Student Homestay Handbook
Student Homestay Handbook
Welcome to ELS Language Centers Homestay Program! This
handbook will help you know what to do in your homestay. It is
important to be understanding and flexible.
If you do not
understand something or if you have a problem, please talk to the
Homestay Provider or the Center Director. Students in homestay receive extra opportunities
to practice English, form lifetime relationships, and learn about American families. We hope
you will enjoy your homestay, and that you will make many new friends.
Every host family and every home is different. Some homes are small apartments;
others are big houses. Some host families may be a single mother, some may have two
parents with children, and some may be an older couple whose children are grown. Some host
families are clean and organized; others may be a little messy and disorganized. Beautiful big
homes that you see in movies are not typical in real life. But all our host families have one
thing in common: they are interested in you and want you to be happy and safe in their home.
A. Goals of the Homestay Program
The goal of the ELS Homestay Program is to provide an interesting cultural and educational
experience for both the student and the host family. As you interact with your host family, you
will grow and learn so much. Your English skills will improve more quickly, and you will
enjoy a wonderful relationship with your American family. Your host family wants you to be
comfortable in your new home. They are here to help you. You may call your homestay parents
Mom and Dad, or use their first names.
B. What You Will Receive
Your Bedroom – You will be provided a private bedroom unless you have requested to
share a room with another student. Your bedroom will have a bed, dresser, night table,
and closet. You will also have a place to study, though it might not be in your bedroom.
There may be other ELS students in the home, but none of them should speak the same
first language as you.
Common Areas - You will be able to use all the common areas of the house. These
include the kitchen, the living room, and the yard. You should spend lots of time in these
common areas, so you can really be a part of the family. Please do not stay in your room
all the time; your host family wants to spend time with you.
Clean linens – Your host family will provide you with clean linens on a weekly basis.
Bathroom – You may have your own bathroom, or you may share one with other family
members. Keep your time in the bathroom short. Always leave the bathroom clean and
dry. If others use the bathroom, be sure to ask about a schedule for the shower.
Laundry Facilities – The washing/drying procedure may be different in each home. Most
host families have laundry facilities in their homes. Host families in apartments may have
a separate community laundry room with coin-operated machines. Your host family will
show you how to use the washer and dryer. Normally, washing your clothes is your
responsibility. Some host families may prefer to wash your laundry. Please discuss
laundry procedures with your host family.
Meals – Host families will provide breakfast and dinner for you every day.
o Breakfast might be hot or cold. Please be aware that you will probably prepare
your own breakfast each morning. Most American families have a simple
breakfast, and they do not usually eat breakfast together. Your host family will
show you around the kitchen, and where the breakfast foods are kept. Please tell
your hosts what your favorite breakfast foods are (cereal, toast, jam, juice, eggs,
o Dinner will be a sit-down meal as a family at least 4 or 5 nights a week. Tell your
host family if you have food preferences or any foods you cannot eat. You can
ask to go with them to the grocery store. You can show them what food you like
NOTE: On evenings when your host family cannot sit down to a meal, your hosts will
provide instructions on how to prepare dinner. It is also very important to tell your host
family if you will not be home for dinner, so they do not worry. Tell them as soon as
C. What is Not Included
Lunches & Snacks – Lunch and snack foods are not included in the homestay program
fees. However, your host family will give you space in the kitchen to keep your personal
food. Also, please do not bring or keep food in the bedroom because it may spoil or
Transportation – Host families may not be required to provide transportation to and from
the ELS center. Transportation arrangements should be explained to you upon arrival. If
your host family is not responsible for bringing you to ELS you will be responsible for
your own transportation. Most homestay students walk, ride a bike, or take public
transportation to the Center. If you ride a bike, please use a bike helmet and bring a lock.
D. Other Important Matters
American “families” – Host families may not be what you expect. Remember American
society is a mix of many cultures. Also, some families have children, some have only
one parent, and others have grown children who have left the home.
Politeness – American families expect students to treat all family members with equal
respect. Be polite – use words like “please” and “thank you”.
Cleanliness and Neatness – Always clean up after yourself. American families do not
have servants. Each family member should clean up his or her own mess.
Rules – You must obey the host family rules. Ask about using the television, computer,
and telephone. You also must ask your host family permission before you invite friends
to their home or have a friend spend the night.
Appliances, Electronics and Gadgets – Your host family will show you how to use the
washer and dryer, the shower, the faucets, the lights, the television, and other electronics.
