Archive for julio, 2010

Filed Under (General) by admin on julio-22-2010

ih Valladolid 001“We are not a traditional family in the sense of mother, father and children, we are a family of two brothers” said Cesar whilst handing me a large slice of bichocho and a sliver of jamón. I had arrived at lunchtime just as the two brothers, Cesar and Marcos, two Italian students and Harry, a student on one of our IH General Intensive Spanish courses, were sitting down to eat together.

The bizcocho was homemade by Harry and one of the brothers and was delicious. “We went out together to buy the ingredients then I learnt how to make it” explained Harry. “We also made tortilla the other day – you should have tried it!”

I asked the two brothers why they had decided to get into hosting students. “We experienced a homestay ourselves in Edinburgh whilst learning English and really enjoyed it. When we got back we thought we would try it . We have three spare rooms in the flat, thought the extra money would come in handy and wanted to meet people from other cultures. We always explain the house rules at the beginning so there are no issues later on – no feet on sofas, cleaning up after yourself that kind of thing. We have been hosting students now for over a year and a half and have met people from all over the world. Some stay for a week and others over 5 months. We like sharing our home with others”.

ih Valladolid 009I asked the brothers how they managed with students who had absolutely no Spanish when they arrived. “We find a way” said Marcos “with hand signals, demonstrations and whatever bits of language we have in common. We can´t speak Chinese or Korean but we communicate”

The last crumb of bizocho finished, Harry took me on a guided tour. The flat was lovely, it had a traditional character and elegance but with smart modern fittings and contemporary furniture. Harry opened the long shuttered windows in his bedroom onto a small balcony so I could look out onto the street below. The flat is located in a prime spot for Valladolid, just a stone´s throw from the historic Plaza Mayor.
So, how had Harry found the experience?

“I was living in a flat before and I wish I´d done this earlier. I regret not organising a homestay when I first arrived. My fluency has improved markedly. I go to classes everyday but the day to day interaction in the flat is what has really helped my conversational skills. Some days, unless I talk to my girlfriend on the phone, I don´t speak English at all!

Want more information about General Intensive Spanish courses with homestay in either Valladolid or Santander with International House? Find out more on our website www.espaname.es



Filed Under (General) by admin on julio-22-2010

ih Valladolid 002Donna decided to take one of our Intensive Spanish courses over 4 weeks and needed somewhere to stay. She opted for a Homestay.

We asked her to tell us how she had found the experience:

Donna: “I felt if I was coming all the way to Spain to learn Spanish, I needed to make the most of the time I was here and practise as much as I possibly could. The Homestay option seemed ideal, I liked the idea of living with a host family and gaining the opportunity to learn more about Spanish customs and daily life.

Us: So, having spent 4 weeks living in a Spanish home, what were your impressions of this type of accommodation and do you have any advice to give?

Donna: I would tell prospective students never to forget that you live in another person´s home. You must allow for that. Host families are normal people living their everyday lives and are subject to the same stresses and strains as the rest of us. They may come home tired or may have had a bad day – that´s only normal. Try to put yourself in their shoes – how would you be feeling? Also, every family, of whatever country has their own norms and habits. They may be alien to you but whatever your opinion you must do the family the courtesy of respecting them. Try to think that the rules of the house are neither better or worse, just different.

Us: how did you manage with your Spanish?
Donna: I have a more or less pre-intermediate level of Spanish which, I think, was perhaps a bit of a drawback to this type of experience. Sometimes, despite the best efforts of my host, I found some things difficult to understand and missed information which may have been important and useful in terms of my stay. I know a lot got lost in translation. I found it frustrating that I couldn´t ask for things or explain a problem I had using polite and respectful language as I would have done at home. If my host changed the TV channel from one I was watching, I didn´t have the language to politely ask if I we could switch back because I found it interesting.

ih Valladolid 003Us: What are the positives of this type of accommodation?

Donna: When I was on holiday, using a foreign language seemed unreal. Here in Valladolid, and living with a local person, I have to speak Spanish “for real”, to be understood and to survive. I must admit that when I was thinking about coming to Spain, an immersion experience in another language seemed scary but now I´m here it seems perfectly normal and natural.

Want more information about General Intensive Spanish courses with homestay in either Valladolid or Santander with International House? Find out more on our website www.espaname.es



Filed Under (General) by admin on julio-22-2010

ih Valladolid 002If you choose to stay with a host family you also have some responsibilities.

Never forget that homestays are designed to help students practise their Spanish. How much you derive from the experience depends on you. Don´t worry about making mistakes when speaking and have a go at initiating conversations. Your hosts will be very understanding and encouraging!

