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Hosting an exchange student

By Janet Castrejón, MA

When you welcome a foreign exchange student into your home you are introducing your children to the world of culture and language. They will find it facinating that many everyday activities are done differently in the exchange student's home country. For example, they may be shocked to hear that in their home country they eat fish, rather than cereal for breakfast. They will also gain a better understanding of language as they hear mistakes that the exchange student makes in English. If they are familiar with the student's native language, they may even understand the source of the error.

When you offer to host an exchange student, you are commiting to provide three meals a day, transportation to and from the language school, and a private bedroom. Some programs allow you to provide a shared bedroom as long as the other child in the room is of the same gender.

Exchange studentMost exchange students choose to study abroad because they want to learn English. They would probably be disappointed if you spoke their native language with them all of the time. However, you could ask if they would be willing to occasionally let you and your children practice speaking their native language.

Hosting a foreign exchange student can also lead to friendships and opportunities to travel to their country. Sometimes host families are later invited to visit their homes. There's nothing like having a native guide show you around their home town.

Some programs that are looking for host families are . . .

AYUSA offers high school abroad programs in a variety of countries. Check their website or contact them to see current program offerings.

CIEE (Council on International Educational Exchange)
CIEE offers high school abroad programs in a variety of countries. Check their website or contact them to see current program offerings.

EF (Education First)
Study abroad programs in a variety of countries for teenagers and adults (ages 16 and up). EF Tours ( will organize educational trips for school groups.

Youth for Understanding
Youth for Understanding is a non-profit educational organization with study abroad programs in 64 countries.


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