Experience a Demi Pair by ACCESS

Max and kids

By being a demi pair I got to find out what it is like to be a part of a Canadian family. I really feel like I was a big brother to my host children. I helped them with their homework, and taught my host brother how to play football. – Max, demi pair from Germany


Sometimes you can’t do it yourself, and a helping hand is what you need to get through the parenting day. We’ve discovered one solution: the demi pair.

I met Wendy Gillanders, Co-Founder and Director of Programs for ACCESS International English Language Centre and immediately sensed her passion for culture and language. ACCESS is a boutique English language school dedicated to providing students with opportunities to learn English and soak up Canadian culture while supported by an attentive, caring staff. Wendy, a former English teacher, developed the demi pair programme to offer a unique experience to bring families living the in the Greater Toronto Area together with young adults looking to enhance their language education.

Char & Claudia

My host family was the best! It is two years later and I am still in touch with my “Canadian” family. They are going to visit me in Spain in March. – Claudia, demi pair from Spain

Students from Germany, Spain, France, Mexico and Chile arrive in Toronto to study at English at ACCESS throughout the year. A demi pair is a part-time au pair, who goes to school in the morning and is available to help out with childcare, light housework and meal preparation in the afternoons and evenings in exchange for free room and board.

These young adults are keen to learn the language and experience the culture first-hand.  In addition to developing a relationship with their host-family, the students form friendships with each other.  This social network is an important part of the demi pair programme and only further enhances the experience for the student.

What Does a Demi Pair Do?

–       Pick up children from school, activities or camp.

–       Take children to activities.

–       Engage your children in a variety of activities such as soccer in the park, bike rides, outdoor adventure.

–       Provide an extra set of hands for bedtime routine and homework help.

–       Offer babysitting for much-needed adult date nights.

How Could a Demi Pair Enrich My Family?

–       Families are introduced to a new culture and learn about how life may be somewhere else in the world.

–       Children have the opportunity to learn and practice a foreign language.  This is especially ideal for children in extended French or immersion programs.

–       Demi Pairs often help relieve stress when it comes to pick-ups and drop-offs, making for a happier home environment.

–       Many families who have participated report they developed life-long friendships and continue to be in contact with their demi pair years later.


I LOVE my host family! We are friends for life! I have already returned once to visit them and they are planning to come to Chile next year! – Pilar, demi pair from Chile, Maria (not pictured) and Erin

Inviting someone into your home to care for your children can be nerve-wracking.  ACCESS does all it can to ensure the experience is positive for both the host families and demi pairs by acting as a liaison offering regular support.  Demi pairs are all 18 years of age or older, have experience working with children, are mature and looking to gain valuable experience about Canadian culture and the English language while living in your home.  Placements range from 8 -24 weeks and can begin at any time.

To learn more about the demi pair programme visit www.aupair-canada.com or ACCESS visit their website, www.accessenglish.com.

Disclaimer: This post has been sponsored by ACCESS.


Erik, demi pair, with his host “brothers” having fun playing hockey.


A Lame Defence of Cursing and Lying

swearingprohibitedcensored“Yes, mommy.  I would like some juice,” my 4 year old responded from behind me where he was securely fastened into his car seat.

I hadn’t asked him if he was thirsty. I had blasted the car that had swerved in front of me, cutting me off, forcing my foot to abruptly hit the break.  The culprit then flashed me a quick wave, more like a dismissal than an apology, all the while chatting on her cell phone that was clutched in her gloved hand.

“What a douche!” I had muttered- apparently not as under my breath as intended.

That was the first time I was called out by my kids on my swearing.

Here’s the thing: I do curse and if I am being honest, I do so more than I would like but I don’t make a habit of doing it in front of my kids.  Mostly I preach to them that swearing (or “adult words”) is a lazy way of expressing your feelings.  And I believe that.

The English language is rich with words that have long been forgotten, fallen out of favour and/or replaced with “knee-jerk” words that rarely do a sufficient job at conveying the intended meaning anyway.

“Search for your words!”  I gently say this while looking into their eyes, wild with frustration, as they struggle to communicate; when they’d rather throw a punch than commence a dialogue.

But I’m a parent and sometimes parents lie.

Like when I say I am not eating chocolate while feverishly searching for mayonnaise at the back of the refrigerator. When I tell them, of course I am going to bed right now but sneak downstairs a few minutes later. My go-to fib is that mommy already ate her broccoli while she was making dinner (meanwhile mommy thinks that broccoli is vile and would rather eat lumpy dirt from the sandbox at the neighbourhood park).

It’s kinda like that.

When I stub my toe I might say “Ouch!  I need to slow down and watch where I am walking.”

What I mean to say is:

“FUCK!  That fuckin’ hurts!”

Because sometimes curse words are the best way to convey emotion.

But that’s being lazy.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

imagesCAXJ02G8This staple of Christmas books is one of our family favourites.  Who doesn’t love a Seussical rhyme scheme, a dastardly plot to ruin Christmas, and a story that ends with the villain harmoniously reintegrated into the community he so hated?

And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling: “How could it be so?
“It came without ribbons!  It came without tags!
“It came without packages, boxes or bags!”
And then he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!
“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.
“Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”

And what happened then…?
Well…in Who-ville they say
That the Grinch’s small heart
Grew three sizes that day!
And the minute his heart didn’t feel quite so tight,
He wizzed with his load through the bright morning light
And he brought back the toys!  And the food for the feast!
And he…


The Grinch carved the roast beast!

Who doesn’t love the sheer exuberance of Dr. Seuss’s language?  Like Shakespeare, he has contributed to the English language with his wonderfully apt neologisms.  We have him to thank for the word grinch, a word not limited to the Christmas season but useful all year ’round.  And, really, I do so identify with The Grinch.  All year ’round I can be heard complaining, “Oh, the noise!  Oh, the Noise!  Noise!  Noise!  Noise!”  And my puzzler gets sore.

My heart is not two sizes too small, but I get you, Grinch, and I celebrate your grinchiness before and after your Christmas morning epiphany and transformation.