VOA Special English - UNSV英语学习频道VOA Special Englishhttp://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/http://www.unsv.com/images/unsv.gifVOA慢速英语即VOA Special English,又叫VOA特别英语,是快速提高听力、纠正发音、改善阅读理解,扩充英语知识的绝佳节目,还被新东方、疯狂英语等培训机构选作核心教材。http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/zh-CNhttp://www.unsv.com60版权所有©2003-2011 UNSV.COM英语学习频道,保留所有权利。Fri, 18 Jan 2019 00:25:20 UTC<![CDATA[Living in DC During the Government Shutdown]]>George Grow如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/01/17/0670/

No city experiences a government shutdown like Washington, DC.

In addition to the economic effect, a suspension of government operations affects Washington on a cultural and recreational level. It influences almost everyone, from trash collectors to young parents and even those hoping to get married.

The United States Congress and President Donald Trump have not been able to reach agreement on a spending plan. On December 22, about one-fourth of federal agencies had no money left and were forced to close.

Trump wants to Congress to approve $5 billion to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico. He says this would help strengthen national security. Democratic Party leaders oppose his spending request and the idea of a border wall.

The local District of Columbia (DC) government has continued operations without a federal budget in place as Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser had promised.

The economic situation is not good. Some studies estimate that the federal government directly employs more than 364,000 people in and around Washington, DC. This includes northern Virginia and southern Maryland. The district alone contains more than 102,000 jobs in government agencies that have no money to finance operations.

Deputy City Administrator Kevin Donahue compared the shutdown to the main factory closing in a small industrial town. He noted that the closure has affected service industries like restaurants, food trucks and taxis.

"What keeps us up at night is not the work we know we have to do in weeks one and two," Donahue said. It is the unpredictable effects of weeks four and five and onward, he said, with the possibility for mass restaurant closures or federal workers missing payments on housing or car loans.

Public health concerns

Most immediately, the shutdown created a public health problem. The U.S. National Park Service (NPS) oversees many parts of DC, from the world famous National Mall to green spaces like Dupont Circle and even neighborhood parks.

Washington waste collection crews now empty waste containers at the city's more than 120 separate NPS sites -- three times a day in the case of the containers at the National Mall. That service costs at least $54,000 a week.

Donahue said there is an unofficial agreement dating back to earlier shutdowns that the local government will be repaid when the federal government reopens.

The park service recently announced it would use other money to restart its own trash collection at some of the Washington sites.

For years, Washington has had a tortured relationship with the federal government, which can change or block any local law. Now, city officials seemingly have the chance to note the irony of the shutdown. They often claim they are treated by Congress as if they are unable to govern the city; now they are taking over and covering for the central government.

"When the federal government shuts down, we step up," Bowser said during a January 4 press conference.

Effect on parents and children

The shutdown also affects the 700,000 people who call Washington, DC home. The Smithsonian Institution's many museums, including the National Zoo, closed their doors about a week into the shutdown. The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts has severely cut back its hours of operation.

On a recent rainy weekend, parents and children gathered outside the Bloombars cultural center in Washington's Columbia Heights neighborhood. They formed a line, stretching halfway up the street, for the usual Saturday morning children's drumming class. The crowd was three times larger than the normal size.

The reason: parents searching for something to occupy their children in a city where more than 10 free museums and the zoo have been closed.

A volunteer hands out utensils at Chef Jose Andres' World Central Kitchen while also serving free meals to workers effected by the government shutdown in Washington January 16, 2019.
A volunteer hands out utensils at Chef Jose Andres' World Central Kitchen while also serving free meals to workers effected by the government shutdown in Washington January 16, 2019.

"It happens every time," laughed BloomBars founder John Chambers, who recalls a similar increase during the 2013 shutdown, which lasted 16 days.

The district is filled with shutdown specials -- offering federal employees everything from food and drinks to live theater and medical marijuana at low or no cost to them.

Another effect of the shutdown is the closure of the DC office that registers marriages.

Bowser told The Associated Press that even she was surprised to learn that people could not get marriage licenses because Congress pays for the local court system.

Bowser quickly reached out to allies on the Council of the District of Columbia to pass emergency legislation called the Let Our Vows Endure (LOVE) act. The measure gives her administration the right to approve marriage licenses.

At a recent event to sign the act into law, Bowser said, "Just so my team knows, we're probably going to want to keep that power."

Nobody laughed and she did not seem to be joking.

I'm George Grow. And I'm Anna Mateo.

Ashraf Khalil wrote this story for the Associated Press. George Grow adapted his report for VOA Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.

Words in This Story

shutdown – n. a closure of a factory or system

irony – n. a situation that is strange or funny because things happen in a way that seems to be the opposite of what you expected

museumn. a building where objects of artistic, historical or scientific interest are kept

zoo – n. an establishment with a collection of wild animals

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http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/01/17/0670/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/01/17/0670/VOA Special EnglishThu, 17 Jan 2019 14:56:00 UTC
<![CDATA[Scientists Developing Spacecraft Powered by Steam]]>Bryan Lynn如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/01/17/6363/

The history of steam power goes all the way back to the 1700s. At the time, steam was used to power many different machines and helped fuel the Industrial Revolution.

Over the years, steam was replaced by other fuel systems to power everything from homes to cars to industrial equipment.

Now, some American scientists are developing steam power for one of today's most highly technical activities, space exploration.

Research scientists from the University of Central Florida (UCF) and U.S.-based space company Honeybee Robotics are carrying out the project.

The steam-powered WINE spacecraft is still under development by researchers at the University of Central Florida and U.S.-based Honeybee Robotics. (University of Central Florida)
The steam-powered WINE spacecraft is still under development by researchers at the University of Central Florida and U.S.-based Honeybee Robotics. (University of Central Florida)

The scientists are developing and testing a space robot model named The World Is Not Enough, which they call WINE for short. The spacecraft is designed to travel repeatedly between space rocks called asteroids and planets throughout the solar system.

The spacecraft is designed to land on these space objects. It has tools to search for and collect water that might be below the surface. WINE can then heat the water to create steam to power the spacecraft to its next space stop. WINE is equipped to gather and use solar energy as well.

The company Honeybee Robotics built the model that the researchers recently tested. The UCF team provided a reproduction of asteroid material for the test, as well as computer modeling used to design WINE.

Phil Metzger is a planetary research scientist at UCF. Before joining the university, he spent nearly 30 years working at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). He worked three years on the latest project, developing the technology necessary for creating a working model.

Metzger said in a statement the test was a successful demonstration of the spacecraft's abilities. He reported it was able to dig into the simulated asteroid material and collect water. It then produced steam fuel that permitted the spacecraft to complete its own launch.

The scientists believe the technology could open up limitless space exploration. Currently, interplanetary space exploration trips must end when the spacecraft runs out of fuel.

Image provide by NASA shows the asteroid Bennu from November 16, 2018. (NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona via AP)
Image provide by NASA shows the asteroid Bennu from November 16, 2018. (NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona via AP)

"Each time we lose our tremendous investment in time and money that we spent building and sending the spacecraft to its target," Metzger said. "WINE was designed to never run out of propellant so exploration will be less expensive. It also allows us to explore in a shorter amount of time, since we don't have to wait for years as a new spacecraft travels from Earth each time."

Metzger says WINE spacecraft could keep traveling to many different asteroids and planets. They could carry out experiments before refueling and launching to the next stop. He said such exploration activities could be carried out anywhere there is water and the right gravitational conditions.

Kris Zacny is the vice president of Honeybee Robotics. He also described the test as a great success, saying "WINE-like spacecraft have the potential to change how we explore the universe."

WINE is linked to NASA's Small Business Technology Transfer program that supports university and small business cooperation on space research projects.

I'm Bryan Lynn.

Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English, based on reports from the University of Central Florida and Honeybee Robotics. Caty Weaver was the editor.

We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments section, and visit our Facebook page.

Quiz - Scientists Develop Spacecraft Powered by Steam

Start the Quiz to find out

Start Quiz

----------------

Words in This Story

tremendous – adj. extremely good

propellant n. fuel that causes something to move

expensive adj. costing a lot of money

allow – v. to permit

potential n. an ability that has not yet been developed

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http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/01/17/6363/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/01/17/6363/VOA Special EnglishThu, 17 Jan 2019 14:48:00 UTC
<![CDATA[Chinese Release their Tensions in ‘Anger Room']]>Dorothy Gundy如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/01/17/6739/

It took Qiu Siyu just a few swings of a baseball bat to wreck what looked like an old car radio.

Then two friends destroyed telephones, loud speakers, rice cookers and even a life-like model from a clothing store.

The Reuters news agency says all three paid 158 yuan, or about $23, to spend half-an-hour in an "anger room" at a business called Smash in Beijing. It is a place where people can take out their anger on everyday objects while listening to music they choose.

Smash requires its customers to wear protective equipment when they enter the room, armed with a baseball bat or small hand tool. This is to keep them safe from flying wreckage.

High school student Qiu Siyu, wearing protective gear, reacts after smashing wine bottles in an anger room in Beijing, China January 12, 2019. (REUTERS/Jason Lee)
High school student Qiu Siyu, wearing protective gear, reacts after smashing wine bottles in an anger room in Beijing, China January 12, 2019. (REUTERS/Jason Lee)

Qiu, a 16-year-old high school student, said she went there to release her anger about school.

"It feels so good when I destroy those bottles and watch them explode," she said, with a smile on her face.

Since Smash opened in September, customers have destroyed around 15,000 bottles every month, said 25-year-old Jin Meng. She started the business with her friends.

However, Smash is not meant to support acts of violence, she explained. Instead, it aims to help people deal with the pressures of living in big cities like Beijing.

Jin added its target customers are between 20 and 35 years old.

Another customer, 32-year-old Liu Chao, looked pleased and at ease after a recent visit to Smash.

"If you have money, you can smash anything - smash some TVs, computers, wine bottles, furniture, mannequins... But the only thing you can't do is smash someone," said Liu.

Similar businesses already exist in other countries, including the United States.

A customer wearing protective gear smashes old furniture with a hammer in an anger room in Beijing, China January 12, 2019. (REUTERS/Jason Lee)
A customer wearing protective gear smashes old furniture with a hammer in an anger room in Beijing, China January 12, 2019. (REUTERS/Jason Lee)

Jin said around 600 people visit Smash each month.

'A woman brought pictures from the day she was married, and she smashed them all. We welcome people to bring their own things,' Jin said.

'Every time when we come across cases like this, they confirm our belief that we've provided a safe place to let out negative, bad energy. And we are happy for that,' she added.

In Beijing, Jin said her next step is to open a new anger room in a shopping center where people can take a break from visiting stores to smash a bottle or two.

I'm Dorothy Gundy.

The Reuters news agency reported this story. George Grow adapted the report for VOA Learning English. Mario Ritter Jr. was the editor.

Words in This Story

baseball batn. a wooden stick used in the sport of baseball to hit the ball

customern. a person or group that boys goods or services from a business

mannequin –n. a figure shaped like a human body that is used for making or showing clothes

negative –adj. harmful or bad

We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section.

]]>
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/01/17/6739/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/01/17/6739/VOA Special EnglishThu, 17 Jan 2019 14:48:00 UTC
<![CDATA[British Parliament Rejects Prime Minister's Brexit Plan]]>Caty Weaver如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/01/16/6064/

The British parliament has rejected Prime Minister Theresa May's plan for Britain to leave the European Union.

The House of Commons voted 432 to 202 against the plan negotiated by members of May's government. The prime minister said she is trying to carry out the 'democratic decision' voters made 18 months ago to leave the EU.

Opposition Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbin called the vote a 'catastrophic defeat' for May's Conservative Party. He also demanded a parliamentary vote be held Wednesday on whether to withdraw support from her government. He criticized the British government as incompetent.

The vote against May's plan was widely expected, but it is not clear what comes next for the withdrawal, known as Brexit. Before the vote, May warned members of parliament that the EU would not offer an 'alternative deal.'

