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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.
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15566 news items

VOA Learning English

VOA Learning English
Mon, 18 May 2015 13:01:26 -0700

Taking a group selfie are 30 of the accomplished Vietnamese business leaders under 30 years old highlighted by Forbes. (Lien Hoang for VOA News). Related Articles. Video What's the Top 'Trending' Search This Year? At the top of Google's top-trending ...


Sun, 24 May 2015 05:11:15 -0700

Italy's Francesco Molinari fired a four-under 68 to share the lead with An Byeong Hun from South Korea after the third round at the BMW PGA Championship on Saturday. Molinari has been at the top of the leaderboard since the first round. The 32-year-old ...


Sat, 23 May 2015 18:07:30 -0700

Lewis Hamilton (center), Nico Rosberg (left), Sebastian Vettel (right) finish in the top three during qualifying for the Formula One Monaco Grand Prix on May 23, 2015. [Photo: Xinhua]. Lewis Hamilton took his first pole position in Monaco as his ...


Sat, 23 May 2015 23:22:30 -0700

The Seine Club in Xicheng District, Beijing has been ordered to close for rectification on May 23, 2015. [Photo: qq.com]. Beijing Police has ordered six entertainment venues to suspend trading for rectification after being found involved with alleged ...

Silver Chips Online

Silver Chips Online
Fri, 15 May 2015 21:10:51 -0700

It was something that he did that was kind, and he pulled people in. He was someone who wanted to experience things with other people, and make them feel like they were special. And I think that's why he was special." – English teacher Miriam Plotinsky


Thu, 21 May 2015 03:06:43 -0700

A netizen uploads a photo which shows Guo Meimei participates in gambling at a casino in the Macao Special Administrative Region of China. [Photo: weibo.com]. Chinese Internet celebrity Guo Meimei ...
Wed, 20 May 2015 00:52:30 -0700

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang announced Tuesday that Beijing will establish a 30-billion-U.S.-dollar special fund for promoting China-Latin America cooperation in production capacity and equipment manufacturing. The fund will be channeled directly to ...

Cornwall Newswatch

Cornwall Newswatch
Tue, 28 Apr 2015 06:14:53 -0700

... insist stores and product labeling be in English only, proposing one day even if it takes 50 years like this current French wasted project to accomplish an English proud 'take back our country' motto and special English only flags and banners ...

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