Although all Au Pairs come to the United States speaking at least some level of English, most of them will tell you they are hoping to improve their English skills while they are here. I love the English language, and have always loved to read. I even taught middle level reading and writing for at least ten years! One thing, though, about our language, is our words do not always mean what they say.
Take the Big Green Monster, for example. What does it mean to you? If you live in Boston, or almost anywhere in New England, that expression probably makes you think of the famed green wall at Fenway Park, the home of the Boston Red Sox, who by the way, kicked St. Louis’ butt last night in game one of the World Series. I have lived in New England my entire life, and although I have never been to Fenway, I did know the expression was in reference to this famed wall. However, I was slightly disappointed to find out last night that the wall does not even have a face or a picture of a monster on it. It is something like 37 feet tall and if the ball goes over that, you got it, homerun!
So, as I was saying, the English language has expressions, called idioms, where the words do not mean what they sound like. The Big Green Monster is also one of these. It actually means jealousy or envy. If someone refers to this or says that someone is green with envy, that is what it means. Other idioms can be funny expressions, like “kicking the bucket,” which sounds like a fun game or something, but it actually means to die. Terrible, right?
If someone is “off their rocker,” it doesn’t mean they have fallen off their chair; it means they are crazy! If someone tells you, “you’re a real winner,” it is not a compliment; it means that you are goofy or silly. If you get the “wool pulled over your eyes,” it means that someone has tricked you or fooled you, not pulled your winter hat down over your eyes! These expressions can be fun, if you understand them. Don’t be insulted. Instead, ask what that means and you will all have a good laugh together, and your cultural experience will be that much more enriched!
Be sure to consider the culture your Au Pair is coming from as well, as be sensitive to your own words, actions and behaviors which could be offensive and require open communication and a sense of humor to resolve. Summer Blackhurst, a professional blogger, wrote about this topic in her blog; check it out!
My name is Joan Lowell, LAR (Local Area Rep) in the Providence area; please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 401-309-1925 with your questions about hosting an Au Pair to meet your childcare needs. Be sure to visit our Providence page to get full details on GREAT LOCAL SAVINGS!
GO RED SOX!!!