Become a Homestay Family

Open your homes to international students as they adapt to the lifestyle and demands of Canadian student life by becoming a Homestay family. It’s a great way learn about other cultures and give back to the community.

International students come from all over the world to learn English through ESL Services at Brock University. Students attend 5 hours of English classes daily to learn reading, writing, grammar, speaking and listening skills. Programs are 14 weeks in length and start in January, May and September. Shorter programs are also offered throughout the year.

If you live on or near a bus route in the St. Catharines or Thorold area and are interested in becoming involved in this program, please complete the application below.

Once your application is completed, we will contact you to invite you to an orientation session. Attendance at an orientation session is mandatory. If you choose to continue with the application process you must complete the criminal records check and submit your police clearance forms to Brock University. Forms will be available at the Orientation session. You must complete the forms issued by Brock, clearance forms from a different requesting agency cannot be accepted. A home visit and interview will be conducted to determine if your home is a good fit for our program.


  • Providing students with a friendly, comfortable, and clean environment conducive to learning English.
  • Provide student with three meals a day, seven days a week (includes a packed lunch with drinks and snacks).
  • Ensure that dinnertime is spent as a family. An evening meal will be prepared and left if the family is not home or if the student comes home late from school; however, this should not in any case become the “norm”.
  • Ensure that your student does not have to cook the evening meal for him/herself on a regular basis.


  • Providing students with a friendly, comfortable, and clean environment conducive to learning English.
  • Providing students with a private furnished bedroom including a desk and a window that meets the specified requirements (refer to application form). Students must not be asked to share with another student;
  • Providing each student with a key to the house;

A welcoming family atmosphere:

  • Treating students like members of the family!
  • Teaching students about Canadian culture and including them in your family traditions.
  • Getting to know your student! This is how you will learn about other cultures!
  • Teaching the students about life in Canada. This includes customs, traditions, everyday manners, and new foods;
  • Always speaking English when the students are present and encouraging students to always speak English in the home.
  • Interacting with the student on a daily basis and include student in family activities;
  • Clearly communicating reasonable rules and expectations for members of the household. If students do not understand please help by writing them down in a clear and friendly manner.


  • Contacting the office if problems arise and work with the coordinator towards resolving problematic issues without resorting to alternative measures such as withholding student belongings in lieu of payment
  • Informing the office of all other students or guests in the home, including those who move in after the student arrives and to limit the number of students in the home as required by ESL Services;
  • Informing the office of plans to be away from the home during the homestay period before accepting a student;
  • Ensuring that the students are not required to babysit children or pet-sit;
  • Keeping their room tidy and clean – this means no food in the room, garbage emptied regularly, making their bed, and vacuuming regularly.
  • Cleaning up after themselves in the bathroom.
  • Cleaning up after themselves in the rest of the home.
  • Communicating with the family if they are going to be late or won’t be home for dinner.
  • Following house rules and routines.
  • Communicating in English with the family every day!

Families have the choice of providing meals or no meals, although the need for meals is greater.


Family provides three meals per day (includes a packed lunch with a drink and snacks). Please communicate with your student regularly about food preferences. Food is one of the most difficult parts of living with a Canadian family. Encourage your student to come to the grocery store with you and to participate in making meal decisions – especially what they would like for their lunch. Students typically do not like sandwiches and would prefer to have leftovers for lunch. Although we expect the student to eat Canadian style food most of the time, please ask your student to share a few favourite recipes with you and cook them together for dinner. This is a great way to get to know your student and to help them feel a little less homesick. International foods are readily available in most major grocery stores.

No Meals

Student purchases & prepares own meals. Student has access to family kitchen and cookware.

Families will receive $800.00 per month for providing Homestay with Meals or $500.00 per month for Homestay with No Meals. Students will pay families on a monthly basis.  Monthly payments to the homestay family are due the first of each month. It is NOT permissible for families to ask for monies upfront or on a post-dated basis. Our Summer 5-week program runs $850.00 for Homestay.

Students arriving from overseas will usually go directly to their Homestay family – typically 3-5 days prior (or earlier) to the start of the program. Please do not agree to pick your student up at the airport. We recommend Niagara Airbus to our students as a safe and economical choice, we ask that you do the same. You are responsible for communicating with your student and confirming date and time of arrival to your home.

Some of our students are part of a “special group” and will arrive to the International Centre, in this case the Homestay family is expected to pick the student up and take them home. If your student is part of a special group you will be notified in the placement letter and you will be given specific arrival details.

Please email your student prior to arrival and ask them to add you to the free communication app that they use, such as Facebook messenger, Whatsapp, and Line.  This will be your main access to your student once they arrive in Canada, and will help create a comfortable relationship before the student arrives.

Students in ESL Services will receive a city bus pass on the first day of the program. International students not in ESL Services may be required to purchase their own bus pass. Homestay families are not responsible for transportation to school (with the exception of the first day of the program).

