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。Sat, 22 Jul 2017 03:12:55 UTC<![CDATA[AMERICAN STORIES - Hearts and Crosses, Part Two]]>O. Henry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:

We present Part Two of the short story 'Hearts and Crosses,' by O. Henry. The story was originally adapted and recorded by the U.S. Department of State.

One day, a man named Bartholomew, not an important man, stopped at the Nopalito ranch house. It was noon and he was hungry. He sat down at the dinner table. While he was eating, he talked.

“Mrs. Yeager,” he said, “I saw a man on the Seco Ranch with your name. Webb Yeager. He was foreman there. He was a tall yellow-haired man. Not a talker. Someone of your family?”

“A husband,” said Santa. “That is fine for the Seco Ranch. Mr. Yeager is the best foreman in the West.”

Everything at the Nopalito Ranch had been going well.

For several years they had been working at the Nopalito with a different kind of cattle. These cattle had been brought from England, and they were better than the usual Texas cattle. They had been successful at the Nopalito Ranch, and men on the other ranches were interested in them.

As a result, one day a cowboy arrived at the Nopalito Ranch and gave the queen this letter:

“Mrs. Yeager — The Nopalito Ranch:

'I have been told by the owners of the Seco Ranch to buy 100 of your English cattle. If you can sell these to the Seco, send them to us in the care of the man who brings this letter. We will then send you the money.

'Webb Yeager, Foreman, Seco Ranch.”

Business is business to a queen as it is to others. That night the 100 cattle were moved near the ranch house, ready for an early start the next morning.

When night came and the house was quiet, did Santa Yeager cry alone? Did she hold that letter near to her heart? Did she speak the name that she had been too proud to speak for many weeks? Or did she place the letter with other business letters, in her office?

Ask if you will, but there is no answer. What a queen does is something we cannot always know. But this you shall be told:

In the middle of the night, Santa went quietly out of the ranch house. She was dressed in something dark. She stopped for a moment under a tree. There was moonlight, and a bird was singing, and there was a smell of flowers. Santa turned her face toward the southeast and threw three kisses in that direction, for there was no one to see her.

Then she hurried quietly to a small building. What she did there, we can only guess. But there was the red light of a fire, and noise as if Cupid might be making his arrows.

Later she came out with some strange iron tool in one hand. In the other hand she carried something that held a small fire. She hurried in the moonlight to the place where the English cattle had been gathered.

Most of the English cattle were a dark red. But among those 100 there was one as white as milk.

And now Santa caught that white animal as cowboys catch cattle. She tried once and failed. Then she tried again, and the animal fell heavily. Santa ran to it, but the animal jumped up.

Again she tried and this time she was successful. The animal fell to earth again. Before it could rise, Santa had tied its feet together.

Then she ran to the fire she had carried here. From it she took that strange iron tool. It was white hot.

There was a loud cry from the animal as the white-hot iron burned its skin. But no one seemed to hear. All the ranch were quiet. And in the deep night quiet, Santa ran back to the ranch house and there fell onto a bed. She let the tears from her eyes, as if queens had hearts like the hearts of ranchmen’s wives; and as if a queen’s husband might become a king, if he would ride back again.

In the morning, the young man who had brought the letter started toward the Seco Ranch. He had cowboys with him to help with the English cattle. It was 90 miles, six days’ journey.

The animals arrived at Seco Ranch one evening as the daylight was ending. They were received and counted by the foreman of the ranch.

The next morning at eight, a horseman came riding to the Nopalito ranch house. He got down painfully from the horse and walked to the house. His horse took a great breath and let his head hang and closed his eyes.

But do not feel sorry for Belshazzar, the horse. Today he lives happily at Nopalito, where he is given the best care and the best food. No other horse there has ever carried a man for such a ride.

The horseman entered the house. Two arms fell around his neck, and someone cried out in the voice of a woman and queen together: “Webb, oh, Webb!”

“I was wrong,” said Webb Yeager. “I was a — ” and he named a small animal with a bad smell, an animal no one likes.

“Quiet,” said Santa. “Did you see it?”

“I saw it,” said Webb.

What were they speaking of? Perhaps you can guess, if you have read the story carefully.

“Be the cattle queen,” said Webb. “Forget what I did, if you can.

'I was as wrong as — ”

“Quiet!” said Santa again, putting her fingers upon his mouth. “There’s no queen here. Do you know who I am? I am Santa Yeager, First Lady of the Bedroom. Come here.”

She led him into a room. There stood a low baby’s bed. And in the bed was a baby, a beautiful, laughing baby, talking in words that no one could understand.

“There is no queen on this ranch,” said Santa again. “Look at the king. He has eyes like yours, Webb. Get down on your knees and look at the king.”

There was a sound of steps outside and Bud Turner was there at the door. He was asking the same question he had asked almost a year ago.

“Good morning. Shall I drive those cattle to Barber’s or — ” He saw Webb and stopped, with his mouth open.

“Ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba!” cried the king, waving his arms.

“You hear what he says, Bud,” said Webb Yeager. “We do what the king commands.”

And that is all, except for one thing. When old man Quinn, owner of the Seco Ranch, went to look at his new English cattle, he asked his new foreman, “What is the Nopalito Ranch’s mark?”

“X over Y,” said Wilson.

“I thought so,” said Quinn. “But look at that white animal there. She has another mark — a heart with a cross inside. Whose mark is that?”

Download activities to help you understand this story here.

Now it's your turn to use the words in this story. How do you solve problems with someone you love? How do you feel when someone tells you they are sorry for something they did? Let us know in the comments section or on our Facebook page.

Words in This Story

ranch n. a large farm especially in the U.S. where animals such as cattle, horses, and sheep are raised

foreman n. a person who is in charge of a group of workers

cattle n. cows, bulls, or steers that are kept on a farm or ranch for meat or milk

cowboy n. a man who rides a horse and whose job is to take care of cows or horses especially in the western U.S.

queen n. a girl or woman who is highly respected and very successful or popular

proud n. very happy and pleased because of something you have done, something you own, someone you know or are related to

Cupid n. the god of attraction, affection and love in ancient Rome

king n. a boy or man who is highly respected and very successful or popular

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<![CDATA[Preserving Street Art in Washington, DC]]>UNSV.COM英语学习频道如果想下载文章的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:

Washington, D.C. has a complex relationship with graffiti and street art.

Local street artist Gobi knows this well. Not long ago, a police officer caught him spraying colorful paint on the side of a building. Gobi did not get permission to put his design on the building. What he was doing, then, was illegal.

The police officer arrested Gobi.

Then, he asked Gobi for his business card. The officer said he was interested in hiring him for a street art project in the future.

America’s capital city is trying hard to control its illegal graffiti problem. At the same time, city officials recognize the value and importance of street art.

A tribute portrait titled “DABS, 2016,” a tribute portrait by Maria Miller honoring Berkeley “Dabs” Wright.
A tribute portrait titled “DABS, 2016,” a tribute portrait by Maria Miller honoring Berkeley “Dabs” Wright.

There is a high demand for more artists to make street art legally. But the city offers few chances for young D.C. street artists to develop their skills without breaking the law.

Some local programs, however, are trying to change that.

A long history

Graffiti and street art are forms of art created on walls or public surfaces. This art is often considered illegal because it is done without the permission of the building owners.

These art forms have existed since the times of ancient Greece. But the more modern style began forming in the 1960s in the cities of New York and Philadelphia.

“Graffiti” often appears as words -- usually the names of the artist or their art crew. Graffiti artists write the words in creative ways and with colorful spray-paint.

“Street art” is more based on images. Artists try to communicate a message through these images. Large pieces of street art are also called murals.

A mural near the Rhode Island metro stop in Northeast D.C.
A mural near the Rhode Island metro stop in Northeast D.C.

Graffiti and street art can be controversial. They are sometimes used to mark gang territory or damage someone’s property.

Washington has tried to increase its fines for illegal graffiti. Yet it is also encouraging the creation of public art and murals.

Bridging the public and the artists

Cory Stowers is a D.C.-based graffiti and street artist. He is president of the D.C. graffiti crew Double Down Kings, or 2DK. He is also the art director for Art Bloc D.C., a local street art organization.

Cory Stowers (bottom right) and members of the ArtBloc organization work on a mural in Southeast D.C.
Cory Stowers (bottom right) and members of the ArtBloc organization work on a mural in Southeast D.C.

With Art Bloc D.C., Stowers is trying to create a bridge between the street art community and the D.C. public. He helps get permission from building owners to organize large mural projects around the city.

The projects give local street artists the chance to create their art in public, without fear of breaking the law. They also give younger artists a chance to develop their skills.

These projects are important, Stowers says. D.C. is making it more and more difficult for graffiti street artists to get practice. Construction projects and increased security have taken away important practice spaces throughout the city.

Members of Art Bloc DC and 2DK work on a graffiti mural in U Street.
Members of Art Bloc DC and 2DK work on a graffiti mural in U Street.

Practice is extremely important, Stower explains. Many artists who paint popular murals in communities today got their start by painting graffiti.

“There’s always this conversation that you have to have with folks and explaining to them that that young person that wrote a signature on their wall 10 years ago may be the same person that they’re asking to come paint a mural… Without one you don’t get the other.”

Street artists with Art Bloc D.C. ask community members for their opinions on the murals. They want to create pieces that are meaningful for local residents. Stowers says interacting with the local community helps to “humanize” graffiti and street artists.

“I think as communities start to recognize the value of public murals and they start to understand who actually can paint them, the idea of cultivating graffiti artists will become a little bit more popular.”

Beautifying the city with murals

In 2007, the city government created the program MuralsDC. The program hires artists to paint legal murals around the city.

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Nancee Lyons is MuralsDC’s art director. She says the program has two goals. One is to try to prevent illegal graffiti. The other is to “beautify” the city. Program officials believe that, if murals already cover city walls, graffiti artists will not paint over them illegally.

