The Host Family As A Subject Of Migrants’ Socio-Cultural Inclusion


The present study considers the host family model as the optimal way to solve the problem of migrants’ socio-cultural inclusion in English-speaking countries. The authors analyze the matter of the host family model in the framework of theoretical researches by English-American scientists. The results of psychological and pedagogical researches which examine various aspects of the host family's functioning related to relationships, emotional climate, and the content of cohabitation are described. The specific of the host family concept in comparison with the home education and homestay concepts is revealed. The practice of creating different versions of a host family for migrants in the United States, England, Ireland, and other countries is described. The conditions for optimal functioning of the host family model are analyzed, which includes state support from educational institutions, the availability of special training programs for teachers who are members of host families, the organization of a special selection procedure for families themselves, and their support.

Keywords: Host familymigrantssociocultural inclusion


The socio-economic and political conditions of the society's development created the basis for openness in international relations and influenced social and educational policy. A significant increase in migrant flows to developed countries actualizes the problem of socio-cultural inclusion (integration). Its success largely depends on access to socio-cultural services, which primarily include the opportunity to learn a foreign language and master the cultural traditions of the new homeland. The cross-cultural aspect determines the priority in language teaching as a means of cross-cultural communication, where the understanding of “foreign” culture becomes essential. This cultural approach is currently dominant. Numerous projects of the EU, the Council of Europe, as well as UNESCO have created the principles of “multilingualism” and “multiculturalism”, proclaimed as fundamental for national education systems. Constantly expanding contacts and mobility of the population, especially young people studying in different countries, imply not only the elimination of conflicts, but also an understanding of the specifics of intercultural communication in a rapidly changing world. This is reflected in numerous linguistic studies by Benson ( 2017), Isabelli-García and Isabelli ( 2020), Mains ( 2016), Mardiningrum ( 2017), Kinginger et al. ( 2016) in real communication, language tools are not the only means for understanding. The idea of cultural information, rules and norms of behavior in a foreign language environment, and the study of value orientations of representatives of another culture are no less important. The real live communication with foreigners is always an intercultural contact. Nowadays the misunderstanding problem is acute and meaningful, since the conflict of cultures, determined by differences in historical, political and social development, can lead to mistakes and social conflicts ( Ter-Minasova, 2002). It follows that knowledge about culture is as necessary for successful communication in a foreign language as phonetic correctness, grammatical accuracy and lexical adequacy.

The search for the new ways of socio-cultural inclusion is carried out mainly within the framework of educational institutions that offer a variety of cultural leisure, historical and geographical language programs. The use of innovative technologies involves addressing the situations of everyday life, role-playing games, the introduction of mass communication media (local newspapers, magazines), the inclusion of current cultural, sports, political life and other events in the process of language education. For example, in New York in 2019, according to the UNESCO statistics there were 31,662 participants in various language programs, sponsored by 620 public and private educational institutions. At the same time, along with institutional forms of socio-cultural inclusion of English-studying migrants in particular, in the United States and England, family forms are becoming widespread. This is about activating the family context when teaching a foreign language, i.e. organizing the foreign language training in an ordinary English-speaking family. All this confirms the general global trend in the development of formal education in the direction of increasing the role of the family institution as a social and educational phenomenon, and ultimately in the development of formal education. A special family model is being created that implements special educational programs that promote the socio-cultural inclusion of migrants in a foreign country. This model of family is called the “host family”.

Problem Statement

Modern states that are focused on accepting labor from abroad are extremely interested in optimizing the process of socio-cultural inclusion, in conflict-free overcoming of emerging language and cultural problems. These political and economic challenges explain the significant growth of psychological, culturological, sociological researches, applied development for testing innovative cross-cultural inclusion experience, in particular, experience of the introduction a model of host families as a new form of social and cultural inclusion ( Benson, 2017; Blagireva, 2019; Knight & Schmidt-Rinehart, 2010; Mains, 2016 and others). There are two main subjects: a host family member, performing didactic and socio-psychological function for the removal of cross-cultural shock and educating the language, and the migrant himself, interested in learning a foreign language, in establishing cultural ties, in building his own optimal professional and personal strategy for living in a foreign country. The introduction of the host family model involves a special selection procedure, training of a family member-a teacher, coordination by the educational institution, development of special programs, determining the quality of their implementation, etc.