One of the main terms of her plan was to avoid a hard border between EU member Ireland and British Northern Ireland. She wanted to prevent the return of border measures if Britain and the EU failed to reach a free trade agreement.

May's deal would have left unchanged the rights of more than three million EU citizens living in Britain and the one million Britons living in the EU. Britain would have paid $51 billion to settle its financial responsibilities with the EU.

May's plan faced opposition from both sides of the debate over Brexit. Those supporting the break argued that her deal would still leave Britain tied to EU rules. Opponents to Brexit wanted even stronger economic links to the EU.

Pro-Brexit protesters demonstrate outside the Houses of Parliament, ahead of a vote on Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal, in London, Britain, Jan. 15, 2019.
Pro-Brexit protesters demonstrate outside the Houses of Parliament, ahead of a vote on Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal, in London, Britain, Jan. 15, 2019.

Groups of pro-EU and pro-Brexit activists demonstrated near parliament in London, Tuesday.

Pro-European demonstrators hold posters at Parliament Square in London, Jan. 15, 2019.
Pro-European demonstrators hold posters at Parliament Square in London, Jan. 15, 2019.

Negotiators from Britain and the EU agreed to the terms of the Brexit deal in November after long and difficult talks. It is unclear what will happen next.

May has until next Monday to present a new proposal.

I'm Caty Weaver.

VOANews reported this story. Caty Weaver adapted it for Learning English. Mario Ritter Jr. was the editor.

Words in This Story

catastrophic –adj. something that is a disaster

incompetent –adj. lacking necessary ability or skills

alternative –n. something that offers another choice

We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments section, and visit our Facebook page.

]]>
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/01/16/6064/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/01/16/6064/VOA Special EnglishWed, 16 Jan 2019 15:11:00 UTC
<![CDATA[Man Builds His Dream House (A Very Small One)]]>Anna Matteo如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/01/16/2614/

Many of us think about our dream home.

When designer Chris Toledo dreams about his, he lets his imagination run wild. He wants a Spanish-style house with hand-painted floor tiles, circling staircases and at least 12 bedrooms.

That is his dream.

For now, Toledo lives in a small, two-bedroom apartment. But that has not stopped him from building his dream home. It is just a lot…smaller. A lot.

Toledo was born and raised in southern California. He has been working on his miniature Spanish-style dream home for the past two years.

'Here in California Spanish-style that's very common. You can't go anywhere in Los Angeles without seeing Spanish-style houses."

The beauty of these mansions is there for anyone to see -- on the outside. But it is not easy to get a look at the inside of these homes. Homeowners protect their mansions with security gates, walls and in some cases armed guards.

But Toledo found a way to get around all that security. He went online and looked at houses for sale on real estate websites.

'I would go on real estate websites and look at houses there for sale that are the same style, the same age period. I would just look for all the original details. And most of the houses that I used for inspiration…they were probably about $2 to $10 million dollars."

Inspired by the Mediterranean style, he researched this style thoroughly. He filled his Spanish-style mini-mansion with objects true to that style – many he made by hand.

His miniature version is as real as he can make it. His small house is made of real wood. He covered the wood with a material that would have been part of a real Spanish-style of building. He hand-painted over 6,000 small tiles for the floors.

The house even has electricity; Toledo made all the lights by hand. He also made many other household objects, like tables and pillows. Other objects he bought and then painted them to fit the house. He even included a copy of a very old oil painting that he found in a book on Spanish design.

Toledo's final creation is extremely true-to-life. The bathroom sinks have water markings. The lighting fixtures have extremely small spider webs. Other pieces have dust on them.

The only thing his miniature mansion does not have is running water; Toledo was afraid it would ruin the building.

One person has already offered Toledo $80,000 for his miniature dream home. Toledo says he plans to use that money for a down payment on a home. It may not be a mansion but it will be real…and full-sized.

I'm Anna Matteo.

Angelina Bagdasaryan reported this story from Los Angeles for VOA News. Anna Matteo adapted it for Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

Words in This Story

tile n. a usually flat piece of hard clay, stone, or other material that is used for covering walls, floors, etc.

staircase n. a set of stairs and its supporting structures

apartment n. a room or set of rooms fitted especially with housekeeping facilities and usually leased as a dwelling

miniature adj. being or represented on a small scale

mansion n. a large and impressive house : the large house of a wealthy person

real estate n. property in buildings and land

original adj. happening or existing first or at the beginning : made or produced first : not a copy, translation, etc.

sink n. a wide bowl that has a faucet for water and a drain at the bottom and is usually positioned in a counter or on a pedestal

inspiration n. something that makes someone want to do something or that gives someone an idea about what to do or create : a force or influence that inspires someone

down payment n. a part of the full price paid at the time of purchase or delivery with the balance to be paid later

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http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/01/16/2614/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/01/16/2614/VOA Special EnglishWed, 16 Jan 2019 14:57:00 UTC
<![CDATA[US Study: Many Good Jobs Exist for High School Graduates]]>Bryan Lynn如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/01/16/7462/

The best paying jobs in the United States often require successful completion of a study program at a college or university. But a new study suggests there are also millions of good jobs for people with only a high school education.

The study was a project of the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Its findings were based on U.S. government information. Financial company JPMorgan Chase provided money for the research.

The Georgetown researchers defined a "good job" as one paying at least $35,000 a year for U.S. workers between the ages of 25 and 44 years. For those between 45 and 64, a good job was said to pay at least $45,000 a year.

The study identified three general paths leading to a good job: a high school education, middle skills, and bachelor's degree, BA, from a college or university.

The high school path is meant for workers with a high school education or less. The middle-skills group included workers with more than a high school diploma, but less than a bachelor's degree. Included in this group were people who earned an associate degree or attended classes or training in college, but did not have such a degree.

Support specialists, who assist coworkers and clients with any computer problems, can often get a job without a college degree. (Photo by Flickr user wistechcolleges via Creative Commons license.
Support specialists, who assist coworkers and clients with any computer problems, can often get a job without a college degree. (Photo by Flickr user wistechcolleges via Creative Commons license.

The report noted that after World War II, U.S. workers with a high school diploma or less were able to get good-paying, middle-class jobs. It said that is because there were a large number of jobs in manufacturing and other industries requiring physical labor. Most of these jobs were filled by workers with only a high school education.

But over the years, manufacturing kept moving toward greater use of machines. In addition, the U.S. and world economies went through major changes. These developments created a need for a more educated and skilled work force.

The report said that in the manufacturing-based economy of the past, about two-thirds of entry-level jobs required a high school diploma or less. Today, two-thirds of jobs require at least some education or training in addition to high school, it found.

The researchers estimated that in 1991, 15 million good jobs existed for those with a high school diploma. About 12 million good middle-skills jobs were available, while 18 million existed for people with a bachelor's degree.

By 2016, the report found the high school path led to only 13 million good jobs. However, those 13 million jobs were responsible for about 20 percent of all good jobs, the study found. The middle-skills group grew to 16 million, while the path for bachelor's degree holders doubled to 36 million good jobs.

In this Feb. 9, 2018, file photo, a radiology technician looks at a chest X-ray of a child suffering from flu symptoms at Upson Regional Medical Center in Thomaston, Ga. The Trump administration is quietly trying to weaken radiation rules, relying on sc
In this Feb. 9, 2018, file photo, a radiology technician looks at a chest X-ray of a child suffering from flu symptoms at Upson Regional Medical Center in Thomaston, Ga. The Trump administration is quietly trying to weaken radiation rules, relying on sc

Anthony Carnevale is director of the Center on Education and the Workforce, and a lead researcher on the project.

"While it's no surprise that the BA economy has doubled the number of good jobs it provides, it really struck us that the high school economy still provides 13 million good jobs," he said. "We also found it surprising that even though blue-collar jobs declined, middle-skills jobs have grown considerably."

The report said that the long-term future for high school-educated workers is unclear. But it estimated about 27 percent of U.S. workers aged 25 to 34 with a high school diploma currently have a good job.

The financial website Kiplinger.com recently examined a collection of data to identify the highest-paying jobs for Americans without a college degree. Among the top-rated were sales representative, computer user support specialist and power line installer, Kiplinger reported.

As the population ages, America's health care industry will provide many more jobs for people without a college degree. These are expected to include health technologist, medical secretary, medical assistant and dental assistant, Kiplinger noted.

Other top jobs identified for high school diploma holders included oil, gas and mine service operator, self-improvement education teacher, flight attendant and plumber.

I'm Bryan Lynn.

Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English. His report was based on information from the Center on Education and the Workforce, VOA News and Kiplinger.com. George Grow was the editor.

How important do you think a college education is to getting a good-paying job? Write to us in the Comments section, and visit our Facebook page.

Quiz - US Study: Many Good Jobs Exist for High School Graduates

Start the Quiz to find out

Start Quiz

----------------

Words in This Story

bachelor's degree n. a degree given to a student by a college or university usually after four years of study

automation n. the control of something using machines and not people

decline v. to become less in amount, importance, quality or strength

installer n. person whose job is to put things in position and make them ready for use

plumber n. someone whose job is to supply, connect, and repair water pipes and devices

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http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/01/16/7462/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/01/16/7462/VOA Special EnglishWed, 16 Jan 2019 00:52:00 UTC
<![CDATA[New Yorkers Enjoy a Little Help with Grammar]]>Alice Bryant如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/01/15/9558/

The New York City train system has a new unofficial stop – for people who love grammar…or even just have questions about it.

English language expert Ellen Jovin has put together an unusual "classroom." There is a foldable table, books, a smile and a deep knowledge of grammar. She calls it Grammar Table. Jovin sits at the table in the subway and on city streets.

She smiles and waits for people to come by with grammar questions. Usually, she catches the interest of a lot of people.

"Hello! Welcome to Grammar Table!"

"Grammar Table! I love it. I love it! It's hot."

More than one billion people in the world speak English. Another two billion are in the process of learning it – or trying to.

But English grammar rules frighten many – even native English speakers. Jovin's mission is to help people who find themselves afraid of or confused by the world of English.

Jovin is a linguist. She has worked to spread her love for the English language for a long time. She has taught grammar to business professionals and writing at universities. She is also a published writer.

Jovin also owns a business communication training company with her husband. Online and traditional classes are her life. But she decided to make things interesting and take her knowledge to the streets and subways of New York.

'I put the sign up and it took 30 seconds for someone to come up and ask me a question: How many words do I think Donald Trump knows?"

Though that is more of a political question, Jovin believes understanding language structure rules will help people around the world understand each other better.

On one recent day, a man came up to Jovin's Grammar Table with a question about nouns.

'But I have read that it's a collective noun. Is that what you're calling it?"

"Yeah. So, it's a special case. We can make special cases, right? Or do you want everything to be consistent?'

The Grammar Table appeals to all kinds of people for whom English is filled with mysteries: students and older people, engineers and house cleaners, actors and even other language experts.

Some of the most popular questions, Jovin says, are about commas.

'For example, if I say, 'He ordered salad, spaghetti and soda,' right before the 'and,' you can put a comma if you want in English. And it's called the Oxford comma or sometimes the serial comma.'

New York subway riders have accepted Jovin with warmth and interest. Musicians, policemen and even English teachers often stop by for a friendly chat.

Walter Skrepnick is a teacher of English literature. He recently shared his thoughts about Grammar Table.

'Things like that – that deal with language, that deal with culture – it's refreshing from some of the other things that go on.'

But not all questions are about English – or even in English. Jovin can speak and understand several languages: Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, German, French, Chinese, Korean and Japanese. And she is trying to learn a few others, too.

I'm Alice Bryant.