Students will pay their Homestay family directly on a monthly basis. Payment is made on a monthly basis at the beginning of the month. It is NOT permissible for families to ask for monies upfront or on a post-dated basis. Any exceptions to the following policy will be noted on the placement letter sent to you.

Please note that students pay only for the number of days they are actually in the home.

MonthWith MealsWithout Meals
Payment for each month is due from the student within the first few days of arrival.$800$500
Fourth Month For the fourth month the student pays the remaining days (the contract dates are sent to you in the placement letter) or for the full month if they plan to stay another term.$30/day subtracting days that student arrived after the first of the month$20/day subtracting days that student arrived after the first of the month


Term ends on December 14th, the payment for December 2017:

$420.00 with meals ($30.00 x 14 days)

$280.00 without meals ($20.00 x 14 days)

*If a student arrived the 4th of September their payment adjustment

$300 with meals ($420.00 – $120.00 ($30.00 x 4days) )

$200 without meals ($280.00 – $80.00 ($20.00 x 4days) )

Brock University’s English as a Second Language (ESL) Program is housed in the International Centre located on the East campus of Brock University in St. Catharines. ESL Services runs the Intensive English Language Program (IELP) year round with start dates in January, May, and September. Terms are 14 weeks in length. In addition, a special 5 week program is run in the Summer starting in July. The department also offers customized English language programs throughout the year.

The IELP has 6 levels – students may participate for varying lengths of time, from 14 weeks to 2 years. Between sessions students have a break of approximately 2 weeks. In addition there is a 1 week holiday in mid-February (Reading Week), a 1 week holiday in late June (Reading Week), and a 1 week holiday in mid-October (Reading Week).

Upon successful completion of ESL Services’ IELP/AcT, academically qualified students may enter into University Programs without writing the TOEFL or any other English proficiency exam. Students in our program come from many different countries and range in age from approximately 18-65 years old. The majority of students are between 18 and 25.

When students register with ESL Services, they are offered the choice of living on their own, living in residence during Spring and Summer, or staying with a Homestay family. We believe that the Homestay family experience is the best choice as it gives a student a home away from home, more opportunities to use English – as English is expected to be spoken in the home at ALL times, and support to assist them in the acculturation process.

A positive Homestay experience is essential to student success. This is why we strive to find the very best Homestay families for our students. Expectations of Homestay families include, but are not limited to, that:

  1. The family acknowledges that the primary consideration in hosting a student is for purpose of improving their grasp of the English language and an involvement in the cross-cultural experience.
  2. Each family member in the household over the age of 12 years old will complete a Criminal Clearance Certificate for this program, through the Niagara Regional Police (forms will be issued by Brock University). This Criminal Clearance Certificate will remain valid with Brock University homestay for one year. It is required for each person in the household to have this certificate renewed annually in order to remain an active homestay family.
  3. Any Criminal Clearance Certificates that indicate a “incomplete” or “possible match” will be further investigated by Niagara Regional Police and may result in an additional search from the RCMP.
  4. Any “positive” match in the databank of Niagara Regional Police will result in Brock University Homestay reserving the right to decline the application.
  5. Each homestay family will require a home visit from the homestay coordinator every three years to ensure the home remains in accordance with our policies.
  6. The family will inform Brock University of any other persons in the home other than the family members listed on the original application form;
  7. The family will treat the student with kindness and respect and expect the same in return;
  8. The family will interact with and speak English with the student on a daily basis and include the student in appropriate family activities;
  9. The family acknowledges that it will be involved in “life skills training” for your student, particularly with respect to food, laundry, time management, cleaning (their dishes and their room – not major housework);
  10. The family will provide three meals a day as well as snacks and drinks. Dinner is prepared by the host and dinner time is spent as a family and inclusive of conversation and interaction. If there is a rare occurrence when you are not able to prepare an evening meal there should be adequate food and instructions available for the student to make their own meal or prepared meals left for the student to eat. A variety of healthy foods should be served with limited convenience or frozen foods;
  11. The family will provide the student with a private bedroom, which should include a bed with a clean mattress cover, bedding, a dresser or closet, and a study area with a desk, chair and proper lighting;
  12. The family will provide a house key to the student;
  13. The family will ensure that the home is clean and comfortable. This includes a comfortably furnished bedroom, clean common areas of the home, a welcoming entrance (curb appeal). Floors should regularly be cleaned (vacuumed, mopped, baseboards wiped), walls should be clean of dirt and fingerprints (including doorknobs and light switches), kitchen counters should be clean (with no pets on them), appliances should be clean, bathroom(s should be clean (including tubs, toilets, sinks, and mirrors). A new student will be most comfortable in a clean and tidy home. Please remember that if you are participating in the homestay program you are representing Brock University and are the face of a Canadian family;
  14. The family acknowledges that all costs associated with hosting a Brock University student are to be covered by the $800.00 (meals) or $475.00 (no meals) monthly fee received as the homestay fee. This fee includes access to the internet, students should be free to use the internet daily for homework and to keep in touch with friends and family;
  15. The family will inform Brock University’s Homestay Program if you will be leaving the student alone while you are away for more than one day; If you are away from your home and student you may need to provide a substitute homestay host for your student. This person would also need to have a Criminal Clearance Certificate completed through Niagara Regional Police. You are expected to communicate with Brock University’s Homestay Program if this situation arises.