Never forget that you are staying in someone´s home. This is not a hotel. Respect the arrangements and rules of your hosts as you would those of your own family. As a matter of courtesy keep the family informed of your plans, especially if this involves missing a meal or arriving late. Out of respect, do your best to keep your room reasonably tidy and clean and do not drink alcohol in the house unless invited to do by the family with meals etc. If you are a smoker, ask where it is permissible to smoke. You´ll be responsible for your own washing and ironing and will be able to receive (but not make) telephone calls.

Mealtimes can be different than what you are used to back home (lunch between 14:00 and 15:30 and dinner between 21:00 and 22:30). Please respect these routines. Your customary mealtimes would be just as unusual to a foreign visitor but you would expect them to adapt to your norms so do your best to accept these arrangements. The food prepared will be traditionally Spanish. This is a great opportunity to sample home-cooked local dishes so try them and embrace the new flavours and food combinations you´ll experience.

What if things go wrong?

ih Valladolid 010We never want our students to be unhappy and do accept that sometimes things don´t work out for whatever reason. If both parties find it difficult to accommodate to each other then don´t worry, we will do our best to find a new family for you as soon as we can. We will allow two changes of family without extra charge but will have to charge a fee for a third change.

We hope students never need to change families. We do our best to find out about a student´s requirements and then match them with suitable families. Some students prefer a smoke-free environment, others a central location and others would prefer no pets etc. Others like a busy household for the company it would provide whilst others are happy to live more quietly with just the owner.

Want more information about General Intensive Spanish courses with homestay in either Valladolid or Santander with International House? Find out more on our website www.espaname.es



Filed Under (General) by admin on julio-22-2010

familiaWho chooses to become a host family?

Economic motivation is not normally the prime objective of host families as very little profit is made from the arrangement. Usually host families state their main reason for offering to open their homes to foreign visitors is to learn about new cultures, to meet people from other countries and enjoy the companionship and new experiences that result from being a host.

Our hosts are all ages and from all walks of life. They include shop assistants, accountants, bus drivers, teleworkers, policemen, civil servants, chefs, tradesmen, teachers, housewives, retired farmers, administrators, economists and engineers.

What are the host family responsibilities?

Staff at IH Valladolid & Santander personally visit all potential host families before putting them on their register. It is our primary concern that students have positive experiences whilst staying abroad, not only in their classes but also where they are living. All our host families live within easy travelling distance of the Academy, many within walking distance and others just a short bus ride away.

Host families are instructed to speak Spanish at all times with students and are obliged not to accommodate other students who speak the same language.

HabitacionThe student is provided with a clean, comfortable room with sheets and towels. If they have chosen full or half board options, the family will prepare the meals requested and arrange to eat at least one meal a day together with students. They will accommodate any special dietary restrictions but we encourage students to adapt to the local cuisine and try local dishes.

The host family will collect the student on the day of their arrival at the local bus or train station. They will also accompany the student to their classes on their first day in order to show them how to get to the Academy.

Want more information about General Intensive Spanish courses with homestay in either Valladolid or Santander with International House? Find out more on our website www.espaname.es



Filed Under (General) by admin on julio-22-2010

Familia1Homestay is a form of accommodation that enables the student to rent a room from a local family with the extra option of half board (two meals – breakfast and lunch) or full board (breakfast, lunch and dinner).

Stays can be for one week or more depending on the length of your course and prices are charged by the day to allow some flexibility for flight times. Normally students arrive the night before their course starts and leave the day after.

What are the benefits of Homestay?

We encourage students to consider staying with a local host family as a means of practicing their Spanish outside the classroom. It also provides an opportunity to get to know Spanish people and the region, to learn about local lifestyle and customs through conversation and daily interaction.

Familia2Many people feel international travel does not always lead to greater understanding of a country and its people. As a tourist, your experiences and encounters can be brief and superficial whereas by living with a host family you can deepen your understanding and appreciation of another culture whilst improving your language ability.
Many students also appreciate a bit of “home from home” whilst abroad alone: a friendly face to meet them at the station, companionship and someone to turn to for advice and assistance in a foreign country.

Want more information about General Intensive Spanish courses with homestay in either Valladolid or Santander with International House? Find out more on our website www.espaname.es



Filed Under (General) by admin on julio-16-2010

Foto alojamientoOnce you´ve made your commitment to a Spanish language course the next big decision to make is how you will live whilst abroad. We receive lots of emails about the pros and cons of Homestay experiences so the next few blog entries will focus on this popular topic.

We will be covering what a Homestay is, Homestays arranged through IH Valladolid & Santander, the motivation to become a host family, who our host families are, what the responsibilities of both host families and house guests are and then some all important student experiences.

Want more information about General Intensive Spanish courses with homestay in either Valladolid or Santander with International House? Find out more on our website www.espaname.es