If you choose to host a student you will be virtually guaranteed to benefit from the experience. Becoming a host family allows you to connect with new people and learn about foreign cultures. It can open your eyes to what is possible and what other people live with; or even without. You will make friends with many of your students but perhaps the greatest feeling is the knowledge that you have helped someone improve their mastery of your language.
In general there is little to complicate matters when you host a student. However, it is essential to be aware of the following issues before you host a student; this will ensure you do not fall foul of the law!
When you host a student you are not paid a wage. However, you are given funds to cover the cost of their keep. Whether this is more than you need will depend upon the amount you are given and your lifestyle.
The funds you receive are a payment contribution for goods and services; they are not strictly speaking income and do not need to be declared upon your tax return. In addition, you will find that you can make several deductions on your tax return as you are supporting an extra child for so many weeks. When you host a student you can actually lower your tax bill!
- Age Range
If you choose to host a student through a local language school then you will probably be looking at students between the ages of 12 and 18. This can be a difficult age although they should be open to an array of new experiences.
However, if you prefer to host a student through a specialist student placement firm then you will find there is a much large age range to choose from. This can be beneficial if you have children and want a student of a similar age.
- House Rules
It is vital to go through your host rules as soon as your student arrives. When you host a student you will need to remember that their rules and culture may be very different to yours. Things that you assume they will do, such as hanging their coat up; might be an alien concept.
By taking the opportunity to go over the rules at the start you will ensure your student knows what you expect of them.
- Emotional Bond
Whether you intend to or not, if you host a student you will develop an emotional bond with them. The longer they stay with you the harder it will be to say goodbye to them. You may even question whether it is all worthwhile.
This bond simply shows that you learned from each other; although it is difficult to say goodbye you are making new friends!
- Teaching Works Both Ways
Finally, when you host a student you must immerse them in your culture and speak to them in your language. This does not mean that you cannot learn from them. Exposure to their culture and beliefs will ensure that you learn as much as they do. This is why people say that when you host a student it is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have.