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Listening and understanding

Active Listening



Before listening


1. Look at the list of words used to describe various child care options in the USA. Explain what each of the words means.

Au pair, babysitter, day care center, family day care, Head Start center, kindergarten, live-in nanny, live-out nanny, mother helper, nursery school, on-site day care, preschool, stay-at-home mother/father, teen sitter

2. Put the words from the previous exercise into the following categories:

center-based care (facilities which provide care for children in groups)

family childcare (providers who offer care for children in their own home)

in-home care (care occurs in the child’s own home)

3. Study the following graph. What tendencies does it show? Describe the graph using the vocabulary below. Summarize the trends. Can you explain them?

Verbs and adverbs: to increase/rise by, to decrease/fall by, to increase/go up/climb/rise to, to decrease/fall/decline/drop/go down/reduce to, to remain steady/stable (at), to maintain the same level, to fluctuate around, to peak at, to reach its highest point, to grow (rise, fall, etc) dramatically/ sharply/considerably/significantly/slightly/gradually

Nouns and adjectives: a slight/dramatic/sharp/gradual/steady/substantial/significant increase (rise, growth, decrease, decline, fall, etc)

Example: The rate of care by fathers remained steady at around 15 per cent in 1985 and 1988, then it increased to 20 per cent in 1991.

Primary childcare arrangements for children ages 0–4 with employed mothers, selected years 1985–2010

NOTE: The primary arrangement is the arrangement used for the most number of hours per week while the mother worked. Mother and father care both refer to care while the mother worked.

SOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau, Survey of Income and Program Participation (http://www.childstats.gov/americaschildren/famsoc3.asp)



4. Find a synonym for each of the following words:

Downside, fabulous, genuine, obviously, overseas, presumably, rampant, to recruit, savvy, to screen, track record


5. Match the phrasal verbs on the left with their definitions on the right. Then complete the sentences below with the appropriate verbs in the correct form.

1. fall apart 2. figure sth/sb out 3. get over sth 4. go through sth 5. hold sth/sb up/hold up sth/sb 6. pick sth/sb up/pick up sth/sb 7. sort sth out/sort out sth 8. take sth up/take up sth a) to collect someone from a place where they are waiting for you, or something that is ready to be collected b) to successfully deal with a problem or difficulty c) to begin to comprehend someone or something d) to study a problem and understand it e) to rob someone or a place f) to break down emotionally or mentally g) to begin something, to start to acquire a skill in something h) to carefully read or discuss something, to check that it is correct and acceptable
  1. She is so tense about her job – if she goes on like this, she’ll ________ .
  2. The boys were eventually ________ by a rescue boat and taken by ambulance to Nobles Hospital.
  3. Fraser was charged with another robbery, this time for _________ a taxi driver at gunpoint.
  4. Let’s ______ this mess and settle it once and for all.
  5. I’ve known Jack for years but I still can’t _________ him _______.
  6. When did you _________ this hobby?
  7. At 600 mph the plane became uncontrollable. We ________ this problem by redesigning the wings.
  8. Could you just _________ this file and mark anything that seems wrong?

What other meanings do the verbs in the table have? List them and then make up eight sentences of your own using the verbs in these meanings.


6. The phrases in the box are idiomatic expressions often used by Americans in everyday speech. Make sure you know what they mean and then replace the parts in italics in sentences 1 – 6 below with a phrase from the box in the correct form.

be at odds come hell or high water get a bang get down to brass tacks tons of like hell

1. All right, everyone. Let’s talk about important things. We’ve wasted too much time chatting.

2. I’ll be there tomorrow, no matter what happens.

3. We’ve got a lot of fried chicken, so help yourself.

4. Bill really received a lot of pleasure out of the present we gave him.

5. Mary is always in opposition with her father about how late she can stay out.

6. I know I look awful.


7. Read the sentences and explain the words in italics.

1. They say it takes a village to raise a child.

2. I had a high maintenance baby, and he would cry all the time. I was so desperate.

3. Child care was a perfect fit for me.

4. Most extended au pairs choose a family in a different part of the USA, what allows them to have a different experience.

5. Nannies are the best option as they provide one-on-one care and have references that you can call.

6. Some people think it’s beneath them to work for a person of color. I am mind boggled by it.


Listening and understanding

Mocha Moms is a support group for mothers of color who have chosen not to work full-time outside of the home in order to devote more time to their families and communities.


1. You will hear a radio program in which three members of Mocha Moms support group – Cheli-English-Figaro, Jolene Ivey and Asra Nomani – are discussing child care options with Michel Martin, the host, and Barbara Kline, the founder of White House Nannies Agency in Washington, D.C. Listen to the first part of the program and say if the following statements are true or false. Correct the false statements.