Research Questions

The following questions appeared in the course of the study:

  • What is the successful global experience in the development of migrants’ adaptation to host country conditions?

  • Is the host family a socio-cultural phenomenon?

  • What is the role of host family language teacher?

  • Is there any positive experience for multicultural events and ethnic enclaves organization, overcoming the phenomena of racism, prejudice against migrants, involving them in public and institutional life, in professional relations?

Purpose of the Study

The purpose consists in identifying, analysing and determining the possibility of using optimal means of enriching multicultural education and, accordingly, solving the problems of socio-cultural inclusion of migrants by using the host family model.

Research Methods

Based on the methodology of cultural-historical, activity-based and personal methods, in our comparative study we used descriptive, interpretative-explanatory and comparative methods in the analysis of the works of well-known Russian and foreign researchers of the problem of socio-cultural inclusion of migrants and foreign-language education, such as Aslamazova and Khakunova ( 2017), Furyaeva ( 2019), Kinginger et al. ( 2016); Isabelli-Garcia and Isabelli ( 2020), Ter-Minasova ( 2002), Zhuikova ( 2018) et al. The results of research on issues related to teaching migrants a foreign language, creating models of stress and its overcoming, transcultural competence, and studying factors that determine the effectiveness of training in the host family ( Jackson, 2016; Zhou et al., 2008) were of special interest.

Considerable attention was paid to the analysis of the conceptual and categorical apparatus of the problems associated with the host family model. There is no clear definition of the concept of “host family” in Russian legislation. In researches, it is used in the context of socio-pedagogical activities with a family that accepts an orphan child. Such families that take orphans for temporary or long-term residence, in our practice, are usually called “foster family”, “substitute family” ( Artamonova, 2002; Lavrentyeva, 2014; and others). In foreign studies, the concept of “host family” is used in relation to the idea of socio-cultural inclusion and the practice of teaching a foreign language ( Chaseling, 2001; Crealock et al., 1999; Kinginger et al., 2016; Knight & Schmidt-Rinehart, 2010; Mitchell, 2015 and others). In particular, they give a specific definition: “a host family is a type of residence during education, involving accommodation in the home of a particular family.” It should be noted that foreign literature also uses the concepts of “homestay”, “home schooling”. In relation to them, the “host family” concept is more generalized. It includes such characteristics as living together, learning another language, having family responsibilities and family protection. In contrast to home education, the host family, according to R. Schmidt, offers immediate introduction to the cultural and linguistic environment ( Knight & Schmidt-Rinehart, 2010). Mitchell ( 2015) pays special attention to the presence of social interaction in the family, real contact and communication with native speakers. Coleman's research has an interest, which justifies the need for a more thorough study of the content of a migrant's stay in the family, identifying the most optimal nature of his activities (cultural, labor, educational, leisure, etc.). The effectiveness of living in a host family depends on the expectations of the migrant, on the emotional coloring (emotional climate) of family life, the presence of a respectful relationship between all its members. Thus, Gutel ( 2008) and others believe that an emotionally positive host family provides a high degree of immersion in culture and, ultimately, success in learning a foreign language. Some researchers even raise the question that learning another language is not the main goal of living in a host family. Here we are talking about the more important life goals of migrants. In modern English studies, the questions of the reverse influence of migrants on the host family, the possibility of its cultural enrichment with a lack of resources for travel and knowledge of other cultures are also updated. So, Mains ( 2016) writes that “the family learns a new cultural experience in a similar manner as students” (p. 11).