Aniekan Udofia is a D.C.-based artist. He often paints for MuralsDC, and is known for his large works of art around the city.

He says the logic of the program is correct. Unofficial rules in the street artist and graffiti community say that the more complex the work of art, the more priority it has on a wall. Large murals, then, often take priority over simpler graffiti art. They are usually not vandalized or damaged.

“... Going over a well-done beautiful mural -- it goes outside of graffiti and at that point it’s just that you hate either the artist or you hate the work that has been created.”

Udofia and his art director, Mia Duvall, agree that communicating with the local residents is very important.

Spectators admire the new MuralsDC mural on the side of Ben's Chili Bowl.
Spectators admire the new MuralsDC mural on the side of Ben's Chili Bowl.

“I think anything you do in a public space you have to consider the community. We have to consider who is seeing this, how it’s going to affect them and what’s important to them… So every piece we do, we really do our best to make sure that we are being sensitive and thoughtful about who has to see this every day and how they are going to embrace this”

Udofia recently finished a major MuralsDC project. It covers one of the walls of Ben’s Chili Bowl, a historic D.C. restaurant. The bright and colorful mural features 16 well-known African Americans, including Barack and Michelle Obama, Harriet Tubman, Muhammed Ali, and Dave Chappelle.

The work was introduced to the public in a ceremony on June 21.

D.C. artist Aniekan Udofia works on his new mural for MuralsDC
D.C. artist Aniekan Udofia works on his new mural for MuralsDC

Actor and comedian Dave Chappelle attended the ceremony. He told VOA that public art is an important part of a city’s culture.

“Public art gets right to the heart of a culture of a city… who they love, who they represent, what’s the neighborhood about...”

I’m Phil Dierking

Phil Dierking wrote this story for VOA Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

Do you think street art is good or bad for a city? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.

Words in This Story

controversial – adj. relating to or causing much discussion, disagreement, or argument

conversation – n. an informal talk involving two people or a small group of people​

cultivate – v. to grow and care for​

embrace – v. to accept (something or someone) readily or gladly​

feature – v. to have or include (someone or something) as an important part​

gang – n. a group of criminals​

graffiti – n. pictures or words painted or drawn on a wall, building, etc.​

hierarchy – n. a system in which people or things are placed in a series of levels with different importance or status​

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

interact - v. to talk or do things with other people​

mural – n. a usually large painting that is done directly on the surface of a wall​

priority – n. something that is more important than other things and that needs to be done or dealt with first​

sensitive – adj. aware of and understanding the feelings of other people​

vandalize – v. to deliberately destroy or damage (property)​

http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2017/07/22/5349/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2017/07/22/5349/VOA Special EnglishSat, 22 Jul 2017 00:34:00 UTC
<![CDATA[‘Despacito' Becomes Most Streamed Song Ever]]>UNSV.COM英语学习频道如果想下载文章的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:

The hit summer dance song Despacito has become the most streamed song of all time. It now has more than 4.6 billion plays across major streaming services.

It passed Justin Bieber’s 2015 song Sorry this week to break the all-time record.

Puerto Rican singer Luis Fonsi and rap singer Daddy Yankee released Despacito in January. They later released a version that included Justin Bieber. The remixed song helped increase its popularity in several English-speaking countries, including the United States.

Despacito, which means “slowly” in Spanish, is also now the most successful Spanish-language pop song of all time.

The chief of Universal Music Group, Lucian Grainge, released a statement about Despacito’s success. It said, “streaming has opened up the possibility of a song with a different beat, from a different culture and in a different language to become a juggernaut of success around the world.”

Fonsi is 39 years old. Until Despacito, he was not well known outside of Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory.

It is the first mostly Spanish song to reach the top of the Billboard’s Hot 100 list in the U.S. since the 1996 summer hit Macarena. Despacito has been the top song this year in more than 30 countries worldwide.

Also this week, officials in Malaysia banned broadcasts of Despacito on government-run radio and television. Malaysia’s communications minister said the government acted in answer to public protest that the words in the song are offensive.

The ban, however, does not extend to private stations, YouTube, or music streaming services.

When the new record was announced this week, Fonsi gave credit to streaming services for helping his music reach every part of the planet.

And that’s What’s Trending Today.

I’m Anne Ball.

Ashley Thompson adapted this story from Reuters and AP News reports. Caty Weaver was the editor.

Words in This Story

stream - v. to transmit or receive over the Internet as a steady, continuous flow.

pop - adj. of or relating to popular music

juggernaut - n. something (such as a force, campaign, or movement) that is extremely large and powerful and cannot be stopped

http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2017/07/21/3257/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2017/07/21/3257/VOA Special EnglishFri, 21 Jul 2017 13:09:00 UTC
<![CDATA[American Director Leads Project to Protect African Films]]>UNSV.COM英语学习频道如果想下载文章的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:

American filmmaker Martin Scorsese is supporting an international project to preserve African movies.

It is called the African Film Heritage Project. Its goal is to protect the work of Africa's most important directors, and restore some of the films.

The Film Foundation, a nonprofit launched by Scorsese, created the project. According to Scorsese, its goals are similar to the Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project.

'The idea of the world cinema foundation was to restore and make available as best as possible films made in areas that really don't have the infrastructure, the archival infrastructure to take care of these films and take care of that cultural heritage.'

The project will locate, restore, and preserve these films. Many important films from the continent are difficult to find, especially for the average movie viewer.

The Film Foundation is partnering with the Pan African Federation of Filmmakers (FEPACI) and UNESCO in this project.

FEPACI’s advisory board is identifying 50 films for restoration. The board is made up of archivists, scholars, and filmmakers who are active in Africa. Scorsese says the films are a hidden part of the continent's history.

'Those films were made by Africans, about Africans for Africans, for the world and it is time to take that as another facet of the culture. The creative thinking, the creative action of the entire continent.'

Director Yemani Demissie teaches filmmaking at New York University. He says:

'Many African films that were made in the previous century don't have the opportunity to be screened by filmmakers all over the world.”

Demissie adds that this project will allow a wider audience to see these films.

Irina Bokova is UNESCO director-general. She says the project will “give justice to the African history” and encourage creativity among young filmmakers.

Scorsese agrees:

“I think it is something that could be very fruitful, for young people who are beginning to make their own films or are making their own films.'

In the past ten years, Scorsese's World Cinema Project has helped restore films from Egypt and Senegal as well as from India, Armenia, Brazil, and the Philippines.

I’m Phil Dierking.

Arzouma Kompaore reported this story for VOA News. Phil Dierking adapted the report for Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.

Are there important films from your country that you think everyone should see? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.

Words in This Story

archive - n. a place in which public records or historical materials are kept​

cinema - n. the film industry​

fruitful - adj. producing a good result​

infrastructure - n. the basic equipment and structures (such as roads and bridges) that are needed for a country, region, or organization to function properly​

preserve - v. to keep (something) in its original state or in good condition​

restore - v. to return (something) to an earlier or original condition by repairing it, cleaning it, etc.​

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<![CDATA[Opposition Strike Halts Business in Venezuela]]>UNSV.COM英语学习频道如果想下载文章的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:

A national strike called by Venezuela’s opposition Thursday brought much of the country to a halt.

Opponents of President Nicolas Maduro called the 24-hour strike. The opposition groups want to show national disapproval for Maduro’s plan to rewrite Venezuela’s constitution.

It was the first major strike in Venezuela since 2002, when the opposition tried unsuccessfully to oust former president Hugo Chavez.

The action appeared to have stopped nearly all bus traffic across the capital, Caracas. Many private businesses were closed even though the government demanded that they stay open.

Government-run companies remained open. But some had limited services because many employees did not show up for work.

Some people noted that the opposition action would cost them money at a time of extreme economic crisis and food shortages. Many others said it was important to show support for the cause.

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro gestures during a meeting with workers at the Francisco de Miranda hydroelectric complex in Caruachi, Venezuela July 6, 2017. Miraflores Palace/Handout via Reuters
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro gestures during a meeting with workers at the Francisco de Miranda hydroelectric complex in Caruachi, Venezuela July 6, 2017. Miraflores Palace/Handout via Reuters

Several groups set up roadblocks in areas across Caracas to show opposition to Maduro’s rule.

A collection of groups oppose Maduro’s proposal to create a new legislative body to rewrite the country’s 1999 constitution. It would also have the power to dissolve state institutions. Maduro has set a July 30 vote to create the body.

The opposition has accused Maduro of seeking to build up the proposed new legislature with his supporters. They say this would permit him to remove the few remaining checks on his power and create a Cuba-style system controlled by his socialist party.

The opposition wants the military to defend the current constitution. It has also demanded new elections before Maduro’s term ends in early 2019.

Volunteers count the ballots after the poll station closed during an unofficial referendum in Caracas, Venezuela, on Sunday, July 16, 2017.
Volunteers count the ballots after the poll station closed during an unofficial referendum in Caracas, Venezuela, on Sunday, July 16, 2017.

The strike came after more than seven million Venezuelans voted last weekend in an unofficial referendum. In the opposition-organized vote, 98 percent rejected Maduro’s proposal to rewrite the constitution.

The referendum was seen as symbolic because it was not part of an official government election. Maduro dismissed the voting as unconstitutional. He said it would have no effect on the government or his proposals.

On Monday, American President Donald Trump also spoke against the proposal. In a statement, Trump said, “If the Maduro regime imposes its Constituent Assembly on July 30, the United States will take strong and swift economic actions.”

Anti-government unrest over the past four months has left almost 100 people dead and 1,500 injured.

I’m Bryan Lynn.

