The English Speaking Union of Iceland

News and Announcements

Time to REVIVE the English Speaking Union of Iceland.

Posted by Kent Lárus Björnsson, Tuesday, 7th February 2017 @ 4:06pm

  • We are currently looking for volunteers who are socially savyy, love making connections and are passionate about connecting people of all cultures with our common thread - the English language.

    Tasks include: 
    - Promoting and updating the ESU website and FB page
    - Sourcing benefits from local businesses for ESU members
    - Helping to build and develop the ESU Iceland membership base
    - organising social events around Iceland for ESU members

    This opportunity is great for an individual who wants to increase their own network in Iceland with the Chamber fo Commerce and English speaking Embassies. Future positions on the ESU board are a possibility.

    If you are interested - please contact  .

Public Speaking Competition 2017

Posted by Kent Lárus Björnsson, Tuesday, 24th January 2017 @ 5:07pm

  • The English Speaking Union, ESU and FEKÍ stage the 8th National Public Speaking Competition.

    On Friday February 24th and Saturday 25th in room M101 at Reykjavik University ;

    The winner goes to London 

    Who is going to London this year, May ?

    Who is qualified? You have to be 16 and not 21 on Friday May 15 when the final is staged in London.

    You choose your own title which should somehow touch upon the theme.

    Participants need to give a speech on the following theme;


    You give a 5 minute +/- 30 sec. talk and answer questions on the talk put to you by the audience and / or the judges for 3-4 minutes.

    If there is a semifinal you give a 3 minute impromptu speech for which you only have a limited time to prepare but there are no questions.

    Register with your teacher or email Jón at  providing a telephone number and an email address.

Alma Ágústsdóttir wins the 2015 International Public Speaking Competition

Posted by Kent Lárus Björnsson, Monday, 18th May 2015 @ 6:41pm

Annual General Meeting 2015

Posted by Kent Lárus Björnsson, Friday, 27th March 2015 @ 5:08pm

Icelandic Christmas Traditions : Lecture in English

Posted by Kent Lárus Björnsson, Tuesday, 9th December 2014 @ 2:56pm

  • Saturday 13th of December at 12 o'clock Dr. Terry Gunnell, professor of Folkloristics at the University of Iceland, will give an illustrated presentation in English reviewing the beliefs and traditions of Icelandic Christmas traditions in the past and present. The English Speaking Union will offer refreshments after the lecture. Before the lecture at 11am, Giljagaur (Gully Gawk), along with his mother Grýla, will visit the museum. This is a good opportunity to see one of the Yuletide lads in person. Admission is free of charge.

ESU Update and Notice of EGM 2014

Posted by Kent Lárus Björnsson, Tuesday, 11th February 2014 @ 4:45pm

  • I hope you're weathering the Icelandic winter well. The ESU Board has been steadfastly creating a series of events to interest its membership. We have gathered for Culture Club nights featuring speakers from the Philippines, Ghana, and Norway. We've celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving and had a smashing Christmas party. We've also gotten an inside glimpse at massively multiplayer online games with a talk and tour of CCP Games. In late February, we hope to see you at Culture Club Canada featuring Ambassador Stewart Wheeler, details to come.

    To find out more about these and upcoming events, please visit and "like" our Facebook page:

    We will be hosting an important meeting for all members on Tuesday 25th of February at 21.00 hrs at Njalsgata 19, apartment 302. I will be leaving Iceland in March, for a new opportunity in Atlanta. Regretfully, I'll no be able to Chair the ESU. The purpose of the meeting on the 25th is to hold an EGM (Extraordinary General Meeting) and vote in our new Chair, Catharine Fulton, who will be taking over my term until March 2016. Catharine Fulton is project manager and writer, and she‘ll be fantastic in the role of ESU Chair, Iceland. We will also be electing new board members, presenting a yearly report, and have the Treasurer present a financial statement. 

    All members are very welcome to come along to the EGM and meet Catharine and the board. 

    If you'd like to attend, please send an email RSVP no later than Monday 24th February at 17:00 hrs.

    We look forward to seeing you soon at an ESU Iceland event!

    Best Wishes,

    Casady Monroe
    Chair of ESU Iceland

Iceland´s Fifth Annual Public Speaking Contest

Posted by Kent Lárus Björnsson, Tuesday, 12th November 2013 @ 2:23pm

  • Update from this past weekend's National Public Speaking Contest:
    1st place: Ásgerður Olöf Ásgeirsdóttir "Women's Education
    2nd place: Guðrún Gígja Sigurðardóttir "Open Your Minds"
    Other finalists:
    Rebekka Mitra "Does Conscience Make Cowards of Us All?"
    Árni Guðmundsson "Once Upon a Time a Man Got an Idea"
    Ester Jenný Birgisdóttir "Think Outside the Box"

    Comment by the moderator, Bogi Ágústsson
    All five finalists were very good and could have represented the Icelandic ESU in London next year. We have reason to be proud of these fine young people.

