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Old 24.04.2015, 10:37
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I am an au pair and I am forced to teach the kids my mother tongue

I am an au pair and I am from Taiwan.My family is asking me to teach Chinese to the kids. Before I came here they mentioned that they hired girl from Taiwan is because we speak Chinese and the au pairs generally taught the kids Chinese. However, there's a regulation on the contract that pointed out "au pair shouldn't be teaching languages". I also asked them why do I need to teach them Chinese if there's a regulation against it. Their reply were "it's just some game, very easy" and I accepted it. I have taught the kids some Chinese ever since I arrived. The problem is that it's not just not some "game" and it's not easy at all. One of the kid doesn't want to learn and every time he's parents have to force him to spend 20 minutes with me to "faire le Chinois". He doesn't enjoy and honestly I hate it. Yesterday the father told me how I teach the kid is boring. Quoting from he's words "it's not fun there were no games and of course he doesn't enjoy. And the way he learns is not EFFICIENT". He asked me to prepare for the language class and set a goal for the kid to reach before the end of my contract which is this coming August.

Above is what I have encountered and now I want to talk about how I feel. I feel they are using me as "au pair shouldn't be teaching languages" is clearly stated in the contract. I am here to provide childcare and in return I can learn a language. I am not here to plan a Chinese class for kid who is not interested. The parents will tell me to do research on how to teach Chinese to kids and see what I can apply in their house. But after taking care of their kids, cooking for the dinner, ironing two kids clothes I am tired and I don't have time for making a plan for Chinese class let alone I don't even want to do it. Are they taking advantage on me? If I don't want to teach their kids Chinese what will be the consequence? Because now I really don't have time to do this as I have to plan for my future before my contract is finished, friends to meet, family back in Taiwan to keep in touch with, and of course, French to be improved. I really don't like the way they make me to teach. Also when I try to defend myself what they said basically are "I don't care" or "It is like this". I am tired of this and sadly, they scare me. I don't want to trigger any conflict because we live under the same roof. Please help me and any suggestion is great.
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Old 24.04.2015, 10:55
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Re: I am an au pair and I am forced to teach the kids my mother tongue

That sucks for you. I'm sure there are many legal routes that you could pursue but at the end of the day, as you are living in their house, the best solution would be for you to leave.

Having said that, if you are up for it, make it into a game and start teaching them fake Chinese. Kind of like when the Swiss kids sing Happy Birthday in Chinese. It would probably require more effort on your part to do this but it might be kind of fun.
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Old 24.04.2015, 11:34
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Re: I am an au pair and I am forced to teach the kids my mother tongue

As you are non-EU, presumably you were employed through one of the offical au-pair agencies. Best to speak with the agency about the issue and what recourse you have. If necessary, as the agency for another family to be reassigned to.
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Old 24.04.2015, 12:57
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Re: I am an au pair and I am forced to teach the kids my mother tongue

Just talk in Chinese (Mandarin/Kantonese), the kids will pick it up. You would
not have to plan anything.
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Old 24.04.2015, 12:59
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Re: I am an au pair and I am forced to teach the kids my mother tongue

My experience of colleagues in Taiwan is that they will state their ideas clearly and without hesitation, however they will rarely say a direct "no".

I have heard the word "yes" to mean "I understand".

Please accept my apologies for stereotyping cultural behavior. I don't know what nationality are the children or parents, but is it possible you think you are clear about what you are able to do, but the parents are hearing something else (what they want to hear?).
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Old 24.04.2015, 13:19
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Re: I am an au pair and I am forced to teach the kids my mother tongue

If they complain about the way you teach Chinese to the kids the answer is simple: you are not a teacher, so take it or leave it.

Time is obviously also an issue: if you have other things you have to do obviously you don't have a lot of time left to dedicate to things you should not do but you do them anyway: so either agree that you stop doing something else (cooking, ironing) or the Chinese lessons will stay the way they are but tell them clearly that you're not going to reduce your free time for the lessons.