The following sets out the expectations Brock University has for those participating in the Homestay program:

  1. By registering for the Homestay Program, both student and family commit to the length of the term. However, Brock University reserves the right to move a student if a situation is unsatisfactory or if problems cannot be resolved between family members and student. This move will be the sole decision of Brock University but will include consultation with the family and student. When a student is moved, the Homestay family will not be paid any further hosting fees and a credit back to the student may be required of the family;
  2. Each term, students are free to choose their living arrangements. Students who wish to remain in Homestay must fill out a Request to Extend Homestay form and pay a deposit of $200 each term they wish to remain in Homestay. The deposit is to be paid to the Office of the Registrar and the receipt and form to be submitted to ESL Services no later than 8 weeks prior to the start of the next term. The payment/fee schedule on the application form shall be followed;
  3. The student will pay the Homestay family $800.00 (meals) or $500.00 (no meals) rate per month for the 14-week session. Students will pay their Homestay family directly on a monthly basis. Students will pay the first and last full month’s payment when they move in. Payment is made on a monthly basis at the beginning of the month. It is NOT permissible for families to ask for monies upfront or on a post-dated basis. Any exceptions to the following policy will be noted on the placement letter sent to you.
  4. Difficult situations sometimes arise. Sometimes this is due to miscommunication, sometimes due to difficulty transitioning to Canadian lifestyle, and sometimes due to difficulty having a person with a different culture joining your household. Most situations can easily be resolved without intervention. Brock University asks that you first try to gently communicate with your student about your house rules and expectations, also ask your student what their expectations are. If you are unable to easily resolve the situation or if the situation is serious Brock University’s ESL Housing Coordinator is to be the liaison between student and family;
  5. Homestay payment should be made within a few days of the student’s arrival to the home. Initially there may be a small payment delay, as a student will need to set up a Canadian bank account. After a few days if the student has not paid or mentioned the Homestay fee, please contact the office so that we may communicate with the student regarding any financial matters;
  6. If a Homestay is arranged and a student is unable to obtain a study permit to come to Canada, the Homestay will be cancelled without compensation to the family. We strive to avoid these situations, but sometimes they are unavoidable. We will do our best to replace the student with another applicant if at all possible;
  7. Homestay families will be contacted at the start of the 3rd month of every term to update availability for the next term and notify the office of any changes in the household, such as new members, kids moving out, new pets, pets that are no longer with you, etc.;

The parties further agree to the following:

  1. The Homestay family agrees that Brock University is not liable for any loss or damage to their home caused by the student. Brock University makes no representations or guarantees whatsoever, whether express or implied, with respect to the Homestay families with the Homestay program generally or with any particular student. The Homestay family agrees to indemnify and save harmless Brock University for any action or liability resulting from the student’s Homestay experience with the Homestay family. Students are responsible for their own debts, conduct, and actions while in the Homestay program.
  2. The Homestay family acknowledges that Brock University has informed us, the Homestay family, that it is strongly advised that we inform our insurance carrier that we have student(s) living in the home with the family. We are responsible for ensuring we have appropriate home-owners/tenant insurance in place.
  3. Homestay families must provide a written receipt to students for payment every month (including the month forwarded by Brock University). The receipt must include the student’s full name, the Homestay family name, address, signature, and the amount paid (broken down as: Room $500 and food $300 for those on the meal plan).
  4. Homestay families are not to pick students up at the airport. Students will either come directly to your home, or if they are part of a group, they may arrive to the University and you will be asked to pick them up here. For students that are not part of a group we recommend Niagara Airbus or a similar transportation company and ask that you do the same.
  5. Homestay placements and/or removals will be conducted at the sole discretion of Brock University. Brock University will never guarantee a Homestay placement to a family and has the right to cease a homestay arrangement.
  6. Completion of the application process does not guarantee that Brock University will place students in a family home.
  7. Past participation in the program does not guarantee that Brock University will continue to place students in a family home.
  8. Brock University will keep all information regarding Criminal Clearance Checks and any other personal information that it collects confidential pursuant to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

In accordance with Brock University’s Respectful Work and Learning Environment Policy and the University’s commitment to human rights and equity, ESL Services does not discriminate against applicants, Homestay families, and students on the basis of age, race, gender, colour or nationality, ethnic origin, or family size/makeup or any other protected ground.

I understand that for students to be immersed in the English language and culture, they should be given full opportunity to use English in the home. Students should be treated as much as possible as members of the family, in a friendly and clean atmosphere, and encouraged to participate in some of the family’s cultural and social activities. Students should not be expected to do household chores (except in their room), nor do their own cooking if they are provided with room and meals (unless they offer to help). They should also eat and have access to the same food as the rest of the family.

For more information, e-mail or call 688-5550 ext. 5029.