Confident communicators, critical thinkers, empowered citizens

About us

The English-Speaking Union, an international educational charity and membership organization that brings together people of different languages and cultures in over 50 countries.

The ESU is a non-political organization, working with people regardless of nationality and background, and from all walks of life. Our vision is to provide people in Scotland and internationally with communications skills, confidence and opportunities to engage in an exchange of ideas and opinions.

We believe that good communication and cultural exchange is essential to individual, community and global development and understanding. Through our branches and international network we run educational programmes, competitions and cultural exchanges to develop confident communicators, critical thinkers and empowered citizens.

Our aims are to promote education across the English-Speaking world and beyond, respecting the traditions and heritage of those with whom we work, whilst acknowledging the current events and issues that affect them, and to use English as a means of international communication of knowledge and understanding.

Education is at the very heart of our work.

Here in Scotland we work in particular with young people to develop the skills and capacities that will help broaden their opportunities in life and enable them to realise their potential. We do this through offering speech and debates workshops for pupils, training for teachers, and competitions, all supported by resources and training materials.

Through our outreach programmes we target schools and pupils in areas of high deprivation, who would not otherwise have access to this activity, and provide a fun and supportive learning environment. The transferable long-term skills that pupils gain boost exam performance, day-to-day confidence and future employability.

We also believe in the value of lifelong learning to help build confident communicators of all ages, and we offer training for teachers, and English language training for adults.

We also run a lively programme of cultural events for our members.


The ESU has the privilege and pleasure to work with a variety of people from all walks of life.

To assist in our work, you can get involved in many ways by offering your time to either our educational or organisational needs.

There are roles in mentoring, judging, adjudicating, being an ambassador, alumni, donor, corporate sponsor, member or simply, and valuably, a vocal supporter. You can give as little or as much time as you have available. Every little helps.

For more information, have a look at our Get involved page, or get in touch. We’d love to hear from you!


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, the ESU Headquarters in London, 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.

The ESU has had a presence in Scotland since the early 1920s, but since 1952 ESU Scotland has been an independent member of our international family, now represented in over 50 countries.

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