Lesson:Au pair selection

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This is a free lesson which has been donated to Teflpedia by Bob M. You are welcome to download and use all or part of it in class. If you feel that parts of the lesson could be improved please do not edit it, but raise your points on the discussion page.
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This is a class by Bob quite some time ago. It was written for my classes in Spain so you may need to change the words "Spain " and "Spanish" as appropriate. Some may feel that the lesson is not politically correct.

Activity[edit]

It is basically a conversation activity which uses a lot of vocabulary associated with personality traits. Teachers may wish to pre-teach this vocabulary.

Introduction[edit]

Have a general discussion about being an au pair. Our au pair conversation questions should provide inspiration.

Part one - discussion[edit]

Split the class into groups of four and further split these groups into groups of two - ideally each pair should be male and female as they will have to play the parts of husband and wife.

First of all, have the student pairs discuss the traits or characteristics they would like to have in an au pair. Explain to each pair that they have both interviewed four people separately and that they are now going to compare their notes. They should not show their notes to each other. The notes are written in such a way that an applicant who seems ideal to one member of the pair will look less good to another. Make sure they decide on a male or female. Do not accept "We don't mind". (OK, it's not politically correct, but it works better this way.) The descriptions they will use later can refer to either sex.

Part two - report back[edit]

Once all the pairs have discussed all four applicants have them report back on their preferred candidate. Make sure that they discuss each candidate individually and not simply talk about the one which they immediately think is best.

Part three - interviews[edit]

Now put the students in groups of four. Give each student the character of one of the four applicants. Give them both descriptions of the person and give them time to read and understand them.

When everybody has understood everything the other three members of the group take turns interviewing the candidates. Have each candidate give a short presentation of themselves before their interview begins in which they explain why would be the best candidate.

Part four - discussion and report back[edit]

Have the pairs discuss the interviews and later tell the class if they have changed their opinions.

Part five - writing[edit]

Tell the students that the different candidates were supplied by an agency. They have to write an email to the agency explaining which candidate they have chosen and why. The students should also point out why they felt that one (or more) of the candidates was clearly inappropriate.

Student materials:[edit]

Imagine that you and your partner have three small children aged three, five and seven. You both work and you are quite wealthy. You have decided that you want to employ an English-speaking au pair to assist you with your children. You want him or her to work for four to five hours a day helping in the house and assisting with the children.

Qualities[edit]

Decide with your partner what qualities you would like your au pair to have. Think about:

What language skills would you like?


What previous experience and educational level would you like?


What age range would you consider?


Which sex would you prefer?


What personality traits would you like?


What personality traits would you not like?


The candidates[edit]

Four people have applied for the post and you have to decide which one to employ. You and your partner have already interviewed all four of the applicants separately in English and have made your own notes about each one. Unfortunately there is no ideal candidate but you need to discuss them all and put them in order from the most to least acceptable. Remember that you and your partner have different notes about the same people - so you will need to explain exactly what you know about each applicant.

Once you have discussed ALL the candidates review them in order to grade them from best to worst.

Interview[edit]

Once you have your provisional order you will interview other students who will take the parts of the four candidates and then you will make your final decision.


Student A[edit]

S. Newing from the UK[edit]

Seems to be a well-balanced person and is exceptionally well-educated. Has a lovely voice and speaks with the type of British accent called “received pronunciation”. Said that had recently had some bad news in England - though did not say what it was. Seemed very eager to learn everything about the area and asked lots of questions about local customs. Said that he/she was looking forward to the opportunity of getting to know the children.


C. Redrup from Germany[edit]

Will probably want more money than the rest of the candidates. Has stated that may want special time off to study Spanish at the weekends. Bossy. Said in the interview that he/she thought that children need discipline. Asked what you thought about corporal punishment - you wonder why that was asked.

J. Hasagen from Scandinavia[edit]

Blond, tall and exceptionally good-looking. Has little knowledge of children and may be a little flirtatious. His/her English did not seem very good, and his/her Spanish could have been better. Said that your husband/wife would probably be happy to help with the language problem. You may have found that last comment a little worrying.


M. Ewing from the USA[edit]

Very patient, relaxed person with a good sense of humour. Laughs a lot. Very casual dress sense. Said that it was important to allow children to express themselves within limits. Seemed to be a carefree type. Has a lot of experience with his/her sister’s children.


Student B[edit]

S. Newing from the UK[edit]

Seemed a bit despondent. During the interview asked you if there were many bars in the area and if he/she would get extra time off for fiestas. Has limited experience with children. Also seemed a bit stuck up and said the children would “be lucky to get someone of his/her calibre”.


C. Redrup from Germany[edit]

Qualified as a teacher. Seems exceptionally able. Has a very firm manner. Speaks English very well. He/she said that he/she never had any problem controlling children. Said that he/she loves children. Seems very clean, tidy and efficient.

J. Hasagen from Scandinavia[edit]

Blond, tall and exceptionally good looking. In the interview said how lovely the children were and how nice the house was. Said that he/she was prepared to do anything to please, and was sure that you would be satisfied. Said that enjoyed helping around the house in Sweden and liked to keep things in order. Said that would be happy to spend extra time in the house if necessary and wondered if you could help with his/her Spanish.


M. Ewing from the USA (California)[edit]

Very scruffy slightly hippie type - has a nose ring. Thought that your Spanish accent “real cute”. A little difficult to understand his/her American accent. Has a very loud voice and an even louder laugh. Presentation seemed a little disorganised. Is a vegetarian, but said that was sure that this would not cause any problems.