but once their English course is underway, they will soon make friends and all feelings of homesickness will disappear. The Language Place provides the host family with a useful ‘settling in’ information pack with ideas for helping the au-pair settle in to family life quickly.

English language development:

The primary goal for au-pairs on the au-pair study programme is to improve their language skills by practising English as often as they can. Au-pairs generally spend most of their time helping their hosts with childcare (up to 30 hours per week), but they also have free time for studying English at The Language Place (6 hours per week) and for meeting friends. The Language Place organises a social programme for our au-pairs with weekly meetings and regular outings with other English and foreign language students at The Language Place, the majority of whom are young adults working in multinational companies in Dundalk. We also organise regular weekend trips to Dublin, Belfast and Galway.
Host families also play an important role in our au-pairs’ English language skills development. The host families are very friendly and kind and will treat their au-pair like another member of the family.
Most families will also include their au-pair in family outings if she is free.

Getting around:

In general, 60% of our host families live in houses in the countryside or in towns and villages outside Dundalk and 40% of our host families live in houses in Dundalk town or Blackrock village. Most host families prefer an au-pair who can drive. An au-pair without a driver’s license can only stay in Dundalk town or Blackrock village with a family which does not need her to drive.

1. Au-pairs in Dundalk town:

If the host family requires the au-pair to drive, e.g. drive the child(ren) to school or other activities, the host family provides a car for the au-pair to use. Au-pairs who stay with families in Dundalk town also have a local bus service. Please note that bus services in Ireland are not as frequent as in other countries and there are no local buses after 6pm. There are buses every hour to and from Dublin city to Dundalk.


2. Au-pairs in the countryside and in villages:

60% of Irish families live in houses in the countryside but there is a very limited public transport system in the countryside and most families in the countryside have two cars. Au-pairs who would like to stay with families in the countryside or in a village must have a full driver’s license and at least one year’s driving experience. The host family will provide the au-pair with a car to use to go to her English classes and to transport the host family child(ren) to school and other activities. Depending on the host family, the au-pair may also be able to use this car for personal use at weekends. The use of the car is agreed with the host family in the au-pair contract.

Petrol/diesel costs:

Petrol/diesel costs are paid by the host family when the au-pair is transporting their child(ren). Similarly, if the only way the au-pair can attend her English classes is by car, petrol/diesel costs must be paid by the host family. If the au-pair is permitted to use the host family car to travel with friends at weekends or when she is off, she should pay for her own petrol/diesel costs.
Au-pair childcare experience and qualifications:
The au-pair must have some babysitting experience and must provide at least one reference in English for the host family. Additional experience as summer camp monitors or nursery teachers is excellent but not essential as host families do not expect their au-pair to have a recognised qualification in childcare.

Au-pair duties:

An au-pair’s primary responsibility is helping the parents with childcare and it is imperative that she follows the parents instructions as to how they would like their child(ren) cared for during their absence. The au-pair must follow the parents’ instructions as regards routines, mealtimes, television, activities, napping, bedtime, etc. Typical au-pair duties include:

  • playing with the children
  • taking the children to and from school/playschool
  • taking the children on outings or to extra-curricular activities
  • supervising the children’s homework
  • preparing meals for the children
  • cleaning up after meals during the day e.g. loading/unloading the dishwasher
  • dressing/undressing younger children
  • bathing younger children
  • changing nappies
  • helping the children to keep their playroom tidy
  • helping the children to keep their bedrooms tidy
  • helping to keep communal areas tidy, e.g. the living room
  • keeping her own bedroom/bathroom tidy
  • changing the children’s bed linen
  • changing her own bed linen
  • hanging out/taking in the children’s clothes
  • doing her own ironing / some ironing for the children
  • doing light shopping for the family and other errands accompanied by the children

Families with babies/young children do not expect their au-pair to attend to the baby/young child during the night or when she is not on duty. In addition, au-pairs do not do the following household tasks:

  • heavy duty cleaning in the kitchen of any kind e.g. cleaning out fridge, cooker, cupboards, etc.
  • dusting
  • washing windows
  • washing floors
  • cleaning the family bathroom or en-suites she doesn’t use
  • sorting the family laundry
  • ironing clothes for the adults in the family
  • preparing complex meals for the adults in the family
  • gardening
  • painting or other DIY tasks
  • any household task which may cause injury to the au-pair e.g. lifting heavy items/children, standing on a chair or another height, using a faulty electrical appliance, etc.

