The idea of being a host family can be very appealing, it provides an opportunity to meet people from different cultures and help them to learn the English language. It also allows you to learn from them and exposes your children to a different way of life. There are many benefits to being a host family as well as the obvious financial incentive.
To become a host family you will need to choose one of the language schools near you and register with them. There is a process which will need to be followed before you are ready to accept students, although this can be slightly different depending upon the school you choose to sign up with.
GP Homestay has their own list of criteria and instructions regarding how to become a host family and what is expected of you. They have been internationally recognized for the service they offer and are linked with some of the best language schools in the country. However, before you decide to sign up with this firm or even to attempt to advertise directly to students online; you should consider whether you have the right qualities to become a host family:
The most important first question is whether you have the space to take on a foreign student. Ideally a student should have their own room and space to retreat to when needed. This will help them to feel comfortable and relaxed. Guidelines do generally allow two students of the same sex in one room provided they have a bed each and adequate space; but this may not be the most desirable situation. Having at least one spare room is essential!
Having a student will require you to have some free time. You will need to be there to ensure they have adequate food and to interact with them; ensuring they have the opportunity to learn English naturally. You will also need to have enough time to take your student out to a variety of places which may interest them and broaden their cultural horizons.
It is not essential to have a qualification in teaching English, in fact, if they are attending a language school it will probably not be a good idea to interfere with the way they are learning. However, it is possible to become a host family and provide your own English speaking course. To do this effectively you will need to have studied and gained the Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL); or a higher qualification.
It is better for a young student to have people of a similar age to interact with. They are more likely to have similar interests and to make a connection. In fact, having a family of the right age can make the entire process much easier as both children will benefit from the exchange of cultures and languages.
It is essential to be patient with your new student. They will be learning their way around a foreign system and will be unsure of their language skills. The best approach is to simply be supportive and patient; they will soon find their feet!