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Staying with a Host Family

host family in killarney to study english

Your comfort and welfare outside of class hours is of a very high priority to us and that is why we take great care choosing a host family for you. Living in a host family is very different from staying in a B & B or hotel. You are a guest but at the same time treated as members of the family and so you should not expect special treatment. You are encouraged to spend time with the family but you must also appreciate that there will be occasions when the family need time on their own.

The Room

host family in killarney to study english

All students have single rooms unless otherwise requested. The bedroom should have adequate storage for clothes and a comfortable bed with fresh linen provided at least once a week. A bathroom should be available to you everyday. Please check with the family as to the best time to use the bathroom, particularly in the mornings.

You are expected to keep your room tidy and to make your bed everyday. You could also help your family with small jobs such as clearing the table after the meals, etc.....


You may find that your house is not as warm as you would expect it to be. That is because your host Irish family has become used to the low temperatures and doesn't require large amounts of heating.
You may take a while to get accustomed to this. However, you should have adequate heating in your bedroom when you get up in the morning and at night if you are studying in your room. Please ask your family for an extra blanket if you feel too cold.


Most host families eat their evening meal earlier than would be customary in your own country. Usual eating times are 5:30 -7:30pm. A  lot depends on how late your family works. In many cases work finishes between 5 and 6pm but occasionally it can be later. There are some people who even do shift work at night.

In many of the families both the host mother and father have full-time or part-time jobs so the breakfast is usually a quick affair and consists of toast, butter and jam, cereal, coffee or tea.

This is also usually small. During the weekdays you will be given a packed lunch which is generally a sandwich, apple, yoghurt and fruit juice.

The Evening Meal

This can vary a lot from household to household but the traditional food, particularly in households where the owners are more elderly, is boiled potatoes, meat (pok, beef or chicken) and a small amount of vegetables.

This can take a while to get used to as it is often quite dry. Younger families are generally used to a whole range of different cuisines and they are also open to suggestions. So feel free to request a few more vegetables and fewer potatoes if you wish. Most Irish families do not automatically put water and bread on the table so if you wish to have these you will need to ask them politely.

Remember, the host family is not running a restaurant and cannot be expected to cook the food you are used to at home. They are busy running their own household and, on the whole, you must fit in with their lifestyle - in this way you will broaden your own outlook on life and get the most out of your stay. Do not use the kitchen or help yourself to food unless you get permission from the family. If you are going to be late for dinner or plan to go away at the weekend, please ensure you notify your family.

Your laundry will be included with the family's and/ or you will have access to laundry facilities.

You should not use the host family's main telephone and/or the internet without permisssion. If you are allowed to make an outgoing call you must reverse the charges. You can of course receive phone calls from your family or friends.

Inviting Friends
If you would like to invite friends over for an evening it is important to ask your host family's permission in advance.

Time for you

Host families are often busy people with jobs to do, children to look after, relatives to visit and so on. Although they are required by the school to spend some time with you in the evenings to enable you to practice your English in an informal way, they are not expected to give you the equivalent of conversation lessons or spend the whole evening discussing life with you. Again you must see yourself as part of the family and try to integrate yourself with their lifestyle. The more comfortable they feel with you, the more they will be prepared to talk to you.

In contrast, if you know yourself to be a shy person who tends to lock themselves away in their room, try to remember that the only way to improve your English is to try it out on people. The Irish are very communicative and they may find it a bit strange if you disappear every evening and don't make any effort to speak to them. They are generally very happy that you are trying to communicate with them even if you make a lot of mistakes.

Most Irish families are catholic and so attend mass regularly on Sunday mornings. They would be more than happy if you wish to join them but you are under no obligation to do so.

Going out
Your family is not required to take you out in the evenings. Their duty is to make you feel at home, feed you and chat with you. If you wish to go out, the one important thing is to let your family know when you will be returning as they may be concerned about your welfare if you don't return when you are expected. Most families will give you a key so that you can access the house at any time.
The  pub is the main venue for any socialising in Ireland. If you are over 18 you are allowed to drink alcohol. Regulations about under-age drinking are very strict. No pub is allowed to serve you alcohol if you are under 18 and they can be closed down if they do. You may discover quickly that many Irish people drink alcohol on an evening out - mainly beer or Guinness. The important thing is not to feel that you have to keep up with them. Many people also order soft drinks in a pub or tea/coffee and still have a very enjoyable evening.

Night  clubbing is also a very popular activity. Killarney is a very safe town, but for those on their own, we would suggest ordering a taxi to take you home if your host family  is more than 10 minutes walk away.