These guidelines are in place to ensure the health and safety of the au-pair and to prevent an au-pair being exploited by a host family who may not be aware of the guidelines for all au-pairs in the European Agreement for Au-pair Placement. Au-pairs should never be asked to do excessive housework which is likely to distract them from their primary responsibility i.e. looking after the child(ren) in the family. An au-pair on our au-pair study programme can expect to have very good conditions with her host family and the directors of The Language Place will ensure that the host family adheres to the au-pair contract at all times. This means the au-pair does not have to worry about dealing with any problems, even minor problems, with the host family on herown.
Most host families and au-pairs form strong and lasting friendships and remain in contact for many years after the au-pair returns to her own country.

Timetable and pocket money:

Au-pairs have an agreed weekly timetable with the host family. The au-pair looks after the host family child(ren) for up to 30 hours a week and babysits for one or two nights per month in exchange for €100 pocket money. Au-pairs who take care of children from Monday to Friday have all weekend off or will be paid extra if required to babysit at weekends. Au-pairs who look after school-going children part-time during the week can be expected to take care of the children for some hours at the weekend as part of their 30 hours but they must have two days completely free every week. If the au-pair is required look after the child(ren) for more than the recommended 30 hours from the onset of her placement, this is clearly stated on her au-pair contract and she will receive additional pocket money. 
The au-pair will be given her pocket money weekly, generally on a Friday.

Looking after other people’s children:

The au-pair is not expected to regularly look after other people’s children unless this has been agreed in her contract from the outset. If play-dates/sleepovers are organised between the host family and another family, the au-pair will be given clear information about the additional child in her care. Play-dates/sleepovers will be organised in the host family home and the additional child will not be either considerably older or considerably younger than the host family child(ren) the au-pair is contracted to look after.

Mealtimes:

Irish people usually eat breakfast between 7 and 9 in the morning. Breakfast is normally cereal, milk, toast, jam, eggs, yoghurt and fruit juice. The next meal is lunch between 12 and 14 and Irish people usually eat a sandwich or a very light meal, for example soup or a salad. The main meal of the day is dinner which families usually eat between 17.30 and 19.30. This is a hot meal, normally potatoes, pasta or rice with meat and vegetables. Irish people also eat snacks between meals. More detailed information about Irish dishes and eating habits can be found in our welcome packs for au-pairs. Au-pairs will prepare simple meals for the children when they are on duty. Some au-pairs may prefer to make their own breakfast/lunch rather than eat the same food as the child(ren) and the au-pair can ask the host family to buy any food she needs. Au-pairs do not have to prepare meals for the adults in the family but can help the adults prepare dinner in the evening. Au-pairs who have specific dietary requirements should indicate these requirements on their registration forms but generally, the au-pair will usually eat with the family in the evenings. Please note that Irish people eat earlier in the evening than other Europeans so it may take the au-pair some time to get used to the earlier eating times of the typical Irish family.

Host family rules:

Universal rules stated on every au-pair contract include:

  • no drug use
  • no smoking in the presence of the children
  • no alcohol consumption while on duty or excessive alcohol consumption before being on duty
  • no physical force of any kind
  • no reckless behaviour which could result in child endangerment

Failure to comply with any of these rules will result in immediate expulsion from the au-pair study programme.
In addition to these universal rules, the host family can also put some specific house rules on their au-pair contract as regards the following:

  • visitors to the family home
  • the use of a car outside of the school run or taking the child(ren) to activities
  • smoking in the garden when not looking after the child(ren)
  • any other house rule which the host family deems relevant

The contract will be sent to the au-pair with her invitation letter from The Language Place prior to her commencing her placement in the host family home. The Language Place will also retain a copy of the au-pair’s contract with the host family.

Personal safety:

Au-pairs are young women between 19 and 29 years old and their safety while in Ireland is very important. Au-pairs should inform their host families when they are going out at night, who they are going out with, how they intend travelling home and what time they expect to be back at. Au-pairs must also inform their host families when they are going on organised trips at weekends and what time they expect to be back.

Illness:

In the event of the au-pair becoming ill during his/her stay in the host family home, the au-pair will be made as comfortable as possible and, if necessary, temporarily relieved of her duties. If necessary, the host family will make an appointment for the au-pair with the family doctor. The host family will inform either Richard or Annemarie at The Language Place if the au-pair complains of feeling very unwell. All au-pairs are required to bring a European Health Insurance Card with them which entitles them to free emergency medical care in Ireland under the EU Regulation 1408/1. The au-pair will also be informed of doctor costs in Ireland in their information pack and the name of the doctor they have to register with upon arrival. In case of an emergency situation when prompt medical attention is clearly necessary, the host family will call an ambulance and inform us immediately. We are contactable 24 hours a day for emergencies on either 00353 87 229 7476 or 00353 87 229 7473.