Nina Vishneva reported this story for VOA News. Alice Bryant adapted it for Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

Words in This Story

grammarn. the set of rules that explain how words are used in a language

subwayn. a system of underground trains in a city

mission n. ​a task that you consider to be a very important duty​

confusedadj. unable to understand or think clearly

linguistn. a person who studies the way languages work

consistentadj. continuing to happen or develop in the same way

comman. a punctuation mark that is used to separate words or groups of words in a sentence

chatn. a light and friendly conversation

literature n. ​written works (such as poems, plays, and novels) that are considered to be very good and to have lasting importance​

refreshingadj. pleasantly new, different or interesting

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http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/01/15/9558/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/01/15/9558/VOA Special EnglishTue, 15 Jan 2019 15:15:00 UTC
<![CDATA[Thousands of Teachers Strike in Los Angeles]]>Caty Weaver如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
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Tens of thousands of teachers went on strike Monday in Los Angeles, California.

The teachers acted after contract negotiations failed.

'Students, we are striking for you,' said teachers union President Alex Caputo-Pearl. He spoke to a cheering crowd of teachers marching in the rain.

Los Angeles is the second-largest school district in the United States.

Members of United Teachers Los Angeles voted last year to call a strike if the union and school district failed to reach an agreement. The teachers want higher wages and smaller class sizes.

Months of negotiations between the two sides ended without a deal. It follows teacher strikes in other states.

Substitutes working for striking teachers

The union has 35,000 members. Schools are open in the Los Angeles Unified School District, which serves 640,000 students.

The school district has hired hundreds of substitute teachers to work during the strike. The union calls that irresponsible and has called on parents to consider keeping students home or join marchers.

The district argues that the union's demands could lead to financial ruin. The school system says it expects a $500-million deficit this budget year. Billions of dollars are required for payments and health care for retired teachers.

Negotiations were suspended in December, and re-started this month, but little progress was evident in the contract dispute. The union rejected a district offer Friday. It proposed to add almost 1,200 teachers, guidance professionals, health care workers and librarians and reduce class size by two students.

The offer also included a proposed six percent pay raise over the first two years of a three-year contract. The teachers' union wanted a 6.5 percent increase at the start of a two-year deal. The union also wants considerably smaller classes, now often filled by more than 30 students. The union is demanding more nurses, librarians and counselors to 'fully staff' schools.

The 'Red4Ed' movement

Teachers are hoping to build on the 'Red4Ed' movement that began last year in West Virginia and moved to five other states. It spread from conservative states with 'right to work' laws, which limit the ability to strike, to the more liberal West Coast, with strong unions.

Such actions energized Los Angeles teachers, Caputo-Pearl said before the strike.

The labor union argues that the school district has $1.8 billion that could be used to finance the pay and staffing increases. The district said that money is meant for retiree benefits and other costs.

School district Superintendent Austin Beutner asked Friday for California Governor Gavin Newsom to get involved to try to avoid a strike.

The union says Beutner, an investment banker and former Los Angeles deputy mayor, and school board members are trying to privatize the district.

The union says Beutner and the school board support calls for school closures. It says they are turning public schools into charter schools. Charters are privately operated public schools that compete for students and financial support.

Beutner has said his plan to reorganize the school district would improve services to students and families. He and his supporters on the board want to create an education system with public and charter schools under the same leadership.

I'm Caty Weaver.

The Associated Press reported this story. Caty Weaver adapted it for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

Words in This Story

hire v. to give work or a job to (someone) in exchange for wages or a salary

substitute n. a person or thing that takes the place of someone or something else

benefit n. money that is paid by a company or by a government when someone dies, becomes sick or stops working

staff v. to supply (an organization or business) with workers

librarian – n. a specialist in the care of books, magazines, documents and other records

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http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/01/15/2067/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/01/15/2067/VOA Special EnglishTue, 15 Jan 2019 15:13:00 UTC
<![CDATA[US Health Agency Wants to Measure Pain]]>Mario Ritter Jr如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
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Scientists have long known that pain's intensity is difficult to measure because people experience pain differently.

In the case of 17-year-old Sarah Taylor, doctors struggled to understand her levels of pain from childhood arthritis and fibromyalgia.

"It's really hard when people can't see how much pain you're in, because they have to take your word on it and sometimes, they don't quite believe you," she said.

Some scientists working with Taylor are now trying to develop an objective way to measure pain.

They are measuring the reaction inside Taylor's eyes when she reports pain and when she does not.

Dr. Julia Finkel is with Children's National Medical Center in Washington. She invented an experimental device that is being used with Taylor.

Pain hard to measure

Doctors have traditionally asked patients to rate their pain on a scale of one to 10. That can be a problem, however.

Medical workers can estimate babies' pain from their cries and movements. But the pain one person rates as seven, for example, might be four to someone who is more tolerant of pain. These differences make it difficult to show how well new medicines to ease pain really work.

The question is especially important because of the increasing and deadly misuse of painkilling drugs in the United States.

Acupuncture needles are applied on Sarah Taylor's back during an acupuncture treatment at the Children's National Medical Center in Washington, Monday, 2018.
Acupuncture needles are applied on Sarah Taylor's back during an acupuncture treatment at the Children's National Medical Center in Washington, Monday, 2018.

Taylor said, "It's frustrating to be in pain and you have to wait like six weeks, two months, to see if the drug's working."

She uses a combination of medications, acupuncture and exercise to ease pain.

Dr. Francis Collins is the director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). His agency is trying to develop what he calls a "pain-o-meter." The goal is to be able to find out what kind of drug will be most effective for a patient.

David Thomas is with NIH's National Institute on Drug Abuse. He noted, "We're not creating a lie detector for pain." He said, "We do not want to lose the patient voice."

Now, scientists around the country are using brain studies, pupil reactions and other methods in research supported by the NIH.

"There won't be a single signature of pain," Thomas said. He predicted that several different methods will create "something of a fingerprint of pain."

NIH estimates that 25 million people in the U.S. experience daily pain. Sarah Taylor of Potomac, Maryland, is one of them. She was very young when, her joints started aching. She had bad headaches and swelling of the spine. Then, two years ago, she was found to have fibromyalgia, a condition of pain all over the body.

Recently, a researcher worked with Taylor using the pupil-tracking device attached to a smartphone.

Dr. Finkel directs pain research at the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation at Children's National Hospital. She noted that the eye is a window to pain centers in the brain. She said that some nerves send pain signals that affect muscles of the pupils. Finkel's device follows the pupils' reactions to light and other stimulation that is not pain. The goal is to find differences that might permit the measurement of the intensity of pain.

Finkel also said the presence of some kinds of drugs can be detected by other changes in a resting pupil. In December, the Food and Drug Administration announced it would help a company that Finkel started, called AlgometRx, develop a device to carry out fast drug tests.

Other scientists want to look deeper – into the brain.

Scientists with Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital have found that brain images using an MRI can show changes in the brain linked to pain. They suggest that patterns of inflammation in the brain can be linked to fibromyalgia and back pain.

Other researchers are studying the brain waves linked to pain and how areas of the brain "light up" with different kinds of pain.

The NIH is interested in discovering the biological markers that let some people recover from severe pain while others have long-term pain.

I'm Mario Ritter Jr.

Lauran Neergaard reported this story for AP. Mario Ritter adapted it for VOA Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.

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Words in This Story

tolerant –adj. able to accept or deal with something

frustrating –adj. causing feelings of anger or annoyance

acupuncture –n. a method of easing pain or illness by placing needles into a person's skin at special places

pupil –n. the round center of the eye

stimulation –n. to make something more active

signature –n. a feature in the appearance or qualities of a natural object formerly held to indicate its utility in medicine

pattern –n. something that happens in a regular or repeated way

inflammation –n. a condition in which part of the body becomes red, swollen or painful

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<![CDATA[Can Satellites Help Identify Extreme Poverty?]]>Ashley Thompson如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/01/14/8616/

The fight against poverty is getting help from faraway objects: satellites orbiting the Earth.

Satellite images are helping researchers map areas of extreme poverty. Those pictures may help officials quickly identify when development policies and programs are working, and when they are not.

Ending extreme poverty by the year 2030 is the first of the United Nations' 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

Experts usually measure poverty by using official census records and other studies. But population counts are costly, slow and labor intensive. Countries usually organize such studies once every several years.

But satellites can map the Earth's surface with great detail every few days. The imagery is getting better and less costly as a growing number of public and private satellite systems go into service.

What satellites see

Researchers have used the brightness of lights in nighttime images to estimate an area's economic activity. Others have used machine learning to identify richer and poorer villages from satellite imagery.

One group used building density and vegetation cover to identify wealthy and poor neighborhoods.

One new study has taken the most detailed look ever. Within a single village, it attempts to identify the poorest individual households. It was correct 62 percent of the time.

Four different filters identify, from left to right, features corresponding to urban areas, nonurban areas, water, and roads). (Source - Sciencemag.org)
Four different filters identify, from left to right, features corresponding to urban areas, nonurban areas, water, and roads). (Source - Sciencemag.org)

The study involved the village of Sauri, in rural Kenya. Sauri was part of the Millennium Villages Project, a poverty alleviation experiment that was launched in 2005. As part of the project, detailed information was collected on the earnings and valuables of each home in Sauri.

In satellite images of the village, researchers measured the size of each house and studied the agricultural land surrounding it.

Not surprisingly, smaller homes usually housed poorer people. But the researchers also noted other findings. For example, poorer homes often have bare farm fields in September. In rural Kenya, that usually means farmers are preparing their land for a second crop.

Gary Watmough is a geographer at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and the lead writer of a report on the study. Watmough notes that late-season rains do not always come to this part of Kenya. In fact, they fail to arrive up to half the time.

Watmough added that late-season planting is done by poor people "because it's a necessity."

"They either don't have enough land or they need to have that insurance, just in case something else goes wrong," he said.

Satellite imagery also found poorer households' fields were growing crops for shorter periods of time. They also were not planting their own crops as early as others.

Watmough said, "That was because they were contracting themselves out to plant other, wealthier households' crops first."

The money they earned from such work went toward buying seeds. But that meant their own crops had less time to grow.

'Scary…but exciting'

The study demonstrates the possibilities "for satellite data to distinguish between the wealth of you and your neighbor,' said David Newhouse, an economist with the World Bank. He called such possibilities "scary...but also somewhat exciting."

Newhouse was not involved with the study.

The markers of poverty in Sauri will not be the same everywhere. The methods would need to be changed for other areas.

Experts also say it is not the best idea to use only information from satellite images.

The aid group GiveDirectly used satellite images to target donations to people in villages with a high number of thatched roofs on homes. These villages were considered poorer than those with metal on top.

But people learned what was happening. So some claimed to live in thatched-roof structures next to their metal-roofed homes so they could receive donations.

GiveDirectly has since changed its methods.

Damien Jacques is an expert in remote sensing - the use of satellites or high-flying aircraft to collect information about the Earth. He said there is power in combining satellite data and on-the-ground information.

Jacques said, 'Using the two types of data, one that is cheap to collect and very frequently available to complement traditional data that are expensive to collect and not frequent, you can get the best of the two.'

It is not known whether changes in poverty can be measured from space. That is something Watmough and other researchers will be investigating. They have survey records from Sauri from 2005 and 2008. The next step is to look for differences in the imagery.

'Nobody has ever looked at how poverty has changed over a time period and looked at how a satellite image has changed over that same time period,' Watmough said.

I'm Ashley Thompson.

Steve Baragona reported this story for VOA News. Ashley Thompson adapted it for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

Words in This Story

sustainable - adj. involving methods that do not completely use up or destroy natural resources

density - n. the amount of something in a particular space or area

alleviation - n. the process of reducing the pain or trouble of (something) : to make (something) less painful, difficult, or severe

bare - adj. not covered by leaves, grass, trees, or plants

insurance - n. protection from bad things that may happen in the future — usually + against

distinguish - v. to notice or recognize a difference between people or things

scary - adj. causing fear

thatched - adj. made of dried plant material (such as straw or leaves)

roof - n. the cover or top of a building, vehicle, etc.

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<![CDATA[South American Group Facing Hard Times]]>George Grow如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/01/14/1391/

A community outside Quito, Ecuador's capital, has a building that appears to resist the laws of gravity.