Bryan Lynn adapted this story for VOA Learning English, based on reports from the Associated Press and Reuters. Hai Do 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

dissolve v. officially end something

institutionn. large, established organization

referendum – n. vote in which all voters cast ballots to decide an issue rather than representatives in government

symbolicadj. serving as a symbol or representing something

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<![CDATA[5 Driverless Robots for Transporting Food and More]]>UNSV.COM英语学习频道如果想下载文章的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:

One of the latest trends in technology is the creation of personal robots to help people with day-to-day activities.

Some companies are testing driverless robots to bring food and other products directly to customers.

One such service is already operating on the streets of Washington, D.C. Starship Technologies launched several self-driving robotic vehicles in the city earlier this year.

The Starship Technologies delivery vehicles launched in Washington D.C. can transport food and other small items to customers ordering via an app. (Starship Technologies)
The Starship Technologies delivery vehicles launched in Washington D.C. can transport food and other small items to customers ordering via an app. (Starship Technologies)

The six-wheeled electric machine sits about a half-meter high. It has a box to carry small groceries or food products, up to nine kilograms in weight.

Users can order the robot service through an app – a software program -- on a smartphone. The food or other things remain safe and secure inside the vehicle until the consumer orders the app to open the compartment.

The robotic vehicles move themselves along sidewalks, using camera and tracking technology to avoid people, cars and other objects. Each robot has lights and a red flag on top to help people recognize them.

Someone is always following the robots’ movements from a distance. The company admits that someone might try to steal or block the robots. But it adds that such an individual would be easy to catch because of the machine’s cameras and tracking system.

Dispatch is another U.S. company testing on-demand delivery services using small, self-driving robots. (Dispatch)
Dispatch is another U.S. company testing on-demand delivery services using small, self-driving robots. (Dispatch)

Another company, Dispatch, also has been testing a delivery robot. This robot is a little taller than the one working in Washington. The door of the Dispatch is on the side of the robot and slides up to open the compartment. It operates along city sidewalks or the edge of streets.

In April, another business launched a robotic delivery service in San Francisco, California. Marble is partnering with the food delivery company Yelp Eat24 to provide door-to-door robot service.

The Marble robot is somewhat bigger than the others and has a more industrial look. But it works the same way. Orders are placed through an app, the machine makes the autonomous delivery, and a computer code is used to unlock the goods.

Marble has teamed up with Yelp Eat24 to offer food deliveries via a driverless robot. (Marble)
Marble has teamed up with Yelp Eat24 to offer food deliveries via a driverless robot. (Marble)

Marble is looking to expand its delivery service from San Francisco to other cities. It also plans to offer the ability to change conditions inside the compartment from hot and cold, or cold to hot, depending on what is being carried.

A company in China has taken robot delivery to the extreme by putting a whole mini market on wheels. The creators of Moby Mart say they have invented the world's first self-driving supermarket.

Engineers from Swedish company Himalafy worked with a team from China’s Hefei University of Technology on the project. Another partner is Sweden’s Wheelys, which owns many movable coffee stands.

Moby Mart is about the size of a small bus. It offers many products found in most convenience stores. They include milk, lunch meats, fruits and medicine.

The service has been tested in the city of Shanghai in recent months. Designers say that when fully operational, Moby Mart will use electricity powered by the sun.

People enter their location through an app and the vehicle then drives itself to the location and stops. A customer then enters a code to enter the “mini market” and chooses the desired items. Goods are scanned by phone and paid for through the app.

The company has said the cost of building Moby Mart is less than $100,000, about one-tenth the cost of a traditional store.

Another robot could be used in the future to deliver beer and other drinks. For this purpose, researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology or MIT created vehicles they are calling “beerbots.”

The system is actually a team of robots programmed to serve customers at a bar or restaurant. One big robot gathers cans of beer, which it places into smaller, four-wheeled robots. These “turtlebots” autonomously make the drink deliveries and take orders.

The MIT researchers used artificial intelligence (AI) to try to get the robots to reason on their own. The idea is to have them use human-like thinking to provide the best service.

The team found the beerbots had problems reacting to difficult situations just like humans would. But the researchers were surprised by other AI successes. They are continuing to find new ways to use reasoning methods in other robot applications.

I’m Bryan Lynn.

Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

We want to hear from you. Would you trust a self-driving robot to deliver your food? Write to us in the Comments section, and visit our Facebook page.

Words in This Story

customer – n. person who buys goods or services from a business

delivery n. the act of taking something to a person or place

groceries n. food and other goods sold in stores to be used at home

autonomous adj. engaging in an activity separately from other things

barn. place where people go to drink

scan – v. to read or mark something

location – n. the position or placement of something

convenience – adj. designed for quick and easy use

trend – n. a general movement or development

artificial intelligencen. the development of computers to perform intelligence-related tasks without human involvement

http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2017/07/21/5070/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2017/07/21/5070/VOA Special EnglishFri, 21 Jul 2017 09:13:00 UTC
<![CDATA[Why Americans Use Euphemisms]]>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:

Comedian George Carlin is famous for talking about language. He is famous for criticizing indirect or overly pleasant speech. Consider these lines from one of his performances:

'I don't like words that hide the truth. I don't like words that conceal reality. I don't like euphemisms – or euphemistic language. And American English is loaded with euphemisms. Because Americans have a lot of trouble dealing with reality.'

​Today we will explore the case of euphemisms – pleasant or nice words that take the place of direct language. We will give you examples of euphemisms, and explain why they are so common.

Direct speech and politeness

In earlier Everyday Grammar stories, we discussed how Americans sometimes choose indirect speech. They consider it to be more polite.

What takes the place of direct speech?

Americans often replace it with creative noun phrases, phrasal verbs, or expressions. These words give the same basic meaning as direct language, but they have a very different style.

Americans often use euphemisms when talking about sensitive topics – death, love, body processes, anything they might not want to speak of directly.

Here is an example.

Consider the noun, alcohol. Alcohol consumption can be a taboo topic in American society. So, some restaurants and stores sell adult beverages instead.

The term adult beverages is a euphemism. It refers to alcohol, but in an indirect manner.

Euphemisms and death

You might think that euphemisms are very informal, or slang. You might think that euphemisms are silly.

But, Americans often use euphemisms when talking about serious issues – death, for one.

Consider the verb die. In euphemistic language, Americans often replace it with the phrasal verb, pass away.

​When expressing news about a person's death, Americans might say, 'I was sad to hear that so-and-so passed away.'

Americans often send condolence cards to those who have lost friends or family. These condolence cards often do not use the verb die. Instead, they use euphemistic or indirect language.

Here is another example. Instead of saying euthanize, or even kill, Americans might say, put to sleep.

Put to sleep sounds much gentler and kinder than euthanize or kill.

Parents often use this structure when a child's beloved pet needs to be euthanized by a veterinarian. The reason they do this is to avoid making the child sadder about the situation.

Food and euphemisms

Euphemisms are not always used to talk about sensitive topics. Sometimes business people create euphemisms to increase sales.

Consider this example.

If you were to ask Americans if they would like to eat Patagonian toothfish, they would probably say no. Toothfish just does not sound like an appealing food to eat.

However, if you were to ask Americans if they would like to eat Chilean sea bass, they might say yes.

The two names refer to the exact same kind of fish.

Ralph Keyes is an author. He wrote 'Euphemania,' a book about euphemisms.

In an interview with NPR, Keyes noted that '[At] one time, Patagonian toothfish was freely available to anyone because no one wanted to eat it…until a very clever entrepreneurial sea importer renamed it Chilean sea bass.'

Now, you will see Chilean sea bass on menus at expensive restaurants. The lowly toothfish has come a long way!

Euphemisms and style

Euphemisms often make sentences longer. They can also take away clarity – especially in writing.

For these reasons, writing style guides often recommend that writers not use euphemisms or indirect language.

Whether you like euphemisms or not, you should learn some of the common ones. They play a part in American culture – for better or for worse.

The next time you are watching a film, listening to music or reading the news, try to look for euphemistic language. Ask yourself why the speaker or writer might want to use a euphemism instead of direct language.

We will leave you with a euphemism from the 2004 comedy, Anchorman. Actor Will Ferrell is expressing surprise. Instead of using bad or offensive words, he refers to Odin, a character in Norse mythology.

Americans do not use this expression. They rarely refer to Norse mythology. That is part of the humor of the line.

Great Odin's Raven!

I'm Pete Musto.

And I'm John Russell.

John Russell wrote this story for Learning English. Mario Ritter was the editor.

We want to hear from you. When is it right or wrong to use a euphemism? Write to us in the Comments Section.

Words in This Story

conceal – v. to prevent disclosure or recognition of

euphemism – n. a mild or pleasant word or phrase that is used instead of one that is unpleasant or offensive

creative – adj. having or showing an ability to make new things or think of new ideas

taboo – adj. not acceptable to talk about or do

sensitive – adj. likely to cause people to become upset

condolence – n. a feeling or expression of sympathy and sadness especially when someone is suffering because of the death of a family member, a friend, etc.

euthanize – v. to kill or permit the death of hopelessly sick or injured individuals (such as persons or domestic animals) in a relatively painless way for reasons of mercy

veterinarian – n. a person qualified and authorized to practice veterinary medicine

entrepreneurial – adj. a person who starts a business and is willing to risk loss in order to make money​

mythology – n. the myths or stories of a particular group or culture

http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2017/07/21/4256/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2017/07/21/4256/VOA Special EnglishFri, 21 Jul 2017 08:38:00 UTC
<![CDATA[Young Indonesian Urged to Ignore Dating, Move Straight to Marriage]]>UNSV.COM英语学习频道如果想下载文章的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:

Some Indonesians believe the country would be better off if single people stopped wasting time on dating.

Writer La Ode Munafar started a group called Indonesia Tanpa Pacaran, or Indonesia Without Courtship, about two years ago.

