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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

How does the homestay system work in Vancouver? 

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Dear Ai;

We live in Vancouver and would like to be a Host family, however we are not sure of how to get involved. Could you send direct me to a person/agency who can explain to us how to get involved.

I read the article in the Sunday Sun about your blog. I'm sure your getting a lot of email today. Thanks for your help.


Hi Jackie,
Thank you very much for your e-mail. Students usually write me e-mails, but it is very interesting to receive an e-mail from a homestay family. This will be a good opportunity to share with Dear Ai readers regarding how the homestay system works in Canada.
The process to become a homestay family is to first contact any schools or student agencies (who refer students to ESL schools) and at the same time ask them for a form, then submit a homestay application form. Once you’ve submitted it, the Homestay Coordinator from the school or agency will visit your house to check if you have sufficient room and food for students. Meanwhile, students also fill out their homestay request stating if they would like to live with children, other students, pets, smoking/non-smoking family, food preference, religion, medical conditions and allergies etc.. The Homestay Coordinator’s job involves matching students and homestay family’s needs. Sometimes it takes longer for a new homestay to get the first student.

There are more than 200 ESL schools and countless agencies in Vancouver, so it is difficult for me to choose schools for you. For a listing, please visit
Usually, schools or agencies that refer students charge the student a Homestay Placement fee. After that, the school/agency will send you the Homestay fee to compensate you. Each school or agency sets its own fee. Please check with them directly. I always advise both students and homestay families to use a third party for fee payment in order to reduce miscommunication. They’ll also help you and your students if you have any problems.
Hosting international students can be a valuable experience for both the homestay family and the student. When I worked at ESL schools, I felt that I didn’t need to go anywhere to experience different cultures because the world came to me. Good luck!


Write to "Dear Ai" at


My name is Zinnet and I am a homestay agent in
Vancouver. I am recruting families for upcoming students in lower mainland. Anyone interested in becoming a host family, can email me for an application at
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