    More photos on:

Iceland's fourth national speaking competition

Posted by Kent Lárus Björnsson, Monday, 25th February 2013 @ 12:50pm

  • Iceland's fourth national competition to choose a representative at the annual ESU International Public Speaking Competition in London was a great success. Ably moderated once again by Bogi Ágústsson, we had a number of excellent competitors from several Reykjavík-area schools who competed over a two-day period. For the first time, we introduced a semi-final round where participants were given the evening to write a new speech on one of three given themes. 

    The winner of the competition was Emily Ward from Menntaskólinn í Hamrahlíð. The runner-up was Einar Jóhannes Guðnason of Fjölbrautaskóli í Breiðholt. Emily will therefore be travelling to London in May (courtesy of Icelandair) to represent her country at the international competition. We wish her the best of luck. 

    In addition to the support of Icelandair, we had refreshments provided by CCP and lunch / coffee provided by FEKÍ (the association of English teachers in Iceland). As usual, the English-speaking embassies in Iceland were very supportive of the event (all contestants received a book donated by the Indian embassy). The American, Canadian and Indian ambassadors were all present, and the British ambassador sent his apologies for an unforeseen bout of illness. 

    All contestants will receive one year's free membership to ESU Iceland. 
    Please visit our Facebook site (English-Speaking Union of Iceland) to see photos from the event.

Annual General Meeting

Posted by Kent Lárus Björnsson, Thursday, 21st February 2013 @ 3:58pm

  • Notice of Annual General Meeting 

    The English-Speaking Union of Iceland will be holding its Annual General Meeting on Thursday 21 March from 19:00. (Members only, so join now) At this meeting we will be electing some of the officers of the ESU for the next two years: namely a Chair and three Board members. (The remaining three Board members will remain in their positions for a further year.)

    All members of ESU Iceland who have paid their current membership fee are eligible to nominate themselves or to nominate another person (with that person's consent) for any of the elected positions; are invited to attend the AGM; and have the right to take part in the voting and other discussions and decisions there. If you are nominating another person, that person must also have paid their membership dues.

    Those ESU Iceland members wishing to make a nomination should send an email to the members of the nominating committee for this AGM: Alyson Bailes ( and Þórir Guðmundsson ( Please give, as a minimum, the full name and an e-mail address for the person being nominated; further information such as position/profession and kennitala may be provided if wished. The deadline for receiving nominations is midnight on 13 March.

    Any proposals for amending the ESU's Statutes must be submitted to by 13 March; all such proposals will be discussed and put to the vote at the AGM.

    Finally and importantly, if you intend to attend the AGM, please register by midnight on Monday, 18 March by sending an email to Further details, including the formal agenda, will be distributed closer to the date.

International Public Speaking Competition

Posted by Kent Lárus Björnsson, Monday, 18th February 2013 @ 2:50pm

  • It's that time of year again! The ESU's national competition to select Iceland's entry for the international public speaking competition will take place this Friday and Saturday, 22 and 23 February in Room V102 at Reykjavik University. 
    All are welcome. 
    The International Public Speaking Competition is one of the highlights of the ESU's annual calendar. Open to all students aged 16-20, competitors prepare a short speech in English on a given theme: this year's theme is "A house divided against itself cannot stand." A panel of judges will select one winner, who will travel to London in May to represent Iceland in the ESU's international event, with participants from over 50 countries. The winner of that competition returns to the UK in the autumn, to be presented with his/her trophy at Buckingham Palace. Our winner last year, Sigríður María Egilsdóttir, made it to the semi-finals in London, a tremendous achievement. 
    We are expecting more students than ever before to compete in our 4th annual event. There will be a slight chance to the way it is conducted: All students will compete in a heat on Friday; these begin at 13.00. We will hold two semi-finals on Saturday morning at 9.30, while the final will take place at 13.30 on the same day. We have other prizes for the finalists. 
    Everyone is welcome to attend all or some of this event. 

Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols

Posted by Kent Lárus Björnsson, Friday, 7th December 2012 @ 2:14pm

  • If you're looking for things to do this Christmas season, the annual celebration of a Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols will take place this year at Hallgrímskirkja at 2:00 pm on Sunday, December 16, 2012.

    This annual English language Christmas service has been organized by the British, U.S. and Canadian embassies for many years in Reykjavik and features traditional readings, carols and music with the Hallgrímskirkja Motet Choir.

    All are welcome.

