English in Action: 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 -- exploring his hometown or standing on the stage of the Globe. 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.

Click here to complete the 2019 TLab Scholarship Application!

Short Courses

These one-week TLab courses are for educators, lifelong learners, and world explorers.

Literary Oxford
(July 14-20, 2019)

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.

(July 12-30, 2019)

English Literature (July 7-27, 2019)
International Politics (August 4-17, 2019)

Creative Writing (July 8 - August 3, 2019)
Theatre and Performance (August 5-17, 2019)

Every year, the ESU provides nearly 50 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. Scholarships are not available for the short course at Oxford or Shakespeare Birthplace TrustLearn more.

Click here to complete the 2019 TLab Scholarship Application!

Application Instructions

  1. Find your local ESU Branch. Consult the list below to see if there is a scholarship available in your area.
  2. Read your ESU Branch's application procedure. Most branches will ask you to use the application form on this page. Some will interview candidates or have a unique procedure.
  3. Apply! 

Additional Funding Opportunities

What do I do if there is no ESU branch near me or I don't win the 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 tlab@esuus.org 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.

English in Action 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: nehs@niu.edu.


English in Action has also partnered with Fund My Travel to provide a platform with additional resources to launch a funding campaign from. Visit www.fundmytravel.com for more information and to set up a funding campaign.

Shakespeare Archives


The following ESU Branches are sponsoring scholarships for Summer 2019. Click on the branch name closest to where you live, even if you do not live in that city, as some branches offer scholarships for their region or entire state.

ESU Branch  Deadline
New this year! Apply for a national
scholarship if your school is not located 
in one of the regions listed below.

Central Florida
Denver 1/4/2019
Ft. Lauderdale TBD
Greensboro 1/31/2019
Greenwich 1/30/2019
Hawaii 1/31/2019
Houston TBD
Closed for 2019
Naples 1/10/2019
New Orleans 1/12/2019
New York City TBD
New York State TBD
Northern California TBD
Palm Peach 2/1/2019
Princeton 2/9/2019
Research Triangle, NC  Closed for 2019
Richmond 1/17/2019
St. Louis 2/13/2019

The English-Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition 2018-2019

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2018-2019 ESU National Shakespeare Competition

Welcome to the 2018-2019 ESU National Shakespeare Competition! Here is everything you need to begin the competition at the school and branch levels.

About 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 300,000 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.

Letter to Educators

Dear Educators,

We're excited to announce that the registration form for the 2019 English-Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition is live! Please use this link to register your school.

We'll get the bad news out of the way first...

You'll see something new on the form- there is $75 registration fee per school. This is the first time that the ESU has been forced to charge a fee. We wish this could have stayed free forever, but the reality is that we need your support. Here are some facts we'd like you to know:

  • The English-Speaking Union, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, relies on charitable contributions from individuals, corporations, and foundations.

  • Without the generosity of our sponsors, we could never have made the competition the success it's been for 36 years. And now we're turning to you as well.

  • The competition has always run at a deficit and these costs increase each year. More is spent on prizes, fees, honorariums, venue rentals, competitor travel, meals, and marketing materials than comes in.

  • 100% of every fee paid goes toward the competition itself - both for this year's expenses and to guarantee the viability of the competition for years to come.

  • Since 1920, The English-Speaking Union of the United States has employed English as a catalyst to foster global understanding and good will through educational programs for students, teachers, immigrants and lifelong learners.

  • Teachers are the heart of the competition. We wish that the paperwork, hassle and cost didn't rest on you, but we know that year after year, it's you that makes the competition happen. We respect your time and effort. We thank you. And that's why we needed to reach out, inform you of what was happening, and most importantly, let you know that we will never waiver in our commitment to educators like you!

Now the good news!

Schools with a demonstrated financial need or an inability to pay will still be able to participate and are encouraged to register. For 2019, the ESU and its branches are offering scholarships to schools that show need. No school will be excluded.

We understand the struggle educators face in this financial climate. We respect your time and appreciate that resources are limited. This is why your $75 fee does more than just register you for the competition.

Extra Benefits:

Participating schools will receive ESU National Institutional Memberships that cover all teachers. Extra benefits of this include:

  • Discounts of up to 50% on our TLab Professional Development Sessions in the U.S. Check out our latest PD featuring a Shakespeare's Globe practitioner direct from London. And remember that all our PDs offer contact hours and CTLE credits!

  • Professionally designed materials to help promote your school competition.

  • Exclusive access to ESU Teacher and Student Webinars

And the best part is that this ESU National Institutional membership covers ALL your teachers so that your school can participate in our programs as a community.

We included a notice about the fee in our handbook when it was published in August, but many teachers have only learned about it now. For this, we apologize. The ESU strives to remain an asset and a supporter of teachers across America and we hope you will join us to make the 36th ESU National Shakespeare Competition the best one yet.

Documents & Forms


2019 Monologue Packet

2019 Sonnet Packet

Rubrics & Evaluation Forms:

Teacher Handouts:

Sample Memos:

Press Releases (Coming Soon)

Posters (Coming Soon)

2017-2018 ESU National Shakespeare Competition Results 

Click to read a list of the results.

Click to watch videos of the student performers.

Click to read the 2017-2018 press release.

Click to download the 2017-2018 competition program.

Middle School Debate 2018-2019

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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 in Action 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

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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.

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.