He and his group say Indonesians spend too much time and energy on trying to find the perfect mate. They want young people to stop looking around for such a person, and go straight to marriage.

When asked why he started the group, Munafar said, “I was concerned about the younger generation, who are victims of the doomed culture of courtships.”

Munafar is married. A native of Southeast Sulawesi, the 26-year-old now lives in Yogyakarta on the island of Java.

His website says he has written 60 books since the age of 20. He also directs a “quick-write” training program. It promises that students will be able to write a book with only eight hours of training.

His group, Indonesia Tanpa Pacaran, has received over 200,000 likes on Facebook and over 300,000 Instagram followers. Its social media posts are often related to Islam. Many have messages critical of dating and photographs of women wearing head coverings.

The social movement has been gaining popularity. Its popularity has increased concerns about child marriage in the country. Depending on the province, between 14 and 35 percent of Indonesian girls get married before the age of 18, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Some children’s activists are worried that the movement will lead to more child marriages. Indonesia is one of the top 10 countries with the largest number of child brides.

With permission from their parents, Indonesian girls can legally marry at age 16, but boys must wait until they are 19. Children younger than 16 can get married secretly. Nikah siri is a secret marriage carried out under Islamic law. These marriages are not registered with the government.

Emilie Minnick is a child protection specialist at UNICEF Indonesia. She said that when two people are married through nikah siri, it is easy to make the marriage official.

She said many child marriages take place because people use forged identification documents. Those documents often list the wrong ages.

Minnick said girls who marry before they turn 18 are six times less likely to finish secondary education than those who marry after they turn 18. She said those numbers come from Indonesia’s Central Bureau of Statistics.

She added that problems during pregnancy and childbirth are the second leading cause of death for girls between the ages of 15 and 19 worldwide.

Poverty is a big issue when looking at child marriages, Minnick said. Indonesian girls are four times more likely to be married before 18 if they are poor.

Cultural pressure is not the only reason for more child marriages. Poverty and a lack of social services are other possible reasons.

The anti-dating movement appears to be a product of Indonesia’s cultural and religious environment. The founder of Indonesia Tanpa Pacaran told VOA that his group offers advice to concerned individuals and holds discussions in WhatsApp groups. It also broadcasts relationship advice on social media and has launched online campaigns like #TolakValentineDay. The campaign urges Indonesians to reject Valentine’s Day, the traditional holiday for lovers.

'Dating only wastes time, energy and money for a moment's pleasure,' said Munafar. 'It's not for serious relationships or building a house.'

The group suggests unmarried people try ta’aruf, an Islamic cultural tradition, instead of dating. Ta’aruf is a way of getting to know a future husband or wife through family members.

Indonesia Tanpa Pacaran is not the only anti-dating group in the country. Accounts such as @nikahasik and @muliatanpapacaran praise the value of Islamic marriages. Nikah Asik means “cool marriage” and Mulia Tanpa Pacaran means “nobility without dating.”

Indonesian law makers and law enforcement have also tried to fight dating. In parts of West Java, security cameras are used to watch social interactions between men and women.

Last year, conservative politicians proposed banning all extramarital sex. The nation’s highest court has yet to rule on the measure.

I’m Mario Ritter.

And I’m Olivia Liu.

Olivia Liu adapted this story for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

Words in This Story

datev. to go out with someone in hopes of developing a love relationship

courtshipsn. the activities that could lead to marriage

doomedadj. of or related to an unhappy ending

post – n. a message that is published on social media

briden. a woman who has just married

forgedadj. of or related to a copy, something that is not the real thing

online adj. connected to a computer or telecommunications system

nobility adj. great admirable qualities

extramaritaladj. sexual or romantic relations between a married person and someone who is not that person’s husband or wife

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

http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2017/07/20/8912/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2017/07/20/8912/VOA Special EnglishThu, 20 Jul 2017 15:34:00 UTC
<![CDATA[Melting Ice Reveals Couple Lost in Mountains for 75 Years]]>UNSV.COM英语学习频道如果想下载文章的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:

This is What’s Trending Today.

It turns out the warming climate is good for something.

The children of Marcelin and Francine Dumoulin of Switzerland finally might find out what happened to their parents 75 years ago.

One daughter, 79-year-old Marceline Udry-Dumuolin, says her parents left their house to milk their cows one day in 1942. But, she says they did not return.

The family lived high in the mountains, at an elevation of about 2600 meters. People from nearby villages searched for the man and woman for over two months. But the search was unsuccessful.

Many people believed the couple fell into a crevasse, or a deep divide in the land.

Young Marceline and her five siblings went to live with other families. She said she and her brothers and sisters spent their entire lives looking for their parents so they could have a proper funeral.

Now, people who work for a company that operates ski lifts may have found the Dumoulins in melting ice. An employee was doing work on one of the lifts last week when he says he saw something strange.

He found two bodies, a man and a woman, close together in the Tsanfleuron glacier. They were wearing clothing from the 1940s and had items like a backpack and food container.

Police said they will do a DNA comparison to find out for sure if the bodies are the missing Doumoulins.

The director of the ski lift company said the bodies were “perfectly preserved.”

Many people around the world reacted to the news.

One Twitter user, Amber, wrote: “Wow! This now ends the agony of the family left wondering how/where the couple disappeared.”

The newspaper Le Matin reported that daughter Marceline said “this news calms me deeply.” She also said if the bodies turn out to be those of her parents, she will not wear black to their funeral.

She said, “I think white will be more appropriate. This represents hope, which I have never lost.'

And that’s What’s Trending Today.

I’m Dan Friedell.

Dan Friedell wrote this story for VOA Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.

Do you think the bodies are the missing parents? We want to know. Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.

Words in This Story

sibling – n. a brother or sister

proper – adj. correct according to social rules

agony – n. extreme mental or physical pain

http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2017/07/20/8519/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2017/07/20/8519/VOA Special EnglishThu, 20 Jul 2017 15:33:00 UTC
<![CDATA[Watch the US Navy's New Laser Weapon in Action]]>UNSV.COM英语学习频道如果想下载文章的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:

The United States Navy has demonstrated a new laser weapon operating in the Persian Gulf. The Laser Weapons System, or LaWS, is deployed on the USS Ponce transport ship.

A live test firing of the weapon was recently carried out for Cable News Network (CNN). In the latest test, a drone aircraft was launched from the ship and then shot down by the laser.

Lieutenant Cale Hughes is a laser weapons expert on the USS Ponce. He told CNN that because the weapon operates at the speed of light, it can immediately hit and destroy a target. This is about 50,000 times faster than an incoming intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM.

“We don't worry about wind, we don't worry about range, we don't worry about anything else,” Hughes said. “We're able to engage the targets at the speed of light.”

The technology is also called “directed energy.” The laser contains large amounts of photons that shoot intense energy. It destroys its targets with fire and heat thousands of degrees in temperature.

The system is powered by electricity. It costs much less to build and operate than other weapons. The Navy said the cost of a single laser shot is about one dollar.

Captain Christopher Wells said the laser weapon is far more exact than most systems.

Inez Kelly is an advisor with the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command. She says the laser's exactness results in less damage and could reduce the number of human deaths and injuries during war.

“If you’re looking at a boat coming in over the water, you can target exactly the engine and take out exactly the engine, and not necessarily damage anything else,” she told CNN.

Military officials have tested the ship-based weapon against boats and small aircraft. The Navy says the system has performed well against drones, which military forces are increasingly using around the world.

The Navy has said it plans to deploy laser weapons to additional ships by the early 2020s. It is also developing laser technology to be used against more powerful weapons, such as missiles.

This image is a depiction of laser weapon technology being developed by Lockheed Martin that the company says could be used to protect against attacks from drones or missiles. (Lockheed Martin)
This image is a depiction of laser weapon technology being developed by Lockheed Martin that the company says could be used to protect against attacks from drones or missiles. (Lockheed Martin)

Military contractor Lockheed Martin is currently developing laser technology to protect against possible attacks by missiles and drones. The company is working on a 60-kilowatt system combining multiple lasers to form a “high power weapon beam.”

This system could protect against an attack by many drones – or even missiles - at the same time. Lasers can be an effective defense against such an attack because the system is not easily destroyed as long as it has power, the company says.

“The laser weapon system can fire over and over, essentially creating an unlimited magazine of “bullets,” says a description on Lockheed Martin’s website.

In January, Britain confirmed its military had signed a $39 million deal with European defense companies to build a prototype laser weapon.

British military officials said the Dragonfire system will not be developed to be used against any single target. Instead, it will be tested to see how well it can identify and follow a mix of targets in many different environments and situations.

I’m Bryan Lynn.

Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English, based on a report from CNN and other sources. Caty Weaver was the editor.

We want to hear from you. Do you think laser weapons should be used for military purposes? Write to us in the Comments section, and visit our Facebook page.

Words in This Story

laser – n. strong, focused line of light or energy

drone n. small flying machine flown remotely by a pilot

range n. a specified distance

engagev. start an action against someone or something

beam – n. line of light or energy

magazine – n. part of a gun that holds bullets

prototype n. original or first model of something from which others are developed or made

http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2017/07/20/4985/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2017/07/20/4985/VOA Special EnglishThu, 20 Jul 2017 12:29:00 UTC
<![CDATA[New App Helps Blind People Know the World Around Them]]>John Russell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:

One of the best uses of technology is to make life easier.

A new product from Microsoft Corporation can do just that for people who have trouble seeing. They may be blind or visually impaired.

The product, an app, is currently available for free for Apple’s iPhone and iPad. The app is called Seeing AI. “AI” is short for artificial intelligence, a term for computers with an ability to think and learn like human beings.

Seeing AI uses both a camera and artificial intelligence to identify places, objects and people. The app then announces what the camera sees so users will know what is in front of them.