However as runningdeer said, first of all talk to the agency and see if you can be reassigned to another family. Will help you in two ways: as escape strategy as well as blackmailing (if you go on with this Chinese lesson thing I'll go away, then no Chinese at all).
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Old 24.04.2015, 16:44
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Re: I am an au pair and I am forced to teach the kids my mother tongue

Are there any courses locally for kids to learn Chinese? They might be happier in a class. If they did a class at least you could just act as reviser to go over the words they have learned or talk to them about what they have done, rather than the responsibility being put on you which is not your role.
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Old 24.04.2015, 17:08
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Re: I am an au pair and I am forced to teach the kids my mother tongue

Why do they want the kids to learn Chinese in the first place? If they want them to learn the language then it's up to them to arrange appropriate lessons for them, not expect you to do it; as you say it's not part of your contract with them.

Are you being taken advantage of - yes from the sounds of it and not just on the language side. How many hours a week are you working? Are either of the parents around during the day or are you on your own all the time?

From the Perfect Way website:

The working hours are limited to 30 hours per week with at least one day off per week
The housewife/houseman needs to be present at home for 50% of the Au Pairs working hours
The activities of the Au Pair has to cover only light household work and support for the childcare, therefore she will receive a appropriate compensation

http://www.perfectway.ch/en/for-fami...formation.html

As others have said, contact the agency who arranged this for you.
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Old 24.04.2015, 17:32
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Re: I am an au pair and I am forced to teach the kids my mother tongue

According to what I understand, you shouldn't actually be an au-pair for this family.

You shouldn't have the same mother-tongue as the family you are living with. The point of the au-pair scheme is that the family get a little help around the house and with their kids and you get to improve your language skills.

You should complain to the agency. It looks like they are breaking the rules by housing you with this family.
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Old 24.04.2015, 17:38
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Re: I am an au pair and I am forced to teach the kids my mother tongue

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According to what I understand, you shouldn't actually be an au-pair for this family.

You shouldn't have the same mother-tongue as the family you are living with. The point of the au-pair scheme is that the family get a little help around the house and with their kids and you get to improve your language skills.

You should complain to the agency. It looks like they are breaking the rules by housing you with this family.
She never said they had the same mother tongue. If they did, why would they need her to teach their kids the language they presumably already speak? She' saying they're asking her to teach the kids Chinese even though under her contract she's not allowed to.
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Old 24.04.2015, 17:43
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Re: I am an au pair and I am forced to teach the kids my mother tongue

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She never said they had the same mother tongue. If they did, why would they need her to teach their kids the language they presumably already speak? She' saying they're asking her to teach the kids Chinese even though under her contract she's not allowed to.
It's the mother tongue of the parents that count.

Yes, perhaps I'm making an assumption that the parents are Chinese.
Perhaps the OP would care to elaborate?

I know of other non-Swiss families here who have been refused an au-pair who speaks the mother tongue of the parents as it is not in the spirit of the scheme (the kids only speak Swiss German and a third language not connected with their parent's mother tongue).
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Old 24.04.2015, 19:22
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Re: I am an au pair and I am forced to teach the kids my mother tongue

Whatever the language of the family is, the role of an au-pair is certainly not identical with a role of a teacher. That "host-dad" expecting a lesson plan, with objectives met in a couple of months sounds over the top. Agency should look into this. Or, maybe OP can casually renegotiate her au-pairing wage with an additional teaching price.
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Old 24.04.2015, 19:54
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Re: I am an au pair and I am forced to teach the kids my mother tongue

Hey thank you guys. I didn't expect this many responses

Let me add some details here. So the kids are 8 and 5 year old. The 5 year old one is great he can understand whatever I said. The 8 year old one hates Chinese and he doesn't understand mostly what I am talking. The parents are putting lots of effort to push/force him so there are lots of crying or shouting going on when he has to learn Chinese.

They are not Chinese Family and they speak French at home. The reason why they want their kids to learn Chinese is because it's a difficult language kids have the ability to pick up a language faster.

The parents told me the 8 year old one went to some Chinese class but it didn't work out. And the reason was that the kid didn't like it or he thought it was boring.

Also I did write to the agency. I actually did that before I posted here. But the office will not be open until Monday and I just would like to know if I am being too selfish, incapable, or boring as these are probably what they think.

I have been here for 8 months and my contract will be finish by the end of August. Also I will have my almost-one-month vacation on August. It's just 3 months to go and I am not thinking of rematch. I've been told that I can't rematch unless something really serious happens. Also, when I talked to other au pair most of them don't enjoy their stay and our conclusion is that "Swiss family is difficult". As a result, I don't want to spend the rest of my stay getting to know another family.

