Thursday, 5 February 2015

Celebrating 30 years as a TIS Homestay!

Here at TIS we pride ourselves on the quality of our wonderful homestays, so as a relatively new member of the team, I was delighted when I was asked to meet with and interview some of our longest standing host families. 

Joanna Turle has been a TIS homestay since 1985, and has many stories and friendships from her 30 years of hosting. One cloudy Monday afternoon I was warmly welcomed into the home of self-proclaimed “groovy granny” Joanna. I instantly felt at home as she offered me a cup of tea and a slice of delicious homemade chocolate cake. With a beautiful house, inviting atmosphere, and Joanna’s brilliant sense of humour, it’s no surprise that many of our students request to stay here time and time again.

Joanna and her husband John, who sadly passed away five years ago, started hosting many years ago when a friend asked them if they were able to accommodate the leader of a group at a local language school. The couple soon agreed and never looked back!

Joanna explained to me that hosting now provides company and a focus for her and that the income also funds global adventures including visits to her daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren in Australia. 

With four grown up children and an increasing number of grandchildren, it is clear to see that Joanna has a caring nature and likes looking after people. When her guests arrive in Torquay she welcomes them with a guided tour around the beautiful local area, showing them picturesque views of the bay and making sure they feel settled and relaxed in their new surroundings.

Joanna has been welcoming guests into her home for many years and has plenty of experience accommodating international students of varying ages, nationalities, and levels of English. She is an intelligent and very understanding lady who dedicates her time and care to make sure her visitors are happy and enjoy their time in Torquay.

Joanna explained to me how she feels it is important for students to experience English culture and interact with native speakers as a way of enhancing their language learning experience.  Staying with a native family is one of the best ways to build confidence and an understanding of the English language, a transition that she has seen in many of the students who have stayed with her.

As well as helping students improve their English, Joanna enjoys finding out about the lives of her guests and their culture too. Many of the students who stay with Joanna keep in contact with her; she receives regular emails and cards as well as out of the blue postcards from past students just to say they are thinking of her. She even gets a Christmas card every year from a gentleman who stayed with her in 1987, and she was invited to his wedding!

It was great talking to Joanna and hearing some of the heart-warming stories she has collected over the years as a TIS homestay. Her welcoming and caring nature make her a perfect host, and if that isn’t enough, she makes incredible cakes!