LSI Paris approached one of their host families to discuss their views on why students choose homestay accommodation.
Mme B. is one of the school’s longest standing hosts living in the 15th arrondissement, a lively shopping area near Montparnasse. Her family owns several apartments in the same building ensuring that her LSI students will receive a welcome from not just Mrs B. but her extended family. We asked her the following …
Are homestays popular with young, independent students?
Mrs. B: Yes, undoubtedly, because there are many benefits of a homestay: they are living with a family so students feel at home more quickly plus they get the opportunity to speak French all the time speeding up the learning process. Homestay students also don’t have any of the concerns involved with renting a flat. Staying in a homestay is no more restrictive than living with other students in a flat as there are always house rules.
Do homestays mean lots of rules?
Mrs. B. Only common sense rules.. do not leave the door unlocked, le me know if they’ll be late for dinner, be considerate of noise levels to avoid annoying the neighbors … that sort of thing. Some of my students prefer to let me know where they are and when they are back. It makes them feel more secure that someone is looking out for them. Basically homestay rules are pretty much what they’d expect in their own home.
How old are homestay students ?
Mrs. B. It depends. The majority are around 20 to 25 years old, but I do get more mature students in their 40s and 5os who are learning French for their work . Once I had an Irish woman who had just retired but wanted to keep her brain active. Coming to learn French for a few months in Paris was at the top of her priority list.
Does speaking a homestay student’s native language help?
Mrs. B. I do speak English and Spanish and in the beginning, this helps to facilitate communication and to put the student at ease. But generally this is only for emergencies, otherwise I’ll always speak in French to the students.
How to avoid problems arising with homestay students?
Mrs. B. Making time and communicating with my students properly usually avoids problems from happening, but where they do, we always manage to find a solution. It’s easy to think that young people are all the same- they use the same technology and social media. But this is not true. Cultural differences remain, and they can be very important and lead to mutual misunderstandings. Often, even if the student does not ask questions, I explain things. Why we do this. Why we wouldn’t do that. What would that be acceptable in their home country. This leads to an appreciation of other ways of doing things and prevents misunderstandings.
General advice to students?
Mrs. B. Do not put too much into their suitcase! In Paris they will find everything they might need. And don’t hesitate to contact the host family by e-mail before coming. This gives the host family and student a chance to start building a relationship even before the students arrival.