Join us for the celebration of the centenary of ESU USA
Paris, June 4-5-6, 2020
More information on the ESU France celebration page.
The English-Speaking Union
The ESU is a charity established by Royal Charter with Her Majesty the
Queen as Patron. The former President of the ESU, His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh (1957‑2012) was succeeded by HRH Princess Anne.
One of the Chairmen of the English-Speaking Union was Sir Winston Churchill.
The current Chairman of the English-Speaking Union of the Commonwealth is Lord Paul Boateng.
The current Chairman of the English-Speaking Union of the USA is Paul Beresford-Hill CBE, KSt.J.
The English-Speaking Union (ESU) is an international educational charity and membership organisation that brings together people of different languages and cultures in over 50 countries. Through the help of our branches and international ESUs, we run educational programmes, competitions and cultural exchanges to develop confident communicators, critical thinkers and empowered citizens.
The ESU was founded by writer and journalist Sir Evelyn Wrench after the horrors of World War I. Sir Evelyn felt that if the world was able to communicate more effectively, global understanding between nations would improve. English became a unifying language. His ideas are as relevant today as they were then. People who knew Sir Evelyn personally said that he had an energy and idealism that drove things forward. In the courtyard of Dartmouth House, in honour of his work, is the engraving "What others have dreamed, he has done".
International friendship and understanding is at the heart of all we do at the ESU. Throughout our work, there is a strong focus on young people - enabling them to utilise the skills of public speaking and debate to become confident communicators. As a membership organisation, we offer the opportunity to be part of a global network, bringing people together to consider different ideas and to ponder the intricate richness of the English language.
Learn more about the international network
The English-Speaking Union was founded in the belief that more effective communication between nations would lead to improved global understanding and ultimately, world peace. This belief holds true today and there are currently 54 international English-Speaking Unions spanning the globe from Albania to Yemen.
The English-Speaking Union runs a number of programmes bringing people from different countries together, including our Secondary School Exchange and the prestigious International Public Speaking Competition (IPSC).
All International English-Speaking Unions are expected to attend the annual International Council meeting and to organise a public speaking competition in their country, the winner of which attends the IPSC final in London. Many also run additional programmes such as public speaking and debating academies in Malta, English language summer schools in Romania, and English support for new arrivals in the US. We also encourage International ESUs to host debate tours. In so doing they welcome expert UK oracy coaches to their countries, strengthen links between nations, and help to embed speech and debate in classrooms around the world.
International English-Speaking Unions are guided by the legal constitution, charitable status and general aims of the English-Speaking Union of the Commonwealth (England and Wales), although they operate autonomously and their activities are dependent on local requirements for not-for-profit organisations.
If you are interested in starting an ESU in your country, please contact us at email@example.com.
To find out more about your International ESU: https://www.esu.org/international-network
The competition brings the best young speakers from all over the world to London for a week of cultural exchange and public speaking contests. Established in 1980, it now reaches over 600,000 young people in more than 50 countries across the globe, showcasing the highest standard of public speaking, while giving delegates an opportunity to meet and engage with other young people of different backgrounds and nationalities.
Finalists (national winners of the English-Speaking Union’s or other public speaking competitions in their country) must write and deliver a speech connected with the theme for the year’s competition. Past themes have included ‘Culture is not a luxury but a necessity’ and ‘The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they have none’.
Read more : https://www.esu.org/international-network/
The 2020 IPSC will be held in London, May 11-15
Join us and listen to the participants from 50 countries !
The 2019 IPSC grand final is on May 17
Join us at the Royal Institution, London, on Friday, 17 May from 1pm to see the best young public speakers from around the world deliver speeches on ‘Nature is a common language’.
INTERNATIONAL TEACHER ORACY AWARD
The English-Speaking Union’s International Oracy Teacher Award is the only award of its kind which recognises excellence and outreach in oracy education across the globe. If you teach English to children between the ages of five and 18, this is your chance to tell the world about the work you do, and the difference it makes. We encourage individual teachers to apply (with a supporting reference from your local international ESU) and we also invite International ESUs to promote the competition among their networks.
Learn more : https://www.esu.org/awards/international-oracy-teacher-awa 30 January 2019
New award from the English-Speaking Union recognises excellence in oracy teaching around the world.We are delighted to announce Robbie McDonald, a history and debate teacher from Broxburn Academy, Scotland, as the winner of the inaugural ESU International Oracy Teacher Award. In his application, Robbie highlighted not only the importance of oracy (speaking and listening skills), but its power – the confidence that can come from being able to express oneself well. He draws particular attention to the way oracy skills enable young women to push against an education system which so often holds them back from leadership and expression.We’re also pleased to congratulate Maia Tkemaladze, an English teacher from Sachkhere Public School, Georgia, who takes the runner-up spot. Teaching in a rural village, Maia noticed how disadvantaged her students were, in comparison with those living in the bigger cities, due to the lack of opportunity for communication with native English speakers. Through introducing debating into her classroom, Maia’s students not only developed their public speaking and critical thinking skills, but they were also given more opportunity to travel to debate camps and competitions.The judging panel was overwhelmed by the response to this new award and were delighted by the passion, knowledge and dedication shown through the applications. Judges’ Chair, Professor Neil Mercer, Director of Oracy Cambridge, emphasised that ‘the success of oracy education depends on the efforts and expertise of dedicated, knowledgeable teachers; and the two finalists are excellent examples of such practitioners. It is heart-warming to hear how both have helped young people who have not had the benefit of a privileged social upbringing to find their voices and use them to good effect.’The International Oracy Teacher Award, launched during the ESU’s centenary year, aims to recognise educational excellence and outreach in the field of oracy across the diverse ESU global network. Through this award, the ESU seeks to celebrate, encourage and develop the work of international teachers who are helping to generate social impact through the advancement of English oracy skills in their students. Both this year’s winner and runner-up will receive financial grants to enable them to further the impact and reach of their work, and we’re delighted to be able to support them in this endeavour.
