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Silly season in the life of an EFL homestay teacher

06.10.2014 13:48:00

Silly season in the life of an EFL homestay teacher


If you’re an EFL teacher working from home in the UK, congratulations on surviving yet another manic summer of homestay teaching!


Quite often you barely have time to wave one student off, clean the spare room and make the bed before rushing downstairs to open the door to your next homestay student. Some teachers are so busy they should have a revolving front-door installed.


Here are some tips to help you plan for and survive your next homestay course, and especially the busy summer months, which will soon be here again.

Student info

Try to get as much information about your up-coming student as possible. Conduct a brief needs analysis interview via Skype before they arrive. This will help break the ice, give both teacher and student an idea of what to expect and give you much needed information to start thinking about and planning materials before they actually arrive on your doorstep. This can be done anything from a couple of months before they arrive to even a week before they land.

Set the timetable on Day 1

Make sure you sit down on day 1 and establish with your student what time lessons will be everyday. Map out the following on a timetable: breaks, lunch, trips out, self study evenings, free time, etc.

Either have it up on screen everyday or give them a print out of the timetable. This will encourage students to be a little more independent and give you some much needed time to yourself to plan lessons, cook, vacuum and who knows, even put your feet up and have a cup of tea.

Variety is the spice of lessons

Break up the traditional sit-down method of teaching. If you’re teaching food lexis for example, take the student into the kitchen and have them empty the fridge and call out the names of the food as they take it out. Those items they don't know go in a ‘I have no idea’ pile to be taught later.

Use the new lexis by getting them to either cook by following your oral instructions or getting them to help you cook by passing you the ingredients you call out or vice versa.


Have a lesson on news/media in the living room where you’d normally listen to the news or read the papers.


Get a Business English student to sit in a different room to you and conduct a ‘conference call’ via Skype/Face Time.


You get the idea.


Meetings, greetings and interviews

Arrange for your student to meet and interview someone new. With your needs analysis you’ll have found out what they’re studying/what they do/what they’re interested in. Do you have a friend who’s in the same line of work? A son who’s studying the same thing at uni? Know a local MP? Teacher? Journalist?


Get your student to plan interview questions to ask their ‘guest’, arrange for the interview to take place and sit back and observe your student in action. This is a great way to take the pressure off you as their sole provider of input but also gives you the perfect opportunity to monitor your student and focus on their strengths and weaknesses. It’s a brilliant source for error correction; even more so if it’s recorded.


Don’t forget the culture

That’s why they've chosen homestay afterall. Introduce the student to good old (and new) British traditions and habits. Invite them along to family/friend get-togethers. Take them to your local, a café, supermarket shopping with you.


Get them to observe and reflect; compare and contrast with life back home. People-watching is a great way to practise modals of deduction. ‘He must live alone as he’s only got a small shopping basket.’ ‘She can’t be English, she looks too mediterranean.’

Challenge stereotypes and get students thinking outside the box.


Homestay teaching can be very challenging and intensive -  providing a complete stranger with a comfortable, friendly environment in which they can be immersed in the language and the culture of the country around the clock is no mean feat.


Homestay teaching can also be very rewarding and fulfilling for both student and teacher and that’s why homestay teachers do it, year in year out. 






Tags: English language learning Intensive English language course Home tuition Homestay One-to-one Home tuition, Teaching resources
Category: Teaching resources

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