English in Action: The English-Speaking Union

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2012 Featured Stories

Oxford Opens Its Doors to ESU Scholars

Summer 2012 

Each summer, the University of Oxford welcomes ESU British University Summer School (BUSS) scholars to attend its international summer schools.  BUSS participants must be American high school teachers.  They return to their classrooms reinvigorated and armed with deeper knowledge.  For three weeks, they have the privilege of living and studying English Literature, History, Politics and Society, or Creative Writing at Exeter College.  Founded in 1314, Exeter is one of the oldest and most esteemed colleges at Oxford.  Some BUSS scholars opt to attend the International Politics Summer School at St. Antony's College as well.  All of the new "Oxonians" have won full fellowships from their local ESU Branches to fund the course tuition, housing, meals and travel expenses.

"I am relishing every second of my time here!  My days are filled with lessons from Exeter's exceptional tutors, enchanted historical walks, and reading periods in the Bodleian,"Chelsea St. Clair, a teacher sponsored by the ESU Central Florida Branch and currently studying English Literature at Oxford reports.  "The evenings are for meeting the locals and other students during the pub crawls. I can't wait to share this experience with the ESU and my Lake Howell students! The opportunity to live and learn here is the greatest gift, and I am so thankful to the ESU for this incredible opportunity."


I am excited to infuse what I have learned into teaching my Contemporary America, Sociology, and American History students....  Here at Oxford, the academic program is complimented so well by the social environment.  My peers in the program are a diverse group of dedicated, interesting scholars from very different places and careers.  I cannot express enough thanks for the opportunity the ESU has given me to participate in this program. 

- Stephanie Ryan, ESU BUSS Scholar and teacher at Greenwich High School, Connecticut


In July 2011, Anna and Don Carlson participated in Teaching Shakespeare Through Performance, presented by Shakespeare's Globe in partnership with the English Speaking Union. In their twenty-plus years of teaching, mostly at Trinity Valley School in Fort Worth, they had not experienced anything like it. Anna teaches middle school drama, and Don teaches upper school literature and serves as department chair. He also sponsors the ESU Shakespeare Monologue Competition, their entree to TSTP. They also co-direct a three-week summer Shakespeare workshop for teens. The lessons taught by the practitioners at Shakespeare's Globe about the use of "lively action" to engage students with Shakespeare texts transformed them. They formed lasting bonds with their counterparts, a dynamic group of sixteen colleagues from various parts of the US. They attended performances at the Globe and  performed as well on the Globe stage in scenes from Much Ado About Nothing. A real treat, and highlight of the visit was having high tea one afternoon at Dartmouth House, ESU's world headquarters in London.

Since starting school in August, they have both put the lessons learned at the Globe to extensive and effective use in a variety of ways. TSTP works brilliantly with Shakespeare but also provides a means of exploring any text. Don has used TSTP techniques while teaching Homer and Dante, as well as Shakespeare. They make the classics accessible to high schoolers. Anna has used the methods in her seventh and eighth grade drama classes and to rehearse musical comedies with amazing results.

The Carlsons are thankful to their school, the English Speaking Union, and Shakespeare's Globe for making participation in this program possible.

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