When interviewing a nanny, you will run through the usual 20 questions that all nannies have heard. Surprisingly, you will come away thinking that your nanny speaks decent English. Then after completing your due diligence, you decide to hire this person and she begins working with you. After about one week into the job, you realize that your nanny actually speaks very mediocre English because outside of those 20 basic questions, she cannot communicate very well. What do you do now?
Unlike learning the romantic languages where Italian is not as difficult to learn once you know Spanish, English can be more difficult. However mastering any language requires constant attention to learning and usage. Here are some suggestions for your nanny.
1) Purchase English Tapes, CDs, DVDs or Videos that teach English. You can find may resources English tutorials online.
2) Insist that your nanny speaks English to you. Even if you know how to speak her language and you would like to improve your Spanish by talking to her, you can only help her learn English if you speak English to her and insist that she speaks English to you.
3) When your nanny speaks English and makes mistakes, correct her. Don’t feel bad about this either. Just as you would correct your child when not using English grammar properly, do the same for your nanny. She may make mistakes repeatedly, but with repeated correction, she WILL eventually get it right.
4) Have her read a children’s book daily. If your children are of school age and do not need to be read to, then have your child read to your nanny and have your nanny alternate reading paragraphs. It is a fun way to have both your child and nanny participate in learning to read.
5) Have her watch American television – news in particular is good for learning a language.
6) If possible, see to it that she takes English classes in the evening or on Saturday at a local community college.
7) Leave her notes in English regarding duties of the day. Go over these notes with her. She will begin to understand the terminology needed for a domestic position. Have her also leave you notes about products and food that need replacing or anything else of interest pertaining to the job.
8) Make sure your have a household manual in English about your job description and at the back of it, create a glossary of words.
9) Just as you would teach your child new vocabulary by pointing to something and saying, “This is a blender that we use to make smoothies.” Do this for your nanny and then have her repeat the sentence by asking, “What is this?” Have her repeat the sentence during the day a few times. Have her keep a notepad handy and write down the new sentence of the day emphasizing the new vocabulary. Have her review what she learned that day in the evening just before she falls asleep and then to add it to her weekly review that she covers again on the weekend. This notebook will be a fun way for her to keep track of what she is learning and will serve as a way in which for her to go back and review her lessons.
10) Be supportive as she is learning. For those who are quiet and shy, learning a language can be more difficult because of the very fear of making mistakes. Your positive influence will help her become more comfortable and feel at ease as she becomes more confident in speaking the English Language.
It may seem like a lot of work for all parties involved, but with a little effort on a daily basis and the willingness of your nanny to make every effort to learn, you will see progress and find it quite rewarding.