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My experience of colleagues in Taiwan is that they will state their ideas clearly and without hesitation, however they will rarely say a direct "no".

I have heard the word "yes" to mean "I understand".

Please accept my apologies for stereotyping cultural behavior. I don't know what nationality are the children or parents, but is it possible you think you are clear about what you are able to do, but the parents are hearing something else (what they want to hear?).
I totally agree with you and I have noticed this too. I am living in their house and it's so difficult to just say what I don't want to do. And when I try to defend myself what I actually got is "I don't care" or "It's different perspective". Sometimes I even feel they don't even care about what I have to say. This is depressing and I have to present my Chinese lesson plan later I am really scared of how they will react.
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Old 24.04.2015, 20:01
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Re: I am an au pair and I am forced to teach the kids my mother tongue

Get the agency to tell the family that THEY should be teaching you FRENCH (and paying for you to take classes) not the other way around.
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Old 24.04.2015, 20:11
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Re: I am an au pair and I am forced to teach the kids my mother tongue

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This is depressing and I have to present my Chinese lesson plan later I am really scared of how they will react.
You are not a language teacher.

What I'll they do? Fire you now, I doubt so. Tell them you have no experience in teaching, you have no time to prepare and learn how to teach and if you wanted to be a teacher, you would have get a job at school as a teacher.

If they don't like it? Well, they will have to suck it up for the next 3 months.

Best wishes
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Old 24.04.2015, 22:08
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Re: I am an au pair and I am forced to teach the kids my mother tongue

Could I suggest that you have a look at the Memrise website? http://www.memrise.com/courses/french/chinese/

I have used it for improving my French and, as a trained primary school teacher my opinion is that the way the skills are acquired is based on a sound understanding of the learning process.

The basic concept is also simple to explain to children: you start by planting seeds (language acquisition). Then you help those seeds to grow (reinforcement). Then finally you keep on going back to your plants to water them (reminders).

If you work through one of the lessons you'll see how this works in practice. The important thing to remember is that you can and should work on all three stages at once. So after a few sessions, the child will be being introduced to new words, while at the same time reinforcing words they are learning and refreshing their memory of acquired vocabulary.

The good thing about this website is that it would also provide you with a lesson plan and a goal, e.g. that by x date the child will be able to get a score of 80% in the unit y.

If you have time, identify 3 units that each child could do and allow them to choose which one they start off with. Children like feeling in control, and this method makes them think they are.

After a few sessions, you could probably leave them to it.

But about the difficult 8 year old. The dad has it backwards. If a child is refusing to learn and participate in lessons, it is not the fault of the teacher and the teacher has no responsibility to make it 'fun'. That teaches a child that behaving badly gets you treats. A child who is refusing to take part in 'ordinary' lessons doesn't get to do the fun stuff. First they have to show their respect for the teacher (and incidentally for their parents who want them to take these lessons) by doing the 'ordinary' lessons. Then they EARN the right to do fun stuff.

So I would suggest that, if you like the above website, that you tell the children (in the hearing of their dad) that you have found this wonderful new computer game (NOT lessons) that will help them with their Chinese and in which they can compete with people all over the world (and each other, if they add each other as friends) to get the best scores. Then explain as 8 year old has been very difficult and uncooperative in the past, you are going to let the 5 year old use this programme but not the 8 year old, as you are not going to waste your time setting up a fun learning experience for someone who does not make any effort to learn.

So, 5 year old gets to spend time on the computer learning. During this time, try your very best to make sure 8 year old is NOT on the computer or watching TV or doing anything 'fun' (He must have homework to do... make him do it then). Also, DON'T pay him any attention. If he wants your attention, tell him you are spending time with his brother, who actually wants to learn your language, and that you don't have time for him because 'this is Chinese time and you don't want to learn Chinese).

Hopefully, pretty soon that 8 year old will be asking for Chinese lessons. Just make sure he doesn't get to go on the computer game straight away or he will not respect you. Even if he's now willing to take part in Chinese lessons, he has to work, pay attention and earn the right to do the 'fun stuff'.

