Monday, 17 January 2022 10:06

What is it like to stay with a homestay?

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Staying with a homestay is an important part of your English langiage course, but what should you expect?


What is a homestay?

They used to be called host families, but nowadays they are called homestays to reflect the different configurations of modern households. It could be a married or unmarried couple with or without children. Homestays taking in young students should not consist of male-only households.

English language school homestays are people who provide private accommodation in their own homes to foreign students during their language courses.


What can I expect from my homestay?

You will have your own bedroom or a shared bedroom. You might have a private bathroom or toilet, but are more likely to share the bathroom with the family.

Adult students can usually book a homestay with some or no meals. Accommodation for young students is normally with breakfast and a main evening meal. Lunch can be a packed lunch provided by the homestay or, at some schools, a meal in the school canteen.

Homestays live in a variety of different types of accommodation – small and large houses, flats and bungalows. They can be in the centre of a town or further outside, in a busy city street or in a quiet country lane.


Single or shared room?

Adults travelling on their own normally prefer to have their own room, but if you decide to book a shared room it is important to find out in advance who the other person might be.

Young learners often prefer to have a shared room so that they have a companion to travel to school and spend time with. If you decide to share, it should ideally be with someone of your own age but not someone who speaks your language. Many young people will instinctively choose someone of their own nationality, but there are several disadvantages to this, as you will see below.


How many other guests will there be?

Some homestays take just one student at a time, others take two or more. The British Council, the body which inspects and accredits language schools, sets a maximum of four students per homestay with a maximum of two per bedroom.

Any good language school will take their students’ wishes into consideration when placing them with homestays.


What is staying with a homestay like?

Staying with a homestay (host family) is the best way to experience the English way of life and practise your English.

You will experience life from the British point of view. You will learn words that you would probably never even hear if you stayed at a residential centre. You will find out what people in England think about world affairs, which sports teams they support, what they are interested in and much, much more. And, of course, they will be interested to hear your views and about life in your home country.

At first, everything will be new. But your hosts should make you feel welcome - and speak as slowly as you want them to! Soon, you will probably find that your hosts become your "second family".


What is the food like?

Just as in your country, the food in each family is different. Some families have a cooked breakfast, but most have cereal and perhaps toast with jam or marmalade.

The main meal of the day is the evening meal with your host family. This is usually a main course followed by a dessert.

Don't expect the same meals that you have at home; the food in England is different. But most students are pleasantly surprised by the food.

If you need a special diet, include all the information on your booking form.


Do all homestays have animals?

The British love pets and many homestays do have cats, dogs, birds, rabbits, fish and so on! If you have any special wishes, make them clear on your booking form.


What happens if I am allergic to certain foods or animals?

You should tell the school or accommodation agency about any allergies or other health issues you have when you send your booking.

What if I don't feel happy with my host family?

If, for any reason, you are not happy with your family, you should tell the school or accommodation agency as soon as possible so that they can either try to sort the problem for you or move you to another family.

Things to check

  • Tell the school or accommodation agency about any health issues you have, including any allergies to food or animals.

  • Tell them about any special wishes you have concerning your accommodation.

  • Make sure you get the full address and contact details of your homestay before your course starts. The school should also tell you a little about the homestay.

  • Where is your homestay? Find the street on a map. How far is it to the school? How will you get to school? Can you walk or do you need to take a bus? Is there a frequent bus service? How long does it take to get to school?

  • Which meals are provided?

  • It is a good idea to email or message your homestay to introduce yourself. Let them know something about yourself and your interests. Most homestays are pleased to hear from their guests and many write back.


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