Many Languages, One World®

2017 Student Essay Contest and Global Youth Forum

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is a sponsor/Faculty/Authorized University Reference required?

Your application to this contest must be supported by a faculty member or university administrator at the institution where you are currently studying. This institutional representative is required to attest that you have followed all of the contest rules and that you meet the eligibility requirements. After writing your essay, share it with this institutional representative so that she/he is then be able to attest to your work by filling out the faculty member/university administrator referral form. We advise that s/he print and sign a copy of this form with the university’s seal as a supporting document and have it ready if needed for further verification.

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Who can complete the Faculty or University Referral Form?

The person providing your reference must be a competent authority from your university or college (e.g. professor, dean of studies or college administrator). The reference should know you well enough to be in a position to attest that:

a. You are a full-time student of the institution in good standing,

b. Your essay is written in a language that is neither your first language, nor was it the language of instruction during your primary or secondary education.

c. The reference must also attest that your essay is your original, unaided work.

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I am studying abroad this year/semester, who should complete my Referral Form?

In order to fulfill the attestation requirements, your Referral Form must be completed by a faculty member or university representative at the university that will grant your degree.

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What does "first language" mean?

Your first language is the language you grew up speaking – this can mean the language or languages spoken at school or at home.  Depending upon your circumstances, you might have more than one “first language”.

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What is meant by Language of Instruction?

Language of instruction means the language or languages in which your primary and/or secondary school classes were taught.

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I grew up speaking two languages and speak them fluently, can I write in one of them if it is an official language of the United Nations?

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

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I am a graduate student - can I enter the contest?

Yes, anyone 18 years of age and older by the contest deadline, and currently enrolled full-time in a college or university degree program can enter the contest.

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I am a high school student and graduating this year - can I enter the contest?

Only full-time college or university students, 18 years of age and older at the time of the contest deadline may enter the essay competition.

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I am enrolled in a language program at a college but it is not at a degree level - can I apply?

No, only students enrolled in a full-time college or university degree program are eligible to participate.

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The link to the Student Entry Form is not working. What do I do?

If this happens, please clear your browser history and your cache and try again.

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Can I include citations/bibliography as part of my essay? Will they be included in the word limit of 2,000?

The references, including citations, footnotes, endnotes and bibliography will not count toward the word limit of the essay. Please add citations and references as appropriate to avoid plagiarism.

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If I win the contest, will I have out-of-pocket costs for attending the Global Youth Forum?

ELS Educational Services, Inc. (ELS) will pay for each contest winner’s travel, accommodations and meals throughout their participation in the Conference and Global Youth Forum. However, winners are required to pay for the costs related to their passports and visas. Winners should also plan to bring spending money.  For detailed information on the official contest rules, please visit:

If you are experiencing issues loading the form or are having trouble submitting your essay, please try using another browser.

If you have any questions that are not addressed above, please write to us at:  Please allow 24 hours for our response.

Please do not send inquiries regarding your individual status as an entrant. We will not send any notification until after the winners have been chosen and their attendance at the Global Youth Forum has been confirmed.

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How long should my essay be?

Your essay must be 2,000 words or fewer.

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