LIST OF MEMBER COUNTRIES
Korea, Republic of
United States of America
The International Council meets in St Petersburg, Russia
September 25-29, 2019
More info will be posted soon....
2018 was the "Centenary Year"
read about the events on
The International Council meets in Lisbon, Portugal,
September 27-29, 2017
The Chairman welcomed delegates of twenty-two countries to the English-Speaking Union International Council Meeting 2017. He thanked Walter Best and ESU Portugal for hosting the 2017 meeting, and Lucia Dumont for her role as a powerful advocate for the ESU as International Council President since 2015.
Professor James Raven was welcomed, deputising for Lord Boateng. Delegates introduced themselves with brief comments about their country’s work. The Chairman made an introductory speech [appended to these minutes] focusing on the role of the ESU in breaking down cultural barriers, on the International Council’s representative status within the United Nations and the importance of ’Discovering Voices through English in Action’.
Lucia Dumont, retiring President of the International Council, added her words of welcome, and her speech is appended to these minutes.
Jane Easton, Secretary-General, presented her report, thanking all who had made possible the ESU’s international work in the preceeding year. The report was noted. Discussion followed on the following subjects.
Centenary 2018: The World Members’ Conference, ICM and IPSC would run concurrently in the week 14-18 May 2018. There would be a logo for the Centenary, and a dedicated, content-rich ‘microsite’ (part of the website) with special features and alumni stories. The logo would be made available to international ESUs. All countries were encouraged to use the new branding, with their country name, for example: . The links to individual member countries on the ESU website could also be activated once the branding had been adopted. It was important that those newly discovering the ESU through the internet and social media recognised the international brand. In the run-up to the Centenary every country would wish to contact its alumni and engage educational supporters and potential funders. Many countries used Facebook for organizing ESU events. Some countries had engaged alumni by inviting them to help organize or judge the next years’ programmes. The Treasurer suggested that alumni could be encouraged in three main ways – in volunteering their time, in donating their money, and in speaking publicly about the way in which the ESU has changed their lives for the better.
Delegates requested that ESU pin badges and ties be produced for the Centenary.
International Membership Card: several countries requested a simple ESU International Membership card which would help to introduce Members worldwide. Some delegates would also welcome a new version of the International DIrectory, in addition to being able to contact individually each member country through the International Platform.
Professor Raven introduced Duncan Partridge and Carol Losos to speak on the educational agenda. He spoke of the way in which the ESU had broadened his education and expanded his horizons, and of the importance of continuing to unlock potential amongst those most in need in our communitities. ‘Oracy’ and the tools for confident communication, were at the heart of the ESU’s transformational agenda.
The powerpoint presentations made by Duncan and Carol are available on the International Platform. The main points are:
Partnership programmes in the UK:
House of Lords Chamber debate
London Debating Mental Health at Facebook Head offices in London
Into University (providing a space for children from chaotic backgrounds to study, and supporting young people into University. ESU has delivered tailored debate training to them)
The Week Junior (Magazine discussing World news) ESU providing debate topics each week.
Schools Mace – secondary school debating
UK Public Speaking Competition
London Debate Challenge – for state schools only in the London region
John Smith Memorial Mace - University debating competition.
Cultural Exchange, Scholarships and awards:
SSE Walter Hines Page Oracy Research Scholarship – teachers visit the US
Lindemann Science Research Scholarship
Travelling Librarian Scholarship
English Language Awards
Experience English – working with immigrants.
24 organisations working together to signpost oracy resources and discuss how to improve Oracy in schools.
Research findings are available on the ESU website.
A World Economic Forum video was shown recognising the need for children to have oracy skills.
1918 Evelyn Wrench founded the ESU.
2018 We aim to produce Confident Communicators, Critical Thinkers and Empowered Citizens.
Programmes in the United States:
The strategic plan sets out the use of English as catalyst, with oracy and communications skills being taught.
Exchange programmes – SSE and Teachers programmes.
Andrew Romay New Immigrant centre (ARNIC)- English language workshops, skills for work, UN tours, understanding the federal system and a sports event.
English in Action – a flagship programme supported by 500 volunteers.
Middle School debate for 10-14 year olds.
National Shakespeare Competition - run by the teacher in the school. 325,000 students
2000 teachers. Public Speaking aspect is most important .
TLab – Teachers learning abroad. Teachers go to the UK. They need support as many are undervalued in the US. The Globe hosts a 3 week programme. Oxford and Edinburgh University do creative writing.
University of Oxford: The story and future of English July 15-21 July 2018
Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Stratford-upon-Avon: from page to stage July 14-21 2018
Through these experiences, teachers make contacts with other teachers and are inspired and energized when they return to the classroom. A number of short films were shown, and the links are provided on the International Platform. In discussion, delegates considered how they might engage with the programmes described.
The Chairman thanked Duncan and Carol for their presentations and inspirational work, and all delegates for their participation in the discussion.