The unusual-looking structure was supposed to be a sign of South American unity. It lies close to the Equator, the imaginary line dividing the world into north and south.

The building has two glass wings that extend high above a pool of water. They look like something from a Hollywood movie. They are said to represent freedom and openness.

But for all its stately appearance, the headquarters of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) seems almost as inactive as the group itself. Once the building was a promising diplomatic center with officials and parties for visiting diplomats. Now it is largely empty, with half the workers it had when it opened in 2014.

The group's chief organizer, former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, is in jail on corruption charges. Another major supporter, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, has died.

In addition, a changing political environment has left South America more divided than it has been in many years. Fewer people seem interested in an anti-imperialistic song identified with the group: "Soy del Sur," or "I'm from the South."

"UNASUR was a good idea, but ultimately didn't deliver concrete results," said Michael Shifter, head of the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington-based research group.

UNASUR's current problems

In April of 2018, half of UNASUR's 12 member-states suspended their membership. Those countries are Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay and Peru. Then in August, newly elected Colombian President Ivan Duque rejected its treaty, setting the way for his country's withdrawal in February.

The result is a $20 million deficit that has led to extensive budget cuts. UNASUR has been without a secretary-general for two years. At the current rate, the group will spend all of the money it has by April. That is about the same time that Brazil takes control of UNASUR's rotating presidency. However, Brazil's new president, Jair Bolsonaro, has criticized the group.

For critics of UNASUR, its headquarters is an easy target. The $43 million structure was built and donated to the group by former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, a follower of Chavez.

Diego Guayasamin, another Ecuadorean, designed the prize-winning building. Seventy-five percent of the structure is underground. It is equipped with a high-technology meeting room and a notable collection of artwork. It also has salons named for Chilean poet Pablo Neruda and Nobel Prize-winning writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Just like in public buildings in Venezuela, Chavez's bright-red signature and spirited comments are painted on the walls.

"It's absurd that a building that cost several dozens of millions of dollars has no usefulness," said Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno in July. Moreno demanded that UNASUR return the building to the government so that it could be used as a university for the local community. His demand was later found to be illegal.

But for critics, perhaps the building's biggest problem is the large bronze statue at the entrance of Nestor Kirchner, the first secretary-general of the group. Since his death in 2010, the memory of the former Argentine president has been damaged by reports of corruption. Supporters of Moreno are leading a campaign to have the statue removed.

The statue of former Argentinian President Nestor Kirchner stands at the entrance to the Union of South American Nations, UNASUR, building, near Quito, Ecuador, Dec. 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa)
The statue of former Argentinian President Nestor Kirchner stands at the entrance to the Union of South American Nations, UNASUR, building, near Quito, Ecuador, Dec. 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa)

Successes and failures

UNASUR was created in 2008 to bring life to independence hero Simon Bolivar's dream of a large, borderless South American "homeland." Bolivar strongly opposed United States and European influence on the continent.

While plans to create a common monetary system for UNASUR's members failed, other proposals have had more success. One example is the common Unasur work visa, which has helped South American nations take in the large number of Venezuelans fleeing their country.

However, Michael Shifter said the final blow to the group was its failure to deal effectively with the crisis in Venezuela.

During 2015 and 2016, the group's then-Secretary-General, Ernesto Samper, traveled to Venezuela with Vatican representatives to support talks between the government and opposition.

When those negotiations collapsed, many blamed Samper, a former Colombian president, for not doing more to get action from the government.

Samper admitted that for UNASUR to survive, it needs to take on a less-progressive plan of action. But, he argued that breaking up the group would be a huge mistake. He said there is a need for South American nations to speak with a common voice. He noted that the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened military action against Venezuela. He added that the administration is critical of Latino Americans seeking to enter the U.S. and has withdrawn from international efforts to fight climate change.

"The sad thing," Samper said, "is that at the same time the region desperately needs unity, we are more fragmented than ever."

I'm George Grow. And I'm Caty Weaver.

Joshua Goodman reported this story for the Associated Press. George Grow adapted his report for VOA Learning English. Mario Ritter Jr. was the editor.

We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section.

Words in This Story

wingn. a solid structure that extends from both sides of an aircraft or building

imperialistic adj. relating to an extension of a country's power and influence through military force or diplomacy

rotate v. to move or cause to move in a circle around something

salonn. a store or business where a beautician works

absurdadj. unreasonable; laughable

region – n. a specific area in the world or within a country or territory

fragmentv. to break to cause to break into small pieces

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<![CDATA[Tradition of Masked Dancers Lives On in Cambodia]]>Bryan Lynn如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/01/14/5996/

Cambodia's centuries-old tradition of masked dance was almost completely lost during the genocidal rule of the Khmer Rouge. But a small number of people have managed to keep the ancient art alive. Now, they are passing it down to a new generation.

The Khmer Rouge came to power in 1975 after a bloody, five-year civil war. During the Communist group's rule, it opposed education and religion and banned Cambodia's traditional arts and written language.

An estimated 1.7 million Cambodians were killed in the four years the Khmer Rouge was in power. The deaths were mostly caused by starvation, overwork, disease, execution or torture. Among the victims were artists, writers and dancers.

Sun Rithy's father and grandfather were both performers of the country's traditional dance, which is called Lakhon Khol. Study of the dance was banned in Cambodia during most of Sun Rithy's childhood.

"In the Khmer Rouge, I was young and they didn't teach people dance. Lakhon Khol was destroyed," he told the Reuters news agency.

Sun Rithy was finally able to start learning the dance once the Khmer Rouge was removed from power. He was 14 at the time. He is now 48 years old and leads one of the last remaining groups performing the dance. The group includes about 20 performers and students between the ages of 6 and 15.

Sun Rithy says the best way to help the tradition survive is by teaching the dance to new generations. "I don't want Lakhon Khol to go extinct," he said.

The traditional dance was recently identified by the United Nations as an art form that should be protected. The U.N.'s Education, Science and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO, added Lakhon Khol to its Intangible Cultural Heritage list.

Different kinds of the dance are performed in other nations in Southeast Asia as well. The dancers wear colorful painted masks that are made to look similar to characters from an ancient poem. The poem is called Ramayana. It tells the story of a prince who rescues his wife from a demon with help from an army of monkeys.

People who study the dance recently rehearsed at a special theater at a Buddhist temple outside Cambodia's capital, Phnom Penh.

Pum Pork said his 11-year-old son, Pum Meta, is learning the dance. "I want to have my son trained to perform so that in the future we won't lose the ancient art," he said.

Dancers get ready backstage before a performance of masked theater known as Lakhon Khon in Cambodia. Picture taken November 7, 2018. (REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha)
Dancers get ready backstage before a performance of masked theater known as Lakhon Khon in Cambodia. Picture taken November 7, 2018. (REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha)

Cambodia's Minister of Culture and Fine Arts, Phoeurng Sackona, said the dance needs to be protected. She urged all people to get involved to help. "Elderly performers are trying to preserve the dance," she told Reuters. "But it is up to young people whether they agree or not to receive knowledge from the elders."

Neighboring Thailand's version of the dance has not suffered the same problems. But dancers there also see the importance of bringing the art to a new generation of performers.

In Thailand, the dance tradition is called Khon. It is based on royal history. Many Thai schools and universities now teach the dance.

Mom Luang Pongsawad Sukhasvasti followed in his father's footsteps in making Khon masks. He started doing so at age 10. Now he is 67. He still makes dance masks by hand from his home in Thailand's Ayutthaya province, north of Bangkok.

Pongsawad said each mask takes about a month to complete. He says he hopes the UNESCO listing will raise awareness of the issue.

"Teachers now must do more than teaching the dance. They need to help students understand the roots, as well, to preserve it," he said.

I'm Bryan Lynn.

Reuters reported on this story. Bryan Lynn adapted it for VOA Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments section, and visit our Facebook page.

----------------

Words in This Story

mask n. a covering that hides the face

extinct adj. no longer existing

demon n. an evil spirit

rehearse v. to practice a play, dance, etc. in order to prepare for a performance

elderly adj. an old or aging person

preserve v. to keep something the same or prevent it from being damaged or destroyed

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<![CDATA[A New Dog Museum for New York]]>Ashley Thompson如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
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There is a saying in American English: "every dog has its day." It means that everyone sees success at some point in their lives.

At one American museum, though, every dog has its day – every day.

That museum -- the American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog -- is returning to New York City next month, after operating for 30 years near St. Louis, Missouri.

The museum will open on February 8.

Visitors to the museum will find pictures of royal and presidential dogs. They also will find fossils and other evidence of canine history – dating back to 30 million years ago. People can even try to find out which kind of dog they look like most and "train" a virtual puppy.

Although there will not be real dogs– except for special events -- the museum hopes to give visitors "an understanding of the history of dogs, how they came to be in such different varieties," said Alan Fausel. He is the museum's director.

Inside the museum is a library with around 15,000 books from the American Kennel Club collection. Readers will find pictures and information about different kinds of dogs – from bulldogs to terriers.

This Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019, photo shows a British Edwardian-style Dog House for a Chihuahua on display at the American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog in New York. The museum opens Feb. 8. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
This Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019, photo shows a British Edwardian-style Dog House for a Chihuahua on display at the American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog in New York. The museum opens Feb. 8. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

The museum even has a dog house specially designed for a Chihuahua, as well as movie advertisements of dog stars such as Lassie and Beethoven.

The museum's collection also includes a painting of Caesar, a fox terrier beloved by Britain's King Edward VII. America's White House is represented with former President George W. Bush's Scottish terrier, Barney, and former President George H.W. Bush's English springer spaniel, Millie.

Next to a picture of Millie in front of the White House is a letter written by then-first lady Barbara Bush. She wrote, "Dogs have enriched our civilization, and woven themselves into our hearts and families through the ages, and I am delighted to see them acknowledged."

This Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019, photo shows a wall of movie posters celebrating canine stars on display at the American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog in New York.
This Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019, photo shows a wall of movie posters celebrating canine stars on display at the American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog in New York.

The museum first opened in the kennel club's former headquarters in New York in 1982. It moved to St. Louis in 1987 in hopes of appealing to more visitors. But Fausel said the museum only received 10,000 visitors last year.

The kennel club hopes the new museum, which is close to New York's busy Grand Central Terminal, will see close to 100,000 visitors this year.

I'm Ashley Thompson.

Hai Do adapted this story for Learning English based on Associated Press news reports. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

Words in This Story

royal - adj. of or relating to a king or queen

puppy - n. young dog

variety - n. a number of different things

weave - v. to create something such as a story

delighted - adj. very happy

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<![CDATA[US Carbon Emissions Rise in 2018 Because of Industry, Fuel Demand]]>George Grow如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/01/14/7708/

After falling for three years, carbon emissions in the United States rose in 2018.

That information is based on early estimates from an independent research group.

The Rhodium Group studies U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide, a gas linked to rising temperatures in Earth's atmosphere. Its new report estimates that the country's carbon emissions increased 3.4 percent last year. This would be the largest yearly increase since 2010, when the nation was recovering from a financial crisis known as Great Recession.

The research also suggests that the American coal industry continues to struggle because of low-cost, plentiful natural gas.

Bad news for coal

The Rhodium Group reports that coal-fired power stations that produced a total of 11.2 gigawatts of power had closed by last October. Even more were expected to have closed over the following months. If confirmed, that would make 2018 the biggest coal plant closure year on record.

Natural gas is now by far the energy of choice in the United States. The report credited gas for an increase of 166 million kilowatts an hour through October.

American power consumption - and carbon emissions - increased in 2018. The transportation industry was largely responsible for the nation's record emissions.

Demand for gasoline -- the fuel used in most motor vehicles -- decreased. But increases in the demand for other fuel, such as diesel and jet fuel, made transportation the industry most responsible for U.S. carbon emissions.

The report said another big producer of carbon emissions is the construction industry. Emissions from buildings and homes also were up last year, partly because of very cold winter weather in parts of the country.

