June 4th, 2018
Being an Au Pair or Homestay Tutor is the best way to explore another country on a tight budget, while experiencing the local culture first-hand and developing your language skills. But how can you really make the most of the experience? Travel Boost asked our Homestay Tutor participants for their top tips!
Giordana: Become part of the family
Giordana spent half a year living with her host family in Shanghai, and has loved the opportunity to really engage with family life. Rather than hiding away in your room studying or relaxing, she recommends joining in with day-to-day family activities such as going to the park, shopping, watching TV or playing sports. This has really made her feel part of the family, as well as providing countless opportunities to practice her Chinese. By engaging with her host family and showing a genuine interest in their life, she has been able to really connect with them and make the most of the experience.
Katie: Travel and explore
Most host families will invite their Homestay Tutors to travel with them at weekends and during the holidays, and Katie recommends saying yes to every opportunity. She visited Beijing, Tianjin, Kunming and Lijiang with her family, providing opportunities to explore more of China and find out about sights only the locals know about. Homestay Tutors usually have weekends off to travel, and from Shanghai Katie recommends visiting cities such as Hangzhou, Suzhou, Nanjing, Wuxi and Wuzhen - all reachable within a couple of hours by train!
Reka: Engage with the language and culture
Reka's host family enjoyed playing traditional Chinese games such as Mahjong and Chess, and often invited her to take part. By living with a local family she was able to experience these aspects of Chinese culture, as well as learning about Chinese cooking and art. By combining the homestay program with a one year intensive Chinese language course at a local university, she greatly improved her Mandarin speaking skills in a short space of time.
Dougal: Set your hours and work requirements from the start
Dougal recommends being clear with your host family on the job requirements and hours from the start. He agreed with the family to spend eight hours per week tutoring English, including assisting with homework and reviewing the class textbook. However, clarifying whether you would be required to do any housework or whether informal English learning activities such as playing English learning games contributed towards these hours can help prevent any tensions arising. In this sense, it's easiest to set aside fixed times per week for the tutoring sessions.
Normi: Network and volunteer
Most host families are wealthy and well-connected, providing many opportunities for their guests. Normi's host family ran a successful e-commerce business, where they invited her to work as an intern - a great way to gain international work experience. Other homestay participants have been offered one-off volunteering days or invited to networking sessions, and Normi recommends taking advantage of every opportunity. Not only will you gain valuable CV points, you could have a lot of fun too!
We hope you agree there's some really great advice there for making the most of your au pair or homestay experience! If you're interested in being a Homestay Tutor in Shanghai, check out our fantastic summer or year-round homestay programs.
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