7. The Educational Agenda: Discussion Groups
Delegates addressed a series of questions about the place of oracy in educational systems around the world. The following points were made:
The importance of oracy is widely recognised
Around the table there was a clear consensus that oracy skills (in mother tongues as well as other languages taught) are vitally important in their own right as well as for facilitating wider learning. “Good speaking skills help move people up career and social ladders.”
Some countries seem to give oracy a higher status than the UK does
Lebanon is a good example. Schools and universities provide plenty of opportunities for students to develop their oracy skills in Arabic, French and English, particularly through public speaking and debating but also other methods.
Many of the barriers to oracy skill development present in the UK are similar to those in other parts of the World
Namely: lack of teacher time & confidence to teach oracy skills; the prioritisation of other skills; accountability pressures related to high stakes testing; lack of support from leadership.
National governments are slowly beginning to recognise the importance of oracy skills
For example, ESU France have been invited to meet with a high level representative from the Ministry of Education to discuss oracy in the curriculum. Similarly a leading Malaysian think-tank is urging education policy makers in their country to put more emphasis on spoken language skills.
There was appetite to build on this discussion and to use the ESU’s international presence as a platform for facilitating global collaboration for building oracy skills.
The World Economic Forum recently highlighted oracy as a global educational priority. This is an example of what seems to be a growing international consensus around the importance of fostering effective speaking listening skills in the world’s youth. The ESU will continue to work with our national and international partners, as it strives to place oracy at the heart of the world’s educational agenda.
8.The United Nations and the English-Speaking Union
Having recently re-discovered the ESU International Council’s consultative status as an NGO with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, the Chairman spoke of the possiblities for using this to take forward Evelyn Wrench’s founding vision for dialogue in the English language and the development of civil society. The ESU was entitled to 5 membership cards, and there would need to be discussion as to how these were used. ESU US was happy to take a lead, and it was hoped the the President of the International Council would also be involved. The 17 UN Sustainable Goals were the basis for discussion in schools and colleges around the world, and the ESU had focused on them in its debate work. The Chairman pointed to the Model United Nations debate framework for schools and encouraged IC delegates to explore the arrangements in their countries. In the UN, countries small and large had equal status.
In discussion, the the Chairman and Secretariat were asked for guidance on governance arrangements, since the IC was not a legally constituted body, and each international ESU was a separate entity, albeit with many shared aspirations. The value of UN engagement and youth opportunities were welcomed. The profile of the ESU’s own international debating programmes was also discussed. The International Platform would allow countries to share their findings. In terms of representation, it was suggested that there might be one membership card for each continent. The Chairman agreed to consider the matter further, and thanked all delegates for their contributions.
9. Future venues for the ICM
Expressions of interest had been received from ESU India, ESU Pakistan and ESU France. There was insufficient detail on which to base a decision, so the Chairman invited full bids by the end of October 2017, including venue for the meeting, accommodation arrangements, cultural programme and indicative costings.
10. Election of President of the International Council
Margaryta Danilko was elected President of the International Council with the full support of all delegates. She looked forward to working with all colleagues to take forward the ESU’s vital work, and to keep in close touch with recent past-Presidents to draw on their expertise.
11.Any other business and concluding remarks
There was a brief discussion about the ’English-Speaking Union’ name and how it might be perceived in the modern world. The Council noted that the name was enshrined in the Royal Charter, and also accepted the value of its history, heritage and reputation head of the Centenary celebrations.
The Chairman thanked Walter Best and ESU Portugal for hosting the ICM and for providing such a rich cultural programme for delegates and guests. He thanked all delegates for their contributions, and wished them well as they returned to their home countries.
The English-Speaking Union USA National Shakespeare Competition
Much Ado about Shakespeare
I was delighted and privileged to be able to attend the finals of the Shakespeare Competition in New York City last May 1st..
The day before, Chris Broadwell, the Executive Director of ESUUS and I met with the students at their Youth Hostel. Chris gave a short welcome speech to the students and introduced me, and then Carol Losos, director of Education addressed the contestants congratulating and encouraging them enthusiastically.
I enjoyed speaking with some of the participants and appreciated the way they rapidly got together, started introducing themselves, discussing their roles, their social media accounts, and chitchatting about everyday life. I felt they had a sense of solidarity and support but never “competition” per se because they had a common purpose and that was great. And I noticed the following day, how they congratulated each other, applauded and giving “high fives”.
The semi finals and the finals took place in the prestigious Lincoln Center in NYC.
The semi finals started at 8.30 with 54 Shakespeare enthusiasts (19 boys and 35 girls) from all over the USA.
Christopher Broadwell gave a welcome speech, then he introduced the five judges: Kelley Curran, actor; Michael Klein, Folger Shakespeare Library Master Teacher; Geoffrey Owens, actor; Alexandra López, Lincoln Center Theater Associate Director of Education; and Sid Ray, professor.
Each student recited a monologue and a sonnet from memory before the panel of distinguished judges without the help of costumes or props. They had selected excerpts from Twelfth Night, The Tempest, Richard III, King John, As You Like It, A Midsummer's Night Dream, Two Gentlemen of Verona, Love's Labour Lost, As You Like It, Cymbeline, Henry V, King John, Much Ado About Nothing, Hamlet, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, Henry VI part I and Part II, Measure for Measure, Richard II, Titus Andronicus, Othello, All's Well That Ends Well, Antony and Cleopatra and Romeo and Juliet.