Icelandic Yuletide traditions

Posted by Kent Lárus Björnsson, Friday, 7th December 2012 @ 1:57pm

  • Prof Terry Gunnell's annual lecture on Icelandic Yuletide traditions will be taking place this year on Sat 15 December at noon at the National Museum of Iceland. It is co-hosted by ESU Iceland and the National Museum. Admission is free and open to all, and there will be snacks and refreshments afterwards. This is a popular event so please be on time to avoid disappointment! And if you come earlier, at 11 am, we hear the Yule Lad Spoon Licker is going to make an appearance!

British Foreign and Security Policies toward the Nordic Countries

  • Thursday, 31st May 2012 at 11:30am - 1:30pm
    Location: Nordic House

    Click on the title to open the event and then click on the pdf file.

Tungumalatorg / The English Common

Posted by Kent Lárus Björnsson, Tuesday, 14th June 2011 @ 3:45pm

  • Keep up to date with this website.
    Great resource for English Teachers and others interested in the English language.

We are official.

  • Friday, 10th June 2011 at 10:30am

    The papers were signed today to make us an official member of the ESU Organization.

National Public Speaking Competition

Posted by Sigurdur Darri Skulason, Wednesday, 23rd March 2011 @ 10:39pm

  • In 2010, we took part in the IPSC for the first time, sending two participants to London. This year we held our National Public Speaking Competition on the 19th of February. The venue was the new auspicious premises of the University of Reykjavík and we had much higher participation. The adjudicators, who were drawn from the Ministry of Education, the British Council and ESU Iceland, were very pleased with the high standard of the speeches delivered. A fourth-year (graduating) student and a second-year student will represent Iceland in London in May.

Seminar at the National Museum of Iceland on WG Collingwood and ‘Saga-Steads’, 27 November 2010

Posted by Sigurdur Darri Skulason, Wednesday, 8th December 2010 @ 1:24pm

  • In Spring 2010 ESU co-sponsored the opening celebration of a unique exhibition at the National Museum: ‘Saga-Steads’, bringing together paintings of Icelandic scenes by the British 19th-century artist WG Colingwood with modern photographs taken at the same sites by Einar Falur Ingólfsson. 

    On 29 November, ESU and the Museum again cooperated to organize a public seminar exploring the exhibition’s themes in more depth and setting them against a broader background of Anglo-Icelandic cultural relations.  Einar Falur himelf, speaking at the seminar, talked about tracing connections and contrasts between three layers of time: the Icelandic saga age itself, Collingwood’s age with its rediscovery of the Viking heritage, and modern Iceland whose beauties and quirks are so well captured in his own work.  The two other speakers, Thóra Kristjánsdóttir of the University of Stockholm and Dr Matthew Townend of the University of York, focused more particularly on Collingwood himself as a many-sided artist and scholar, and on the motives for his ‘pilgrimage’ to Iceland (with Icelandic guide and friend Jón Stefánsson) in 1897. Collingwood was in fact one of the first to trace and popularize the Old Norse heritage of Britain’s own Lake District, and did much to revive Viking motifs through novel-writing, place-name research and sculpture design as well as in his own paintings and drawings. The fact that his Icelandic paintings did not sell too well at the time may be thanked for the presence of so many of them in the National Museum’s collection now!  The seminar as a whole proved a colourful and enjoyable occasion, presided over by the Museum’s curator Margrét Hallgrimsdóttir and ending with a coffee reception.

W. G. Collingwood - Symposium

  • Saturday, 27th November 2010 at 1pm - 3:30pm
    Location: The National Museum of Iceland (Þjóðminjasafn)

    The English Speaking Union of Iceland and the National Museum of Iceland present a symposium…

    • 1 person attended

Public speaking lecture and seminar popular with students

Posted by Sigurdur Darri Skulason, Wednesday, 13th October 2010 @ 9:48am

  • On Thursday October 7th the English-Speaking Union of Iceland sponsored a lecture by Ruben Brunsveld, founder of the Stockholm Institute for Public Speaking ( on the subject "The art of public speaking, or how to prepare the perfect dinner". Drawing upon his considerable diplomatic experience as a member of the Dutch foreign service and his professional life in teaching public speaking, Brunsveld delivered a lively, entertaining and highly informative lecture. His thesis, that preparation and balanced ingredients were at the heart of both public speaking and fine dining, was well received and produced a lively question and answer session.

    Ruben followed his talk up later the same afternoon with small workshop session for university students and teachers, designed to develop public speaking skills. Comments on the workshop included: "I found the class and lecture to be very helpful and extremely useful and most importantly, entertaining and fun", "Funny, interesting, inspiring" and "the lecture was amazing and the workshop afterwards life changing".

    ESU Iceland will continue to build on the growing support that our public speaking and debating programmes are beginning to garner as they are at the heart of the ESU global programme and an educationally entertaining way for Icelanders to become involved.

The English Speaking Union of Iceland

Networks: Iceland

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