Language exchange trips have been popular for many years, but usually involve spending only a few weeks in a foreign country. For example, I took part in a language exchange with a French lad while at school which involved me spending three weeks with his family in France, and him spending three weeks in the UK with my family. I also spent two weeks with a family in Germany, and a month with a family in Austria.
According to The Independent, the latest trend is for children between 9 and 13 to spend six months in a foreign country, staying with a family and going to a local school. Even if they don’t know the local language at all at first, they’re usually fluent in it after six months.
The exchanges discussed in the article were arranged by En Famille International, a French company set up in 1978, and are available in Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Spain and the UK. One perennial problem they have is a lack of English-speaking families willing to participate in the exchanges.