There was a 15 minute break after 18 contestants.
The semi-finals ended by 1pm.
After lunch break, the judges gave the results of the semi finals.
The ten finalists were:
Rutvik Ashtikar - Princeton Branch - JP Stevens High School;
Bael - New York City Branch - Edward R. Murrow High School;
Padraig Bond - Albany Branch - Shenendehowa High School; Brandon Burk – Kentucky Branch- Youth Performing Arts School; Judy Durkin - Los Angeles Branch - Santa Monica High School; Ogechi Egonu – San Francisco Branch – San Domenico School; Mya Ison - Research Triangle Branch - Enloe High School; Chinyelu Mwaafrika - Indianapolis Branch - Shortridge High School; Trevon Wainwright- Kansas City Branch- Paseo Academy of Fine and Performing Arts; Malenky Welsh - Greenwich Branch - ACES Education Center for the Arts.
The finals started at 4pm.
The Judges for the final competition were Kate Burton actress; Dana Ivey, actress; Peter Francis James, actor; Louis Scheeder, arts professor and founder and director of Tisch School of the Arts at New York University; and Dr. Ralph Alan Cohen, Founding Executive Director of the American Shakespeare Center.
The finalists had to present a monologue, sonnet and cold reading.
The judges retired to deliberate.
Laura Hickey, the Deputy British Consul-General in New York, read the proclamation from the Honourable Bill de Blasio, Mayor of the City of New York in which he cited the competition's 34th season this year and proclaimed May 1, 2017 as William Shakespeare Day in New York City ( see attachement).
I gave a short address to the participants and the audience (see text attached).
Then Dr. Paul Beresford-Hill CBE KSt.J, Chairman of the English-Speaking Union of the United States, addressed the audience and awarded certificates to the participants.
After Christopher Broadwell had recognized the competition teachers and thanked Lincoln center for hosting the event, Kate Burton announced the Third, Second and First winners.
Third place winner: Trevon Wainwright
Second place winner: Brandon Burk
First place winner: Ogechi Egonu
Then the prizes to student winners and winners’ teachers were presented:
First place winner, Ogechi Egonu received a full scholarship to the American Shakespeare Center Theater Camp in Staunton, VA, this summer.
Second place winner, Brandon Burk, from the Kentucky Branch, won a cash prize of $1,000 from the English-Speaking Union.
Third place winner, Trevon Wainwright, representing the Kansas City Branch of the ESU, received an award of $500 provided by The Shakespeare Society.
I must say I was extremely impressed by the high standard of all the finalists’ performances and their real excitement for the competition. It is a great learning opportunity for all these teenagers who are all winners of the local competitions.
I took great pleasure listening to all 54 talented students who transformed themselves from mere teenagers into the Bard’s immortal characters.
Ogechi, a young frail girl, performed the role of Othello. It was an achievement because this monologue is very difficult. On the stage she WAS Othello. Ogechi's depth of characterization won our hearts.
After her emotional performance of Othello’s poignant monologue “It is the cause, it is the cause, my soul” , she turned round and she was another character reciting a delicate sonnet with a sweet smile, “ Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”, she shone at the competition with her cheerful personality and earned her first place.
All these brilliant teenagers brought Shakespeare’s language to life!
The Bard would have been proud and honoured to see how modern he still is and how relevant his work is in today’s world. They are Shakespeare’s legacy.
I am full of admiration for all the performers and wish them all the best in their future dramatic endeavours and their future lives – undoubtedly successful!
Voilà! I thoroughly enjoyed my short stay in NYC, meeting with some ESU US members and attending the Shakespeare competition that was perfectly planned, organized and implemented so, I thought I would share this experience with you all.
Lucia Dumont Renard President of the International Council
What's on in the Loire Valley?
The winner of the French final of the IPSC is Jeanne Chassereau, 5th from right.
T The English Speaking Union Loire Valley and its partners Bibliothèque Anglophone d’Angers and La Maison de l’Europe Angers & Maine-et-Loire.
Sainte-Agnès, Joachim du Bellay, Saint-Martin, and Sacré Coeur in Angers and Saint-Louis in Saumur competed at Le J, Angers Connectée Jeunesse, in front of a large audience which included Michelle Moreau, 1ere Adjoint de la Ville d’Angers, Michel Guillaneuf, Président d’Honneur de la Maison de l’Europe, ESU Loire Valley members, teachers, families, and friends of the participants as well as the members of the partner associations.
This year’s theme was : “Peace is not an absence of war”.
The judging panel was composed of Julie Armstrong from St Edwards University, Texas; Keith Bloomfield, former ambassador to Nepal; Dr Lucia Dumont Renard, President of the ESU International Council and Vice-president of ESU France; and Jerôme Woodford, retired consultant to the European Commission.
The speeches delivered in many styles and from various perspectives were outstanding and the judges’ task was difficult. The speakers persuaded, informed, inspired and captivated the audience and the adjudicators, tactfully including evidence, facts, figures, emotional personal stories and histories. They answered the adjudicators’ questions with aptness and sometimes humour. The jury congratulated all the participants. They are all winners.
First place in the competition this year went to Jeanne Chassereau, a pupil at the Lycée Ste Agnès in Angers. Her speech title was: “What if Peace was Boring?”. The runner-up was Gabrielle Chevrollier (Lycée St Martin) whose speech title was: ” Strange Meeting”. There was a tie for third place : Constance Fournier ( Lycée St Martin) and Laura Joyer ( Lycée Ste Agnès).
