The time in the evenings and at weekends is often underestimated by most other institutions but this for many students is the highlight of the programme and provides for excellent language development in the relaxed atmosphere of the home. Students build up their confidence in communicating in English naturally – something that most teachers in a classroom don’t often have time for!
Most evening, students will have tasks to complete with the family. This will often centre around the food they eat at home compared to what they are eating in England and the times of meals. It may involve discussions about every day issues as well as the places they will be visiting on the programme.
Teachers – Host Families provide full board accommodation (including packed lunch on programme days and on departure), and they take responsibility for safe transfer between their home and the SOL centre. For families living close to the centre this may involve walking, but they will always be accompanied on the first day and for those under 15, throughout the course. Students will never walk on their own and public transport is not used unless accompanied by the host family.
The accommodation will also provide the necessary privacy for the students, though much of the evening time and Sunday we hope will be spent with the family itself. Most families enjoy welcoming more than one student at a time and we have found that when students are placed together they help and encourage each other to use English in a family environment. From our extensive experience, students speak far more English with their families if they are with a friend as this offers mutual support to both of them.
Students and teachers are asked to complete a simple information sheet about themselves in order to help us match families and visitors as close as possible. These sheets need to be received by us at least 6 weeks before the course begins.