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Special English is a controlled version of the English language first used on October 19, 1959, and still presented daily by the United States broadcasting service Voice of America (VOA). World news and other programs are read one-third slower than regular VOA English. Reporters avoid idioms and use a core vocabulary of about 1500 words,[1] plus any terms needed to explain a story. The intended audience is intermediate to advanced learners of English. Transcripts, MP3s, archives and podcasts of programs are provided at voaspecialenglish.com


VOA Special English has multiple daily newscasts and 14 weekly features. These include reports on agriculture, economics, health and current events. Other programs explore American society, U.S. history, idiomatic expressions, science, and arts and entertainment.

For example, a May 18, 2010, script described rheumatoid arthritis this way:

"Rheumatoid arthritis is a painful disease that can destroy joints. Women are three times more likely to get it than men. Rheumatoid arthritis is considered an autoimmune disease, a disease where the body attacks healthy cells. The exact cause is unknown. But in a recent study, an experimental drug showed signs of halting the disorder in laboratory mice."

A program from July 15, 2010, dealt with patent law:

"Recently, the United States Supreme Court decided a case on the property rights of inventors. The question was whether a business method is enough of an invention to receive a patent. Patents are a form of intellectual property. They give legal protections to individuals and companies against the copying of their inventions.”

A remembrance of Michael Jackson aired on July 5, 2009, shortly after his death:

"Today we tell about one of the most famous performers in the world, Michael Jackson. Known as the 'King of Pop,' Jackson sold more than seven hundred fifty million albums over his career. Michael Jackson redefined popular culture with his energetic music, dance moves and revolutionary music videos. But Jackson’s huge success as a performer was not always easy. He was a complex individual with an often troubled private life."

For English learners, the service not only provides clear and simple news and information, it also helps them improve their use of American English. In some countries such as the People's Republic of China, VOA Special English is increasingly popular for junior and intermediate English learners. Many teachers around the world, including at the university level, use the programs for language and content.

The BBC and China Radio International have both used the name "Special English" for their slow speed English broadcasts, but they do not appear to have applied the full methodology of the VOA original.

Specialized English[edit]

Specialized English is a dialect of Special English developed and used by Feba Radio, and now used by Words of Hope and The Back to God Hour. The same parameters apply as for Special English — slow speed, short sentences and restricted vocabulary. The word list has over 90% commonality with that of VOA Special English.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1] Wordlist at VOA

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_English — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.

15228 news items


Fri, 02 Oct 2015 11:22:30 -0700

30, when the Met will be open early to provide children with behind-the-scenes access to the matinee performance of the special English-language, abridged version of Rossini's ''Barber of Seville.'' The Met's general manager, Peter Gelb, says: ''I'm ...

Fresno Bee

Fresno Bee
Fri, 18 Sep 2015 12:49:52 -0700

Once in K-12, English learners consistently lag behind their peers on yearly standardized tests. In high school, some are placed in special English and other core subject courses instead of courses that prepare them for college. Some English learners ...

VOA Khmer (English)

VOA Khmer (English)
Fri, 02 Oct 2015 09:18:45 -0700

... Cambodian America · Other Topics · Khmer Radio · Khmer TV-Video; Learning English. Khmer Special English · Mani and Mori · ខ្មែរ. Saturday, 03 October 2015. Listen to VOA in Khmer. Watch VOA in Khmer. Listen Live at 5:00am & 8:30pm (in Khmer) ...
Tue, 18 Aug 2015 08:45:42 -0700

Bastian Schweinsteiger has given a delightfully German assessment of the "special sense of humour" he's experienced since moving to English football with Manchester United. Schweinsteiger arrived at Old Trafford in July after 13 seasons in Bayern ...

The Idaho Statesman

The Idaho Statesman
Fri, 25 Sep 2015 18:41:05 -0700

Changing schools would be particularly jarring for refugee students, especially those in special English programs, Woodland said. But many have come from war-torn countries and are veterans at dealing with hardship and change, she said. “These are some ...
Magnolia Banner News
Thu, 01 Oct 2015 09:18:45 -0700

Teaching was not my first choice, but I had some very special English teachers who inspired me. Get started in less than 60 seconds. Pick a plan below to sign up. Stay InformedKnow more about what's going on in your neighborhood, Magnolia and Columbia ...


Thu, 01 Oct 2015 17:45:00 -0700

Picture taken on September 30 shows the explosion scene in Liuzhou, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. [Photo: Xinhua]. The man suspected of causing multiple explosions in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region hired people to help deliver parcel ...


Thu, 01 Oct 2015 21:52:30 -0700

Martial arts film "The Assassin" leads the nominations at the Golden Horse Awards in 11 categories including Best Film, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction and, of course, Best Director. A dark horse on the nominations list is Tibetan director Pema ...

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