Home Away From Home

Benefits of Homestay for language learners

Living with a family is one of the best ways to improve your language skills. You can practice English during daily life and perhaps learn some local slang too. By living with a host family, you’ll learn more about the city and the mindset of the locals.

On the other hand, there are rules to living in homestay such as respecting household systems, showing consideration and appreciation. It’s usually possible to negotiate mealtimes and schedules based on your requirements. Respect is mutual, and kindness and generosity go both ways. Remember that when you go abroad, your manners reflect your culture and you represent your country.

We interviewed several students who lived in a homestay in Cape Town and every one of them said that it was an excellent decision for both personal and academic reasons.

Here are their top five reasons:

1. Save time and money

One of the main benefits of a homestay is that it’s great value for money. You can receive meals cooked for you, WIFI, water and electricity, cleaning services and the security that comes from living with other people. Being relieved of household chores is an advantage as it allows more time to focus on your studies, and to explore all the city has to offer.

2. Maximise opportunities to practise

Quite a few students only plan to live in a homestay at the beginning, but 9 times out of 10 they choose to stay with the host family instead. A former ELC student said that practicing English everyday helped him improve dramatically, because it forced him to use his new vocabulary and the language learned in class. What’s more, you can ask for help with homework in order to impress your teachers!

3. Experience local culture

Another benefit of living in a homestay is being able to experience a city from an insider perspective. Your host family knows the best places to shop, eat out and chill out. Accompany your host families on weekend outings, such as to the beach, and food markets such as Biscuit Mill on a Saturday morning. Hosts are happy to share insights into the local lifestyle and to introduce you to hidden gems which give an authentic sense of the country and people.

4. Keep you company

It can be lonely living far from home and your support network. You might luck out and have host siblings your own age, or a dog to walk in the afternoons. Another advantage of living with a host family is being able to spend public holidays such as Christmas, Easter and Eid with a family. This way, you get to try the delicious dishes prepared especially for the holiday. This turns homesickness into an experience of how these festivals are celebrated around the world.

5. Memorable moments

Your choice of accommodation, and of area for that matter, will have the strongest place in your memories. You’ll never forget a home-cooked meal, afternoons of fun and laughter and the friends you make in a foreign city.

A homestay may not provide you with the luxury of your own apartment. However, it will save you time and money, provide an English-speaking environment, give you access to local culture and a support structure, and create warm memories to take home.

By Aqeelah Adam

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