Avoid Miscommunication with a Foreign Exchange Student
There is a lot to love about opening your home and your family life to a foreign exchange student. When you and your loved ones decide to hosting a international student, you have the opportunity to share your own culture, lifestyle, and locale with teens or young adults in need of guidance and care as they explore the world. But the lives of your family members will also be immeasurably enriched by this altruism, and you’ll have the chance to learn more about a foreign culture directly from the source. That said, there can definitely be challenges associated with hosting a foreign exchange student, namely in the form of a language barrier. Even when everyone involved is trying to be understanding, it is possible, even probable that miscommunications will occur at hosting a foreign student. But there are steps you can take to avoid the major snafus that could cause embarrassment and offense. Here are some tips to help you steer clear of communication issues with your foreign exchange student.
Host Family Selection Process
During the selection process, you could request students that come from countries where your language is spoken, just for example. The good news is that many international students already speak at least some English, especially if they’re planning to travel to America with a study abroad program. So if no one in your household speaks a second language, you needn’t count your family out as a potential for hosting a foreign exchange student. And most foreign exchange students are seeking a full immersion experience, so they will almost certainly prefer to speak English as much as possible in order to master the language during their time away from home. Of course, you can almost certainly make your international students feel more comfortable by taking the time to learn at least a few phrases, such as traditional greetings and pleasantries, in their language. This could go a long way towards making everyone a little bit more comfortable.
Miscommunications Homestay Solution
Still, miscommunications are bound to occur, even if everyone is technically speaking the same language. The best thing you can do to avoid serious issues is to make it clear to your students that they can always ask you to explain words or phrases they don’t understand. And if they seem to take offense at things you say or you are offended by things they say, try to talk through misunderstandings and laugh them off instead of getting angry. Relationships are a learning process at the best of times, and a language barrier can exacerbate the problem. But with an open-minded and forgiving attitude, everyone can learn and grow together.
You should also take strides to understand the cultural norms your international students are familiar with. Some miscommunications may be related to cultural differences rather than a language barrier. Or students may come from family situations that are either stricter or more permissive than your household. For example, your student may have qualms about off-color language even though it doesn’t particularly bother you – or vice versa. Try to be understanding and explain your position on such matters. When everyone acts in a respectful manner and remains calm in such situations, it’s a lot easier to avoid or correct miscommunication in your homestay student.