People can also use Seeing AI to learn words in English. With the app open, you can point your iPhone or iPad at any object and it will say what the object is.

Seeing AI in other apps
Seeing AI in other apps

With Seeing AI, users can hear a description of not just objects, but other people. It can even tell you about their emotions. It will not just say that someone is smiling. The app will say that the person is happy. Or surprised. Or angry.

People can use the app when going to a store or supermarket. It can read product bar codes so users will know whether a can is filled with fruit or dog food. Microsoft says Seeing AI will soon be able to identify banknotes so people know whether they are holding a bill that is worth $100 or $1.

At restaurants, diners can use the new app to hear a list of drinks and other menu offerings. It can recognize both food choices and prices.

People can use the app to read signs and get directions, although Microsoft warns against using it for navigation purposes.

One of the more interesting tools of Seeing AI is its ability to read documents. The app can read documents aloud and even help a user position them on the center of the electronic device.

The app looks for the edges of the document so it knows that it is reading all of the wording.

Seeing AI can also identify images in other apps. When you are using another app, hit the Share icon and choose 'Recognize with Seeing AI.' The app can identify what is in the image, as if it were right in front of you.

How to use Seeing AI

The Seeing AI app has four Channels: Short Text, Document, Product, and Person. After you download it, the app will show video directions for each channel.

With the Document and Person channels, the app takes a picture of the object or person, then examines the image and announces what it is.

The Short Text channel can be used to read things such as signs that have a few words that will fit on a screen. Hold the camera over the text and the app will start reading the wording out loud.

Seeing AI Short Text
Seeing AI Short Text

The Documents channel is for longer, printed pages. The app will tell the user how to center the camera so it can read all the text.

Users should put the document on top of something with a different color, such as a white sheet of paper on a dark surface. This helps the app identify the edges of the paper.

The Product channel reads bar codes to help users recognize what the product is. The app may also provide more information about the product, such as cooking directions.

Seeing AI will guide users with sound – short beeps -- to let them know when the camera is getting closer to, and then scanning the bar code.

Seeing AI scanning bar code
Seeing AI scanning bar code

When the app scans the bar code, it will read the name of the product. If more information is available about the product, a More Information button will appear in the program.

The Person channel helps users identify people, who they are and what they are doing. The app can identify more than one person in a photograph.

Users can teach the app names of people so it can announce who they are by name.

The app will help guide users while taking a photo of people so that their faces are in the center of the image.

This channel also helps identify the emotions of people. The app will tell how the person is feeling, based on their faces. The app will also predict the person's age and sex.

Experimental channels

The app also has an experimental channel called Scene. With that channel, the app guesses what is happening in the photo.

Seeing AI experimental Scenes channel
Seeing AI experimental Scenes channel

Microsoft also says a Currency channel is coming soon to the app. That area will help users the value of banknotes.

What else you need to know

Seeing AI is a new app and will not be correct 100% of the time. For example, just because someone is smiling does not necessarily mean they are happy.

The app recognizes text, but not handwriting yet. That feature may be available in the future.

Also, Seeing AI needs to be connected to the Internet to work.

For more information about the app, including the informational videos, go to Microsoft's Seeing AI website.


As we said earlier, Seeing AI is a free app and available for Apple’s iPhone and iPad in the iTunes App Store. Microsoft has not yet said whether it will be available on Android in the future.

The app is currently available in Canada, Hong Kong, India, New Zealand, Singapore and the United States.

I’m Ashley Thompson.

And I'm John Russell.

Carolyn Nicander Mohr wrote this report for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

Do you like the idea of Seeing AI to help blind and visually impaired people identify what is in front of them?How do you think Seeing AI will be helpful to others? What would you like to see the app be able to do?

Share your thoughts in the Comments Section below or on our Facebook page.

Words in This Story

visually impaired - adj. eyesight that cannot be corrected to a normal level.

artificial intelligence - n. the ability of a computer to think and learn like a human

bar code - n. a group of thick and thin lines that is placed on a product so that a computer can get the price of the product and other information about it

menu - n. a list of the foods that may be ordered at a restaurant

navigation - n. the act, activity, or process of finding the way to get to a place when you are traveling in a ship, airplane, car, etc.​

icon - n. a small picture on a computer screen that represents a program or function

screen - n. the usually flat part of a television or computer monitor that shows the images or text : the part of a television or computer that you look at when you are using it

frisbee - n. a plastic disc that you throw to someone who tries to catch it as part of a game

http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2017/07/20/2624/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2017/07/20/2624/VOA Special EnglishThu, 20 Jul 2017 12:20:00 UTC
<![CDATA[Study: Republicans See Colleges Hurting America]]>Bruce Alpert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:

A majority of Republicans and Republican-leaning voters say American colleges and universities have a negative effect on the United States.

That is one of the findings of a new report by the Pew Research Center. The report was based on phone interviews with more than 2,500 adults across the United States and the District of Columbia.

Over the past two years, Pew found the share of Republicans and Republican leaners who view the effect of colleges and universities positively has dropped 18 percentage points. In the past, a little more than half had a positive view. Now only about one-third do.

Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents see the value of colleges and universities very differently. Pew said 72 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaners say colleges have a positive effect on the United States -- little changed from recent years.

Younger Republicans see colleges more positively

Some of the opinions about the value of college differ based on age.

Pew reported that half of Republicans and Republican-leaners aged 18 to 29 say colleges have a positive effect on the country. But only about one-quarter of Republican and Republican-leaners 65 and older say colleges have a positive effect.

Anger, distrust and debt

A former Republican congressman from Louisiana, Billy Tauzin, said he believes many Republicans are unhappy that at some colleges conservative speakers are not only unwelcome, but blocked from speaking.

Former Congressman Billy Tauzin gives a speech in 2008.
Former Congressman Billy Tauzin gives a speech in 2008.

This year some students at the University of California - Berkeley and Middlebury College in Vermont demonstrated violently against conservative speakers. The demonstrations drew wide coverage and criticism by news media favored by conservatives.

David Andersen, who teaches political science at Iowa State University, said he is not surprised Republicans and Republican-leaning adults have a negative opinion of American higher education.

“One of the things going on is that there is an anti-elitism and anti-intellectualism among some in the Republican Party,” Andersen said.

Andersen said he sees distrust in his own classroom among students from largely Republican and conservative communities in Iowa.

“Students are very willing to push back as we discuss issues,” he said. “But that’s the whole point of being at a university. Let’s talk about what you believe and see how it matches up with the facts.'

On some issues, such as climate change, Andersen offers information about the big majority of scientists who say climate change is real and caused by man-made activities.

When they get home, some students talk with their families about classroom discussions that conflict with the ones at home.

Sometimes, those conversations do not go well.

“One student said, ‘My uncle yelled at me for two hours because he thought I had become a godless liberal,’” Andersen said.

Andersen said he believes most Americans without a college education still want their children to go to college, hoping they will gain better job opportunities.

William Eveland Jr., a professor at the School of Communication and the Department of Political Science at Ohio State University, said there may be other reasons Republicans do not favor colleges and universities. One of them is the increased cost of college, and the increasing number of students and parents who go into heavy debt to pay off loans.

College is still preferred over the media

The Pew Research Center report found Republicans have an even worse opinion of the news media than they do of American colleges. Pew found 85 percent of Republicans and people who lean Republican say the news media has a negative effect on the United States.

Democrats and Democratic-leaning adults are divided -- with 44 percent saying the news media has a positive effect and 46 percent saying it has a negative effect.

I'm Bruce Alpert.

And I'm Jill Robbins.

Bruce Alpert reported on this story for VOA Learning English. Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor.

We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section and share your views on our Facebook Page.

Words in This Story

leaning - n. a preference for something or tendency to do something

elitism - n. people who are considered more powerful, smart, or wealthy

intellectualism - n. valuing study and knowledge

match - v. to go well with something or someone

conversation - n. an informal talk involving two people or a small group of people

yell - v. to say something very loudly especially because you are angry, surprised, or are trying to get someone's attention

http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2017/07/20/6003/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2017/07/20/6003/VOA Special EnglishThu, 20 Jul 2017 03:54:00 UTC
<![CDATA[Will Brazilian Soccer Star Neymar Leave Barcelona?]]>UNSV.COM英语学习频道如果想下载文章的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:

This is What’s Trending Today.

Brazilian soccer player Neymar is one of the world’s best.

But he is not the best player on his team, Barcelona.

That title belongs to Argentina’s Lionel Messi.

Neymar, 25, started playing with Barcelona in 2013. His full name is Neymar da Silva Santos Junior. Before Barcelona, he played with Santos in the Brazilian league.

He helped Brazil win a gold medal at the 2016 Olympics and was one of the top goal-scorers at the 2014 World Cup.

With Barcelona, he has scored 105 goals in four full seasons. Working with Messi and other teammates, Neymar helped Barcelona win Spanish league championships, the Champions League title and the FIFA Club World Cup.

Brazil's Neymar cries as he celebrates after scoring the decisive penalty kick during the final match of the men's Olympic football tournament between Brazil and Germany at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Aug. 20, 2016.
Brazil's Neymar cries as he celebrates after scoring the decisive penalty kick during the final match of the men's Olympic football tournament between Brazil and Germany at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Aug. 20, 2016.

But if he stays with Barcelona, Neymar will never be the team’s number one player.

That is why Neymar is in the news today. His name was the top worldwide trending topic on Twitter and the top Google search in Brazil.

Sports newspapers in Spain are reporting that Neymar is considering a transfer offer from Paris Saint-Germain, known as PSG, of the French league.

Neymar declined their offers in the past, but this one seems more serious.

The Spanish sports newspaper As wrote that Neymar’s father will meet with the president of PSG this week to discuss a move.

Barcelona will receive over 220 million euros if Neymar leaves.

