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Host Family FAQ

What is a normal host family?

Our host families come from many different backgrounds, ages and family situations. There are as many different types of students as there are many different types of host families including single parents, couples with and without children at home and retired people. All of these families meet the standard requirements and are able to provide the student with a stable home, a room and meals.


What is required to be a host family?

Students need their own individual room with a bed, desk, chair, lamp and storage for clothing. They require access to the shower daily and suitable heating and lighting. They also need laundry and fresh bedding and towels on a weekly basis. It is important that the Host Family ensures that the student’s room is for the exclusive use of the student and that the Host Family agrees to respect the student’s privacy at all times. Host families are required to provide breakfast and dinner during weekdays, and breakfast, lunch and dinner at weekends and school holidays. A good internet connection is required ensuing students can complete their school work and keep in touch with their family and friends at home.


What type of food will the student expect to eat?

Students will be expected to eat what you and your family would normally eat on a daily basis. Mealtimes are a great time to socialise as a family and also present the ideal opportunity for cultural immersion, enabling you to discuss each other’s days, plans for tomorrow, homework or any concerns the student may have.
Most students will often not tell you they don’t like something you have made. It’s best to ask them initially what they do and don’t like. It’s also a great idea to take the student to the supermarket at the beginning.


Do I receive any financial compensation for hosting the student?

Whilst we do not expect there to be an extensive cost involved in hosting a student, we will of course compensate you in order to cover general expenses. We offer a competitive rate of pay on a weekly basis. We will outline this in more detail when we meet with you. 


What if I encounter problems with the student’s behaviour?

Through our rigorous interview and selection process, we only choose students for the programme who we believe have the ability to cope well living in a different environment. All students are briefed prior to arrival on what is expected of them both in their homestay, school and living in the UK in general. However, we do recognise that teenagers are not without fault and some may display behaviour that is unacceptable. It may be a misunderstanding or a cultural difference but no problem is too small to address. In terms of discipline, they should adhere to household rules like everyone else. If you need advice or assistance, please contact our team. In our experience, the sooner an issue is addressed, the most likely that it will be resolved easily. If the behaviour is clearly breeching Alpha’s policies (smoking, foul language, extreme misbehaving etc.), please contact us immediately.


Do I need to set Ground Rules?

Host families are strongly advised to provide ground rules to each student staying with them from the outset in order to help to avoid misunderstandings and possible cultural differences. New host families sometimes feel that ground rules are quite a formal introduction to the home and their family life. It is, however, advisable to have some structure and guidelines for any new student that help avoid misunderstanding and possible cultural differences. How the ground rules are delivered is up to the individual Host Family, but we would recommend that they are discussed upon the student’s arrival in the home, and are implemented within the first few days of arrival.


Will my family be able to choose the student?

Matching the right student to the right family is important. We will happily listen to your thoughts and consider your requests when placing students with you. However, we cannot guarantee that we can fulfil all of your requirements. You may refuse any student you do not feel is appropriate for your home environment.


How long will the student stay for?

Each student is different, with some wishing to come for a term and ‘try’ the experience to those planning on coming until they finish university. Many students stay for at least one academic year and some will stay for several years until they have finished their secondary schooling in the UK. We also understand that hosts’ circumstances can change and therefore it is not always possible for the student to remain with you for the duration of their time in the UK. If this happens, we ask that you can give us as much notice as possible so we can place the student elsewhere.


What age are the students?

The students who will be on the programme are aged 12 – 19. 


How are the students selected?

We have a very rigorous selection process in the student’s home country in order to ensure that students are well suited for student exchange. Each student is tested on their English written and verbal proficiency and is required to submit to us their health records and any allergies they might have. Students must also submit a letter of recommendation, academic transcripts, an essay written in English and many short-answer questions regarding the students’ life. They are interviewed in English by the agent in the relevant country who will gauge whether the student is emotionally and academically ready to live and study abroad.


What are my financial obligations?

We require all host families to provide room and board for the students. Students have their own spending money for personal items, shopping for clothes, gifts, etc. Other expenses outside of that are up to the host family. For example, if you were going out to eat as a family, typically the family would pay for the student’s meal. If you decide to allow the student to meet up with friends to go to the cinema, get some food, etc. the student would pay for that.


Do they stay with us for holidays and weekends?

We want our students to become part of the family they are placed with and to be given the option of participating with the normal family activities that you participate in over weekends and holidays. They will definitely be staying over weekends and half term holidays. The majority of students will return home for the Christmas holidays, but may stay in the UK for Easter.


Do we have to entertain our student during the weekends and evenings?

No, you don’t. Students are here to have a cultural experience and we encourage you to let the student participate in your daily activities whether that be gardening, cooking or walking the dog. If you wish to do any special activities with your student, you are welcome to do so, but this is not obligatory. However, as students are attending local school, they will spend the majority of their free time studying or going out with their friends.


How to Apply

Please complete the enquiry form here and we will send you an application form for you to fill in.

Apply Here

What happens next?