As the analysis of foreign practice of informal, family-oriented foreign language teaching shows, the state, in particular, state educational institutions, represented by their coordinators, are actively engaged in procedural issues, in particular, the selection of migrants, families, the organization of reception, and support of the process of socio-cultural inclusion. The main requirements that the host family must meet are the following: the language of communication in the family must be one of the official languages of the host country; the migrant must be of a different nationality than the host family; the host family must provide accommodation and food.

However, it should be noted that, as the results of our comparative study have shown, the host family model may have a different structure. In particular, not only the parents of the family, but also the migrants themselves (most often adults) who have professional pedagogical qualifications can act as teachers who train and integrate a young migrant. The latter can train all members of the host family. For this, he gets a room and extra three meals a day.

There are various English associations, coordinating the selection of teachers and host families. Using the example of several organizations, we have considered the conditions under which the host family model functions. This includes motivating conditions for teachers that allow them to receive additional income from the state/organizations, the possibility of cultural “immersion”, obtaining new professional experience, and training on the spot. The prerequisites are the requirements for teacher qualifications (qualification level “teacher of English as a foreign language”), and the presence of prior contact with the migrant before his arrival in a host country. The teacher has the right to set his own cost for cultural and leisure activities. Family members are required to provide comfortable accommodation and three meals a day. The migrant is obliged to exercise full independent control over the course of training. The host family as a whole must pay up to 13% tax to the coordinators for providing services.

In Ireland, there is a special government program of the Ministry of education and skills that supports individual teachers. It is based on the principles of home-based learning. This program was later expanded to include people who were unable or unwilling to join educational institutions. At the same time, the teacher should not work in an educational organization at the time of his/her activity with the family. In addition, he/she can work no more than 8.5 hours a day. There is also a standard workload for one student-no more than 5 hours per day. In the UK, there are similar programs, but they are not supported by the Ministry of education and operate in an autonomous economic situation.

In the United States and Australia, there are special courses that focus on training teachers of English as a foreign language. Coordinators are economically interested in increasing the number of students to cover the cost of teachers' salaries and current expenses. At the same time, home education is gradually becoming an additional source of income and an alternative to the modern system of multicultural education. At the end of training, a certificate of completion of training in the specified organization is issued, or an exam is passed, which results in a state document certifying the appropriate level of language proficiency, which gives the real right to work in the host family.


The comparative analysis of effective mechanisms of migrants’ socio-cultural inclusion in developed English-speaking countries (USA, Great Britain, Australia, Ireland) allows us to conclude about the active development of an innovative model that allows integrating formal (institutional) and informal (non-institutional) education with a significant strengthening of the family institution. According to the analysis of modern foreign theory and practice, the English-speaking countries have already developed and implemented the conditions for the functioning of the host family as a social and educational phenomenon. Their study and critical understanding, taking into account our cultural specifics, can enrich the Russian socio-pedagogical and educational practice of working with migrants.


In general, for successful socio-cultural inclusion of migrants in society, which is directly related to the study of English as a foreign language and the development of social and cultural norms of life, it is necessary to create a certain environment in the presence of an appropriate migrant policy. This includes, in particular, the non-institutional environment in the form of the host family model in its various versions. The basic condition for the successful functioning of this model is a special methodological training of the teacher as a representative of the host family. He/she should be included in various types of socio-cultural activities and life together with the migrant. It is important to have a meaningful and organizational relationship with state or non-state educational institutions, the organization of an effective procedure for preparing and supporting the process of host family functioning. The latter is gradually becoming an important element of informal language education and a means of positive socio-cultural inclusion of migrants.


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21 October 2020

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Economics, social trends, sustainability, modern society, behavioural sciences, education

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Furyaeva, T. V., & Krasnov, V. A. (2020). The Host Family As A Subject Of Migrants’ Socio-Cultural Inclusion. In I. V. Kovalev, A. A. Voroshilova, G. Herwig, U. Umbetov, A. S. Budagov, & Y. Y. Bocharova (Eds.), Economic and Social Trends for Sustainability of Modern Society (ICEST 2020), vol 90. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 917-923). European Publisher.