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Sunday, January 22, 2006

How to make my students feel welcome? 

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"Dear Ai,
You must be getting bombarded with questions. I am a homestay mom and was wondering if you could give ME any advice on how to make my students feel welcome and comfortable in my home. Thank you very much! Katherine- Vancouver"

"Hi Katherine,
It is wonderful to hear from a homestay family. It sounds like you have already hosted some students in your home.

Students expect their homestay family to be like their own family. They come to Canada by themselves without their parents and friends. They don’t know anybody and mostly they don’t speak English at all. You will be the first close Canadian person he/she might contact. Their first impression will affect their view of Canada. I am very happy that you are thinking of what is best for students from the students’ point of view.

Some typical complaints I have been receiving from students about their homestay include:
1. Homestay families are too busy dealing with their own life (children, their hobbies and social life.. etc) and there is no time for the students.

2. Students would like to participate in family events (watch kids’ soccer game, be included in home parties or eating out)

3. Food is a very important factor for them and it is hard to adjust to Canadian food styles quickly. Please ask students what they would like to eat. You can also cook their cultural food. If you don’t have time to cook, ask students about their favourite restaurants.

4. Encourage students to speak English and help them to use new words/sentences they learn in school. The more they practice English with you, the better they will be able to communicate with you, and they will begin to feel more comfortable around you.

Imagine yourself going to their country not knowing anybody and to be compassionate with them. You can be their wonderful family!"


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