Hosting foreign students: what you need to know

Andrew Stucken ( 19 July 2017 )

Hosting foreign students can help top up your income tax-free - here's how.



According to a 2015 study, English language teaching is worth more than £1.2bn a year to our economy. The research was carried out on behalf of English UK, the national association of accredited English language centres, who were calculating the financial contribution made by the  650,000 students who come to the UK to study each year 

It's surprisingly easy to get your hands on a slice of this enormous pie. And the good news is, you don't have to live in traditional TEFL* hotspots such as Brighton or Bournemouth either.

Read about other ways to make money in retirement.

The different types of arrangement

Essentially there are two types of stay - with differing financial rewards.

The first and undoubtedly easier option is to provide, in effect, bed and breakfast. Good host families for students attached to local language schools are always sought after.

Students attend classes in the morning and undertake activities/excursions in the afternoon. Stays can last from a few days up to several months.

The second type of programme means more work and responsibility - but bigger rewards. One-to-one home tuition stays involve full bed and board and typically 15 hours of lessons on top.

Students sometimes book cultural visits or extra activities — either in lieu of, or in addition to, the lessons.

Stays normally take place during school holidays... and you can earn up to £7,500 tax free.

Stays normally take place during school holidays and under the rent-a-room scheme, the accommodation component of any money you earn is tax free up to £7,500 (based on 2017-18 figures).

Schools tend to demand qualifications from tutors – commonly either a degree of any description, a TEFL-specific qualification or another recognised teaching qualification.

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How to find the work

Interested? For the first option, it's probably best to search online for any local language schools, or alternatively search for "TEFL".

The more lucrative home tuition work can meanwhile take a little effort to unearth. Plenty of organisations have virtually nationwide networks, operating through local organisers. These are self-employed agents who work from home offices, recruiting host families and placing students fed to them by the schools.

Tracking them down can take a little effort though but go online and look in your local paper.

January is a peak recruiting month - but adverts can appear at almost any time of year. Use your social networks to ask around about hosting students. 

A cautionary note to close on: problems with insurance claims are extremely rare but it is wise to be covered. Check your household policy and if in doubt, talk to your insurance company for peace of mind.

* 'TEFL' is a traditional acronym for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. It is increasingly being referred to as TESOL - Teaching English as a Second or Other Language.

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