Neymar plays in the Champions League against PSG. He may be joining the French team this summer.
Neymar plays in the Champions League against PSG. He may be joining the French team this summer.

In its story about Neymar, As wrote that he wants to be the primary focus on his new team and not have to be “in the shadow of his teammates.”

Barcelona is coming to the United States this month for a series of games against opponents including Juventus, Manchester United and Real Madrid as it prepares for the upcoming Spanish season.

A Brazilian sports writer posted on Twitter Tuesday morning. He said Neymar accepted the offer from the Parisian team. But representatives from Barcelona said they do not think any team will pay the large price for Neymar.

Spanish league teams have until September 1 to complete any summer transfers. If Neymar wants to leave, however, it would be better if it happens soon. The Spanish season starts in mid-August.

And that’s What’s Trending Today.

I’m Dan Friedell.

Dan Friedell wrote this story for VOA Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.

Do you think Neymar will leave Barcelona? We want to know. Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.

Words in This Story

title – n. the status or position of being the champion in a sport or other competition; a word or name that describes a person's job in a company or organization

league – n. a group of sports teams that play against each other

medal – n. a piece of metal often in the form of a coin with designs and words in honor of a special event, a person, or an achievement

shadow – n. a dark shape that appears on a surface when someone or something moves between the surface and a source of light

http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2017/07/19/5302/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2017/07/19/5302/VOA Special EnglishWed, 19 Jul 2017 09:59:00 UTC
<![CDATA[US Will Add 15,000 Temporary Work Visas]]>UNSV.COM英语学习频道如果想下载文章的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:

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will make an additional 15,000 H-2B visas available for American companies to hire low-wage foreign workers.

In a written statement on Monday, DHS Secretary John Kelly called the move a 'one-time increase.”

President Donald Trump has supported a policy called 'Hire American.” He wants U.S. companies to hire American workers instead of foreign ones. He has also repeatedly called to limit immigration.

But a DHS spokesperson said without the extra foreign workers, some U.S. businesses could suffer 'irreparable harm.'

In order to hire foreign workers through the visa program, businesses must show there are not enough U.S. workers 'able, willing, qualified, and available' for the jobs.

The H-2B visa

The H-2B visa is a temporary work visa for foreign workers to work in the United States at non-agriculture jobs. The U.S. limits these visas to 66,000 per year. That limit has already been reached for 2017.

According to the State Department, there were 85,000 H-2B visas issued in 2015. This was due to some returning workers being able to receive exemptions from the limit.

Congress, however, did not renew the returnees’ exemptions when they expired last fall.

Some U.S. industries, like the tourism industry, depend heavily on seasonal workers. They say they have struggled to hire enough people since the H-2B visa exemptions expired.

Tyler Hayes, vice president of Cape Cod Restaurants, says his seasonal businesses — including Flying Bride Restaurant, shown here in April — would suffer without H-2B workers. After 20 years in the business, he says the children of foreign workers have be
Tyler Hayes, vice president of Cape Cod Restaurants, says his seasonal businesses — including Flying Bride Restaurant, shown here in April — would suffer without H-2B workers. After 20 years in the business, he says the children of foreign workers have be

To address this problem, Congress recently permitted the Department of Homeland Security to go over the 66,000-visa limit.

The new rules will be published in the General Register later this week. Businesses will then be able to petition for additional visas.

President Donald Trump’s business has used the H-2B visa program to staff his private club Mar-a-Lago in Florida. Trump has also used the club to host visiting heads of state several times.

I’m Jonathan Evans.

Victoria Macchi reported this story for VOANews.com. Phil Dierking adapted her report for Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.

Do businesses depend on foreign workers in your country? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.

Words in This Story

exemption - n. freedom from being required to do something that others are required to do​

fiscal - adj. of or relating to money and especially to the money a government, business, or organization earns, spends, and owes​

irreparable - adj. too bad to be corrected or repaired​

petition - n. a written document that people sign to show that they want a person or organization to do or change something​

qualify - v. to give (someone) the necessary skill or knowledge to do a particular job or activity​

http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2017/07/19/1048/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2017/07/19/1048/VOA Special EnglishWed, 19 Jul 2017 06:31:00 UTC
<![CDATA[Native American Artists Ask Lawmakers to Stop Fake Art]]>UNSV.COM英语学习频道如果想下载文章的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:

Many Native American artists are quitting their trade because they cannot compete with the low prices of fake artwork.

William Woody is the top law enforcement official at the Fish and Wildlife Service. He said that possibly as much as 80 percent of Native American art is actually not made by Native Americans. Instead it is made in countries like the Philippines.

Woody said it is difficult to confirm how much art is fake, but Native Americans artists are concerned. They have called on the United States government to take action against people who produce fake artwork.

U.S. Senators from New Mexico, Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, heard evidence from Native American artists earlier on July 7. Udall is the vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.

Harvey Pratt is a Southern Cheyenne artist. He said, “When Indian artists are undercut by the sale of fake Indian art, the integrity of authentic Indian art and artists suffers. We are being robbed economically, culturally, and spiritually.”

Native American art is popular worldwide. It drives many tribal economies.

The annual Santa Fe Indian Market hosts over 1,000 Native American artists from tribes across the United States. The market and festival lasts about a week.

Dallin Maybee is the chief operating officer of the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts (SWAIA). He is both Northern Arapaho and Seneca. He said the market brings about $80 million to New Mexico.

He said, “The Native American art industry generates millions of dollars a year throughout North America.”

The First Peoples Fund helps support Native American artists. They estimate that about one third of all Native Americans are involved in traditional arts. Many live in poorer areas where there are not many people. They often depend on art sales.

“But with all these knock-offs that have flooded the market, Indians can’t sell their product,” artist Harvey Pratt told VOA. “So what ends up happening is that artists just quit making art, because they can no longer make a living doing it. And what this means is that they lose touch with their traditions.”

This photo is of a fake Native American piece of jewelry seized by federal officials in 2015 in New Mexico. This photo is provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
This photo is of a fake Native American piece of jewelry seized by federal officials in 2015 in New Mexico. This photo is provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Udall said fake Native American art is a “serious problem” that has gone on for many years.

He said Congress needs to see if the Indian Arts and Crafts Act can be strengthened.

The act was passed in 1935 and amended twice. It bans the display or sale of art that falsely claims to be Native American.

In early July, a case about fake Native American art was heard in New Mexico. Four people were accused of selling fake Native American jewelry. The jewelry was actually made in the Philippines. If they are convicted, the suspects could face a fine of $250,000, up to five years in prison or both.

Cases involving fake Native American art are often not brought to trial. Udall said that there are only two enforcement officers that investigate fake Native American art.

Udall said, “We must take action to stop this assault on artists' ability to carry on deeply significant traditions that have helped hold families and communities together for generations.”

U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement officials are trained to keep stolen cultural artifacts and fake electronics from entering the country. However, Pratt said, there are no programs to stop fake Native American art at the border. He added that there are few people who know enough about Native American art to identify fake artwork.

Pratt said, “You’ve got to have an investigative body, somebody that has expertise to run this stuff down at the border.”

I’m Olivia Liu.

And I’m Mario Ritter.

Cecily Hilleary reported this story for VOA News. Olivia Liu adapted the story for VOA Learning English. Mario Ritter was the editor.

Words in This Story

fake –adj. false, not real

undercut –v. to sell something at a lower cost than another person or business

integrity –n. the quality of being real, true or honest

authentic –adj. real

generate –v. to make

knock-offs –n. fake products

assault –n. an attack or the threat of an attack

artifacts –n. things made by people in the past

expertise –n. special knowledge of a certain field of study or a special skill

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

http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2017/07/19/9047/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2017/07/19/9047/VOA Special EnglishWed, 19 Jul 2017 03:24:00 UTC
<![CDATA[Learning English with English Clubs]]>Jill Robbins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:

For many English learners, speaking is the most difficult part of the language to master. To improve your speaking skills, you need to be able to practice with other English learners or English speakers.

One way to do this is by joining – or starting – an English club. In today’s Education Tips, we discuss how English clubs can be helpful to your language-learning process.

This is part one of a two-part series on English clubs. In this episode, we offer advice for how to start and organize an English club. In next week’s episode, we will suggest some fun and educational activities for your club.

English clubs for language learning

There are many reasons why English clubs can help learners of all ages and levels improve their English. The most important reason is that they offer learners a chance to practice English by actually speaking it.

There are other advantages, too. English clubs are less formal than a classroom setting. Many learners find them more fun than usual English classes. They also let learners practice English in more real-life situations. This can increase a learner’s desire to practice and learn on their own.

Bonnie Norton and Ernst Von Glasersfeld are learning theory experts. They say that using a language in authentic situations is very important for learners. So is being motivated to practice and improve, they say.

Now that you understand some of the benefits of an English club, let’s discus how you can create your own club.

Students participating in a university English club.
Students participating in a university English club.

Starting an English club

Step1: Finding club members:

The first step in starting an English club is to find club members. There are different ways to do this.

If you are a teacher creating the club for your students, then the easiest way is to put up signs in classrooms advertising the club’s first meeting. You can also pass around a sign-up sheet in classes.

If you are trying to start a club at your place of work, you can advertise your club by sending an email around to coworkers. You can also put up signs about the club around the workplace.

If your club is open for anyone to join, you can use the internet to find members. Websites such as Meetup or Facebook are great places to announce club meetings and communicate with members.

Step 2 – Find a meeting location:

Next, you must find a place for your club to meet. This step is very important. The location of your club will affect how many people come to your meetings. It is important to consider several things when choosing a location.

First, how easy is it for members to find and get to the location? It is a good idea to find a central location that is easy to get to. Otherwise, members may slowly stop coming. Second, it is important to find a location that is safe. You want your members to feel comfortable as they are arriving and leaving.

