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Become a Host Family for Foreign Students in Vancouver


Welcome to the VEC homestay program!

You will find the experience fun and rewarding! Hosting a student from abroad is a great way to make new friends and learn about people from faraway places. If you are interested in sharing your home with a student, we would like to talk to you. As hosts, you will welcome a student into your home as a member of the family. Your student will learn about Canadian culture by joining your daily activities.

What do we need to become a host family?

Although we request a private, furnished bedroom, students expect to share the bathroom, laundry room, kitchen and family room. Our hosts provide breakfast, a bagged lunch and a full supper. We offer $23 per night to our hosts, to defray any expenses you might incur. Cheques are issued every 28 days. The first cheque arrives within approximately 10 working days of the student’s first day of school.

The Vancouver English Centre Homestay Program  

VEC provides students with a good introduction to life in Canada. Our goals are threefold:
1) HOMESTAY: A careful match in a nice, well located home.


Students come from all over the world, although they currently tend to be from Korea, Japan and Mexico. There is an increasing diversity in the countries our students are from, for example: Germany, Saudi Arabia, the Czech Republic, Colombia, and Brazil. Students may be any age but typically, they are adults in their early 20’s.


Students may come at any time and register for any number of four-week sessions. Some students stay as long as a year. Fall, winter and spring sessions tend to be longer stays and summer students often stay for a shorter term. Most students are in school Monday to Friday from 9:00 am to 3:40 pm, except on Friday when there is only a morning session. A few students choose to attend only morning or afternoon classes.


Host families are encouraged to share activities with students. It is good for the student to feel a part of the family and celebrate in holidays, traditions and special occasions. However, the Vancouver English Center has ACTIVITIES COORDINATORS to organize activities and events to accommodate a variety of student interests.


Students MUST have insurance before being accepted at VEC. Most students come with their own medical insurance. If not, the Vancouver English Centre will make arrangements at $60 per month.


Vancouver English Centre staff personally welcome most students at the airport and take them to the Homestays. Someone from VEC will call you the day before to ensure you will be home.


Our host families usually live in North Vancouver, Vancouver or Burnaby, within a travelling distance of 20-45 minutes from the school by transit. Applications may be accepted up to 45 minutes away if the home is exceptional and the host family agrees to assist (reasonably) with the transportation of students. For example, drive to and pick-up from bus stop on school days and off-hours over the weekend.


We tell students our host families will provide a typical Canadian lifestyle. It is very important that our students speak only English at all times. Students come to Canada because English is spoken clearly and with little variation in accents. We do not usually place two students from the same language background in the same homestay. It is not recommended, but approval may be given if the students request it. Vancouver English Centre allows students from other schools to be with our host families, as long as they do not speak the same language.


Students are given a private room with a proper bed - futons and hide-a-beds are not considered acceptable - desk, chair, dresser and lamp. Three meals a day are provided with snacks available. This includes a light breakfast, bagged lunch to take to school and supper with the family. Meal plans should consist of healthy and varied menus and may include foods from the student’s home country on occasion. It is a thoughtful gesture and considerate of the family to ask if there are foods a student may not like or be unable to eat for health reasons.

If you will be away, a meal should be prepared beforehand and left for the student to easily and conveniently cook in an oven or microwave. At the same time it is a courtesy for the student to advise the host if he/she will be away or late for dinner. Homes should be well maintained in a clean and neat fashion. On-site laundry facilities should be available. Who does the student’s laundry can be worked out between the host and the student.

To picture an ideal homestay, imagine your student is a visiting relative. “House rules” should be reasonable, flexible, comfortable and easy to live with. Remember that the student is an adult. It is important to look at each individual and situation. For example, it is not unreasonable that your expectations would differ for a student at the age of 16 and a student of 60! When a student arrives, the host family should personally take the time to make the student comfortable with the operations of the household.


Although reimbursement is secondary to the experience, host families are given $23 per night. This is to compensate for any expenses that may be incurred.


You can find our online application form here
We will contact you after we receive your completed application. Someone will visit you in your home, where we will be able to discuss the program with you. After the visit, we will begin trying to find an appropriate student for you. We match students and families very carefully, to ensure that your habits and interests are compatible, so it might take a little time.


