One of the most effective ways to improve your English is to find a Homestay option in the country of your choice. Homestay is a type of tourism or study overseas program that will allow you as the visitor to rent a room from a local family, giving you the opportunity to become accustomed to the local way of life whilst improving your language skills. Homestays may be available in many world destinations, although some countries do more to promote homestay opportunities than others, because it helps to develop tourism generally. Hosting a homestay student also permits the local family to make some additional income. Homestay can not be regarded as a true commercial activity, but should be viewed more as an inter cultural exchange. Students commonly arrange a homestay with the aid of their school or educational institution, but it is possible to arrange to stay with a family through personal social connections, and through a number of private agencies and associations. There are many online homestay agencies that (for a token fee) will link up students with a variety of hosts from different parts of the world.
The Differences in Homestays
Homestay scenarios can be arranged from an entirely inter family experience, or can consist merely of a basic room rental.
Within the inter family model a homestay student will live, eat, and share most of their time spent in the host country sharing the life style of the hosts and family. Sharing the daily family events like dining out, entertainment, camping, travel, etc. and can involve the host student paying a part for their participation (tickets, parking, petrol, travel expenses, etc.) The student may also be invited to take part in Holiday festivities (Easter,Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.) and even family events such as weddings, birthdays, family gatherings, etc.)
At the other end of the scale, students may merely be renting a room within a private residence with a minimum of supervising from their host or family.
In addition, there usually exists an agreement stipulating the working homestay terms and conditions where a student is required to execute certain obligations such as house work, farm work, babysitting, maid services; normally in substitution for accommodation fees.
A Common contract and agreement.
Differences between cultures may sometimes result in friction between a homestay student and their host family. In order to avoid many problems, most homestay agreements require a contract or formal agreement between the host and student. A contract may draw up an idea of what is anticipated of the homestay student and can include items like;
Tasks to do (cleaning, laundering)
Use of the services such as Internet, television, telephone
May include the details of what is being offered by the host by way of:
Communications (Internet, telephone)
Entertainment (TV, radio)
Typically, a host should provide private sleeping accommodation and study with lock and key, and a convenient washing area must be available for the student to use. Nearly all other items are negotiable in terms of availability and price.
Occasionally, there are occasions where a family, or individual, is only interested in capitalizing on the financial opportunity without any concern for the interests of the student.
A student is advised to seek details of the history of students and guests hosted by the family, and to ask for a reference from a student who has recently attended their homestay. If a reference is refused, you should take it as a warning. Also, look for a contract that protects the interests of both parties. It should be clearly stated the obligations of both the student and the host family.