1. All of the Mocha Moms taking part in the discussion have had the experience of using family day care.

2. Jolene needed help when she was pregnant with her fifth baby. She received this help from a relative – an 18-year-old girl who did not charge any money for this.

3. Asra is afraid to leave her children with non-relatives because of numerous media stories about cruel nannies and babysitters.

4. Barbara Kline believes that many stories about cruel child treatment are made up by journalists. In fact, there are a lot of professionals in child care.

5. Barbara decided to go into child care business because the store she used to have on the Capitol Hill was making a loss.


2. Listen to the second part of the radio program and fill in the table below.

Type of child care Advantages Disadvantages
Au pair    
Day care center    


3. Listen to the second part of the program again and answer the following questions:

1. How old are au pairs? What do they come to the USA for? How many hours a week do they work? Do they have to study in the USA? How much money are they paid?

2. What racial problems exist in child care business in the USA?

3. What are some red flags that parents should look for when choosing a caregiver?

4. What is the secret of long-lasting relationships between mothers and nannies?


After listening

1. Look at the table in exercise 2 in the previous section. Can you think of any other advantages and disadvantages of using au pairs, nannies and day care centers? Discuss your ideas with a partner.

2. What are pros and cons of other kinds of child care – babysitters, family day care and on-site day care?

3. What types of child care exist in our country?


Imagine that you are planning to participate in the US Au Pair Program. Read the following information about a few American host families. Choose the family you believe fits you best and write an e-mail telling them about yourself. Your e-mail should include information about your background, your personal characteristics, your child care and housekeeping experience, your interests and hobbies, and your reasons for going to the USA. Do not forget to ask the family some questions which will let you know more about them and your future responsibilities.

Family 1

We are looking forward to our fourth year with an au pair. I live with my 4-year old son, my boyfriend, and our current au pair who is from Costa Rica. Our first au pair was from Argentina, and the last 3 have been from Cost Rica. I have been divorced for 2 years. My son’s father lives about 20 minutes away and my son stays with him over every other weekend. However, our au pair is not required to sleep there at all, but rather just watch him during the day as needed.

We live in a very nice suburb of Detroit, Michigan. There are many kids in our neighborhood, and quite a few au pairs. My sister has two kids and an au pair as well. She lives right down the street. We have a good size house with lots of room for everyone to have their privacy. We are very casual, active and relaxed people, and we would like our au pair to be similar. My son is a wonderful, adorable, fun-loving child who just loves to play all the time. He has loved each of our au pairs, but especially our current au pair, who treats him with all the love and kindness with which she would treat her own child. He requires a great deal of patience, and a very warm, affectionate approach. Our au pair must love the company of young children, be creative and whimsical. We would prefer her to have a sparkle in her eye and laugh easily, as that is what my son is used to, and that is the way he is himself − he loves to connect with people, and he wants to feel loved and special. My son goes to school Monday through Friday until 12:00. Many afternoons I take him to various activities. Right now he takes swimming lessons, gymnastics twice a week, in addition to speech and occupational therapy for a mild developmental disorder that he has. Currently, our au pair’s general duties are playing with my son, since that is a great part of his therapy, feeding him and putting him to bed, so next au pair will have a similar schedule.

We love the au pair program for a few reasons. First, having live-in help makes the transitions of coming and going much easier for my son. Second, my son is starting to understand that people come from all different places, and it is so nice for him to learn about other places and cultures from people who live there. Finally, we really enjoy sharing our home and our culture with our au pair, and having another family member with whom we can laugh and play and have fun.

Family 2

Hi, I am going to tell you about our family and why we are excited about having an au pair join us. Our family is made up of the host dad, the host mom, a son and two daughters. We have a pretty full schedule. The oldest son is in 5th grade, the middle daughter is in 3rd grade and the youngest daughter is in kindergarten at a private school. The kids stay pretty busy. We try to stay flexible for special outings and play dates. Our school is about 15-20 minutes away and we have to drive them every day. There is no bus service.

There are several reasons that we believe that an au pair is right for our family now. First, we have had au pairs in the past, and enjoyed the experience. We are looking for childcare that is flexible. We also like the fact that the au pair will be in a new and exciting environment and interested in exploring our area with our children and without them in her spare time. As our children grow older, we believe it will be fun to have a young, energetic person around to play with and learn from. We have traveled with our kids to Europe, Mexico, the Caribbean, and they are old enough to appreciate language/cultural differences.