The Paris question

The Reuters news agency reported last week that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency did not answer its questions about the report.

Trump administration officials have said that carbon emissions can change from year to year because of economic conditions. They said the country could both cut emissions and enjoy a strong economy at the same time.

Environmentalists say the Trump administration needs to speed up development of renewable energy, manufacturing power from wind and the sun's energy.

The country's carbon emissions had been decreasing year by year since 2015, as the nation worked to honor the Paris Agreement on climate change. But even with those reductions, the United States was unable to meet reductions agreed to by the administration of former President Barack Obama.

Officials from almost 200 countries gathered at United Nations' headquarters in 2016 to sign the climate agreement. Under the deal, the United States promised to cut its carbon emissions by at least 26 percent from 2005 levels by the year 2025.

But in June 2017, President Donald Trump announced his decision to withdraw from the deal. The U.S. will officially withdraw in 2020.

I'm George Grow.

Kevin Enochs reported this story for VOA News. George Grow adapted his report for Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section.

Quiz - U.S. Carbon Emissions Rise in 2018 Because of Industry, Fuel Demand

Start the Quiz to find out

Start Quiz

Words in This Story

emissionn. the act of producing and releasing something, such as gas or radiation

dieseln. a heavy oil used to power diesel engines in trucks

jetadj. related to or involving a fuel used to power airplanes

consumption n. the process or act of using something

]]>
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<![CDATA[Could Palm Oil Be Causing Guatemalans to Migrate?]]>Mario Ritter Jr如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
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The palm oil industry is growing in Central America. And in Guatemala, the product has become a major export.

Supporters say the industry creates jobs and investment in areas where poverty and violence have led to waves of migration. However, critics say the industry is also a cause of such flight.

Raxruha, Guatemala, is among the towns experiencing an outward flow.

Palm oil farms have made subsistence farming there increasingly hard for the town's 40,000 people. Some have sold land to palm oil producers.

Opponents of the palm oil industry argue that farmers are giving up their land to take up jobs that do not pay well enough to keep them in Raxruha.

Cesar Castro is the town's mayor. He says money from land sales has been used to pay smugglers.

"These people get the money, and they go to the United States, and the vast majority come back to find more poverty and end up employed as workers on their own land," he said.

Poverty and migration

Jakelin Caal was from Raxruha. She was the 7-year-old girl who died of a blood infection while in detention at the U.S. border in December. Her relatives said she left Raxruha with her father because he was struggling to earn enough as a corn farmer to support his family.

Smugglers tell families that having children with them can make it easier to enter the U.S.

Jakelin's uncle said work on the palm oil farms is very hard. He told Reuters that he earned $7.80 a day for working 12 hours, or below Guatemala's legal minimum wage for agricultural work.

Expansive palm oil plantations cover most of the land surrounding the Garifuna settlement of Vallecito, Colón Department, Honduras, May 10, 2018.
Expansive palm oil plantations cover most of the land surrounding the Garifuna settlement of Vallecito, Colón Department, Honduras, May 10, 2018.

The palm oil producer is called Industria Chiquibul.

Reuters reports that the labor rights group National Council for Displaced People of Guatemala discussed the low pay issue in 2016 with the American company Cargill. It is a big buyer of palm oil.

Cargill said it works closely with 'suppliers to ensure that all supply chain practices support the United Nations' goals to provide people with decent work."

Palm oil has become an important ingredient in food, soaps and fuel around the world. The oil became very popular after other less healthful oils were banned in many places.

Reuters reports that the United Nations' World Health Organization (WHO) has prepared a report that questions whether palm oil is as healthy as believed. The WHO calls for more research on palm oil and more rules for the industry. It compared the methods of industry supporters to those used by the tobacco and alcohol industries, Reuters reports.

Indonesia and Malaysia are the largest producers of palm oil. However, Guatemala has become one of the biggest producers in the Americas, with exports of 727,000 tons in 2017.

One farmer told Reuter he felt as though he was forced to sell his land to Chiquibul. Others say criticism of the palm oil companies is unfair because they provide jobs.

Hector Herrera is with the palm oil producer NaturAceites. He said his company has created thousands of jobs and invested in roads, schools and health centers.

NaturAceites says most of the land it operates in Guatemala had been intensively used to raise cattle before it was used for oil palms.

I'm Mario Ritter Jr.

The Reuters news agency reported this story. Mario Ritter Jr. adapted it for VOA Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.

We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments section, and visit our Facebook page.

Words in This Story

smuggler –n. someone who moves people or goods from one country to another illegally or secretly

subsistence –n. the amount of food, money, etc., that is needed to stay alive

vast –adj. very large

practices –n. an activity that is done again and again

decent –adv. good enough, acceptable

ingredient –n. one of the things that are used to make a food, product, etc.

]]>
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<![CDATA[New Rules to End Never-Ending Tennis Match]]>Mario Ritter如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
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American Andy Roddick knows something about playing in tennis matches that seem to never end.

In 2003, Roddick won an Australian Open quarterfinal that ended with a score of 21-19 in the fifth set. He also lost the 2009 Wimbledon Championship final against Roger Federer 14-16 in the fifth set.

Now those two tennis championships are finally putting a stop to extremely long matches.

Defending men's champion Switzerland's Roger Federer holds the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup during a photo opportunity at the official draw ceremony ahead of the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. (AP Ph
Defending men's champion Switzerland's Roger Federer holds the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup during a photo opportunity at the official draw ceremony ahead of the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. (AP Ph

The Australian Open begins Monday in Melbourne. The competition now uses a first-to-10, win by two points tiebreaker, if both players have won six games in the last set of the match. In these competitions, men play up to five sets and women play as many as three.

At Wimbledon later this summer, the players may have to play a little longer. The new rules call for a first-to-seven, win by two points tiebreaker, if players are tied at 12 games in the last set.

Many players support the new rules.

Roddick said, "…I'll miss the long matches, but I think it's a positive change." The 2003 United States Open champion added that he thought fans would like to see a result from the match after a few hours.

For American John Isner, that would be a welcome change too. In 2010, Isner beat Frenchman Nicolas Mahut 70-68 in the fifth set at Wimbledon. The set itself lasted more than eight hours. It was the longest tennis match in history: 11 hours and five minutes.

Isner said this about the rule change at Wimbledon: "If they could name it, they probably would name it after me."

FILE - This Tuesday, July 4, 2017 file photo shows a plaque at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, noting the site of John Isner's record-breaking 70-68 fifth-set victory over Nicolas Mahut in 2010. The All England Club said Friday Oct. 19, 2018
FILE - This Tuesday, July 4, 2017 file photo shows a plaque at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, noting the site of John Isner's record-breaking 70-68 fifth-set victory over Nicolas Mahut in 2010. The All England Club said Friday Oct. 19, 2018

The U.S. Open was the first of the four Grand Slam championships to end long matches. In the 1970s, the U.S. Open started the first-to-seven, win-by-two tiebreaker to end a 6-6 tie in the final set.

The French Open, however, will continue to have players compete until someone wins by two games. That means all four championships now use different rules to end a match.

Chris Kermode is head of the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP). He said, "Ultimately, it's a balancing act between elevating the uniqueness of each event, versus compromising on the uniformity of rules and potential clarity for fans."

Women's Tennis Association chief Steve Simon would like to have the same rules across all the major championships. But he added, "I don't think that matches that go extraordinarily long are healthy for the sport."

Denis Shapovalov is competing in this year's Australian Open. He said, "For the fans, they've already watched five hours of tennis, so they don't want to sit through another, potentially, hour or two hours. They want to see an ending. And they want it to be exciting."

I'm Mario Ritter, Jr.

Hai Do adapted this report for VOA Learning English from AP and other sources. Mario Ritter Jr. was the editor.

Words in This Story

match –n. a contest between two or more players or teams

score –n. the number of points, goals, runs that each player or team has in a contest

tiebreaker –n. something that decides the winner of a game

positive –adj. good, useful

uniqueness –n. the quality of being special, unusual or one-of-a-kind

versus –prep. Used to indicate two different things that are being compared or that are competing against each other

uniformity –n. the quality or state of being the same

potentially –adv. having the possibility of become real

]]>
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<![CDATA[Only the Best Are on the 'Cutting Edge']]>Anna Matteo如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
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Now, the VOA Learning English program Words and Their Stories.

For today's program, we go into the kitchen!

There is a good chance you do not go one day without using a knife. It is an important tool when cooking, and without it, you could not make many dishes.

This brings to mind a story – a true story.

Cutting vegetables is often a part of making meals.
Cutting vegetables is often a part of making meals.

Years ago, a friend and I were making dinner together at my place. She had the job of cutting up vegetables for soup. Halfway through cutting the onions, she said that my knife was not sharp and would not cut. I was surprised. I had given her my best knife. But when I looked over at her, I had to smile. Actually, I did more than smile. I laughed out loud. "It might work better if you use the cutting edge of the knife," I joked.

Let's just say, my friend did not spend a lot of time in the kitchen. She ate out a lot!

In this example, the cutting edge is the sharp edge of a knife. But we also use it to mean something much more.

The cutting edge is the newest and most modern part of any industry. Ideas, tools, technology -- whatever you use in your job -- can all be cutting-edge.

Whatever business or industry you work in, it feels good to be a leader in it. When you know the newest tools or ideas to do your job, you can say you are "on the cutting edge" or that you are simply "cutting-edge."

For example, teachers on the cutting edge of education use the latest technology and ideas in the classroom. Cutting-edge architects know the latest materials, tools and designs to use in the structures they build. Some of the best doctors use cutting-edge technology to treat diseases.

All industries have their own cutting edge.

We have other words to help describe this idea of "cutting edge."

For example, people who on the cutting edge of their industry are on the forefront or front line. They are the vanguard. The vanguard is the group of people who are the leaders of a movement in society, politics or in a given industry.

We usually use "vanguard" in the singular form and in a prepositional phrase. So, you can be at the vanguard of a social or political movement. You can also be in the vanguard of a movement.

This expression comes from a military term. In battle, the vanguard are the soldiers, other personnel or equipment that are at the front of a fighting force.

People on the cutting edge, or in the vanguard, are blazing a trail. When you blaze a trail in the woods, you make a trail for others to follow. You do this by cutting down plants that may be in your way. You can also mark trees with a cut, also called a blaze.

Blazing a trail is a difficult job. But it makes it much easier for people walking behind you.

The same can be said for life.

Trail-blazers, people on the cutting edge or in the vanguard are not satisfied with the status quo -- the way things have always been done. They are always looking for a new, better or faster way to do something.

So people on the cutting edge use the latest tools and ideas to be on the forefront of their field. They are the vanguard and blaze trails for others to follow.

We could say that people who use our website are on the cutting edge of learning English -- well, until science makes a magical solution that gives you language ability overnight.

Now, that would be very cutting edge.

And that's all for this Words and Their Stories! Until next time … I'm Anna Matteo.

And I saw a panther in the yard

Moving slow across the ledge

With silver eyes and a cool regard

And hunger with a cutting edge

Anna Matteo wrote this story for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor. At the end of the program, Jennifer Warnes sings The Panther.

Words in This Story

dish n. food made in a particular way

soupn. a liquid food especially with a meat, fish, or vegetable stock as a base and often containing pieces of solid food

architect n. a person who designs buildings and advises in their construction

blaze v. to make and mark a trail by clearing plants and making noticeable cuts in trees : to lead in some direction or activity

prepositional phrase n. a phrase that begins with a preposition and ends in a noun, pronoun, or noun phrase

status quo n. the current situation : the way things are now

]]>
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<![CDATA[Sleeping More May Help College Students in the Classroom]]>Pete Musto如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
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There are many reasons why college and university students often fail to get full nights of sleep.

Many American students are away from their parents for the first time when they attend college. They might not be used to having total freedom in how they plan their days and nights.

Parties, late night study meetings, or just time spent relaxing with friends – these are all things that cut into college students' sleep habits.

