According to wikipedia, the title comes from the French term au pair, meaning "at par" or "equal to", indicating that the relationship is intended to be one of equals: the au pair is intended to become a member of the family, albeit a temporary one, rather than a traditional domestic worker. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Au_pair
An au pair is a young foreign person who works for and lives as part of a host family. An au pair arrangement is considered to be a cultural exchange rather than an employment. Very often an au pair becomes a 'big sister' within a host family and will usually eat meals with the family and join in many of the family activities and outings.
Au pairs travel to another country to improve their foreign language skills and to gain a new cultural experience. Typically au pairs are young women between 17 and 27 years old (although in some cases they may be a little older and now more than ever, males are choosing to become au pairs also).
An au pair will take on a share of the day-to-day duties of the family in exchange for board and pocket money.
As an au pair will usually want to improve their language skills, it is important that they get time to go to language classes if they wish to do so.
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