by HENRIETTE FREESE
With Vancouver being one of the top cities in Canada for international students to learn English, staying in a homestay is one of the most popular options of student accommodation in Vancouver. More and more families look into the option of hosting an ESL student in Vancouver which can be a rewarding experience in many ways. If you are thinking of hosting an international student or know someone who’d like to become a host family in Vancouver please read on to learn more about this great opportunity!
Why should I host an international student?
Whether it’s for a few weeks or several months, it can be a unique experience to welcome an ESL student to your home and help them on their journey of learning English. When asking some of our VGC host families what made them decided to host students, most of them said that they enjoyed interacting with people from different countries and cultures, that they learned from them and their perspectives and also enjoyed sharing their Canadian way of life. Some have been in the same situation many years ago and want to give back after having a life-changing experiences themselves back then. Others found their home too quiet when their own children moved out and now enjoy interacting with different cultures and hearing about their adventures and impressions here in Canada.
“We can learn from their culture, you can teach them many life skills that they will use later in their life and their work, they become part of our family and create wonderful memories that stay with you for the rest of your life.”
While motivations might differ, all of the families agree that hosting students has contributed to their personal and familial development, has brought new understanding for other cultures and many of them formed long-lasting friendships with some of their former students.
As students become part of your family you can both create memories that will stay a lifetime and appreciate the diversity of lives and new cultural experiences.
How have other families experienced hosting an ESL student?
Most families reported that the students staying in their homes were very polite, cheerful, considerate and positive about learning English. They love Vancouver and Canada and enjoy being integrated into a local family that becomes their temporary home on their language journey. As students share stories and experiences with their host families, lasting bonds and memories are formed.
“Our experience has been wonderful and positive. Having a good school like VGC in supporting the Homestay Program really make a difference, students and family can fully benefit from the experience and ensuring students to have success in their study while being cared for by their Canadian host families.”
One of the fundamental purposes of being a host family in Vancouver is to provide a safe environment for a student where they can learn about a new culture and also improve their English. We want to make sure that our students are provided with a safe and caring home and many of our families enjoy treating our students like their own children. This means sharing a new lifestyle, help them to form soft skills for their future and help them on their way to grow and mature as an adult.
“It is great to invite students into our home as we can learn about them, as they learn about us. It is a privilege to be part of their experience in pursuing their studies and goals.”
Advice for hosting an international student in Vancouver
- Create an English-only environment: Vancouver is a multicultural city and our host families are of diverse backgrounds. Always remember that students come here to improve their English and learn about the new culture, so it’s essential to create an environment where they hear English only and will have it easier to integrate. Where possible, include the students in conversations. Some families share daily stories at the dinner table, other families include the student in activities. It will be great for the student to apply their knowledge outside the classroom and improve in a natural environment.
- Be open minded: Some of our students are leaving their families for the first time ever and might feel intimidated to live in a new family or need a while to adjust to new customs and a different way of life. Be understanding and help them adjust in this new chapter of their lives. Every student is different and families who have hosted multiple times enjoy and embrace those different experiences.
- Help your students: Some students come from cities that are very different to Vancouver – whether they are unsafe, larger or smaller – things will most likely be very different for them here. It will be helpful if you show them the way to the nearest Skytrain or bus stop and show them some points of interest near your home.
- Set rules and manage expectations: Make sure to openly communicate certain expectations you have from your students. Whether it’s related to cleaning chores, a bathroom schedule, inviting friends or using the internet – communication is the key when establishing your relationship. While setting rules is important, also remember to remain patient and flexible while students adjust to their new environment.
- Communicate with your homestay department: Here at VGC we have a designated department taking care of our host families as well as the students staying in a VGC homestay. Whenever there is a problem be patient and make sure to communicate with your VGC coordinator, to ensure a smooth collaboration.
As you can see, hosting foreign students in Vancouver can be a truly rewarding experience and with your hospitality you can help young students achieve their dreams and make their time in Vancouver a rewarding and positive experience! If you want to learn more about how you can become a host family in Vancouver please take a look at our homestay page or contact our homestay coordinator under [email protected]