Hosting Frequently Asked Questions

What are the hosting qualifications?

The most important qualification for becoming an ACES host is the genuine desire to share your heart, home, and way of life with a visitor from another country so that they become a true member of your family for the duration of their stay.

There are no “typical” ACES hosts. Our hosts come from all walks of life and represent the diversity of the Portland-metro area community. Whether you are a single parent, empty nesters, same-sex couple, a family with small children or “kids” that have already grown up, or a single individual, we would love to welcome you to our homestay family.

  • English Conversation: English must be spoken in the home as students are excited to practice English with their host. Multilingual households are welcomed hosts – we just ask that you keep conversations in English when your student is present, so they feel included.
  • 60-min Commute: The commute between home and school should be less than 60-minutes via public transportation. If the commute from your home to campus is longer than 60 minutes, you would still be eligible to host a short-term student if you can assist your student to and from a transit center or PSU. Check your commute using Trimet or Google Maps.
  • Bedroom Arrangements: Each student will need their own bed and a closet and/or dresser to put away their belongings.
    • Middle and high school age students may share a room with another household member or guest similar in age and the same gender.
    • Short-term college students and adults need their own room; however, if you are hosting two students from the same group they may share a room with each other. No top bunks for adults, please.
    • Long-term students need a private, unshared room.
  • Study Area: Students need a space where they can study.
    • For short-term students, their study space may be in a shared living area like the kitchen or living room. Students won’t receive a lot of homework during the program and some of that homework will include questions for your household members.
    • For long-term students, their study space needs to be in a quiet area with a desk where they can concentrate.
  • Wi-Fi: We ask that hosts provide Wi-Fi access to their students. Hosts are encouraged to explain household rules and students are prepared to follow them (e.g. no phones during dinner).
    • We encourage short-term students to prioritize time with their host over isolating social media and internet activities. Staff may sometimes send students a group reminder or check in with a student via social media, but it shouldn’t be often or very interruptive to their time with you.
    • We also encourage long-term students to take advantage of their time with their host, but since they are here for a longer period you will have more time to get to know each other and share activities.

What are the hosting responsibilities?

Beyond sharing your daily family life with your program participant, ACES host responsibilities include the following:

  • Provide a safe, supportive and nurturing environment appropriate to the age of the student, and plenty of day-to-day interaction and conversation in the evenings and on weekends. Students look forward to discussions and meals with their hosts and hope to experience American daily life.
  • Provide an appropriate sleeping area for your new family member. Teens can share a bedroom with a child of the same gender and similar age, but must have their own bed. College students and adults need a private bedroom, and if you are hosting two students from the same programs, they may share a room with each other if they each have their own bed (no top bunks for adults please). Students also need a space to keep their belongings. Students may share a bathroom with other household members.
  • Provide three meals per day (self-serve breakfast, supplies to make a packed lunch for school, and household dinner).
  • Review the hosting orientation guide before the student’s arrival.
  • Help your student learn how to commute on public transportation between home and school. For teens, we ask that a household member accompany your student on the bus/MAX to and from PSU the first day. For college students and adults we ask that you accompany your student to the stop near home or to the transfer location if they need to make a transfer in the morning and meet them at the transfer location or home stop if they don’t have a transfer in the evening.
  • For short-term programs, we will ask that you assist with transportation for early-morning or late-night program events, such as when the group attends a Blazers game or takes a day trip to Seattle.
  • Be flexible, understanding, and communicative with your new family member in order to assist them in adjusting to the U.S. and your household’s way of life.
  • Students are expected to participate fully as a member of the household, not as a guest.

My family doesn't fit the mom-dad-and-two-kids model. Can we still host?

Of course! Our hosts come in all shapes and sizes. Whether you are a single parent, empty nesters, same-sex parents, a family with small children or “kids” that have already grown up, or a single individual, we would love to welcome you to our network.

Does the student need a private bathroom?

No. Sharing a bathroom is fine. Be sure to explain the customs in your house.

Who is responsible for the student's food?

We ask that hosts provide 3 meals per day. Breakfast and lunch can be self-serve, and we suggest having dinner together with at least one household member most evenings.

What kind of support does ACES provide to hosts?

We want hosts and students to have a successful and rewarding homestay experience, and we do everything possible to help facilitate this goal.

ACES provides support to hosts from the time a host commits to hosting until the end of the program. This support comes from both local staff in your area, as well as the national office staff.

ACES will provide orientation materials before students arrive, as well as guidance, counseling, and program information throughout the program duration to both the host and the student. Students will also receive an orientation before leaving home. Short-term students will have a homestay orientation the first day or two at PSU. Long-term students will be asked to schedule a time to meet with their coordinator about 2-weeks after beginning their homestay.

Program staff are available 24 hours a day for emergencies.

What is expected of students?

All students are screened by our partner organizations in their home countries and participate in orientations before their programs begin. They are expected to make every effort to adapt to your household schedule and way of life and use their English language skills. Students also sign an agreement that spells out the expectations.

How are hosts and students matched?

We will match you with a student based on shared hobbies and interests. We will also ask you which nationality and gender you prefer. When we have found a student we think would be a great match for your household, we will contact you and send you the student’s dossier to review and details about their program. The final decision to host a particular student is always yours.

How do I become a host?

The first step is to submit the hosting application, including 3 personal references (no relatives please). You call fill out our hosting application form and email it to or call us 971-387-6388 to submit it by phone.

Once the application has been submitted, an in-home-orientation will be conducted by ACES Portland office staff. The in-home-orientation gives you a chance to learn more about what to expect and us a chance to get to know you better.

We also ask that household members 18 years and older submit a criminal background check. We will email you a link and instructions.

Want to learn more? Contact Kellie and Vinnie our ACES Portland office at or 971-387-6388.

What do students do all day?

For the short-term groups, students will be attending language classes and participating in cultural activities, typically from 9:00am to 5:00pm weekdays. Long-term students will be enrolled at a local college, university, or language school – like American college students, their schedules will vary depending on the classes they need/want to take and activities they are interested in joining. Most groups are based at Portland State University.

Do students speak English?

Yes, and they really want to practice and improve their English! The students’ skill levels vary depending on their age, nationality, and prior experience with the language. Since students are studying English every day, they often improve rapidly. Short-term students may bring home fun, interactive homework to share with their host. In any case, we have plenty of suggestions on how to make communication work across the language barrier. Smiles, funny drawings, gestures, and simple English phrases go a long way!

Do we need to speak our student's language?

No. In fact, if you happen to speak your student’s language, we prefer that you don’t use it. One of the main goals of all our students is to improve their English. The sooner they get used to working through the challenges of language immersion, the more progress they will make. It might seem helpful to offer to speak in your student’s native language, but you can actually help more by speaking slowly, writing down difficult words, or trying to phrase things differently. It’s fun to watch students get more comfortable with their English language skills by the day!

Can I host multiple students?

You may host two students from the same group or other students, if you have the appropriate space. Some groups ask that we try to place all of their students individually for a more immersive English experience. We ask that you don’t have another guest who speaks the same native language while hosting an ACES student.

What if our student is injured or becomes ill during the homestay?

All students are covered by medical and accident insurance. Coverage is comprehensive, except for eye and dental care (unless required as the result of an accident). The application form for minors includes a medical release formed signed by their parents/guardians. In case of illness or accident, we ask you to treat your student like your own child and act accordingly. If there is a serious problem, families should contact us as soon as possible so we can keep the student’s parents informed.