About VOA's Special English

VOA's Special English communicates by radio in clear and simple English with people whose native language is not English. It also helps people learn American English. And it provides listeners, even those who are native English speakers, with information they cannot find elsewhere.

Three elements make Special English unique.

  • It has a limited vocabulary of 1500 words. Most are simple words that describe objects, actions or emotions. Some are more difficult. They are used for reporting world events and describing discoveries in medicine and science.
  • Special English is written in short , simple sentences that contain only one idea. No idioms are used.
  • And Special English is spoken at a slower pace, about two-thirds the speed of standard English. This helps people learning English hear each word clearly. It also helps people who are English speakers understand complex subjects.

Special English broadcasts around the world seven days a week, five times a day. Each half-hour broadcast begins with ten minutes of the latest news followed by 20 minutes of feature programming. There is a different short feature every week day about science, development, agriculture and environment, and on the weekend, about news events and American idioms. These programs are followed by in-depth 15 minute features about American culture, history, science medicine, space, important people or short stories.

Some VOA Material on This Website

Voice of America Special English Study