St Albans language school in search of host families

HOMES across the district are being urged to open their doors and welcome in the world, hosting students for a St Albans language school.

Families, individuals and couples are being sought by St Albans Language School on Market Place and those already involved boast that it’s a cultural exchange worth making.

Francis Glenister has been hosting students on behalf of the Language School for the last 12 months, along with his wife and their children. He says the experience has been insightful and brought the world to their dining table.

He said: “It’s very interesting to have people for different cultures around our dinner table. In the summer we have younger students and that’s quite fun, having young people around.

“We can talk to them about life in England and help them with their English. Outside of the summer term, there are older more professional people and that’s very interesting too.

“They have different, more sophisticated views on things although it’s the same issues that come up. Again, we help them with their English and help them experience our culture.”

His children, aged between 15 and 26, get a lot out of the visits too. They gain experiences that are vital to their development and glimpse the UK through the eyes of an outsider – something Francis believes is becoming more and more important in an ever-changing world.

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Families hosting students are offered �18 per night – �126 a week – per student, but for the Glenisters, the money is irrelevant.

Instead, they are discovering a wealth of benefits they hadn’t anticipated – they now have a string of friendships stretching across the globe.

Earlier this year, Francis went to stay with a former house guest who had stayed with his family while studying at St Albans Language School. The Spanish student was keen to return the hospitality bestowed on him when he stayed with the Glenisters.

Later this year, the Spaniard’s daughter will come to St Albans to study English with two friends and Francis’ family will host them.

He said: “We do form relationships and family ties – there is a lot of potential to do this – and these last beyond the student’s stay.

“We have them live as part of the family and if we are doing anything then they are invited to do that with us. We treat them as one of us and I think this builds lasting relationships and creates a bond.”

This summer, the school is eager to recruit new hosts for students who will largely come from Spain and Italy.

Owner of the school, Ian Salkey, said families and students got a lot out of the home stay experience.

He said: “This summer we’re expecting a lot of our friends from across the world and we need help from local families. These students are very friendly and nearly always form good relationships with their hosts and often go on to become personal friends.

“We would like to hear from anyone who has a spare room. People shouldn’t be put off by the fact they may have to provide packed lunches or chauffeuring – they don’t. All they need to provide is bed, breakfast and an evening meal. Please help! All feedback indicates it’s very worth it.”

Alex Barcelo, Julian Echevarria and Clovis Oliveira de Almeida are all staying with families in St Albans now and say it’s all adding to their ‘English experience’. Alex, who often goes to the pub with his host, says he’s able to practise his English with the children in the family and is involved in their day-to-day family life.

He said: “I cook for them and they cook for me. They are very beautiful to me and I get to hear real English being spoken everyday.”

Anybody interested in getting involved can contact Ian via 01727 838980 or email