It is important that our au pair be outgoing and energetic. She should have experience with older children like ours, and be able to be a friend to them, and help maintain a positive environment. In addition, our au pair will have to help us enforce the rules that we do have regarding television and computer time, table manners, and homework, along with treating each other with kindness and respect. We value physical exercise and creative play. Our au pair may spend a lot of time in the car. It is very important that she be an experienced and comfortable driver.

We live in a beautiful suburb of Boston, located about 15 km west of downtown Boston, and is easily accessible by public transportation. There is a very large au pair cluster here, and there are many activities, movies, shops, and restaurants close by. There are very many colleges and universities in Boston. There will be several choices for our au pair to take classes at, but the best choice is usually to take evening classes at the Harvard University Extension School. They have courses in very many topics, and they have very good teachers.

Family 3

We live in a nice suburb of Washington D.C. Our home is a 3 story brick colonial with a private au pair suite in the basement. It is a culturally-diverse community with easy access to things like malls, movie theaters, groceries, library, schools, and the subway. Our neighborhood has nice walking trails, a private clubhouse with an Olympic-size pool, and a tennis court.

The host dad is a regulatory lawyer who works in the city. The host Mom is a Neonatologist (doctor for premature and sick newborns). We are blessed with two boys­ – one of them will be 7 years old in October and the other one will be 5 years old this August. Both boys attend a private school 4 miles from home. The older son will be in first grade and the younger one will be in Pre-K. We also have a very energetic black lab. We are both working parents with demanding careers. Due to the nature of our work schedules, we expect you to be flexible with your work hours. There will be days where you don't work, days where you work 4 hours or less, and days you will work 10 hours. You will never work more than 45 hours a week and we do not expect you to work on Sundays unless it is absolutely necessary and only if it was arranged well in advance. We do not believe in corporal punishment (spanking). Our boys respond well to "time outs" which is when they are sent to their rooms. They are at a stage where they continually test their boundaries and we expect you to be firm, but fair and consistent when disciplining them.

We have had a range of experiences with both domestic nannies and au pairs. We are looking for somebody who will be a perfect fit for our family. You should be caring, loving, and compassionate and must enjoy playing and interacting with the kids. Our boys have boundless energy, curiosity, enthusiasm, and are very loving. You need to be energetic, responsible, nurturing, motivated, honest, and want to integrate into our family. We expect you to share family activities like preparing, eating meals together and be part of the family. Most importantly, we are looking for someone who will view caring for our kids as more than just a job, but as an opportunity to live with a caring family who will treat you as one of their own (http://aupairamerica.tripod.com/hostfamilyprofileswebsitejune07/id6.html).



Active Reading


1. Read the information about pre-school education in the United States and present it in the form of a diagram including all the educational options for children under six. Then retell the text using the diagram.

Guide to US Pre-School Education
Pre-school education in the USA embraces all formal and informal education before the age of six (when compulsory schooling starts). It includes tots and toddler programs, play school, nursery school (collectively known as pre-kindergarten) and kindergarten. Attendance at school for children under six isn’t compulsory, and the provision of schools for children under six varies according to the finances and circumstances of local communities. Most public elementary schools provide a pre-school kindergarten (K) year for five-year-olds, which is usually the first year of elementary school.
There are various types of pre-schools, including non-profit co-operative schools, church-affiliated schools, private schools and Montessori schools. A co-operative school is usually the least expensive, as parents work voluntarily as teachers’ aides alongside professional teachers. Church-affiliated schools are usually attached to religious centers and may include religious education. Private nursery schools are the most expensive – fees range from $5,000 to $15,000 per year for full-time schooling, depending on the school and area. Private schools vary considerably from small home-run set-ups to large custom-built schools. A number of private nursery schools use the Montessori method of teaching, developed by Dr Maria Montessori in the early 1900s. This method is based on the belief that each child is an individual with unique needs, interests and patterns of growth.
Many areas also have what are termed ‘toddler’ or ‘tot’ programs, which usually accept children from two to four years of age. Activities generally include arts and crafts, music, educational games, perceptual motor activities and listening skills. Most communities also have informal community schools or learning centers, playgroups, morning programs at local YWCAs, and other inexpensive alternatives to private schools. Community colleges also offer a variety of courses for small children, e.g. painting, dancing and cooking, once or twice a week, e.g. on Saturday mornings (an extract from Living and Working in America, http://www.justlanded.com/english/USA/USA-Guide/Education/Pre-school-education).


2. Read the article and list pros and cons of preschools.

Date: 2016-03-03; view: 1131

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