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.

Founded in 1918 by the writer and journalist Sir Evelyn Wrench, international friendship and understanding is at the heart of all we do at the ESU.

What do we do?

The ESU is a non-political organisation, working with people regardless of nationality and background, and from all walks of life. Our vision is to provide people in the UK 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.

Our aims, as laid out in our Royal Charter, 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.

To use English as a means of international communication of knowledge and understanding.

Read more about our educational aims

A brief history

The ESU was founded by writer and journalist Sir Evelyn Wrench after the horrors of the First World War. 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.

Staff & Governors

The ESU staff work from its international headquarters at Dartmouth House, in London's Mayfair. Led by the Director-General, staff members are responsible for the management of all aspects of the ESU's activity, both as a charity and as a membership organisation.

In the UK we have over 5,500 members, organised into 35 local branches, all of whom are like-minded individuals who share the ESU's vision, values and passion. Our members support our education programmes by organising fundraising events, volunteering and through supporting local students to participate in our programmes.

As a charity, the ESU has a board of 13 governors, who act as trustees and guide the organisation, setting the strategic objectives for the executive team. Our governors are all, themselves, members of the ESU, and come from a variety of backgrounds. Each lends his or her experience to the organisation, and plays a vital role in the ESU's ongoing development.

Our Staff

Our Governors

Reports & Information

The ESU is a registered charity incorporated by Royal Charter. Every registered charity is required to submit their annual report and accounts to the Charity Commission. This is not only a legal requirement but also an opportunity for us to showcase our achievements and successes over the last year.

Please find below all the relevant documents.

ESU Royal Charter
Rules of Dartmouth House
Annual Review 2017
Annual Accounts 2016-17