Termination of contract:

In the interest of fairness to the host family, we ask girls applying for the au-pair study programme to be prepared to commit to a minimum placement of six months. We also ask host families to commit to four months after which time the au-pair’s contract can be extended if both parties are happy to do this. However, according to the European Agreement on Au-Pair Placement, au-pairs and host families can terminate their contract during the placement with two weeks’ notice from either party so if an au-pair finds that being an au-pair is not for her during this initial four-month period, The Language Place will try to find an alternative au-pair for the host family within two weeks. In the interim period, while this change is being made, the au-pair should continue to carry out her duties as agreed and the host family should continue to make the au-pair feel welcome in the family.
Occasionally, despite our best efforts to match au-pairs and host families, the hosting arrangement is not satisfactory and a host family/au-pair may ask us to organise an alternative au-pair/host family. In the event of this situation arising because of confusion over duties, payment or other issues, we will endeavour to resolve the situation by clarifying these issues. If the situation cannot be resolved in a satisfactory manner for both parties, the host family/au-pair will be offered an alternative au-pair/host family, if available. In the interim period of usually two weeks while these changes are being made, the au-pair should continue her duties as agreed and the host family should continue to make the au-pair feel welcome in the family.
In the extremely unlikely event of gross misconduct on the part of the au-pair, the au-pair will be immediately removed from the host-family and expelled from the au-pair study programme. The host-family will be offered a replacement au-pair, if available. Gross misconduct includes but is not limited to negligence, child endangerment and drug/alcohol consumption while taking care of children. Please note that gross misconduct on the part of the host family will also result in the au-pair being immediately removed from the host family home and offered an alternative family, if available. In the interim period, the au-pair will be accommodated with the directors of The Language Place in their family home.

Administration fees:

We ask au-pairs to pay a registration fee of €80 which covers:

  • an interview
  • preparation of their information for potential host families including photos
  • detailed information about their host family including photos
  • host family background check
  • preparation of the host family contract with the au-pair

Au-pair Total Immersion study programme fees:

Au-pairs on our Au-pair Total Immersion study programme must register and pay for their English language classes before coming to Ireland to begin their placement with the host family. The minimum period is 8 weeks and the study programme fee for 8 weeks is €320 which includes

  • 6 hours of high quality English language tuition per week in small classes of maximum 6-8 students
  • classroom materials including practice tests if preparing for PET, FCE or CAE
  • a library card
  • support and guidance from the directors of The Language Place who have interviewed and selected the host families
  • access to the Social Programme for students of The Language Place
  • mediation with the host family in the event of any problems as regards timetable, pocket money, duties, holidays, etc.

After the first two months, au-pairs can continue doing 6 hours of English classes per week on the au-pair study programme for as long as they want to. These classes must be paid for one month in advance and cost €160 per month.

Disclaimer:

The Language Place offers the Au-Pair Total Immersion study programme to girls between 19 and 29 years old in order to assist suitable candidates who want to study English in Ireland, and who would like to earn pocket money to support themselves while they are here, to find suitable host families. The Language Place facilitates an introduction between a suitable au-pair candidate and a suitable host family based on the information provided by both during a lengthy interview process. The Language Place takes great care to ensure that all the information provided during the registration process is correct but cannot be held responsible for omissions or inaccuracies which may become apparent during the au-pair placement. While we endeavour to accept only the most suitable candidates/host families on our au-pair study programme, it is the host family who makes the final selection of the au-pair who best fits their requirements and it is the host family who determines the childcare duties of the au-pair they select. In short, the childcare agreement is between the host family and the au-pair. The directors are on hand to advise the host family when 2drawing up the au-pair contract and to assist and advise during the au-pair’s placement but cannot be held responsible for any issues of gross misconduct which may arise during the au-pair’s placement. The Language Place cannot be held responsible for:

  • Any accidents or injuries which the au-pair may incur outside of our building during her placement.
  • Any accident or injuries which the child(ren) in the au-pair’s care may incur during the au-pair’s placement through negligence on the part of the au-pair.
  • Any damages to or theft of a host family car if the au-pair is required to drive.
  • Any damages to or theft of host family property during the au-pair’s placement.

Richard Keogh, Managing Director, The Language Place
Annemarie Keogh, Academic Director, The Language Place



contact us

 

telephone: 00 353 42 9320729
mobiles: 00 353 87 2297476
00 353 87 2297473
email:

info@thelanguageplace.ie

address:

18 francis street,
dundalk, county louth, ireland

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