If you are a teacher, the easiest location is probably in a classroom or another room in the school building. English clubs often meet after school or work hours. This can make it easier to find an available room.

If you are creating an English club outside of a class or work setting, consider holding meetings at a cafe, restaurant or bar. These places often have enough space for large groups. Club members coming straight from school or work will also have a chance to eat or drink something.

Wherever you meet, make sure to speak with the owners of the business or building and get their permission.

Isidore Tine (right) teaches the English Club of Fandene, Senegal.
Isidore Tine (right) teaches the English Club of Fandene, Senegal.

Step 3 – Holding your first meeting

The third step is to hold your first meeting. The first meeting is important for every English club. It is a good idea to use the first meeting as a chance to talk with members about logistics. This includes how often and where the club will meet, whether or not there will be membership fees, and how the club leadership will work.

Club leadership

Club leadership is one of the most important parts of starting an English club. If you have a good system of leadership, your club has a better chance at lasting.

If your club is small enough, or more informal, sometimes all you need is one person to lead the club. The main responsibility of the one leader is to organize and lead the meetings. The leader also must communicate information to club members.

However, if your club is large, it is a good idea to have a group of people that can help run the club.

This kind of leadership is useful for many reasons. It divides the amount of work it takes to run a club among several people. It also helps club members practice speaking English with real-life tasks. And, if the members of your club are mostly students, it can help them develop teamwork and leadership skills.

It is also important to have rules for the leadership system. For example, how long will club leaders hold their positions? How will they transfer power to someone else if they must quit the club? You should consider holding elections to choose new leaders.

A university English club, with their adviser.
A university English club, with their adviser.

Whatever leadership system you choose, the goal of an English club remains the same: to keep your club members motivated to continue participating. So, club leaders should not try to do everything themselves.

In fact, it is a good idea to give tasks to many different club members. This makes the members feel important. They are more likely to remain committed to the club. And it can increase their desire to learn.

Final thoughts

English clubs can take many forms and serve many purposes. Following these steps will help any club have a successful start.

Join us next week as we talk about fun and creative activities to do with your newly formed English club.

I'm Jill Robbins.

And I’m Phil Dierking.

Phil Dierking wrote this story for VOA Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

Hello readers! For part two in this series on English clubs, we would love to hear about your experiences and ideas for club activities. We are looking for people who are either in an English club or have had experience with one, or have started an English club. If you fit this description and would like to answer a few questions about your experience for our article, please let us know in the “comments” section below, or on our Facebook page, and we will get in touch with you. Thanks!

Words in This Story

advantage - n. something (such as a good position or condition) that helps to make someone or something better or more likely to succeed than others​

authentic - adj. real or genuine

benefit - n. a good or helpful result or effect​

club - adj. a group of people who meet to participate in an activity

committed - adj. willing to give your time, energy, etc., to something​ ​

logistics - n. the things that must be done to plan and organize a complicated activity or event that involves many people​

motivation - n. the act or process of giving someone a reason for doing something​

task - n. a piece of work that has been given to someone ​

http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2017/07/19/0685/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2017/07/19/0685/VOA Special EnglishWed, 19 Jul 2017 02:06:00 UTC
<![CDATA[South Korea Calls for Talks with North to Reduce Tensions]]>UNSV.COM英语学习频道如果想下载文章的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:

South Korea’s government proposed on Monday to hold military talks with North Korea to reduce tensions between the two countries.

The South Korean defense ministry offered to hold a meeting Friday at the truce village of Panmunjom. The village sits along the border between the two sides.

South Korea’s vice defense minister said the talks would seek “to stop all hostile actions which (heighten) military tensions at the border.”

The meeting would be the first between Korean officials since December 2015.

North Korea has not yet answered the proposal.

Kim Sunhyang, acting president of the Korea Red Cross, proposes talks to restart meetings of families separated by the Korean War..
Kim Sunhyang, acting president of the Korea Red Cross, proposes talks to restart meetings of families separated by the Korean War..

In another development, the South Korean Red Cross has proposed to hold a meeting with North Korean officials on August 1. It also offered to hold the meeting at Panmunjom.

The purpose of that meeting would be to discuss restarting reunions for families separated by the Korean War. An estimated 60,000 South Koreans have sought to take part in the exchanges.

North Korea has called for the return of 12 North Korean female restaurant workers who fled to South Korea last year before family reunions can begin again.

South Korea, however, says the workers fled of their own free will.

Two track policy seeks talks while supporting restrictions

Efforts to restart military talks and family meetings follow South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s attempts to develop a two-track policy.

South Korea’s Unification Ministry says the latest proposals are consistent with Moon’s policy.

“There is no change in our position that we will put forth effort to (persuade) North Korea to come out for denuclearization by using all possible measures such as sanctions and talks,” South Korea’s unification minister said.

Moon has supported a policy of engagement with the North Korean government. He is seeking to open talks with the North Korean government while supporting U.S.-led restrictions on North Korea.

The U.S. and United Nations Security Council have placed sanctions on the North for its long-range missile tests and nuclear weapons program.

North Korea’s most recent missile test took place on July 4. Experts have said the missile could reach the U.S. state of Alaska.

Daniel Pinkston is a North Korea expert with Troy University in Seoul.

He said South Korea may be willing to take steps like suspending loudspeaker broadcasts across the border, which North Korea opposes.

“Once that is established, then both sides can understand what the other is seeking. They can signal to the other side what they want, what problems or issues they have with the other side,” Pinkston said.

I’m Mario Ritter.

Chris Hannas and Brian Padden reported this story for VOA News with contributions from Youmi Kim. Mario Ritter adapted it for VOA Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

Words in This Story

Reunion –n. to meet again with family or people who share close ties after a long separation

two track –adj. using two policies to reach a goal

sanctions –n. measures taken against a country to cause it to obey international laws or requirements

consistent –adj. continuing to do things in a certain way, not changing

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/2017/07/18/0733/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2017/07/18/0733/VOA Special EnglishTue, 18 Jul 2017 03:21:00 UTC
<![CDATA[Game of Thrones Opens Seventh Season]]>UNSV.COM英语学习频道如果想下载文章的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:

This is What’s Trending Today.

Many people watched the first program in the seventh season of Game of Thrones Sunday night.

This was the beginning of the second-to-last season for the award-winning television series.

The series is the creation of American cable and satellite television network HBO, or Home Box Office. Game of Thrones is available mainly in the United States and other English-speaking countries, such as Australia and Britain.

About 8 million people watched the last episode of season six, which came out last June. Add in people who watched the show on a computer or electronic device, and the total was over 20 million.

With that many people watching, it is no surprise that “Game of Thrones” was a hot subject Monday morning.

In the U.S. alone, over 5 million people searched Google for keywords related to the show. Game of Thrones was also the top entertainment subject on Facebook.

Game of Thrones is based on a series of books by George R.R. Martin. The book series is known as A Song of Ice and Fire.

The first book, called “A Game of Thrones,” came out in 1996.

The first episode of the television show came out in 2011. To date, 61 episodes have been released.

The show’s actors have become famous and appeared in movies. Some of the best-known actors are Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke.

So what did people think of Sunday night’s episode?

Entertainment Weekly called it “terrific.” The magazine wrote that almost every important character made an appearance and “set the stage for … an epic end game in Westeros.”

Westeros is the make-believe continent within which much of the action takes place.

Many people reacted to the appearance of a fairly new character, Euron Greyjoy. He is the new king of the Iron Islands. He wants to make an alliance with Cersei Lannister, played by Headey.

Greyjoy is played by Danish actor Pilou Asbaek. Lots of people reacted on social media to his leather clothing. They said he looked like a rock music star or someone about to go out dancing.

Fans of the TV series enjoyed connecting with their favorite characters after more than a year. In addition, many fans reacted to the appearance by British singer Ed Sheeran. He was singing at a campfire.

Most people thought it was funny to see the singer on the show.

The online magazine Slate publishes a report on each week’s “Game of Thrones” episode. It is called “This Week’s Worst Person in Westeros.”

This week, the magazine nominated Sheeran for the honor.

And that’s What’s Trending Today.

I’m Dan Friedell.

Dan Friedell wrote this story for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

Are you excited about the new season of Game of Thrones? We want to know. Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.

Words in This Story

throne – n. the special chair for a king, queen, or other powerful person

episode – n. a television show, radio show, etc., that is one part of a series

set the stage – v. to put (something) in a place or position

epic – adj. very great or large and usually difficult or impressive

charactern. a person in a story or play

fan – n. a follower of something

http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2017/07/18/9397/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2017/07/18/9397/VOA Special EnglishTue, 18 Jul 2017 02:32:00 UTC
<![CDATA[What Does Kim Jong Un Want?]]>UNSV.COM英语学习频道如果想下载文章的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:

Kim Jong Un became North Korea’s leader in late 2011 after the death of his father Kim Jong Il.

Many wondered what the young, Swiss-educated leader would do for the poor, isolated country with nuclear weapons. Almost six years later, there are still unanswered questions. But the world has learned some things about Kim.

Kim Jong Un has actually improved North Korea’s economy under his rule. Unlike the father, he seems uninterested in negotiations on its nuclear program. And the world has cause for concern with the latest test firing of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

What is Kim doing?

His father, who ruled North Korea from 1994 to 2011, also ordered a series of weapons tests. But the elder Kim was willing to discuss weapons for food exchanges.

No such talks have happened under Kim Jong Un. He has overseen three of the North’s five atomic test explosions and both of its successful satellite launches. Experts view the launches as a test of long-range missile technology.

On July 4, North Korea launched an ICBM that could reach the American state of Alaska. Kim celebrated the successful missile test as a “gift” to the United States on its Independence Day holiday. Kim said that North Korea will not give up its weapons until the U.S. stops its hostile policy against the North.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reacts with scientists and technicians of the DPRK Academy of Defence Science after the test-launch of the intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-14
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reacts with scientists and technicians of the DPRK Academy of Defence Science after the test-launch of the intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-14

Why is Kim willing to take risks?