Following the announcement of the winners by Dr Lucia Dumont Renard and the presentation of prizes by Michelle Moreau, 1ere Adjoint de la Ville d’Angers, Michel Guillaneuf, Honorary President of the Maison de l’Europe Angers et Maine-et-Loire thanked the candidates, the judges, the audience and the organizers for their contributions to a rewarding and enjoyable afternoon.
We send Jeanne Chassereau our best wishes for success in the next level of this public speaking competition and for a truly worthwhile experience in London from May 8 to May 12 with 50 ESU international friends. Her stay in London will be rich with incredible encounters, a unique opportunity to realise her full potential, a valuable platform for exchanges and a fertile soil for developing skills in communication: an undeniable asset in our media-centred world.
The theme for the next round is: “To define is to limit”.
As president of the International council, my mission is to expand the global reach of the organization, sustain and spread the ESU brand and be its ambassador worldwide so that this organization becomes more visible. I was delighted to thank the organizers, meet and greet the fantastic young people who are confident communicators, critical thinkers, and empowered citizens. They are our future.
Lucia Dumont Renard
President of the English-Speaking Union International Council
Vice-President ESU France
What's on ?
President of the International Council's visit to Hamburg
April 7th, 2017
Launch of the Oracy Network
House of Lords
November 8th, 2016
Report by Dr Lucia Dumont Renard, president of the ESU International Council
I was able to attend the launch of the Oracy Network which was held in the Cholmondeley Room at the House of Lords on November 8th, 2016 and I thought I’d share my thoughts with you.
I must say I felt lucky and privileged to be with 118 other guests from England and Scotland and from a wide range of backgrounds: educators, associations, education trusts, teachers, high-profile academic leaders and students.
Oracy in action, powerful speakers!
I was most impressed by the students from School 21 with whom I spoke about their school, their subjects, their activities and enthusiasm for oracy. These young boys and girls were capable of expressing themselves with fluency and no inhibition at all even to an unknown French person!!! They spoke about their excitement at being at the House of Lords, how they were proud to be there and how much they were enjoying themselves.
Lord Boateng thanked the attendees and gave an introductory speech promoting the importance and benefits of oracy. He praised the efforts made by all the contributors to this trailblazing network. Addressing the young pupils more particularly, he said they were the confident communicators and the empowered citizens of tomorrow. He then gave the floor to the major actors of the oracy network.
Duncan Partridge, ESU Director of Education, as an educator with great pedagogical talent, started his speech with “strange” words like “ethos”, pathos”, “logos” thus attracting playfully the young attendees’ attention and asking them to guess which sentence best matched the definition of these words.
It worked beautifully as a young student said it all sounded like “ancient Greek”! These rhetorical appeals defined by Aristotle are the modes of persuasion that a good orator needs.
Thanks to his presence, expertise, and his authority to speak knowledgeably of oracy, Duncan succeeded in persuading us of the necessity to develop oracy in schools (ethos). He produced great interest in the range of programmes and created an emotional response (pathos). His way with words, the facts and the authorities on the subject he cited, produced a favourable impression on the audience (logos).
Duncan linked these three words to the way oracy skills can be taught. He insisted on the necessity to share and disseminate good practice. He invited us to visit the www.oracynetwork.org site for more resources*.
Peter Hyman, Head Teacher at School 21 and Beccy Earnshaw, Director at Voice 21 stressed that oral skills are required today more than ever. They open doors and help people fit in a work environment more easily. Young people need to be able to talk in an extensive variety of settings and styles using a wide vocabulary with fluency. Articulateness is necessary even in maths! So, by being taught oracy skills, the students are given a greater chance to have a successful career and a fruitful social life. A classroom filled with conversations and debates leads to better understanding, “more talk, fewer fights”! Although not all schools are necessarily supporting oracy yet, the speakers pointed out the necessity to encourage teachers, to give them positive feedback, to provide them with resources and tools and as importantly, to communicate with parents. We were invited to read the publications introduced during the launch, to collaborate with lots of organisations, to “unlock” the innovation, to bring a variety and a diversity of voices. The number of major leading academic supporters is increasing and the network will soon gain full recognition.
The best was kept for the end:
Ava Lang, a twelve-year-old pupil from School 21 gave a very moving and emotional five-minute speech about the refugee crisis “Imagine a world”… “Let them in”.
She told about a mother with her dying child who was denied proper treatment, she gave facts and figures to sustain her argument : “Let them in”. These three words were like a leitmotiv that she pounded and hammered on our conscience stirring emotion and bringing lots of us to tears. A powerful speaker and already an empowered citizen ! Well done, Ava!
ESU in action, bringing people together
The reception ended with a “well done” tradition from Ghana, Lord Boateng’s father’s birthplace. Lord Boateng invited the attendees to form two groups on each side of the room. Then he asked one group to say all together “Aykoo” and the other group was invited to respond “Yahe”. Then a second time, and eventually the third time all the attendees revealed even better than the master! and chimed in to the top of their voices “ Aykoo” and then “Yahe”! A perfect balance and symbiosis of the group, a tactful way to bring people together and wish them the best for the future:
“Onwards and upwards”!
*You can download the two documents that were given at the reception:
1- Oracy: The State of Speaking in Our Schools , commissioned by Voice 21 with funding from the Big Change Charitable Trust.
