The English-Speaking Union

Programs Overview

Which programs apply to me?

English In Action Conversations

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English in Action is a program that matches newcomers to the U.S. with American volunteers for weekly, one-to-one conversation practice sessions.  EIA helps students master conversational English and fosters cross-cultural, global understanding through English.

Andrew Romay New Immigrant Center

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The Andrew Romay New Immigrant Center provides a welcoming and nurturing environment along with diverse educational, cultural and professional offerings. Recent immigrants will improve their English, gain essential skills and cultural fluency, and develop the networks they need to participate fully in American society and exercise the responsibilities of citizenship.

TLab: Travel and Learn Abroad

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Study Abroad.  Return Inspired!

Educators and lifelong learners: Study in the UK for an unforgettable immersive experience! Live and learn on the famed campuses of England and Scotland or take a deep dive into Shakespeare -- standing on the stage of the Globe Theatre. Lose yourself in our short (one-week) and intensive (two- to six-week) courses and explore the history while soaking up the culture for a truly comprehensive learning experience.

Our exclusive partnerships give you access to renowned scholars and behind-the-scenes experiences specifically designed for classroom teachers and lifelong learners. TLab's intensive programs elevate you as you study in official university courses with top professors at the UK's most prestigious campuses.

Teachers, return to your classroom refreshed and reinvigorated with new insights to share with your students. Professional development credit, scholarships, and fundraising assistance are all available.

Short Courses

This one-week TLab course is for educators, lifelong learners and world explorers.

Multi-Week Courses

These two- to six-week TLab courses are designed for educators and engaged learners of literature, drama, or history.  A competitive scholarship program is also available to classroom teachers.

Creative Writing

Every year, the ESU Branches nationwide provide nearly scholarships for classroom teachers in their communities. ESU scholarships are for current classroom teachers attending our multi-week courses at Shakespeare's Globe, the University of Edinburgh, and the University of Oxford.

Additional Funding Opportunities

What do I do if I don't win a scholarship? 

Click here and download our fundraising guide! We will provide supporting documentation for teachers applying for grants and scholarships from other organizations. Email us at for more information.

Applicants to SUISS programs at the University of Edinburgh may be eligible for a SUISS Scholarship. Click here to read more about SUISS Scholarships.

The ESU has partnered with the National English Honor Society (NEHS) to provide an additional source of funding. High school teachers who are advisors for active NEHS chapters are eligible to apply for "Advisor Grants," which are competitive grants designed to help finance study and travel opportunities. Visit the NEHS website for more information or email:

The ESU has also partnered with Fund My Travel to provide a platform with additional resources to launch a funding campaign from. Visit for more information and to set up a funding campaign.

Shakespeare Archives


The following ESU Branches sponsored scholarships in the summer of 2019. This page will be updated with information for the summer of 2020 on an ongoing basis. Once the applications are live, please click on the ESU Branch closest to where you live, even if you do not live in that city, as some branches offer scholarships for their entire region or state.

ESU Branch  Deadline
Central Florida
Denver 1/15/2021
Ft. Lauderdale 2/15/2022
Hawaii N/A
Houston TBD
Naples 2/1/2022
New Orleans
New York City 2/15/2022
Northern California
Palm Beach 2/1/2022
Princeton 2/8/2022
Research Triangle NC

The English-Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition

The Competition

The National Shakespeare Competition provides teachers across the country with a performance-based program for the study of English Language Arts and Shakespeare. It is a school-based program serving Grades 9-12. Through the Competition, students develop communication skills and an appreciation of the power of language and literature. The Competition has engaged more than 400,000 young people since its inception in 1983.

Through the English-Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition, students:

  • develop essential skills: critical thinking, close reading and public speaking
  • increase self-confidence through reading, analysis and performance of Shakespeare
  • explore the beauty of Shakespeare's language and classic themes
  • bring the timeless works of Shakespeare to life and learn to express his words with understanding, feeling and clarity
  • meet local, state and national standards in English Language Arts and Drama.

Students read, analyze, perform and recite Shakespearean monologues and sonnets in three qualifying stages: at the school, community and national levels. Approximately 2,500 teachers and 20,000 students in nearly 60 ESU Branch communities participate each year.

The ESU National Shakespeare Competition has been recognized by the Globe Center (USA), the Children's Theatre Foundation of America and the American Academy of Achievement. Many distinguished judges have served on the Competition panels.

The NEW ESU National Shakespeare Writing Program

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•Year-round Shakespeare programming- keeps the excitement of the National Shakespeare Competition going all year
•A program for students who express their love of Shakespeare through creative and analytical writing 
•Engages student writers in SPED/ENL, Gen Ed and Advanced (AP)
• Quality Teacher Support – visit each competition's page for links to lesson plans and resources
•A national program with local rounds - see if your branch is participating

ESU Middle School Debate

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The ESU Middle School Debate Program is an ESU educational initiative in partnership with Claremont McKenna College's Middle School Public Debate Program, international leaders in middle school debate education.  The program is for students in grades 5-8 to help them develop critical thinking and language arts skills through public speaking. 

Luard Morse Scholarships

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The English-Speaking Union Luard Morse Scholarships are merit awards for students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, enabling them to spend a semester of their junior year at the British university of their choosing. Luard Morse scholars have studied at universities including Oxford, Cambridge, and the London School of Economics, where they have performed with distinction as scholars and unofficial American ambassadors.

Secondary School Exchange Scholarship

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Through The Secondary School Exchange, American and British teenagers spend a postgraduate semester or year abroad on a full scholarship provided by participating schools.  Since 1928, thousands of students have participated, many describing the SSE Exchange as the most formative experience in their lives.

2023 International Public Speaking Competition

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The ESU International Public Speaking Contest brings together outstandingly, articulate young people from all over the world for a week of public speaking competition and international cultural exchange in London.  Under the auspices of the ESU of the Commonwealth, the finalist contestants meet and learn with their peers of different backgrounds and cultures from some 50 countries. Through all its qualifying levels, the program engages more than 40,000 young people globally.

Evelyn Wrench Speaker Program

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The Evelyn Wrench Speaker Series, named for ESU founder Evelyn Wrench, provides speakers to ESU Branches throughout the United States over the course of one to two weeks. Wrench Speakers have been renowned historians, politicians, and authors, presenting their work for ESU members and the general public. Lectures cover a wide range of topics, including but not limited to: current events; history; language and literature; art and architecture; and travel.


The National ESU absorbs the transportation costs involved with bringing speakers to the United States as well as their travel between Branches.* The Local Branches cover the cost of any accommodations, local travel, meals, and additional hospitality. 

Due to the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the ESU launched a virtual Wrench program in 2020, which included a virtual tour of Shakespeare's London by tour guide, Annamaria Dall'Anese, and a lecture by acclaimed author Elizabeth St. John (The Lady of the Tower). Currently, the ESU is working to re-launch the Wrench Program with a kickoff virtual lecture and Q&A session by Lord Charles Spencer in November 2021. In-person Wrench tours are scheduled to resume in the spring of 2022.


In 2019, a generous donation was given by Donald Best, Member of the ESU National Board of Directors, to create a fund to underwrite the travel costs of the Wrench Program. The Fund has subsequently been matched by donations from Branches and individuals dedicated to maintaining this program in perpetuity. We thank all of them for their support!