October 24, 2013

Why host an au pair from Thailand?

3 minutes
Cultural exchange

The next country in our series of spotlights on Cultural Care’s au pair recruitment countries is Thailand. Again, while we always recommend that families be open to hosting the best au pair for their needs—regardless of her nationality—it can be helpful to learn about how an au pair’s home country can affect her personality and skill sets. Lhee Wanaleesukson, Cultural Care’s Country Program Manager for Thailand (pictured below), shares why she thinks families should consider an au pair from Thailand.
Thai au pairs are great because…
They are mature, generous, and open-minded. They likely have completed their degrees, and even have some work experiences. They will thrive if they can take part in your family activities.
Top 3 reasons Thai want to become au pairs:

  1. To better their English
  2. To travel the U.S.
  3. To better their job prospects when returning home

Cultural differences that are positive:
Thais are warm, friendly, and welcoming. They do well with host families that truly want to integrate an au pair into their family and home life. They tend to be non-confrontational and they always willing to help. Thais are extremely polite and respectful of their host parents. Some initiative will feel to them like stepping on toes. Being clear on what is expected is very helpful for Thai au pairs.
Cultural differences that could prove challenging:
As part of a hierarchical society, Thais are extremely polite and respectful of their host parents. Keep in mind that they seem shy or might hesitate to tell you if something is bothering them so you may need to probe a bit if you suspect that your au pair is homesick or if they need help resolving an issue.
Also, in Thailand, it is uncommon to “help yourself” to food and therefore Thai au pairs may need some time to adjust to American ways of getting food without being offered it.
How do au pairs from Thailand typically learn English, and what are their strengths and weaknesses regarding written and oral mastery of the language?
Thai au pairs learn English starting in primary school. However, English is only the small part in the curriculum and it is normally taught by Thai teachers, who do not have skills like the native speaker. Most of the curriculum emphasizes on grammar. Many Thai children become experts in English grammar, have a big vocabulary, and are able to write in English well, but cannot speak English fluently. Au pairs are typically university graduates and have a good basic command of English. As with all au pairs their spoken English improves quickly during the first few weeks in the U.S. 
What types of vehicles and in what conditions do au pairs from Thailand have experience driving?
Normally Thai au pairs borrow their parents’ car but if they live in Bangkok, they don’t need to drive because of the vast public transportation and also the amount of traffic.
Typically, au pairs from Thailand have experience:
Driving smaller vehicles, driving on highways, driving in the rain, driving on country roads, driving alone and driving with children.
Typically, au pairs from Thailand do not have much experience:
Driving larger vehicles and driving in the snow
Au pairs from Thailand typically get their childcare experience by:
Babysitting younger siblings, babysitting extended family members, babysitting children of family friends/neighbors, working in a kindergarten, working in a daycare center or tutoring.
They usually have gained their childcare hours from working in a day care, and it is also very common for them to have experience taking care of the children under 2 years old. Also, Thais usually have large extended families so it is common that they will help to care for family members such as younger siblings, cousins, nieces and nephews.
They start to go to pre-school starting at 3-5 years old, and continue on to primary then secondary school. They love studying English, and every school starts this from the beginning. Also, au pairs are typically university graduates and have a good basic command of English.

Thai families tend to have an average of 3 children in the family. Their children normally live with their parents until they start working on their own. If they study out of their hometown so they will rent a dormitory and visit their parents during the weekend. As they have great respect for their parents, they like to spend time and share their experiences with their parents.