****

Whatever you decide to actually teach, if you do decide to carry on with the lessons, you need to make it clear to the parents (and to yourself) that YOU are the teacher. It is YOUR native language, and YOU know how best to teach it. Do not fall into the trap of saying 'I thought I might do... what do you think?' Tell these people 'I am going to teach this. The children must follow my rules. If they do not, I will not continue to teach them. If they are rude to me, or waste my time, I will not continue to teach them.' If the parents have a problem with that, point out that (as you said) teaching is not in your contract. You are doing them a favour to teach their children (at no extra pay). If they don't like what you are doing, if they question your methods, then tell them to find another teacher. I know confrontation is difficult (especially when you're living with a family), but on the other hand if you let the parents push you around, then they are not going to respect you. And the children (especially the older one) will pick up on that and they will not respect you either. On the other hand, if you can make a stand, you might find that the general situation is improved.


I hope you manage to work everything out.
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Old 24.04.2015, 22:38
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Re: I am an au pair and I am forced to teach the kids my mother tongue

How are you teaching them, and what level is their Chinese?

It sucks that they ask you to do something you don't want to do and is against the contract, but if you don't want to leave or have any conflict just go along with it but in a way that doesn't stress you.

I really would just play games as a language lesson.. games they already know. If they know a simple card game like "Go Fish", just play that in Chinese.. lesson goal is they learn numbers in Chinese. Or play hide and seek, but they have to count before searching in Chinese.

Just play, and don't be too ambitious. They aren't paying you what a teacher earns, so don't try to be a teacher.

Don't try teaching grammar or anything stressful for you / boring for the kids, and don't spend your free / unpaid time developing lesson plans.
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Old 25.04.2015, 10:10
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Re: I am an au pair and I am forced to teach the kids my mother tongue

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How are you teaching them, and what level is their Chinese?

It sucks that they ask you to do something you don't want to do and is against the contract, but if you don't want to leave or have any conflict just go along with it but in a way that doesn't stress you.

I really would just play games as a language lesson.. games they already know. If they know a simple card game like "Go Fish", just play that in Chinese.. lesson goal is they learn numbers in Chinese. Or play hide and seek, but they have to count before searching in Chinese.

Just play, and don't be too ambitious. They aren't paying you what a teacher earns, so don't try to be a teacher.

Don't try teaching grammar or anything stressful for you / boring for the kids, and don't spend your free / unpaid time developing lesson plans.
They have been hiring Chinese speaking au pair for the past 2 or 3 years so the kids know the basics like the numbers, the animal, things they like (chocolate, chewing gum) or things they have to do (brush your teeth, take a bath).

I was playing vocabulary games with the 5 year old. We have flash cards with pictures at home so what we normally do is that I pick 9 cards that he has to learn and I put all of them on the table and ask him in Chinese "Where is_______". He has to reply in Chinese "________ is here" if he gets it right it means he already knew this word. If he doesn't get it that means he haven't learned this word before the end of this session. So basically the cards are a mixture of what he knew and what he didn't know. After making sure he can pronounce all the card correctly, I will pick 3 cards and read it to him. And then I will ask him to close his eyes while his eyes are closed I will remove a card. When he's eyes are open again he will find out one of the cards is gone and I will ask him "which one is gone" in Chinese. It sounds pretty easy, but for kids it's rather difficult and they actually enjoying "guessing" which one is gone.

Anyways, I don't care if their Chinese is improving. The problem is that their parents care, very much. The father told me I am not efficient and the mother will tell me I should go and discuss with teacher at the kids' school (it's a bilingual school). Basically when they tell me this I just feel so stressed and then I have to sit in front of my computer to do all the research they ask me to. But as I've mentioned before, I have no time now. I need to plan my future which is more important to me than planing an efficient Chinese class.

Also, I had teaching experience but my students were all adults. We will go through textbook from vocabulary to the text and it's smooth and easy. It might not always be fun but at least they are willing to learn. I used to be a tutor in a Chinese study program and students will prefer to come to me then to other tutors. I mention this because I thought I had experiences teaching adult, it will be so easy to teach kids. But I guess I am wrong. I am not looking for ways to improve my teaching skills as I believe I can't be an au pair and a "teacher" at the same time. Most of the time I still need to deal with their misbehavior (they fight a lot). From time to time they say really mean things to me, like go back to your house this is not your house or the 5 year old one will just punch me because I didn't give him chocolate. With kids like this I have no more energy to help. Oh and btw I don't get much chance to speak French at home as I was told not to because what I said might not be correct. This is just not fair.
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Old 25.04.2015, 11:04
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Re: I am an au pair and I am forced to teach the kids my mother tongue

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Could I suggest that you have a look at the Memrise website? http://www.memrise.com/courses/french/chinese/

I have used it for improving my French and, as a trained primary school teacher my opinion is that the way the skills are acquired is based on a sound understanding of the learning process.