Quiet Time – Please respect quiet hours in your home. Ask your host family what quiet
hours are. Most Americans expect quiet time by 10:00 p.m. on weekdays and 11:00 p.m.
on weekends. Do not have friends over or make loud noise after these hours without
asking your host family.
Physical Contact – Physical contact varies from culture to culture. Members of some
cultures kiss once or twice at each greeting, while members of other cultures seldom
touch. Americans often express affection with hugs and touch. If you are uncomfortable
with this, please tell your host family.
Religious Preferences – Your host family may attend religious services. If so, you are
welcome to attend religious services with them, but it is your choice. Also, feel free to
share your faith with your host family, but be respectful of differences.
Pets – Most American families have pets – often dogs or cats. They are treated as
members of the family. Remember to close your bedroom door if you do not want pets in
Be Energy Efficient – Take short showers and turn off lights. Please do not waste
electricity or water.
Smoking, Alcohol and Drugs – Most American homes are non-smoking. Please ask
before smoking. You must be 21 to buy or drink alcohol in the United States. Please ask
before drinking alcohol in your home. You may not use illegal drugs. If you do, you will
have to leave your host family immediately, and your homestay fee will not be refunded.
Weekend Trips – If you will be away on the weekend, please tell your host family that
you will be gone. You will not receive a refund for any nights that you are away.
Household Duties and Chores – Some host families assign students light household
chores. You should make your bed every day and keep your room neat and clean. You
should vacuum your room and clean your bathroom once a week. You can offer to set or
clear the table, or do other small chores. Always clean up after yourself, whether in the
kitchen, the living room, the bathroom or another area of the home.
Babysitting and other Paid Work – You cannot be paid for work in any way for your
family. This is a violation of your visa.
Participation in Family Activities – You will enjoy being a part of family routines and
outings. You may be invited to birthday parties, soccer games, children’s concerts, and
other family events. This is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about American
culture and to practice your English.
Vacations/Weekend Trips – Host families may take vacations or weekend trips. If you
are invited to go, you may go if it doesn’t conflict with your school schedule. You must
be prepared to pay for all your expenses. Ask what the trip will cost before you go, so
you are not surprised. If your host family will be gone, they will inform the Homestay
Provider and Center Director. If you are not comfortable with your host family gone,
please tell them, or the Homestay Provider and Center Director.
Use of Family Vehicles – You should not drive your host family’s car. If you will be
here for a long time, consider renting or buying a car.
Use of Family Telephones – Ask when you may use the family telephone for local
phone calls. Make long distance calls only with a phone card. Only use the phone when
your host family is awake, and ask your family in your own country to call during
reasonable hours. Keep your phone calls short.
E. Payment of Homestay Fees
All homestay fees are paid at the ELS office. If you have paid in your country for
future homestay sessions, please tell ELS that you will stay in your homestay.
You cannot stay in homestay after you finish your English language studies with
ELS. Your homestay is for ELS students only. The move-out date is the Saturday after
the session ends. If you would like to stay an extra day or two, you should ask the Center
Director if this is possible. You may have to stay with friends or move to a hotel.
If you want to take a vacation and come back to your homestay, talk to the Center
Director. If you would like to reserve your room with the same homestay, you will have
to pay a fee to store your belongings and hold your room.
You must give 30 days notice to move out of homestay, or you will lose your housing
reservation deposit. Tell the ELS office that you are moving out, and tell your
homestay family too.
Communication is very important for a successful homestay experience for both students and
their host families. The following are tips for making your homestay a great experience.
Dinner is a time when you can practice your English and form deeper relationships. Your
host family will have dinner with you 4 or 5 nights a week. This is a great time for
improving your conversational skills; ask family members about his/her day, life in this
country, thoughts about U.S. culture, etc. Local news is also a great dinner conversation
Americans like to communicate, and like to know where you are. Please tell your host
family where you are going and when you will return. Call if you will be late or are
staying somewhere else for the night.
Problems and Frustrations – If you are confused or frustrated with something in your
homestay, try talking to your host family. Tell them how you feel, and ask them to help
you solve the problem. If you are still frustrated, please contact the Center Housing
Coordinator immediately, or talk to the Center Director.
Have fun as you get to know your host family. You will learn so much as you become a part of an
American family, and we are glad you chose homestay for your housing while studying English!