I had a pretty unique experience tutoring English during my stay in France. (TL;DR at the bottom)
I was transferred between 3 families. The my first family, the host father and I had difficulty communicating. He didn't speak much English (which is what I was supposed to help him with.) And I didn't speak much French. So that made things difficult, however, I still felt like he wanted me to know what to do without him telling me. During half way of my stay, he suffered from a back injury, and wasn't able to continue. I got transferred to my second family with little difficulty, as it was the best for both of us. But I will tell you one thing. I really, REALLY missed his cooking.
I got transferred to my second family, but only stayed with them for a weekend so that I could transfer to my 3rd family, which is the colleague of the host mother, but in those 2 days, I formed a nice bond with everyone.
The 3rd family was where I spent the remaining 6 weeks in France. The family spoke English pretty well with the youngest son Simon,17, speaking the best, followed by the host mother, Camille; the older brother Remy, 19; then Pierre, the host father.
I didn't give formal English lessons as I did with my first family. Actually, the only thing I did was talk with them like normal, and corrected them when needed. If they came across a word that they were not familiar with, such as broom or mop, they would write it down. in a notebook they had. At dinner time, everyone ate at the same time. Whenever the father didn't understand something, either the host mother or Simon would translate. This would be necessary as sometimes we would talk about complex subjects. At some point they heard on the news about the shooting of Walter Scott, and a week before, I was talking about the racial issues of America, and police brutality, and my perspective of it, as I am a black male. So we got into some complex subjects where translating is needed.
Speaking of racial issues, France has virtually none. I can tell immediately that I was treated like a normal human being, rather than a perceived threat back at home, despite me being the only black person in town... both towns. When going to the stores, I did not get followed around. One day I was walking to the pastry shop, an elderly woman crossed the street in front of me and we ended up going in the same direction. I was about 15 ft. behind her. I was behind her for a good 5 minutes and NOT ONCE did she look back behind her. She saw me when she crossed the street, so she knew I was there, but I wasn't a threat. I was a person. Another day I was sitting on a ledge, and a woman put her opened purse RIGHT BESIDE ME and TURNED HER BACK. I could have easily taken something out of there, but of course, I didn't. Its just that a situation like that is unheard of in the US.
Most of the time I stayed at home, as I had school work and a freelance project to do, but I did have the freedom to go explore the town. I would have explored much more had I not any work to do. But I was given the freedom to explore the town and was also given a bike.
I went to some amazing places in France. I did go to Paris, Bordeaux, Dune de Pyla, St. Emilion, and Chateau de Blaye with my first family. My third family took me to Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, some other middle aged sites (whose names escapes me at the moment), and even a pre-historic cave with cave paintings dating back to 30000 BC.
This venture was also very cheap compared to studying abroad. I take classes online, and my school has a study abroad program. However it was only 1 month in France for around $3500 and that didn't include the food expenses. With Greenheart Travel, I got to stay longer, and food and board was taken care of.
Overall, the experience was an amazing one. I think that it is very important to remember though that when you're traveling abroad, you're going to be staying with people. And people do have their flaws. I've heard of some experiences not being as good as mine. It does happen. But what also happens is that you can meet with some amazing people as I have. Keep in mind that your safety is important, and to keep Greenheart Travel in the loop, as well as the coordinator in your host country. You're not stuck there, and you can change if you absolutely need to.
TL;DR Amazing experience. First family didn't work out, 2nd and 3rd family became my new family and I immediately felt welcomed. I've been to beautiful places I never thought I would go, or even knew existed. Being black isn't a problem in France. Cheaper than study abroad option at my university. Worth it and considering doing it again.
I think that it would be beneficial (as evident from some other friends' experiences) somehow incorporate a background check for the host family as well. Some families aren't exactly the best hosts, and it would leave a bad impression if someone were to be with one of those families. I realize that this may be difficult, or even impossible to do, but if it could somehow be implemented in the future, it would only be beneficial.