A few years ago, Michael Scullin began teaching the science of sleep to psychology students at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. Scullin is an assistant professor at Baylor and the director of its Sleep Neuroscience and Cognition Laboratory.

The class centered round the why the body needs to sleep and the physical and mental health problems caused by a lack of sleep. This includes difficulty focusing on studies or controlling one's emotions, and increased risk of many diseases.

"When you are at your most sleep-deprived is when you are least likely to be able to judge how sleepy you are, and how much that sleepiness is impacting you," Scullin told VOA.

He says his students seemed to enjoy the class and were interested in the material he was teaching. But when he asked them whether they were choosing to get more sleep after what they had learned, most of them said no.

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that adults need at least seven hours of sleep a night to stay healthy. So Scullin came up with a plan to get his students to sleep more: he offered to give them extra points on their final exam, the class's most important test.

The plan worked better than Scullin expected. Students who slept more performed better in two different classes, and Scullin published his findings in two academic publications last November.

A student sleeps in the hallway of Hall Memorial Building on the campus of Gallaudet University on Friday, October 6, 2006, in Washington, DC.
A student sleeps in the hallway of Hall Memorial Building on the campus of Gallaudet University on Friday, October 6, 2006, in Washington, DC.

How did the study work?

Scullin started the experiment with his psychology students. He told them that if they agreed to sleep at least eight hours a night for the last five nights before the final exam, they would get several extra credit points. But if they agreed to take part in the study and failed to get the required amount of sleep, they would lose points on the exam. The students would wear special devices that recorded their sleep data.

Only eight out of the 18 total students in that first group agreed to take part in the experiment. Yet all the students who took part performed better on the exam than those who did not, even before the extra credit points were added. On average they earned about 5 points more on the exam.

Scullin then decided to repeat the study with another group of 16 design students. He chose not to punish students who failed to sleep the full eight hours per night, and got the same results.

Daniel Bessesen is a medical doctor who researches sleep, and was not involved in the study. He is also the Associate Director of the Anschutz Health and Wellness Center at the University of Colorado outside Denver. Bessesen notes this study does lend support to the idea that sleeping enough helps academic performance, and students who cram are likely worse off.

"Cramming" is a common activity for American college students. When students cram, they study most or all of the night before the exam. They get very little or no sleep because they think they will do better if the test material is fresh in their minds.

Bessesen says there are some problems with Scullin's experiment. He says to be more scientific, the students should have been randomly chosen for sleeping or staying awake. Also, the two groups should have been studying the same subject and taking the same test. All of this may have affected the results of the study.

How to get people to sleep more

Yet Bessesen says this experiment does fit in with a larger body of research on the importance of sleep. In fact, the amount of sleep people get has been decreasing greatly, he says. A 2015 study found the number of Americans who sleep less than six hours a night increased by about 30 million between 1985 and 2012.

Scullin and Bessesen offer some ways to avoid health problems caused by a lack of sleep. Among these, they say, parents should try to get enough sleep themselves to demonstrate its importance to their children. Bessesen notes that even some medical school programs have begun to require student doctors to sleep more to prevent accidents.

Scullin also offers a few pieces of advice to his students who have difficulty falling asleep. They include the following:

  • Avoid looking at electronics before you are about to fall asleep.
  • Do not drink anything with caffeine in it, such as coffee or tea, less than six hours before you go to sleep.
  • Try to go to sleep at the same time every night.
  • If you are lying in bed trying to sleep and cannot calm your mind, get out of bed. Take out a piece of paper and spend five to ten minutes writing down all of your thoughts.
  • If you wake up in the middle of the night and cannot fall back asleep, get out of bed and go into another room. Do not turn on the lights! Instead, wait there until you start to feel tired again.

I'm Pete Musto. And I'm Dorothy Gundy.

Pete Musto reported this story for VOA Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor. We want to hear from you. How often do you sleep at least eight hours? Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.

Quiz- Sleeping More May Help College Students in the Classroom

Start the Quiz to find out

Start Quiz

Words in This Story

relax(ing) – v. to spend time resting or doing something enjoyable especially after you have been doing work

habit(s) – n. a usual way of behaving

focus(ing) – v. to direct your attention or effort at something specific

deprivedadj. not having the things that are needed for a good or healthy life

impact(ing) – v. to have a strong and often bad effect on something or someone

point(s)n. praise, credit, or approval for doing something good or helpful

academic – adj. of or relating to schools and education

randomlyadv. chosen or done without a particular plan or pattern

caffeinen. a substance that is found especially in coffee and tea and that makes you feel more awake

]]>
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<![CDATA[Maps Provide a Special View of American History]]>Caty Weaver如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
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When people use maps, they are usually seeking directions to a place they want to go.

But Susan Schulten sees much more in maps, like history, culture and art. She shares some of those findings in her book, A History of America in 100 Maps.

Schulten travels back in time, using maps of the past. Her book explores the hopes, dreams and fears of ordinary people dating back to before the United States came to be.

"There is practically no area of American history where maps don't sort of enrich our understanding,' Schulten said. "Maps record past scenarios, past situations, past relationships of power, but they also influenced people at the time in terms of future decision making."

Schulten is a history professor at the University of Denver, in Colorado. She studies cartography, the making of maps. During her research, she became very interested in a series of maps made by American schoolgirls in the early 1800s. The detailed maps appealed to her not only for their beauty, but also because of what they taught about a little-known period in American education.

From 1790 to the 1830s, thousands of schoolgirls, including Catharine Cook in 1818, displayed their knowledge of geography, art, and penmanship in painstakingly produced maps. (From 'A History of America in 100 Maps'/Courtesy of Osher Map Library)
From 1790 to the 1830s, thousands of schoolgirls, including Catharine Cook in 1818, displayed their knowledge of geography, art, and penmanship in painstakingly produced maps. (From 'A History of America in 100 Maps'/Courtesy of Osher Map Library)

"New schools educating young women for the first time outside the home prepared a curriculum that involved teaching them not just geography but map drawing,' she says. She says the girls studied technical methods of art, writing and understanding geography by creating their own maps.

The schools for girls were open for only a short time. Knowledge of them might have been lost if not for the maps they left behind.

Schulten says those early maps also helped establish a national identity and loyalty for the United States in its early days.

Schulten says that most American colonists were first loyal to their colony and then to the King of England. After independence, schools became a place to establish a shared meaning of the new country.

"There's such an emphasis after the Revolution on using education to help create a civic identity and it becomes readily apparent,' Schulten says.

This map, circa 1721, is a guide to the trade war among Native Americans and European settlers in the early 18th Century. (From 'A History of America in 100 Maps'/Courtesy of The British Library)
This map, circa 1721, is a guide to the trade war among Native Americans and European settlers in the early 18th Century. (From 'A History of America in 100 Maps'/Courtesy of The British Library)

The book also includes some Native American maps. They help shape an understanding of how Natives saw power relationships. A 1721 map, most likely made by a Cherokee leader, includes a number of circles. The sizes of the circles are linked to the perceived power of the individual tribes.

"It's a representation of space from a non-European perspective,' Schulten said.

Some maps in the book recall dark moments in American history.

An 1885 report on the Chinatown neighborhood in San Francisco, California, helps tell of the racism that Chinese laborers experienced. These immigrants had helped build the transcontinental railroad. After it was complete, many of the workers settled in San Francisco.

A report commissioned by city supervisors described the Chinese in extremely offensive race-based terms. A map made for the report shows opium places, gambling establishments and houses where sex was sold in Chinatown.

The message of the report and map was that the Chinese should be removed.

This 1885 'Official Map of Chinatown' in San Francisco, highlights gambling houses (pink), opium dens (yellow), Chinese prostitution (green) and Chinese places of worship (red). (From 'A History of America in 100 Maps')
This 1885 'Official Map of Chinatown' in San Francisco, highlights gambling houses (pink), opium dens (yellow), Chinese prostitution (green) and Chinese places of worship (red). (From 'A History of America in 100 Maps')

From political moves like gerrymandering, to advertising, to "red" and "blue" states, maps tell many American stories. They can also be used to push reform, and help to set the country on a new course.

Schulten says there were maps used to support the anti-alcohol movement, the opposition to slavery and the fight gain voting rights for women.

A History of America in 100 Maps includes maps never before published, Schulten said. Others are well known. But all can provide a special understanding of America's past.

I'm Caty Weaver.

Dora Mekouar wrote this story for VOA's blog All About America. Caty Weaver adapted it for Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

Words In This Story

practically - adj. almost or nearly​

scenario - n. a sequence of events especially when imagined​

curriculum - n. the courses that are taught by a school, college, etc.​

geography - n. the natural features (such as rivers, mountains, etc.) of a place​

emphasis - n. special importance or attention given to something​

perceived - v. generally understood or recognized

opium - n. a powerful illegal drug that is made from a type of poppy​

gambling - n. the practice or activity of betting money : the practice of risking money in a game or bet​

gerrymandering - n. to divide (a state, school district, etc.) into political units that give one group an unfair advantage​

]]>
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<![CDATA[US Begins Troop Withdrawal From Syria]]>Caty Weaver如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
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The U.S.-led coalition in Syria is beginning to withdraw troops from the country.

A spokesman for the coalition said it 'has begun the process of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria.' The spokesman added that, to protect security, the coalition would not provide details on troop movements.

There are about 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports that the withdrawal began late Thursday. It says about 10 armored vehicles and other equipment arrived at a U.S. base in al-Rmelan, in al-Hasaka province. The group also reports that coalition reinforcements arrived at different bases Thursday. A source confirmed that information with VOA.

U.S. national security advisor John Bolton said Friday that talks between U.S. and Turkish military officials will continue next week. The two sides are trying to reach agreement about Kurdish fighters allied with the United States against Islamic State forces in Syria.

Earlier this week, Bolton's calls for the protection of the YPG Syrian Kurdish militia as a condition for a Syrian withdrawal angered Turkey. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan then canceled a planned meeting with Bolton.

The YPG is an important ally in the U.S. war against the Islamic State. Turkey, however, considers the YPG a terrorist group linked to a rebellion in Turkey.

In his comments, Bolton had said that he, President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held the understanding that Turkey had agreed 'not to harm the Kurds who had fought with us against ISIS.'

But Bolton also said the United States was still seeking some guarantees of that agreement through "protocols and procedures."

Erdogan also warned that preparations were complete for a military operation against the YPG.

'We will very soon mobilize to eliminate the terrorist organization in Syria,' Erdogan said.

He added, 'If there are other terrorists who would attempt to intervene in our intervention, then it is our duty to eliminate them as well."

Turkish forces have been deploying for weeks along the Syrian border.

I'm Caty Weaver.

VOA News reported this story. Caty Weaver adapted it for Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

Words in This Story

deliberate -v. done or said in a way that is planned or intended : done or said on purpose​

reinforcements -n. people and supplies that are sent to help or support an army, military force, etc.​

source -n. a person, book, etc., that gives information

protocol -n. a system of rules that explain the correct conduct and procedures to be followed in formal situations​

procedure -n. a series of actions that are done in a certain way or order : an established or accepted way of doing something​

mobilize -v. to make (soldiers, an army, etc.) ready for war​

eliminate -v. to remove (something that is not wanted or needed)​

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<![CDATA[AMERICAN STORIES - Love of Life, Part One]]>Jack London如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
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We present the first of four parts of the short story 'Love of Life,' by Jack London. The story was originally adapted and recorded by the U.S. Department of State.

The two men moved painfully down the bank and fell among the rocks that were scattered everywhere. They were tired and weak. Their faces showed the patient appearance that results from difficulty long endured. They were heavily burdened with blanket packs which were tied to their shoulders. Each man carried a gun. They walked in a leaning position, the shoulders forward, the head farther forward, the eyes fixed upon the ground.

"I wish we had a couple of those cartridges that are lying in our cache," said the second man.

His voice was completely without expression. And the first man, walking into the milky stream that flowed over the rocks, made no reply.

