Homestays, or residential accommodations, give students the opportunity to live with a local family while studying abroad. For students taking immersive English programmes in Canada, Ireland or the UK, homestays can provide lots of opportunities for extra practice, helping students improve their language skills quickly, as well as providing a wealth of first-hand knowledge about the local city and culture.
If you’re preparing for, or considering, an English language course abroad, here are five useful tips to help you make the most of your own homestay experience.
Be Open about Your Needs and Preferences
When requesting a homestay, make sure to communicate your needs to the school. If you have dietary restrictions or allergies, for example, or if there are any other factors that might impact your comfort and enjoyment, be sure to share these early on so that you can be placed in the most appropriate homestay option for you.
Once your homestay has been selected and you’ve arrived and met your hosts, you can also set time aside to chat with them about your preferences and needs, as well as learn about their schedule and any house rules, routines or expectations you should be aware of. This a good way of ensuring a smooth and enjoyable homestay experience for both you and your hosts.
Sharing Meals with Your Host Family Can Help You Learn English
Food is known to bring people together and sitting down over a meal is one of the best ways to get to know someone. For this reason, it’s worth making an effort to attend family dinners at your homestay, enjoying local home-cooked meals while developing a friendship with your hosts and practising your conversational skills.
You might also consider setting a night aside to cook a dish from your home country for your hosts. This can be a great way to share cultures and teach your host family something about your own background.
Family dinners are a great opportunity to bond with your hosts and practise your English
Try to Participate in Your Host’s Hobbies and Day-to-Day Activities
Outside of meals, you might want to find other opportunities to spend time with your hosts and share in their hobbies and day-to-day lives. Even activities like going to the supermarket can be a fun bonding experience, and an opportunity to pick up new vocabulary and cultural knowledge outside of your English language courses.
Share Your Own Culture with Your Host Family
Families often choose to host international students because they are eager to learn more about world cultures. This means that a homestay is not only a great opportunity for you to learn English, but also a great opportunity for your hosts to learn about you and your culture. You might consider bringing photos of your life back home to share with your hosts or teaching them songs or games from your home country. These can often be great conversation-starters, helping you get even more valuable English practice.
Use Your Host Family as a Source of Local Knowledge and Advice
Don’t be shy about using your host family as a resource during your stay. If you’re curious about local customs or history, or if you want to know more about the local shops, restaurants and attractions, your host family is a great source of information. By asking them about their own favourite things in the city, you can have a unique and culturally rich experience far beyond what you’d be able to find in any tourist brochure, so be sure to take advantage!
Your host family can be a great source of local knowledge and advice
Are you interested in studying English abroad?
Contact Centre of English Studies to learn more about our intensive English lessons in Canada, Ireland, and the UK.