Your exchange student will most definitely speak English. It is a requirement for students to speak English before they are approved for the program. The students must take an English proficiency test and score a 222 on it. Some will speak it better than others but at minimum they will be able to converse with you. Keep in mind that they will be going to a school where English is spoke one hundred percent of the time so it is assumed that they have a fairly high proficiency in English.
Will It Be Difficult For Me To Understand Them?
The answer to this is it depends. Like Americans, every exchange student will be different in their abilities with the English language. Some accents are harder to understand than others so it is hard to have a definite answer on whether or not you will be able to understand them. Some people can understand English with an accent more so than others. With our student, the more time she spent here the better we were understanding her because she was speaking English all day at school.
How Can You Help Your Student Become More Proficient?
One thing that we noticed when we got our student is that we speak a lot of slang. We realized this because she would just look at us when we asked her a question and didn’t know how to respond. We had to try to simplify our question and not use our American slang. After we were aware of this we noticed how much slang that everyone else uses when they met her. One example of this is when my dad met her he asked “How was the trip, was it pretty smooth sailing?” Most of us know what that means but when you are learning a different language you take everything at face value. She obviously didn’t sail over here so she was rather confused when he asked that question.
Don’t assume the student knows every English word.
We made sure to overly explain different words and phrases that we would say even if she didn’t ask. I think this helped in the long run due to the diverse phrases in the English language and the multiple meanings of different words.
Will my exchange student speak English 100% of the time?
No, your exchange student will not speak English 100% of the time. The agency that we went through told us that our student should never speak Spanish while she’s here. My wife and I knew that we were not going to enforce that because we knew that she would be talking to her family back home. The agency’s reasoning for that was to give them the American experience, but my wife and I felt that she was getting enough of the experience by living here and going to school here so we didn’t feel the need to micromanage the amount of time that she spoke her native language.
In conclusion, your exchange student will most definitely speak English and increase their English skills a tremendous amount over the school year that they live with you. Don’t be surprised if they score higher in their English classes than most American students. In our case, our student excelled in all classes at school and took her studies very serious. We were really impressed with her English along with the fact that she spoke three other languages.