Essay Contest Archive – Frquently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is a first language?
    Your first language is the language you grew up speaking – for example at school or at home.
  2. I grew up with two languages and speak them fluently, can I write in one of them if it is a UN language?
    Many people grow up speaking two languages, for example a local dialect and English. Students attending bilingual international schools or International Baccalaureate schools would be an example of this.

    The purpose of this contest is to encourage multilingualism and the study of a new language. Therefore, if you grew up speaking one of the UN languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, Frensh, Russian and Spanish) or received your primary or secondary education in one or more of those languages, you cannot write your essay in those languages.

  3. I am a graduate student – can I apply?
    Yes, anyone 18 years of age and older who is currently enrolled full-time in a college or university can apply.
  4. I am a high school student and graduating this year – can I apply?
    Only students aged 18 years or older who are currently studying full-time at a college or university may enter the essay competition.
  5. I am enrolled in a language program at a college but it is not at a degree level – can I apply?
    No, only full-time college or university students are eligible to participate.
  6. Why am I required a sponsor/ Faculty/ University Reference?
    One of the requirements of the contest is that your application is supported by a Faculty Member or University Administrator of the institution where you are currently studying. The Institutional Representative is required to attest that your work is written in a language that is not your first language, nor was it the language of instruction of your primary or secondary education. After you write your essay, please share it with your Institutional Representative who should then be able to attest your work by filling out the Faculty/University Reference Form. We advise that your sponsor print and sign a copy of the Faculty/University Reference form with the university’s seal as a supporting document and have it ready if needed for further verification.
  7. Who can be regarded as a Faculty or University Reference?
    Your reference must be a competent authority from your university or college (e.g. professor or dean of studies or college administrator). The reference should be in a position to attest that you are a full-time student of the institution, in good standing, and that your essay is written in a language that is not your first language, nor was it the language of instruction of your primary or secondary education. The reference must also attest that your essay is your original, unaided work.
  8. What should my essay be about?
    Your essay should discuss the ideas of global citizenship and understanding and the role that multilingual ability can play in fostering these. Your essay should reflect your academic, cultural, and national context.
  9. How long should my essay be?
    Your essay must be 2000 words or less.
  10. Can I include citations/bibliography as part of my essay? Will they be included in the word limit of 2,000?
    Please feel free to add citations and references. The references, including citations, footnotes, endnotes and bibliography will not count toward the word limit of the essay.
  11. What is meant by Language of Instruction?
    Language of instruction means the language that your primary and secondary school classes were taught in.
  12. If I win the contest, do I have to pay to visit the US for participating in the International Youth Forum?
    ELS Educational Services, Inc. (ELS) will pay for each contest winner’s travel, room and meals throughout their participation in the International Youth Forum from June 25-29th, 2014. However, winners are required to pay for the expenses related to their passports and visas. For detailed information on the contest rules, please visit:
  13. What is the Selection Process?
    The contest winners would be selected based on two rounds:
    1. Essay- After the Essay submission deadline of March 15th, a language specialist will read and score your essay according to a scoring rubric.
    2. Interview- A personal interview would be conducted of the finalists who were chosen in the first round. This Interview may be in person or via Skype.

    Please visit this link: to read about the process in details.

  14. Do I have to enroll with ELS to participate in this contest?
    The essay competition is open to all full-time college or university students around the world who are 18 years of age or older.