2- Speaking Frankly: the case of Oracy in the curriculum, commissioned by the ESU and includes several key contributions.
Report by Dr Lucia Dumont Renard, President of the ESU International Council
The House of Lords opens up the chamber every year, inviting people from across the UK to take part in an intergenerational debating event. This year's event took place on Friday 25 November 2016, with participants debating this year’s motion:
Should there be limits to freedom of speech in the UK?
There were three angles for debate, led by three key teams :
No limits: Speech should be as free as possible. The best counter to harmful speech is debate not censorship.
Censor it: We should be able to restrict or censor harmful voices or divisive figures from expressing views that are not consistent with our nation’s values.
Monitor it: Speech should not be censored but the government should be allowed to monitor closely what people are saying and intervene if they need to for security reasons.
The participants were representatives from the following organisations and schools:
- English PEN
- Migrants Organize
- Newham VI Form College
- Speakers’ Corner Trust
- 38 Degrees
- Framwellgate School, Durham
- Highbury Grove School, London ( debate only)
- James Gillespie’s High School, Edinburgh
- Jo Richardson’s Community School, Essex (debate only)
- King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds (debate only)
- Malone Integrated College ( Belfast)
- Small heath School, Birmingham
- St Francis Xavier’s College, Liverpool
- St Mark’s catholic School, London
- The Angmering School, Portsmouth
- The Dearne ALC, Barnsley (debate only)
- University of Bedforshire (debate only)
- Wilson’s School, Surrey (debate only)
- Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Morgannwg, Cardiff
Here’s a brief account of the event:
I must tell you I was impressed by the quality of the debate per se but also by the precise timings and procedure of the debate.
The second Principal doorkeeper briefed the participants (mobile phone, comfort break, etc…) and introduced the Lord Speaker, Lord Fowler.
At 15.08 the Yeoman Usher escorted the Lord Speaker to the Chamber.
At 15.10 : the Lord Speaker gave a welcome speech and explained the organisation of the debate.
The Lord Speaker called for an initial vote on the three options: No limits, Monitor it, Censor it (see above). The participants raised their hands to vote (They may only vote once). The doorkeepers counted the votes. The results were not given before the debate.
Then, the Lord Speaker invited the six opening speakers to deliver their 3- minute speeches.
Then the Lord Speaker called upon the pre-prepared floor speakers and took their 90 second contributions from the floor.
The Lord speaker then invited the three closing speakers from each key team to deliver their 3- minute speeches. They actually re-stated their team’s arguments and included ideas that were expressed during the debate.
Finally, the Lord Speaker called a final vote on each of the three options. The Doorkeepers counted the votes and the results were announced in reverse order by the Lord Speaker.
And the results were….
The figures in brackets correspond to the difference between the initial vote and the final vote.
At 17.43 we were invited to leave the Chamber after the departure of the Lord Speaker.
It was a great experience. I am happy to share it with you. The speakers were just amazing. They were articulate, convincing, and bright. Their capacity to listen to each other, their respect for each other’s ideas, their ability to present their ideas in such an impressive environment were amazing.
As the Lord Speaker said, it was their “maiden” debate in the House of Lords and yet, they revealed quite at ease and confident.
Although the topic was a difficult one, the “content “ and the “not-content” debated in the most gentle and civilized manner putting forward their arguments with force and conviction and also with courtesy.
Debating is an excellent exercise of democracy; it is empowering and should be promoted in all schools. It is also a way to equalize the life chances of children from less privileged backgrounds and boost their confidence.
What about sharing our viewpoints on the platform: www.esuinternational.com?
Visitors are not allowed to take pictures in the House of Lords. You can view some photos on the Facebook page of the House of Lords:
On Saturday, October 29, 2016, ESU Denmark celebrated the 25th Anniversary of its foundation with a reception and lunch at Restaurant
Skovshoved Sejlklub, Skovshoved Havn.
The notable guests were:
- H.E. Alexandra Christina, Countess of Frederiksborg, ESU Denmark’s Patron;
- Dr Lucia Dumont Renard, President of the ESU International Council;
- Dr Gerd Bloxham Zettersten, widow of Arne Zettersten who was Chairman from 1992 to 2007, a long-serving member of the ESU’s International Council and its President 2009-10;
- Ian Burns, British actor, entertainer, director, resident in Copenhagen.
Claire Clausen, the current Chairperson of ESU DK, thanked the guests for joining the event and the board for their dedication and hard work. Then, in a lively and enthusiastic way, she spoke about ESU Denmark’s 25 years of promoting excellence in English in schools and speakers, programmes and events for its members.
Dr Lucia Dumont Renard, President of ESU International Council congratulated ESU Denmark. She gave a short speech about the ESU family and the necessity to sustain and spread the ESU brand. She explained the importance of continuing to develop “oracy” (a word which proved new to many) to ensure the longevity of the organization and form tomorrow’s “critical thinkers, confident communicators and empowered citizens”.
H.E. Alexandra Christina, Countess of Frederiksborg, ESU Denmark’s Patron, thanked the members for the friendly atmosphere they created during their meetings. She praised ESU Denmark for its efforts to promote the English language, spoke about the importance of learning languages and of exchanging viewpoints on the evolution of languages.
Ian Burns, a British actor entertained us dramatically and wonderfully. He started by singing the monologue “the world’s a stage” from As you like it, performed the scene of the assassination of Julius Caesar skilfully and expertly inviting the audience to participate before collapsing onto the floor.
