English is the world’s lingua franca (although isn’t it ironic we use a foreign term to describe it?). Here in Iceland, home to one of the world’s purest languages, English remains the necessary choice for communication with the Outside World, for relating to new arrivals to the country, for multi-national businesses, and in the lucrative tourist industry.
Almost 100 years ago, in 1918, an international charity called the English-Speaking Union was founded to promote international understanding and friendship through the use of the English language. The charity is non-political and now has branches in over 50 countries.
Here on our North Atlantic home, a steering committee to establish a branch of the English-Speaking Union was set up at the end of 2008. Since then, with the goodwill of the English-speaking embassies in Reykjavík (those of Canada, India, the United Kingdom and the United States), the seven-member committee, comprised of mostly Icelanders from various professional sectors, has been organising events, lectures, and tournaments in English. We expect to launch as an official ESU branch in spring 2011.
From film nights to public speaking
ESU Iceland promotes and hosts events that are generally free of charge and open to all. Previous events include lectures by BBC correspondent Brian Hanrahan, UK House of Lords member Lord William Wallace, and folklorist Terry Gunnell. We have hosted a film night featuring an award-winning American documentary and members of the ESU mailing list were invited to a free screening of a Bollywood film hosted by the Indian Embassy.
In addition to lectures and social events, ESU Iceland sent two Icelandic secondary school students to London this May to compete in the ESU International Public Speaking competition. The competition attracts participants from dozens of countries around the world and Iceland’s two students, both from Verzlunarskóli Íslands, performed amazingly well. There will be another such competition next year.
Find out more
ESU Iceland will be promoting and organising several more events this year. If you’re interested in keeping up to date on upcoming activities, you can join our mailing list by visiting either www.esu.is or our Facebook page, the English-Speaking Union of Iceland. If you’re really impressed, you may wish to become a full member of ESU Iceland, which comes with discounts at participating businesses, invitations to dinners with speakers, and benefits around the world at other ESU branches. All the information is on our website.
Coming up next
The next event we are promoting is a performance of the wildly-popular, sold-out show London Assurance, a Victorian comedy performed at Britain’s National Theatre, which will be broadcast live on 28 June at Kringlan cinema and at hundreds of other venues globally.
London Assurance stars Simon Russell Beale and Fiona Shaw, two of Britain’s best-known theatre actors. The Sunday Express calls it “the funniest and most assured comedy in all of London.”
This performance, part of an initiative by the National Theatre, will be broadcast in high definition and include behind the scenes footage and interviews with artists.
ESU Iceland is working with Sambíóin and the British Embassy in Reykjavík to promote this event. Anyone who purchases tickets in advance at the Kringlan box office and mentions the ESU will get a 20% discount on the ticket, which is normally ISK 2200.
We look forward to seeing you at Kringlan or another of our events in the near future.