Having a language exchange pupil has many immediate and long-term benefits. There is the fun that is generated around various words, the different sounds and most of all watching the children trying to explain things using a variety of gestures, sign language and other often hilarious means.
There is also the learning gained from travel and cultural difference. It is our experience that much more learning takes place when the pupil is placed with an exchange family who often go out of their way to show them the very best of what their culture, heritage and history has to offer such as visits to sporting events, festivals, theme parks and interactive museums. My daughter got personal tours of the cities of Barcelona, Madrid and Valencia and experienced what modern city living is all about – something she would never get an opportunity to do living in the countryside.
As a father of three children and a teacher, I know that building self-esteem and overcoming challenges builds a strong character and since our daughter went to Spain she has matured beyond her years. In my own school two years ago, we took in a Spanish exchange pupil who quickly established himself with the boys especially with his soccer skills. By the end of the placement, his English (reading, writing, listening and expressive language) was well developed and we were sorry to see him leave.
Finally, exchange pupils don’t just finish with the placement, now that they have a firm foothold in the language, they have also a shared experience that will be with them throughout their young lives. Our daughter is about to embark on another adventure, this time to Germany. We as parents are downloading Apps such as Duo-Lingo and find ourselves throwing German words into family conversations!! Perhaps we will get there ourselves one day but for now I would highly recommend these student family-based exchanges as stand-out experiences in our children’s lives.