The basic concept is also simple to explain to children: you start by planting seeds (language acquisition). Then you help those seeds to grow (reinforcement). Then finally you keep on going back to your plants to water them (reminders).

If you work through one of the lessons you'll see how this works in practice. The important thing to remember is that you can and should work on all three stages at once. So after a few sessions, the child will be being introduced to new words, while at the same time reinforcing words they are learning and refreshing their memory of acquired vocabulary.

The good thing about this website is that it would also provide you with a lesson plan and a goal, e.g. that by x date the child will be able to get a score of 80% in the unit y.

If you have time, identify 3 units that each child could do and allow them to choose which one they start off with. Children like feeling in control, and this method makes them think they are.

After a few sessions, you could probably leave them to it.

But about the difficult 8 year old. The dad has it backwards. If a child is refusing to learn and participate in lessons, it is not the fault of the teacher and the teacher has no responsibility to make it 'fun'. That teaches a child that behaving badly gets you treats. A child who is refusing to take part in 'ordinary' lessons doesn't get to do the fun stuff. First they have to show their respect for the teacher (and incidentally for their parents who want them to take these lessons) by doing the 'ordinary' lessons. Then they EARN the right to do fun stuff.

So I would suggest that, if you like the above website, that you tell the children (in the hearing of their dad) that you have found this wonderful new computer game (NOT lessons) that will help them with their Chinese and in which they can compete with people all over the world (and each other, if they add each other as friends) to get the best scores. Then explain as 8 year old has been very difficult and uncooperative in the past, you are going to let the 5 year old use this programme but not the 8 year old, as you are not going to waste your time setting up a fun learning experience for someone who does not make any effort to learn.

So, 5 year old gets to spend time on the computer learning. During this time, try your very best to make sure 8 year old is NOT on the computer or watching TV or doing anything 'fun' (He must have homework to do... make him do it then). Also, DON'T pay him any attention. If he wants your attention, tell him you are spending time with his brother, who actually wants to learn your language, and that you don't have time for him because 'this is Chinese time and you don't want to learn Chinese).

Hopefully, pretty soon that 8 year old will be asking for Chinese lessons. Just make sure he doesn't get to go on the computer game straight away or he will not respect you. Even if he's now willing to take part in Chinese lessons, he has to work, pay attention and earn the right to do the 'fun stuff'.

****

Whatever you decide to actually teach, if you do decide to carry on with the lessons, you need to make it clear to the parents (and to yourself) that YOU are the teacher. It is YOUR native language, and YOU know how best to teach it. Do not fall into the trap of saying 'I thought I might do... what do you think?' Tell these people 'I am going to teach this. The children must follow my rules. If they do not, I will not continue to teach them. If they are rude to me, or waste my time, I will not continue to teach them.' If the parents have a problem with that, point out that (as you said) teaching is not in your contract. You are doing them a favour to teach their children (at no extra pay). If they don't like what you are doing, if they question your methods, then tell them to find another teacher. I know confrontation is difficult (especially when you're living with a family), but on the other hand if you let the parents push you around, then they are not going to respect you. And the children (especially the older one) will pick up on that and they will not respect you either. On the other hand, if you can make a stand, you might find that the general situation is improved.


I hope you manage to work everything out.
OP, don't pay attention to this BS if you are not interested in being a teacher. After all, you are here as a household helper and a student of French. This poster's perspective reminds me of Alec Guiness' character in Bridge on the River Kwai...

good luck
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Old 25.04.2015, 11:54
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Re: I am an au pair and I am forced to teach the kids my mother tongue

as an aupair you work just as many hours as it says in your contract. also you have to have enough time for your self to learn French. And plenty of time to do french homework. the children have to speak French with you and the parents also. just stop it. search for a Chinese teacher who is from the village and recommend them to the family. Then they no longer need to take advantage of an aupair also.
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