I learned so much more than a new language during my exchanges and wish I’d started even younger to fit more of them in! I’m so grateful for the opportunity EFI has given me to have so many personal adventures built on family support and incredible friendships. They’ve really shaped me into the person I’ve become.

Agnes Hamill, UK who completed six month exchanges in France and Spain
Agnes Hamill, UK who completed six month exchanges in France and Spain

En Famille is challenging. It's hard to let your kids go, and it's sometimes a lot of work to create a memorable and fulfilling experience for the exchange student. But, these are challenges definitely worth taking. Our children developed many skills, we all have some wonderful memories, and we are thankful to have life long friends around the world.

 

Jackie, mother of 2 children
Jackie, mother of 2 children

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Alex Bigou
Alex Bigou
Webmaster

Language skills


We think we can say that children return almost bilingual (in the spoken language), at least for the 6-month exchange programme. The results are excellent. Children speak their new language like children their own age. Some children come back with excellent pronunciation and intonation.


Cultural appreciation


Out of the ordinary! Children integrate more easily than teenagers. They immerse themselves in a second culture and accept it without difficulty. Many children ask, as soon as they return, to return to another country!


Most importantly, personal growth


Simply fabulous! Two children of the same age, from different countries and lifestyles, will have a friendship for life. What a chance to have a second family, and what's more, in another country! We must not forget the two families fully involved in this exchange. They will visit each other regularly, spend holidays together, get to know each other's country even better. The stranger becomes the family!

Who can exchange?

• Any child who wants to learn a foreign language and is aged between 9 and 15 years old.
• Any child who wants to ‘live an extraordinary adventure’ by spending up to six months in a new country, with a new family, and immersing themselves in a new way of life.
• Any child willing to reciprocate the positive experience for their matched foreign brother or sister for the same length of exchange!
No language skills required!
To participate you do not have to speak the language of the country you are travelling to.

Many children who participate in our exchanges arrive in their new country without being able to speak its language or they only know a few words or phrases. This is the norm for our exchange organization. It was built on the premise that academic success is not the condition for a good EFI exchange. What is important to us is the attitude and behavior of the children who take part. We are looking for young people who can accept and follow the basic rules of education, be willing to embrace life in a foreign country and get stuck into the heart of their new family’s life. We are not looking for perfect children or perfect families.

We are looking for loving families with strong educational values and respectful, motivated children who can adapt to change. We are looking for children who will be happy abroad, have a ‘can do’ attitude and really want to make their families happy during the exchange, whatever the challenges. To ensure success, there are rules to follow!

Our exchanges are made for those who are willing to ‘play the game’, so they can grow, integrate and learn.

1) Language immersion: The stages.


In the first week, the child who arrives in their new country with their new family will be able to speak their native language. From the second week, the foreign family will have to respond in their own language. Your child will still be able to speak in their native language though. Once the third week begins, everyone should start speaking the language of the host country, including your child, even if they do not understand. Your child must agree not to read, write or speak their own language for the rest of the exchange. The only exceptions are when you send mail (which should be infrequent) and when you call them for a short chat once a week. If the children follow our immersion rules, your child will be able to hold a routine conversation after six months.


2) Family Integration:


We expect the children taking part in our exchanges to make a huge effort to integrate into their host family’s life, stay at the heart of it, join in with chores, have lots of ‘get up and go’ and embrace all the activities offered. To do this successfully, they need to have both feet in their new life so, children must agree not to use Facebook or send emails to their friends and family back home. This is an important element in a successful exchange. To become truly integrated into the new family, community and country, children must be prepared to leave their old lives behind for those six months. Of course, you can talk to your child once a week and they can write and receive three letters a month (maximum).


3) Respect.


Your child has to respect themselves!
No smoking.
No alcohol consumption.
Do not do anything that could harm your body or soul.
Decide to be happy!
Your child must also respect others!
Respect their own parents and their foreign parents.
Respect their siblings in both countries.
Respect their teachers in both countries.
Respect their peers in class and school.
If you are willing to accept these rules and apply our advice to your experience, then an En Famille International exchange is for you!


4) For parents:


Trust us! We have over 40 years’ experience in the Student Exchange Business! Our rules and the contracts between the families are really important and exist because they work. They are the foundation of a successful exchange so please respect and embrace them!
Trust your child! Believe in them. They do have the ability to integrate. If you show your support, they will feel it and channel positive energy into a successful exchange.
Finally, with a good dose of humility and open mindedness the whole family can invest in new relationships and grow together on a personal level. It’s an experience for the whole family, children and parents alike.

What are the benefits of doing an exchange?


A friendship for life


Two children of the same age, from different countries, with different lifestyles, will have spent one tenth of their lives together. A friendship for life. How fortunate to have a second family at 10 years old (or more) and what's more, in another country! We must not forget the two families who are fully involved in this exchange. They will visit each other, spend holidays together, get to know each other's country. The foreigner becomes the family. Often children and families stay in touch for life!


Discovering a culture


A life of total immersion thanks to living in an exchange family!
The children spend a year together, 6 months in each other's country in turn. In this way, the children blend in easily by going to school, taking part in various activities, and living their daily lives like their exchange brother or sister. They will learn the customs of their new country, their new family and will thus become immersed in a second culture.
Many children ask to go on exchange to another country as soon as they return!


Learning a new language


We think we can claim that the children come back almost bilingual (spoken language), at least after the 6-month programme. The results are excellent. The children speak their new language like local children their own age. Some children come back with excellent pronunciation and intonation.