The other man followed at his heels. They did not remove their shoes, although the water was icy cold. It was so cold that their feet soon were without feeling. In places, the water dashed against their knees, and both men found it difficult to remain standing.

The man who followed slipped upon a smooth rock and nearly fell. He recovered his footing with great effort, at the same time uttering a sharp cry of pain. He seemed faint and stretched one hand forward, seeking support against the air. When he had steadied himself, he stepped forward. But he slipped again and nearly fell. Then he stood still and looked at the other man, who had never turned his head.

The man stood still for fully a minute, as if he were deciding something. Then he called: "I say - I say, Bill, I hurt my foot."

Bill struggled ahead through the milky water. He did not look around. The man watched him go, and although his face lacked expression, as before, his eyes had the look of a wounded animal.

The other man climbed the farther bank of the stream and continued straight ahead without looking back. The man in the stream watched him. His lips trembled a little.

"Bill!" he cried.

It was the despairing cry of a strong man in trouble, but Bill's head did not turn. The man watched him go, struggling forward up the hill toward the skyline. He watched him go until he passed over the hilltop and disappeared. Then he turned his gaze and slowly examined the circle of the world that remained to him now that Bill was gone.

The sun was low in the sky, almost hidden by a cover of clouds. The man looked at his watch, while supporting his weight on one leg. It was four o'clock in the afternoon. The season was near the end of July or the first of August. He did not know the exact date within a week or two, but that was enough to know that the sun marked the northwest.

He looked to the south and decided that somewhere beyond those hills lay the Great Bear Lake. Also, he knew that behind the same hills the Arctic Circle cut its way across the plains of northern Canada, called the Barrens. This stream in which he stood flowed into the Coppermine River, which in turn flowed north and emptied into the Arctic Ocean. He had never been there, but he had seen it once on a map.

Again his gaze completed the circle of the world about him. It was not a cheerful sight. Everywhere was soft skyline. The hills were all low-lying. There were no trees, no grasses. There was nothing but a vast emptiness that brought fear into his eyes.

"Bill!" he whispered, once, and twice, "Bill!"

He stood trembling in the milky water, feeling the vastness pressing in upon him with great force. He began to shake as with a disease, until the gun falling from his hand into the stream brought him back to reality. He fought with his fear and regaining his self-control, he recovered the gun from the water. He pushed his pack more toward his left shoulder. This helped to take a portion of its weight off the foot he had hurt. Then he proceeded, slowly and carefully, in great pain, to the bank of the stream.

He did not stop. With a worry that was madness, unmindful of the pain, he hurried up the hill to the top, over which his companion had disappeared. But at the top he saw a valley, empty of life. He fought with his fear again and won. Then once more he moved the pack farther toward his left shoulder and struggled down the hill.

The bottom of the valley was very wet. Thick plant life held the moisture close to the surface and the water flowed from under his feet at every step. He picked his way carefully across the valley and followed the other man's footsteps along the rocks which made small islands in the sea of wet plant life.

Although alone, he was not lost. Farther on, he knew, he would come to where dead pine trees bordered the shore of a little lake. In the language of that country it was called the "land of little sticks." Into that lake flowed a small stream, the water of which was not milky. There was grass along that stream, but no trees. He would follow the stream until it divided. He would cross this place of dividing to another stream, flowing to the west. This he would follow until it emptied into the river Dease. Here he would find a cache under an upturned boat and covered with many rocks. In this cache there would be cartridges for his empty gun, and fishhooks and lines. Everything he needed for catching food would be there. Also he would find flour, a little meat, and some beans.

Bill would be waiting for him there, and they would find a boat and row south down the Dease to the Great Bear Lake. And south across the lake they would go, ever south, until they came to the Mackenzie River. And south, always south they would go, while the winter raced after them and the ice formed in the streams, and the days grew cold. South they would go, to some warm place where the trees grew tall and full and there was food without end.

These were the thoughts of the man as he struggled forward. But as strongly as he struggled with his body, he struggled equally with his mind. He tried to believe that Bill had not deserted him. Surely Bill would wait for him at the cache. He was forced to think this thought. Otherwise, there would not be any reason to continue, and he would lie down and die.

As the ball of the sun sank slowly into the northwest, he recalled every inch of his and Bill's flight south ahead of the oncoming winter. And he thought again and again of the food in the cache. It had been two days since he had anything to eat. It was a far longer time since he had had enough to eat. Often he picked muskeg berries, put them into his mouth, and ate them. A muskeg berry is a small seed in a drop of water. In the mouth, the water melts away and the seed tastes bitter. The man knew there was no real food value in the berries; but he ate them patiently with a hope greater than his experience.

At nine o'clock that night he hit his toe on a rocky surface, and from weakness and tiredness he fell to the ground. He lay for some time, without movement, on his side. He took his pack from his back and dragged himself into a sitting position. It was not yet dark. While some light remained he felt among the rocks for pieces of dried plants. When he had gathered a pile, he built a fire and put a tin pot of water on it to boil.

He unwrapped his pack. The first thing he did was to count his matches. There were 67. He counted them three times to be sure. He divided them into several portions, wrapping them in paper. He put one portion in his empty tobacco pack, another in the inside band of his hat, and a third under his shirt against his flesh. This accomplished, he began to worry whether he had counted correctly. He unwrapped them all and counted them again. Yes, there were 67.

He dried his wet shoes and socks by the fire. The moccasins were badly torn. His socks were worn through in places, and his feet were bleeding. The area between his foot and leg, the ankle, was very painful. He examined it. It had swelled until it was as large as his knee. He cut a long strip from one of his two blankets and bound the ankle tightly. He cut other strips and bound them about his feet to serve both for moccasins and socks. Then he drank the pot of hot water, wound his watch, and pulled his blankets around him.

He slept like a dead man. The brief darkness at midnight came and went. Then the sun rose in the northeast. It can better be said that day dawned in that quarter of the sky, because the sun was hidden by gray clouds.

At six o'clock in the morning he waked, quietly lying on his back. He gazed straight up into the gray sky and knew that he was hungry. As he lifted himself on his elbow, he was frightened by a loud noise. There was a caribou looking at him curiously. The animal was not more than 50 feet away, and instantly, into the man's mind came the picture of caribou meat cooking over a fire. From habit, he reached for the empty gun and aimed it. The caribou leaped away and disappeared across the rocks.

Now it's your turn to use the words in this story. Have you ever been lost out in nature? What is the most important thing to do when you get lost? Let us know in the comments section or on our Facebook page.

Quiz - Love of Life, Part One

Start the Quiz to find out

Start Quiz

To download a lesson plan to accompany this part of the story, click here or click on the page image below.

Words in This Story

bank - n. the higher ground that is along the edge of a river or stream

cartridge(s) - n. a tube which you put into a gun and which contains a bullet and explosive material

stream - n. a natural flow of water that is smaller than a river

faint - adj. weak and dizzy

tremble(d) - v. to shake slightly because you are afraid, nervous, excited, etc.

pine tree(s) - n. a tree that has long, thin needles instead of leaves and that stays green throughout the year

bean(s) - n. a seed that is eaten as a vegetable and that comes from any one of many different kinds of climbing plants

row - v. to move a boat through water using oars

muskeg berries - n. a type of small, round fruit that grows in areas of soft, wet land

drag(ged) - v. to move along the ground or floor while being pulled

pot - n. a deep, round container that is used for cooking

match(es) - n. a short, thin piece of wood or thick paper with a special tip that produces fire when it is scratched against something else

moccasin(s) - n. a flat shoe that is made of soft leather and is similar to a shoe originally worn by some Native Americans

caribou - n. a large type of deer that lives in northern parts of the world

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<![CDATA[How to Count Syllables]]>Alice Bryant如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/01/12/8310/

In the English language, spelling and pronunciation have a funny relationship. How we write a word and how we say it often do not agree. There always seem to be exceptions to the rule.

Today our question is related to pronunciation. It comes from our reader Mastaneh:

Question:

How can we recognize the syllables in a word? Would you mind explaining the rules? Thank you. – Mastaneh

Answer:

Hi, Mastaneh!

Firstly, other readers may be wondering why they should learn about syllables. Understanding syllables helps a lot with pronunciation. As we speak, if we miss or add a syllable to a word, people may not be able to understand us.

When we say a word, the sounds we create naturally divide the word into parts. We call these parts "syllables." For example, the word "machine" has two parts: ma-chine. The word "important" has three parts: im-por-tant.

The number of syllables in a word is decided by its number of vowel sounds. For example, in the word "machine," there are two vowel sounds: (Ə) and (i).

The English language has up to 20 vowel sounds, so we will not talk about all of them today. But an easy way to identify vowels is that we make them with the letters a, e, i, o, u and sometimes y.

It is important to know that one syllable can have more than one vowel letter. For example, the word "room" has two vowel letters: o and o. But together, they make only one vowel sound: (u:). This explains why "room" has only one syllable. We decide syllables by sound, not spelling.

In the clap method, you clap your hands each time you hear a vowel sound.
In the clap method, you clap your hands each time you hear a vowel sound.

How to count

Ok, here are two easy methods for counting syllables.

One that I like is the chin method. Here is how to do it: Rest your hand under your chin and say a word slowly. How many times does your chin drop onto your hand? That is the number of syllables.

Another is the clap method. To use it, say the word and clap your hands together each time you hear a vowel sound. For example, take the word 'autumn': au-tumn. That's two vowel sounds, so it's two syllables even though autumn has three vowel letters: a, u and u.

Now, let's do something fun. Close your eyes and listen for the number of syllables in the following words. You can use the chin method, the clap method or just listen carefully:

flower

thought

teacher

broadcast

dreamed

vehicle

How many syllables did you get for each word? You can tell us in the comments area.

And that's Ask a Teacher.

I'm Alice Bryant.

Words in This Story

spellingn. the act of forming words from letters

voweln. a letter (such as a, e, i, o, u, and sometimes y in English) that makes a specific sound

syllablen. any one of the parts into which a word is naturally divided when it is pronounced

chinn. the part of the face below the mouth and above the neck

clapn. to hit the palms of your hands together usually more than once

]]>
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<![CDATA[Catholic Church Rejects DRC's Presidential Vote]]>Mario Ritter Jr如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/01/11/2588/

The Catholic Church rejected the official result of the Democratic Republic of the Congo's presidential election on Thursday. And the losing candidate called the result a "robbery."

Election officials announced that opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi won the election. He is set to replace President Joseph Kabila, who has ruled the Democratic Republic of the Congo for 18 years.

But pre-election studies had predicted an easy win for Martin Fayulu, another opposition candidate.

Opposition candidate Martin Fayulu wipes his face before speaking to the press at his headquarters in Kinshasa, DRC, Jan. 10, 2019. Fayulu, who came second in the presidential poll behind Felix Tshisekedi, called the results fraudulent.
Opposition candidate Martin Fayulu wipes his face before speaking to the press at his headquarters in Kinshasa, DRC, Jan. 10, 2019. Fayulu, who came second in the presidential poll behind Felix Tshisekedi, called the results fraudulent.

The influential Catholic Church had 40,000 observers at voting stations across the country. It said its own findings did not support the official results. Three diplomats briefed on the Church's mission said their findings clearly showed Fayulu had won.

The Church said in a statement, "The results from the presidential election as published by CENI [Independent National Electoral Commission] do not correspond to the data collected by our observation mission from polling stations and vote counts."

Fayulu claimed that election officials helped Tshisekedi to win as part of a deal to protect members of the outgoing Kabila administration. He called the official result a "robbery" and asked supporters to "rise as one man to protect victory."

Fayulu has led anti-government demonstrations. He has also spoken out against corruption in the Congo, a country rich with minerals.

It was not clear whether Fayulu would dispute the election results in court. He has two days after the announcement of official results to file official disputes. The constitutional court then has seven days to consider disputes before results are final.

Tshisekedi's supporters celebrated his victory. But Thursday's action by the Church could make it harder for him to win wider acceptance.

