Choosing host families for your international education or language program takes significant time and effort. Matching prospective students with families willing to open their hearts and home to a foreign student who is studying English as a Second Language (or any other language or subject, for that matter) requires skill, patience, background checks and a fine balance between working with the people that you have in your pool of students and families and ensuring that some basic requirements are met.
The first step in setting up your host family selection process is to develop your host family application. The application needs to include more than just the name and address of the family. You also want to ask questions about lifestyle, such us: do they allow smoking in the home?
The local police service in many communities will perform security checks for a small fee. Adult members of the household should include a police security check, as you will want to know if anyone in the household has had criminal charges brought against them, or if there have been incidents of domestic violence in the home.
The more questions you ask up front, the better chance you’ll have of selecting excellent families to host your students.
Here’s a sample host or billet family application that you can download and adapt to your own needs. Remember to include a statement about privacy if your area requires you to do so when you collect personal information.
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Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.