Your student will be as excited about this visit as you are. You can ensure a good first impression by preparing before your student arrives. The bedroom should have a desk, bed, closet and dresser. The bedroom should be clean and bright. The student will feel more welcome if you leave a bouquet of flowers or fruit basket on the dresser. Another nice touch is a photo of your family, with your names on the back. You should have a spare key ready. If you can’t pronounce the student’s name, you can ask someone who knows-then practice.


After the student has arrived, you should offer a tour of the house at your earliest convenience. Don’t forget to explain how to utilize your appliances. This is a good time to discuss house rules and customs. Since jet lag may be a problem, your guest might like an early end to the day.


To enhance the immersion experience, we have an “English only” policy both at school and at home. You may need to remind your student occasionally. A notepad or a chalkboard can be useful when you are having trouble making yourself understood.


You are not expected to pay for your student’s shopping, entertainment, or long distance calls. You should make sure that all long distance calls are collect or by calling- card. Adding a long distance call block on your phone is a recommendation. Hosts normally pay for their students at restaurants and theaters.


Your diet might be quite different from what your student may be accustomed to. Since many students are too polite to complain about the food, it helps to discuss the subject enough to determine your guest’s preferences. Many hosts allow students to prepare their own lunches for school. People from some other cultures won’t accept another helping until you ask them two or three times. It’s good to take the student grocery shopping during the first few days, so that you can get a feel for what the student likes.


This is the most common problem encountered by our students. You can help by suggesting the following procedures:
1) Students record the numbers of all credit cards, passports, traveler’s cheques, etc.
2) Label all valuables with name and address. We provide self-adhesive address labels.
3) Students should not carry unnecessary money, credit cards, or other valuables.


Although most students learn how to use our public transportation very quickly, there is a chance during the first few days that a student may get lost. You can help avoid this problem by doing the following:
1) Try to arrange for your student to go with others from the same neighborhood. Groups tend not to get lost.
2) Escort your student on a bus, or explain the route and where to get off. You might make a note for the driver.
3) Make sure your student has a bus pass, or the correct change.


House rules are most easily enforced when they are presented orally on the first day. You should keep in mind that these students are usually adults, capable of making their own decisions. They may have quite independent lifestyles. Thus, flexible rules are better than rigid ones. For example, instead of enforcing a set schedule, it may be better to simply tell your student that anyone late for dinner can re-heat their supper in the microwave. Some standard house rules are: no smoking, no drugs and English only.


You might want to have some souvenirs on hand, in case your student offers a gift to you.


Don’t confuse cultural characteristics with personality traits. Japanese students might expect to remain in their bedrooms until you invite them to join you. In Latin American countries it is sometimes customary to wear shoes inside a house. People from some cultures will always agree with you, because for them, it would be impolite not to.


This can be a great adventure for the entire family! Take the time to learn about your visitor. This is a good excuse to be a tourist in your own city, or to just relax and play a game, or cook a good meal. Whatever you do, don’t forget to include your newest family member!

We are available at 687-1600 from 9:30 to 3:30, seven days a week. Feel free to give us a jingle.

Contact Information

Flight Information: Inga 687-1600 Email Ms. Inga Carter
General Host Inquiries: Dorothy 688-5605 Email Ms. Dorothy Gray
Homestay Fee Payments: Dima 484-2698 Email Homestay Fee Payments
Host Address Changes: Dorothy 688-5605 Email Ms. Dorothy Gray

We sincerely hope you have a wonderful experience with your students!

More Information for Vancouver Host Families

Apply to Become a Homestay Family in Vancouver.

Homestays in Vancouver.

Start Dates.

Online English Test.

Online Pronunciation Practice.

Online Postcards.

360-degree Tours of Vancouver Canada.

Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Canadian Association of Private Language Schools.

Canadian Student Visas.

Medical Insurance for Students in Canada.

Work Permits for Students.

Canada Immigration Statistics.

Site Map.

Vancouver English Centre

250 Smithe Street

Vancouver, BC  V6B 1E7  Canada

Tel.: 1-604-687-1600

Fax: 1-604-687-1660

Host a Student from Canada's Leading Language School