An official from the United Nations' peacekeeping operations said Tshisekedi's win might lead to some temporary calm. But the official told the Reuters news agency that former militia and political supporters of Fayulu might rebel.

Police said three people were killed in the eastern city of Kikwit, where Fayulu received strong support. But much of the country appears to be staying calm.

Many Congolese fear that a dispute could restart violence. Civil wars in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have killed millions of people since the 1990s.

Felix Tshisekedi, leader of the Congolese main opposition party, the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) who was announced as the winner of the presidential elections gestures to his supporters in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Jan. 10
Felix Tshisekedi, leader of the Congolese main opposition party, the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) who was announced as the winner of the presidential elections gestures to his supporters in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Jan. 10

"Opposite of what we expected"

The international community has not congratulated Tshisekedi on his victory. Many appeared to be watching for the reactions of Fayulu's supporters.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the results "are the opposite to what we expected."

Britain's foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, said he was "very concerned" about reported differences in Congo's results. He added that the United Nations Security Council would discuss the issue on Friday.

European Union spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said, 'We are also waiting for the reactions of different observation missions that have observed the elections…and partners, particularly in Africa."

Over the past week, the United States and other governments have called on the electoral commission to publish correct election results. The U.S. has also deployed troops in nearby Gabon and has urged American citizens to leave Congo because of security concerns.

I'm Mario Ritter Jr.

Hai Do adapted this story for Learning English based on reports from Reuters, the Associated Press and VOA. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.

Words in This Story

brief - v. to give information

correspond - v. to be similar or equal to something

polling - n. voting station

outgoing - adj. leaving a particular position

particularly - adv. something that deserves special mention

]]>
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<![CDATA[15 Hot Technology Products at CES 2019]]>Bryan Lynn如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
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Each year, the Las Vegas consumer electronics show, or CES, presents the latest developments in many areas of technology.

It is the place to be for people who cannot wait to get a look at the newest products designed to make our lives easier, fun and more productive. The four-day event covers areas such as computers, health, transportation, agriculture and sports.

As this year's show comes to a close, we have put together a list of some of the most interesting products introduced at CES 2019.

A car with legs

It has become common for auto manufacturers to use CES to show off some of their latest technology and experimental vehicles.

One of this year's presentations was by South Korean carmaker Hyundai. The company introduced a small model of a "walking car," which it calls Elevate. It has four movable legs that can raise the main part of the vehicle high off the ground.

An illustrated image shows the Hyundai Elevate in drive mode. (Hyundai)
An illustrated image shows the Hyundai Elevate in drive mode. (Hyundai)

The electric-powered vehicle is designed to be used in search-and-rescue operations during emergencies or natural disasters. Hyundai says the Elevate can effectively travel over rough roads and land, while keeping passengers inside safe and still.

Changeable people mover

Germany's Mercedes presented an experimental self-driving vehicle that it claims can revolutionize transportation for people and goods. The company says the vehicle, called Vision Urbanetic, will be able to easily change bodies depending on its desired use. Mercedes says as a ride-sharing vehicle, the futuristic-looking car can seat 12 people. For transporting goods, a different two-level body can be used to carry many loaded containers.

The Mercedes-Benz Vision Urbanetic is on display at the Mercedes-Benz booth at CES International, Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
The Mercedes-Benz Vision Urbanetic is on display at the Mercedes-Benz booth at CES International, Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Fully electric Harley

American manufacturer Harley-Davidson showed off its first fully electric motorcycle, called LiveWire. The company says the bike will be able to go 177 kilometers between charges. It can reach 96 kilometers per hour in under 3.5 seconds. Although Harley is known for building powerful bikes with huge, loud motors, the LiveWire will be unusually quiet. "The loudest sound you hear will be your heart racing," the company said. The motorcycle will sell for just under $30,000 when it becomes available in August 2019.

More self-driving vehicles

German car maker BMW demonstrated a self-driving motorcycle. And aircraft company Bell presented an experimental version of its Nexus self-flying air taxi. The company has said its flying vehicles could be transporting people around cities by the mid-2020s.

Personal robots

In keeping with past shows, there were several new robots introduced at CES 2019. One, called Temi, is really just a computer tablet on wheels. It is designed to be a personal electronic assistant. It moves around the home and performs commands when spoken to. It can link users to friends through voice or video, connect to video or place orders for food or goods.

Another, called Lovot, was created by a Japanese developer. It is small, soft and furry. With large eyes and two small arms, Lovot moves around and reacts to human interaction. The creators say their goal was very simple: to make a robot that makes people happy by increasing levels of comfort and feelings of love.

BreadBot

Another kind of robot got a lot of attention at CES this year for making one of America's favorite foods, bread. The BreadBot is a machine designed to completely make bread on its own. Creators of the robot baker say it can produce 10 loaves of bread an hour. The machine is designed to be placed in food markets where people can watch the bread-making process before they buy.

A demonstration of the BreadBot robotic baker, created by the Wilkinson Baking Company. (Wilkinson Baking)
A demonstration of the BreadBot robotic baker, created by the Wilkinson Baking Company. (Wilkinson Baking)

Robot art

Another "fun" robot showed off its ability to make pictures on the wall. The Scribit machine is a small printer that can reproduce images chosen by users. The designers say the robot can also quickly remove the images or reproduce them any time.

Charging tech

French startup company EnergySquare introduced what it describes as a "universal wireless charger" for laptop computers. The system works by attaching a small piece to the bottom of the laptop that also connects to the computer's charging port. The user can then place the laptop onto the company's charging surface to recharge the computer.

French startup company EnergySquare showed off what it called a
French startup company EnergySquare showed off what it called a "universal wireless charger" for laptop computers. (EnergySquare)

People power

A new exercise machine by the U.S.-based company SportsArt is designed to help people stay fit and also generate electricity. The Verde G690 treadmill uses people to operate instead of a motor. The company says the machine can capture up to 200 watts of power per hour from human energy.

Another machine, the VR Bike from NordicTrack, uses a virtual reality (VR) attachment to transport exercisers through imaginary environments. For example, it permits fitness fans to feel like they are flying while exercising with the machine.

Water from air

U.S.-based Watergen presented a self-producing water machine designed for home or office. Its Genny water generator draws water from the air and cleans it for drinking. The company says the machine can produce up to 30 liters of water per day.

High-tech animal toilet

A group of inventors showed off their new pet product – an automated toilet for dogs. Creators of the Inubox say the device is the first fully self-cleaning solution to capture, process and store dog waste effectively and smell-free.

The inventors of Inubox say they hcreated the first device for dogs to capture, processes and contain dog waste with a fully automated process. (Inubox)
The inventors of Inubox say they hcreated the first device for dogs to capture, processes and contain dog waste with a fully automated process. (Inubox)

Quick brush

And finally, a French company introduced a toothbrush it says can "perfectly" clean a person's teeth in just 10 seconds. The Y-Brush by FasTeesH is a mouthpiece shaped just like human teeth. It has numerous small brushes to clean all teeth at once.

I'm Bryan Lynn.

And I'm Dorothy Gundy.

Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

What are your favorite products from this year's CES? Write to us in the Comments section, and visit our Facebook page.

Words in This Story

tablet n. small computing device that is controlled by touching the screen or by using a special pen

furry adj. covered with fur or something that fells like fur

loaf n. piece of bread that has been baked in one large piece

watt n. a unit for measuring electrical power

virtual reality n. computer images and sounds that make you feel an imagined situation is real

automated adj. controlled using machines and not people

toilet - n. a large bowl attached to a pipe that is used for getting rid of body waste

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<![CDATA[How to Interrupt Someone in a Nice Way]]>Alice Bryant如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/01/11/1524/

Imagine that you are talking with a friend who lives overseas. You haven't seen or spoken to the person in a year and he or she has much news to share.

The friend talks for a long time and you listen…for a long time. But, you want to tell them you have to go to work. How can you do it? You might need to interrupt them, but in a kind way.

There are many reasons that interrupting a speaker or group of speakers may be necessary. They include to:

  • End a conversation
  • Ask a question
  • Give someone a message
  • Or to join a conversation

The goal is to be able to do these things in a polite way. In today's Everyday Grammar, we will share some language you can use.

To end a conversation

So, let's return to our situation from the start of the program: the desire to end a conversation.

There are times when we want or have to leave a conversation before a speaker finishes. In these situations, we can use one of these phrases:

  • I'm sorry to interrupt but…
  • I hate to interrupt but…
  • I'm sorry to cut this short but…

Here's how someone might use one of these in conversation:

So, anyway, we get there and as soon as…

I'm sorry to interrupt but I have to be somewhere in an hour.

Oh, okay, no problem! Let's catch up more next week.

Note that when we interrupt a speaker for any reason, we almost always begin with "Sorry," "I'm sorry" or, for some kinds of interruptions, "Excuse me."

In social or professional situations, there are polite ways of interrupting a person or people to do things like ask a question or deliver information.
In social or professional situations, there are polite ways of interrupting a person or people to do things like ask a question or deliver information.

To ask a question

Now, let's move to another common situation: the need to ask a question.

There are times when we have a question about the subject of discussion or even an unrelated subject. Or, we may want to make sure we've understood the speaker before they continue speaking.

Here are two useful phrases for asking questions:

  • Sorry to interrupt but may I ask a question?
  • I'm sorry for the interruption but I have a quick question.

Or, here's what you can say to check that you've understood the speaker:

Sorry for interrupting, but I want to make sure I understand.

Then, you can ask or state something to make sure you're clear on the speaker's meaning.

Now, let's hear how someone might use one of these phrases. Suppose the interrupter briefly walks into a meeting in progress:

Sorry for the interruption, but I have a quick question. What time do the exchange students get here?

They should be here by 2:30.

Great! I'll have their welcome packets ready by 12.

Note the very small differences in form between "to interrupt" "for the interruption" and "for interrupting." All are common in American spoken English.

To give a message

In other situations, you may need to give someone a message that cannot wait, such as to inform them about a phone call or other time-sensitive issue. In giving such messages to people while they are speaking, we sometimes start with "Excuse me":

  • Excuse me, Bryan. There's a phone call for you on line 1.
  • Sorry to interrupt, but you're needed in the lobby to sign for a package.

Note that the phrase "Pardon me" is another way to say, "Excuse me," but is less common except in very formal situations.

To join a conversation

And, finally, there are times when you want to join a conversation between two or more people.

Sometimes, this is easy to do because you're already friendly with the people and they are talking casually about a subject.

Other times, the speakers are so deep in discussion that there are no natural breaks in their speech. But you still want to offer an opinion, make an important point or share some information.

These phrases can help you enter a conversation:

  • Excuse me, but may I jump in here?
  • Sorry to butt in, but…
  • May (or) Can I add something here?
  • I couldn't help overhearing…

"I couldn't help overhearing" means "I couldn't avoid hearing what you said." Be careful to use this phrase only with people who would react kindly, such as friends or coworkers.

Listen to a short talk between coworkers:

Did you catch the Golden Globe Awards? I was so happy to see Alfonso Cuarón win best director!

I know! "Roma" was a beautiful film.

I couldn't help overhearing you talk about "Roma." I just watched it last night. Wow, what lovely cinematography.

So, you just learned how to politely interrupt other people. But what might you say if someone interrupts you? You can tell us in the comments area.

I'm Alice Bryant.

Alice Bryant wrote this story for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.

Words in This Story

interruptv. to ask questions or say things while another person is speaking

conversationn. an informal talk involving two people or a small group of people

politeadj. having or showing good manners or respect for other people

phrasen. a brief expression that is commonly used

packetn. a small, thing package

lobbyn. a large open area inside and near the entrance of a building

formaladj. requiring or using serious and proper clothes and manners

casuallyadv. in a way designed for or permitting ordinary dress, behavior or language

cinematographyn. the art or technique of motion-picture photography

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http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/01/11/1524/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/01/11/1524/VOA Special EnglishFri, 11 Jan 2019 01:20:00 UTC