The IUHPFL combines language and culture immersion, academic instruction, host family living and educational excursions into a once-in-a-lifetime experience. On a typical weekday, students study such topics as grammar, conversation, phonetics, culture and literature in the foreign language while also participating in diverse activities, such as sports, music and theatre.
Participants are highly motivated high school students who have completed at least three years of study in their language. Students undergo an intensive selection process, including a college-level language test, a detailed application and multiple appraisals of academic potential, degree of maturity, self-discipline and willingness to adapt to the host culture.
Students are accompanied by three to four highly qualified and trained instructors who are either graduate students or lecturers at Indiana University specializing in the language or high school teachers of the language.
Instructors have either been studying the host language for many years or are native speakers. They are responsible for teaching, coordinating and managing many aspects of the program onsite and collaborate with host families and the onsite coordinator to ensure that students are progressing academically and adapting to life in another culture.
To ensure success, well-being and safety, students are required to adhere to a detailed Honor Code and follow certain norms without exception. Honor Code violations are noted by instructors and reported to the student's guardians, the host family (if relevant) and the IUHPFL office. Repeated and egregious offenses justify immediate disqualification from the program. As part of the Honor Code, students are expected to be respectful and show appreciation towards their host families, keep their space clean, and engage regularly in host family activities.
The IUHPFL would not exist without the generous support of its host families. To ensure that host families and students have the best possible experience, certain conditions need to be met. Host families play the vital role of the student's extended family, helping with homework assignments and cultural assimilation. Please take a moment to read the following statements, so you fully understand additional responsibilities of IUHPFL host families:
- Host families will only speak the host language with students and will treat students as if they were their own children, asking them to follow household rules and to help with household tasks. Host families should show patience and flexibility towards their students, as many have never traveled outside of the US before.
- Host families are expected to provide daily meals and snacks to students, in accordance with instructions from the onsite coordinator. Students should also receive some type of snack in the early evening if the host culture eats a later dinner, as they are not accustomed to late dinners.
- It is preferable for each student to have a private room for sleeping. If this is not possible, students may share a room with one other IUHPFL student or a host family sibling of the same gender.
- Students must be given a key to the host family's home, provided it is secure to do so, or will be given timely access to the home after returning from classes or excursions.
- Host families provide laundering services for their students.
- Due to the IUHPFL program's rigor and Honor Code, host families agree to not host other students, including IUHPFL alumni, while the IUHPFL student is staying in their home.
- Host families engage students in activities during weeknights and on weekends, provided that students are rested and fully prepared for program classes and activities.
- Students may travel with their host family to other destinations within the host country on weekends, provided the instructor team has been informed and the trip does not interfere with the program schedule.
- Host families are asked to read the IUHPFL Honor Code, provided to them in their target language. They agree to fully support students in abiding by the Honor Code and to support instructors in their reasonable enforcement of it.
- Host families are expected to read the IUHPFL Property and Liability Policy and to sign the Host Family Agreement, both of which will be provided to them by the onsite coordinator and in the target language.
By inviting a US student into their home, host families gain a valuable and unique perspective about a different culture. The relationship developed between the students and host families relies on open communication, willingness to better understand each other's cultures, and flexibility on both parts. This mutual respect often results in close and lifelong friendships.