The audience gave him an enthusiastic round of applause for his outstanding performance. Ian concluded by reading an extract from The Book of Sir Thomas More, Shakespeare's only surviving literary manuscript, about the refugee migrants and the "mountainish inhumanity" of those who rejected them. Four hundred years later, this resounded powerfully with the situation in Europe today.
All the guests were pleased with the celebration and the delicious food. They warmly thanked the Chairman and the board for their flawless organization.
Dr Lucia Dumont Renard, President of the ESU International Council
More and larger sized photos are available on this site:
Lucia Dumont, a member of ESU France committee, Vice-president of ESU France and president of ESU International Council gave an introductory speech at the Council meeting in Tbilisi in September 2016:
May I begin by enthusiastically thanking Marina for hosting the 2016 International Council.
This meeting is a fantastic opportunity to strengthen our international links, share our creativity, continue promoting friendly and constructive exchanges and enjoy each other’s company during the great cultural activities and events Marina has prepared for us.
I am honoured, privileged and delighted to be with you all today as President of the International Council of the English-Speaking Union. My mission is to expand the global reach of the organization, to sustain and spread the ESU brand and be its ambassador worldwide.
As delegates, we are all ambassadors for the ESU to the next generation. Indeed, we are definitely an international organization. We form a family with a strong commitment and a continuing desire and appetite for cooperation and exchange of ideas for the common purpose of improving global understanding, and transmitting the ESU values to the younger generation.
The new international platform created by Paul Marsden, Head of Digital Communications at Dartmouth House, is a most welcome development in the way ESUs can communicate. This new tool will help us to give more visibility to our work and establish creative and productive communication between the countries and also with Dartmouth House. As international ESUs, we need to show support, we also need to share tips and best practice. This is a fruitful way to be empowered and to pursue our educational mission with even more stamina, while allowing for more personal contacts. Indeed, face-to-face communication is vital, and the necessity to meet crucial.
Communication and connectivity are also a guarantee for the organisation to flourish and develop and for the members to show their diversity and their unity. Whatever our differences in nationality or background, which are undeniable assets, we are all united by the use of the English language and united under the same banner, the same brand of the English Speaking Union. Our mission is to protect and spread this unique brand.
According to last year’s country reports, most international ESUs face the same challenges and come up against the same issues:
Other topics that are often raised are:
The younger generation is the future of the ESU. We need to inspire and motivate them, and ensure that they embrace the ESU’s ideals and discover their voice. So, let’s work together to ensure the longevity of our unique organisation and discover our global voices.
From 7th - 12th September, delegates representing 20 International ESUs convened at the beautiful art nouveau Writer’s House in the centre of Tbilisi under the chairmanship of The Rt Hon The Lord Paul Boateng, Chairman of the ESU.
As well as hearing from Duncan Partridge, ESU Director of Education, about the newly formulated ESU Education strategy and the slight changes to the International Public Speaking Competition rules for 2017, delegates also heard reports of the year’s activities from individual countries and board members. Amongst the most moving was that of Romania which, despite having only 30 members and no permanent staff, had managed to recruit 2,000 students to its National Public Speaking Competition, a fantastic achievement. Many countries reported a growing enthusiasm for the ESU amongst young people, with participants in programmes and competitions increasing by the year.
The International Council President, Lucia Dumont, spoke about the ICM and what part International ESU's must play in introducing the strategy globally.
"We left feeling enriched, confident and eager to work together in our common purpose of improving global understanding, and transmitting the ESU values to the younger generation. We need to inspire and motivate them and ensure that they embrace the ESU’s ideas and “discover their voice."
"The 2016 International Council Meeting was a great opportunity for delegates from all over the world to have fruitful, productive and constructive exchanges, to share information and good practice and resources, to discuss the best ways to maintain face-to-face dialogue and stay connected digitally. The atmosphere was positive and the delegates welcomed Duncan Partridge’s stimulating presentation of the International Public Speaking Competition, the International Debate Tours and the launch of the Oracy Network."
"Oracy is the ability to listen, respond to, and produce spoken language. Gaining proficiency at oracy is at the heart of the educational strategy of the ESU. That is why global ESUs need to spread the word and ensure that oracy is brought to classrooms. An increasing number of students and teachers take advantage of this training and become empowered citizens who confidently take their place in the world.
"The triptych motto “confident communicators, critical thinkers and empowered citizens” which is at the core of the vision of the Education Department, epitomises what the ESU looks forward to achieving to transform young lives. As the meeting adjourned, we felt empowered, confident and impatient to work together again either via the international platform, or face-to-face on reciprocal visits or regional meetings. International dialogue, mutual understanding and friendship indeed."
September 29th, 2016
Dear ESU Friends,
I hope all participants in the ICM in Tbilisi, September 7-12, 2016 had a safe and pleasant journey home.
For those who were unable to join us, I would like to send you a short account of the meeting and the cultural activities organized by Marina Tsitsishvili, Chairman of ESU Georgia.
The delegates and guests, chaperoned by Marina’s team of talented young people, met on the first day Wednesday 7th for a walk around the old city. We were then taken by bus to a restaurant where we had an eight-course dinner accompanied by entertainment from local musicians and Georgian folk dancers in traditional costumes.
The ICM took place on Thursday and Friday while the guests were visiting the landmarks of Tbilisi. It was held in the Writers’ House, a magnificent mansion built at the turn of the 20th century. The building is a prime example of Art Nouveau architecture and is acknowledged as a brilliant blend of Georgian and European architectural styles. Our meeting room was exquisite with its decorated high ceilings and its elegant wood panelling, patterned wood and marble flooring.
