Your Host Family's Expectations

Do's and Don'ts for Helping Your Host Family (and Yourself!) Have a Good Experience
 
Do: Interact with Their Children
  • ​The sky's the limit when you ask how to interact with children to help them learn a language
  • Rule number one: it should be fun and not feel like a mandated, required class. Make it fun!
  • Make bubbles, paint, go for a walk, tell stories and jokes, read books, watch a movie (occasionally), and be creative in your activities! 
     
Do: Care About Them
  • Anyone, even (and especially) a young child can feel when you're being sincere and when you're faking it
  • Believe it or not, the majority of the time, they will know when you're having fun with them and when you consider it a chore to be with them
  • So relax and have fun!
  • Ask them questions about them, open up and tell them about yourself
  • Think of your time with them as a learning and growing experience (for them and for you!) and it will be much more enjoyable for both of you
 
​Do: Talk. A LOT.
  • The feedback we get over and over again from host families is they would like Speakers to talk more​
  • The host family's main goals are to help their children:
    • Improve English speaking skills
    • Be exposed to another culture
  • You can help them do both by talking, talking, talking, all the time
  • Good ways to ensure a lot of talking:
    • Have a plethora of stories (both fictional and from your personal life) that you can tell over and over again
    • Do an activity with the child(ren) and narrate what you're doing
    • Ask them a lot of questions and talk about their answers and ideas (what if scenarios are fun to do here)
       
Do: Be Patient But Keep Tabs on Their Progress​
  • ​Helping children learn English doesn't need to be intense or even charted
  • If they are having trouble with certain sounds, words, or phrases, be patient
  • Even native speakers take a few years to learn their own language (heck, it took Einstein four!)
  • So be patient and kind in your corrections
  • If the child is making a mistake, just repeat the phrase in the correct way without pointing out their mistake
  • For example:
    • ​Child: It go like this. [Incorrect]
    • Speaker: Oh, it goes like this? [Correct]
  • Doing this will help them naturally correct their speech without making English a negative experience
  • In your own mind or in a private notebook, keep track of how well the child is progressing in their speech
  • If they're having trouble with a difficult sound like th make note of it and chart their progress
     
​Do: Be Helpful in the Daily Routines
  • When it comes to mealtime, offer to help set the table, cook something, or do the dishes afterward
  • Remember: you're a guest in their home but this doesn't mean you'll be served like you're staying at a hotel
  • Be helpful and be aware of ways to help

Don't: Get Angry
  • Kids will be kids; they will probably do something annoying or unfriendly at some point
  • Depending on their maturity, this could include pulling your hair, screaming, or simply being irritating
  • Whenever this happens, remember to be the bigger person (this is not to be taken literally, we definitely don't want you to get into a wrestling match or anything)
  • If you need to, take a break from the situation
  • If the bad behavior gets serious, talk to the parents
    • Come up with a plan together of how to handle the behavior
    • Stay in touch with your program director about these situations
    • Work through problems with the long-term in mind
       
Don't: Stay Shut Up in Your Room
  • The last thing a host family wants is to go through the whole process of finding you and getting to know you before you take a transatlantic flight to their home is for you to spend the whole time in your room
  • Remember: this arrangement is a very friendly one, so they're not going to force you to come out of hiding
  • However, you should be aware of how much time you spend in your room and how much time you're actually interacting with the family
     
Don't: Leave a Mess
  • This is probably common sense for most house guests, but we like to err on the side of being overly clear

  • If you make a mess, clean up after yourself

  • If you see a mess, either help the child clean up after themselves or take the initiative to clean up

  • Don't see this as "I'm being the family maid;" see it as "I am being helpful and considerate"

  • Leave things better than you found them
     

Don't: Forget to be Grateful
  • Saying thank you goes a long way in life
  • Those two words, when spoken sincerely can make the difference between a positive experience and a negative one
  • We bet you can remember a time when you did something nice for someone and it didn't even cross their mind to say a simple thanks
  • And we're sure you can also think of a time when someone went out of their way to tell you thank you
  • Who would you want staying in your home?

Got a question? Ask away!