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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.

14227 news items

VOA Learning English

VOA Learning English
Sat, 11 Jul 2015 13:01:52 -0700

What is this? If you don't the name of something, just point to it and call it a doohickey, thingamajig, or whatchamacallit. This happens to be a two million year old chopping tool. 07/11/2015. What Is That Thing Called?


Fri, 31 Jul 2015 18:30:00 -0700

Participants celebrate following the announcement that Beijing will host the 2022 Winter Olympics at a gathering outside of the Beijing Olympic Stadium, also known as the Birds Nest, in Beijing, Friday, July 31, 2015. Beijing was selected Friday to ...
Sat, 01 Aug 2015 16:26:15 -0700

My Chinese Life · Travel · Destinations · Photo Gallery · Recommended · Learn Chinese · "In" Chinese · Chatting in Chinese · Pop Culture · Traditional Culture · Living Chinese · Chinese Studio · Chinese Class · Learn English · Special English · Pop Chart

VOA Learning English

VOA Learning English
Fri, 03 Jul 2015 13:01:38 -0700

Fireworks light up the sky over the United States Capitol dome and the Washington Monument in Washington July 4, 2011 . (REUTERS/Hyungwon Kang). 07/03/2015. Independence Day. xmlurl:/GetFlashXml.aspx?param=2846686|user|Audio 4.20a.

The Diplomat

The Diplomat
Fri, 17 Jul 2015 08:16:28 -0700

Yet, there is no question that the elite will continue to send their kids to special English schools and higher subjects will be taught in that language, no matter the status of Urdu. So the elite doesn't have much to fear other than losing some ...
Border Counties Advertizer
Thu, 30 Jul 2015 10:37:30 -0700

The 13 schools, including the school in Penybontfawr, now selected to be Digital Pioneers have been drawn from across Wales and include secondary, special, English and Welsh medium schools. The Minister said: “Our radical new approach will ensure that ...

I am in dna of India

I am in dna of India
Thu, 30 Jul 2015 03:41:15 -0700

Students and staff of KDB School, Ghaziabad paid a special tribute to People's President APJ Abdul Kalam Azad by organising a special English Literature Quiz grouping as team Eliot, Austen, Shakespeare, Wordsworth and Tennyson. Students from classes ...

The Guardian

The Guardian
Wed, 22 Jul 2015 07:39:22 -0700

People did ask me.” On Doctor Who she had a stormy working relationship with a director, Richard Martin, who once forgot himself, he told Marson. “She had enormous boobs and once, by mistake, I called her 'Very-titty' to her face.” In that special ...

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