News for Homestay Staff Across North America / April 2021
Leveraging technology in homestay /
Risk Management Webinar is next month!

As we emerge from the pandemic, there is no question that technology will play a crucial role in homestay programs.

Why? Because student numbers will recover slowly. The language sector is not expecting full enrollment until 2023. I have not seen any predictions for the K-12 and post-secondary areas, but it seems likely that they will face a couple of challenging years. With that in mind, homestay staff resources will be scarce - so leveraging technology to make efficient use of your time will be vital. Read on for some ideas on how technology can help achieve your homestay objectives.

In the coming months and years, host and student safety will be top of mind for all international education programs. Next month's Risk Management in International Education webinar will ensure that you are ready. This webinar is only being offered once this year so be sure to attend.

Finally, next week's CAPS-I (Canadian Association of Public Schools - International) conference has several homestay sessions. Have a look.

Stay safe. We'll get through this together!


Risk Management in International Education

International educators across Canada are invited to join us for this webinar on mitigating risks in homestays, classrooms and student travel.

Here are some of the questions we'll be addressing:

  • Should you require students to be vaccinated?
  • Do you need to rigorously sanitize surfaces?
  • Will masks and social distancing be needed after people are vaccinated?
  • Should your program have in-person learning this fall?

This workshop is being held Wednesday, May 19 at 1 pm Eastern (10 am Pacific). The cost is just $60 plus tax.

Use technology for recruitment, orientation
and staying in touch with hosts

Homestay staff will need to leverage technology to work efficiently in the next few years as resources will be scarce. New technologies support hosts and students in having a great homestay experience - and they make your job easier.

Here are some of the ways that technology can help:

Host Application and Screening

Database systems like ISP Database and True North allow prospective hosts to apply without you having to interact with them. People fill out an online form and you can do an initial screening. Databases help you with matching – sorting people by such criteria as children, pets and distance to the school.

In the past, we’ve recommended phone screening as a way to save you time by weeding out hosts who may not be suitable. With the advent of Zoom and similar technologies, you can take this one step further by having a video chat and asking people to give you a virtual tour of their home. Post-covid, it will still be important to conduct a home visit and inspection, but the preliminary online call will save you considerable time.

You can improve your website. Of course, the internet is not a new technology but you can make sure that you provide the information potential hosts need. Include an FAQ section – this can save you a lot of time in answering questions that people may have about hosting. Consider a chat bot, which have dramatically improved in recent years. At a minimum, the bot can refer students or prospective hosts to the appropriate webpage and FAQ.


A good orientation is so important to ensure that host and student expectations are realistic and that rights and responsibilities are clear. By preparing everyone in advance, you avoid conflict down the road. If you have to move a student because the homestay relationship fails, it can be a huge drain on your time.

Vital English provides customized orientation and pre-arrival learning for students. This ensures that your students are ready for their time in North America.

Here at ESQ Educational Services, we’ve created PDF versions of our Essential Guide for Homestay Students so that they can be emailed to students and parents. This is a low-cost way to help students get ready.


It’s a good idea to have separate newsletters for hosts and students/parents. The overall goal should be to inform people about your program and reduce the number of questions that you receive from stakeholders.

Free newsletter management tools like MailChimp make it easy. Short newsletters are ideal because nobody has time to read an epic report. In just an hour or two, you can put together a newsletter that is informative and entertaining.

Please contact us if you need additional information about any of these services.