On both days we had lunch in the beautiful garden shaded by old cedar trees. We were very lucky with the warm and sunny weather.
After introductions by the Chairman of the ICM, Paul Boateng, the Vice-Chairman, Paul Beresford-Hill, and the President of the International Council, Lucia Dumont, the staff from Dartmouth House and ESUUS ( Jane Easton, ESU Director-General, Gail Featherstone, ESU Membership Officer, Duncan Partridge, ESU Director of Education and Christopher Broadwell, ESUUS Executive Director), and the delegates (from Australia, France, Georgia, Germany (Hamburg), Hong Kong, India, Italy, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mauritius, New Zealand, Romania, Russia, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, and the USA,) discussed and worked together on the items of the agenda that Dartmouth House had prepared.
The minutes of the ESU International Council meeting 2015 were approved as well as the accounts presented by Rod Chamberlain (Honorary Treasurer).
Further details will be in the minutes of the ICM that will be circulated soon.
We discussed the following issues:
The location and frequency of International Meetings
Although the best attendance is generally when meetings are held in London, many ESUs cannot afford the cost of flights, accommodation and extra expenses entailed by participation in the meeting. Obtaining visas is also a hurdle for some countries.
These programmes were very popular and gave young students from all over the world an opportunity to gather and meet with MPs, business men and local leaders. Considering the cost, DH can no longer keep these programmes (the number of membership subscriptions has declined). It was suggested in order to reduce costs, to find cheaper accommodation in schools instead of the colleges whose rates are constantly increasing.
Gail Featherstone, the membership officer presented her work at the headquarters and identified the staff we liaise with when we contact Dartmouth House:
The Educational Agenda
Duncan Partridge, Head of Education at Dartmouth House, gave a most interesting and stimulating presentation of the education policy of the ESU, oracy, the international public speaking competition and international debate tours.
The ESU has published an education strategy booklet entitled “Education Department Vision”; the subtitle is “Confident Communicators, Critical Thinkers, Empowered Citizens”.
Duncan outlined the strategic directions of the ESU education department and their vision.
Duncan brilliantly explained the three phrases by using the metaphor of the jigsaw puzzle pieces in a box. The way we use the pieces, our creativity, our capacity to question what we hear and see, our capacity to work with others, our willingness to rise above the mainstream ideas and not to take everything for granted, will make us critical thinkers. By being able to listen and to respond, we make a difference not only in our own lives but also in other people’s lives in a wide global context. We then become empowered citizens. These three phrases encapsulate what the ESU looks forward to doing.
Duncan pointed out that we need to focus on young people who don’t have these opportunities, young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Debating is a good teaching tool. Structured debate is a way to motivate children in history, science and many other subjects.
He suggested we establish an “oracy network” and reinforce mutually what the ESU is doing by spreading the word.
Schools should be encouraged to view the debates and witness this truly inspiring programme. The debates and competitions will be available on line.
The international countries now have to influence the decision-makers to use their power and convince the state schools to include oracy in the curriculum.
At the end of Duncan’s presentation, Rod Chamberlain presented his definition of oracy. Here it is :
If you can count it, that's NUMERACY
If you can read it, that’s LITERACY
If you keep it to yourself, that's SECRECY
If you steal it, that's PIRACY
If you enjoy it, that's ECSTASY
If you think you understand it, that's LUNACY...
but if you can EXPLAIN it, that's ORACY
Rod Chamberlain’s Definition of Oracy, Tbilisi, September 9th, 2016
As president of the International Council, I made the following suggestions taking into account the issues raised at the 2015 ICM.
“According to last year’s country reports, most international ESUs face the same challenges and come up against the same issues:
Other topics that are often raised are:
I made the following suggestions:
The meeting ended with congratulations for a fruitful and constructive dialogue.
On Saturday and Sunday, the delegates and guests visited the wine-making region, historical monuments and Mtskheta, the ancient capital of Georgia. Click on this link to view the scan of the booklet given to each participant:
We were treated to the most delicious foods, wines and local lemonades. Each evening was a feast, a new festival of surprises: a reception at the British Embassy where we met the newly appointed Ambassador; a garden party and buffet dinner at the British Corner created by Marina; talented young musicians performed pieces of classical music; the farewell party and dinner in a very typical restaurant with musicians, singers and dancers.
Click on the links to view some photos and the video of our visit published and edited by Marina:
Nobody wanted to leave and we all spent a long time saying “goodbye and see you soon”.
The ESU is a great family and we are all proud to be members of this unique organization.
Today, more than ever, the ICM is the occasion to celebrate friendship, peace and mutual understanding.
I cannot end without extending my warm and enthusiastic thanks to Marina for organizing such a memorable stay in Georgia. We all know the phrase “it takes a village to raise a child” and concerning the meeting, it took not only Marina’s excellent organisation but also a whole team of dedicated and talented young people, with a great command of the English language and a profound and natural sense of hospitality, to make our stay a complete success.
They made us fall in love with Georgia, its traditions, its landmarks, its culture. This trip, like all our visits to a member country, epitomizes what the ESU stands for, its vision and mission.
We feel empowered by our diversity, our unity and our mutual enrichment.
So, dear ESU friends, I look forward to seeing you soon.
With my best regards,