When students come to learn English at Oxford English Academy, they often book accommodation as well. I believe that this is one of the most important aspects of learning English abroad as accommodation can make or break a study abroad programme. And it’s for this reason that we offer homestay or host family accommodation.

Host family accommodation is a wonderful form of accommodation for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it offers students a safe, caring environment in a foreign country, which can greatly ease the shock of going abroad for the first time. This is especially true for young learners as we see more and more parents sending their children abroad to experience other cultures and learn other languages. This brings me to the second reason why homestays are such a great form of accommodation.

Students get the opportunity to truly and authentically experience the culture, traditions, foods and genuine native language of the country they are staying in. We encourage all our homestay families to include students actively in their everyday life so that they can get a feel for how British and South African people live. I have found that this does wonders for erasing negative preconceived notions about countries that people might bring with them. We are all humans after all!

Lastly, I have found that students who stay in a homestay often learn English much faster than those who stay in a student residence, for example. Students get the full benefit of an immersion programme by being forced to speak English outside of the classroom. And where better to do this than in a safe, comfortable environment such as a host family? Once again we encourage our homestay families to actively engage with our students staying with them so that they can hear authentic English spoken and so that they have the opportunity to pick up colloquial and idiomatic language. And this is after all why they chose the learn English abroad!