SOL’s main activity is running English language programmes in Barnstaple and Bideford for school, college and adult groups from Central and Eastern Europe who are accommodated with local English families. Due to the large numbers attending our courses, especially in the summer, we always need to recruit more host families.
Staying with a host family is a very important aspect of the programme. The time spent with the families in the evenings and on Sunday provides a vital opportunity to gain confidence in speaking English. For many of the young people and even the adults, it is often the first time they will be speaking English for real. For the teachers who accompany them too, it is a chance to refresh their own use of English – something many do not have a chance to back home.
Most groups require 6 to 9 nights’ accommodation. Groups attend programmes throughout the year and each time we will confirm with our host families their willingness to receive a student or students. Most families like to host more than one at a time. Even when two students speak the same language, we do insist on English being the language of the home.
On weekdays and Saturdays, students attend their course at a central location (Barnstaple or Bideford) from 08.40. to 17.30. Families are asked to provide a packed lunch and ensure the safe transport of the student to and from the centre each day. At home bed, breakfast and an evening meal are required. In the evenings and on Sunday, students stay with their host families and we ask them to involve the students in any activities they normally do, this can be going out to see local attractions, a walk on the moor or beach, relaxing together watching a movie as well as getting involved in cooking the traditional Sunday lunch.
The SOL staff will set tasks for the evening time with two purposes in mind. Firstly it is to encourage the students to increase their confidence in communicating in English by asking families questions (rather than giving this responsibility wholly to the hosts, which might be the case otherwise!) or talking about their activities during the day. Secondly, it is through this conversation that they get to understand more about life in Britain and its culture and to compare similarities and differences with their own.
Partly because of this, unless it has been specifically agreed in advance with SOL, students will not be meeting their other friends in the evenings. For reasons of safety and security we do not want these young people out in the towns during the evening. If permission is given then an absolute deadline of 21.30 will be given, possibly 22.00 for older teenagers.
If on a rare occasion, families encounter any difficulties, the contact telephone number of the lead teacher will be clearly written on the bottom of the programme, which is given to the families upon the group’s arrival. The lead teacher will have the current contact for SOL staff if required.
We pay our families for providing accommodation and meals. If you are interested in becoming a host family please contact our host family co-ordinator on 01271 327319 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Host family guidance brochure 2018