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Host families sought for Japanese students studying this summer at Illinois

Andrea Lynn, Humanities Editor
217-333-2177; andreal@uiuc.edu

6/14/2006

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Total immersion in American English is the goal one Illinois summer program sets for its visiting Japanese college students.

But immersion involves more than classroom instruction, says Stan Van Horn, a lecturer in the Intensive English Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who is coordinating this year’s IEI summer language program.

To promote fluency, the IEI program also involves student home stays with local families.

Toward that end, Van Horn and the IEI are seeking local families and individuals who can host one or more Japanese college students this summer in their homes, and in the process, help them advance their English language skills and introduce them to various aspects of American culture.

Individuals, families and couples, including “empty-nesters,” are welcome to apply as host families, Van Horn said. Home-stay hosts put the students up in their homes and provide meals for them, as well as spend time with them in typical household or
leisure-time activities such as ball games, movies, picnics, shopping, concerts and county fairs.

The 44 Japanese students who will be on the U. of I. campus in late July and August come from universities in Hiroshima and in Kobe.

Thirty-one female undergraduate students are coming from Hiroshima Jogakuin University and staying for a four-week program (July 29 to Aug. 27). Fourteen of the women will stay with host families for the entire four weeks, while 17 of them will stay on to study English in the fall semester at Illinois. This group will live with host families for three weeks and then move into university residence halls on Aug. 20.

This is only the second year for this program.

Eight female and five male undergraduate students from Konan University in Kobe will stay for a three-week IEI program (Aug. 1 to 23).

The Kobe program has been running for more than 35 years, Van Horn said.

Home-stay hosts receive a stipend to help defray the costs of room and board. In the process of sharing their American experiences with the students, hosts typically learn a great deal about the students’ home country, cultures and customs.

The IEI program, which began instruction in 1967, also takes the students on excursions to Chicago and Springfield and on nature outings to such places as Kickapoo State Park.

The IEI works with OvECS, a private company that specializes in coordinating international student-home stays during the summer and the regular school year. The OvECS coordinator holds orientation sessions for hosts, either in small groups or individually.

The Homestay Program application is available online.

The IEI also runs a Conversation Partners Program for IEI students. In this program, short- and longer-term international students are matched with members of the local community and with U. of I. students who serve as their “conversation partners,” talking with them and exposing them to community and to student life and culture. Anyone interested in serving as a conversation partner can apply online.

The conversation partners matching process is done entirely “in-house,” Van Horn said.