Kim is believed to be 33 years old. As ruler of North Korea, he has not met any foreign leaders or traveled abroad. The best-known foreigner he has met: former NBA player Dennis Rodman.

The North Korean leader may have believed that the U.S. and its allies will not attack his country directly. Experts fear many people in South Korea will be killed if the North chose to retaliate. The capital city of Seoul with its 10 million residents is within the range of North Korea’s artillery along the border.

Kim may also have believed that China, North Korea’s neighbor and ally, does not want a weakened North Korea along its border. Last February, North Korean agents removed a possible rival for power in North Korea. The agents killed Kim Jong Nam, the leader’s half brother, when he was in Malaysia.

North Korea’s economic growth in recent years has also allowed Kim to focus on his nuclear program. His father, by comparison, had to negotiate with other countries for food after a famine in the mid-1990s that killed tens of thousands.

People gather to mark the occasion of the 23rd anniversary of the death of the country's founding father Kim Il Sung in this photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang July 8, 2017
People gather to mark the occasion of the 23rd anniversary of the death of the country's founding father Kim Il Sung in this photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang July 8, 2017

What does Kim want?

Kim has seen what happened to Libya’s Moammar Qaddafi and Iraq’s Saddam Hussein after they gave their up nuclear weapons programs.

Cheong Seong-Chang is an analyst at South Korea’s Sejong Institute. He said, “Kim doesn’t want to resolve issues through diplomacy. He’s just trying to protect himself by reinforcing his country’s military power.”

Kim likely thinks his nuclear bombs will prevent the U.S. from entering a conflict on the Korean Peninsula. “If North Korea demonstrates its ability to strike Washington and New York ... and threatens to turn them into a sea of fire, the U.S. couldn’t easily enter a war,” Cheong said.

It will take more time for North Korea to master the technology for a working ICBM. Once that is accomplished, Kim could push for talks to end U.N. sanctions against North Korea. In the events of such talks, Kim is not likely to give up his country nuclear weapons.

“He cannot give up nukes [nuclear weapons] because they are the core of his power,” said Cho Han Bum, an analyst at South Korea’s Korea Institute for National Unification.

What could stand in Kim’s way?

The North Korean ICBM could be capable of reaching Alaska. But experts say the North still needs to master several more technologies before the missile will work perfectly. When that happens, the U.S. might reconsider military strikes, Cho said.

Aside from a U.S. attack, China could suspend or reduce its oil shipments to the North.

China sends about 500,000 tons of crude oil to North Korea every year. That is nearly 90 percent of the North’s oil supply, according to Cho Bong-hyun of Seoul’s IBK Economic Research Institute.

If China ends its oil shipments, the North’s military cannot fly its warplanes or operate its tanks. That will not help Kim to stay in power, Cheong predicts.

“We can see he’s so far run North Korea in a smarter way than his father,” Cheong said. “But there is a high possibility that his adventurous, uncompromising attitude will eventually make things turn out badly.”

I’m Anne Ball.

People dance in Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea, Thursday, July 6, 2017, to celebrate the test launch of North Korea's first intercontinental ballistic missile two days earlier
People dance in Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea, Thursday, July 6, 2017, to celebrate the test launch of North Korea's first intercontinental ballistic missile two days earlier

Hai Do adapted this story based on AP, Reuters and VOA News reports. Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor.

Words in This Story

Isolated – adj. separate from others

Retaliate – v. make an attack in return for a similar attack

Resident – n. someone who live in a particular place

Rival – n. someone that is almost as good

Famine – n. a situation in which many people do not have enough food to eat

Reinforce – v. to strengthen by adding supplies, support or people

Sanction – n. action taken to force a country to obey international laws by limiting trade or economic aid

Core – n. the central part of something

Adventurous – adj. full of danger and excitement

http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2017/07/18/3168/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2017/07/18/3168/VOA Special EnglishTue, 18 Jul 2017 01:25:00 UTC
<![CDATA[Meditation May Reduce Stress, Increase Focus]]>UNSV.COM英语学习频道如果想下载文章的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:

From VOA Learning English, this is the Health & Lifestyle report.

A mind filled with fear and bad thoughts is an unquiet mind. When you are worried, it can be hard to direct your attention on even a minor problem.

For some people, this can interfere with work, sleep and other activities. In others, it could lead to a serious mental disorder. People who suffer from anxiety, a nervous disorder, have unreasonable thoughts and fears about the future. Often they are unable to control these thoughts. They are also less able to deal with stress.

Two recent studies found that doing mindful meditation exercises can reduce signs of stress in people suffering from anxiety and make them more productive. The studies also showed that mindful meditation can lower a person’s stress levels.

What is mindful meditation?

Meditation is a simple, low-cost way to help calm an unquiet brain. We can define mindful meditation as thinking quietly about what is going on in the present. You don't think about the past or the future. You think only about your own breathing and what you sense around you.

Should you start thinking about a future task or a past mistake, you simply tell your mind to stop and return to the here and now. Another part of mindful meditation is to let yourself experience any thoughts and feelings without judgment.

Around the world, the number of people reporting stress and anxiety is increasing.

The World Health Organization says that between 1990 and 2013, the number of people suffering from depression and/or anxiety rose by nearly 50%. The WHO’s website says this increased the number from 416 million to 615 million people.

This is not just a health issue, but also an economic one. WHO experts estimate that depression and anxiety disorders cost the world economy US$1 trillion each year. Stressed and anxious workers who can't stay focused are not productive.

University of Waterloo study

In one recent study, Canadian researchers wanted to see how well anxious, stressed people completed an activity.

The researchers found that meditating for 10 minutes a day may help keep people's minds from becoming unfocused. So, mindful meditation may help people stay on task.

Mengran Xu is a clinical psychologist at the University of Waterloo in Ontario. He and his colleagues studied with people who showed signs of anxiety.

“We know that anxious people in general, if you ask them to stay on task, it is hard for them. They tend to wander. They tend to worry. But those people who practiced mindfulness didn’t. They were able to stay on task.'

In this study, 82 people suffering from anxiety were asked to perform a computer task that required high levels of focus. Then researchers interrupted them as they performed the work. The researchers studied their ability to stay focused.

Then the 82 individuals were divided into two groups. One group listened to an audio book. The other group did mindful meditation for about 10 minutes.

Finally, researchers asked all the subjects to go back to their computers.

Xu says that those who meditated performed much better on the task.

'The anxious people who listened to the audio books, they performed much worse over time, while the anxious people who practiced mindfulness meditation, they were able to in a way improve and maintain their performance on the task.'

The researchers published their findings in the journal Consciousness and Cognition.

FILE - A patient recovering from hip replacement surgery holds a leaf from an orchid to her face as she practices meditation to deal with her pain.
FILE - A patient recovering from hip replacement surgery holds a leaf from an orchid to her face as she practices meditation to deal with her pain.

Georgetown University study

The other study is from the Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, DC.

For this study, researchers looked at 89 patients who have an anxiety disorder.

The researchers divided the patients into two groups. One group took a mindfulness meditation training program for eight weeks. The other group -- the control group – took a class on Stress Management Education for eight weeks.

People from both groups were asked to do something stressful. They had to give a short speech in front of a crowd -- not once but twice, both before and after their training.

During each speech, researchers measured levels of hormones and proteins that the body releases when a person is feeling stressed.

The control group, researchers said, showed small increases in stress on the second speech compared to the first. This suggests their stress and anxiety levels increased when they had to give the speech again.

However, when making the second speech, those who used mindful meditation produced fewer stress hormones and proteins. This suggests that meditation worked to reduce stress.

Elizabeth A. Hoge is a doctor and works in the medical center's Department of Psychiatry. She says people who used mindfulness meditation had 'sharply reduced stress-hormone' levels and other biological responses to a stressful situation. And those who took the stress management training had poor responses.

Hoge and her colleagues reported their findings in the journal Psychiatry Research.

And that’s the Health & Lifestyle report. I’m Anna Matteo.

Jessica Berman reported on the Canadian study for VOANews.com. Matt Hillburn reported on the Georgetown University study for VOA. Anna Matteo adapted the stories for Learning English with additional reporting from several sources.

Now, test your understanding with this short quiz.

Quiz - Meditation May Reduce Stress, Increase Focus

Quiz - Meditation May Reduce Stress, Increase Focus

Words in This Story

focus n. a subject that is being discussed or studied : the subject on which people's attention is focused

anxiety n. fear or nervousness about what might happen

stress n. a state of mental tension and worry caused by problems in your life, work, etc.

on task adj. concentrating or focusing on what is to be done

tend v. to exhibit an inclination

wander v. to go away from a path, course, etc. often used figuratively

interrupt v. to stop or hinder by breaking in

consciousness n. the condition of being conscious : the normal state of being awake and able to understand what is happening around you : a person's mind and thoughts

cognition n. conscious mental activities : the activities of thinking, understanding, learning, and remembering

management n. the act or process of controlling and dealing with something

hormone n. a natural substance that is produced in the body and that influences the way the body grows or develops

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<![CDATA[Who Tips More, Men or Women]]>Bruce Alpert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:

A new study explores the custom of tipping in the United States.

Many Americans give tips to people who perform a job for them, especially workers in the service industry. They pay a little extra to people cutting their hair, driving them across town or serving them a meal at a restaurant.

The new survey was done for the website CreditCards.com.

Princeton Survey Research Associates questioned over 1,000 individuals. The subjects were asked about how and when they offer tips.

The researchers found that men give bigger tips to restaurant workers than women. It also found people allied with the Republican Party give bigger tips than supporters of the Democratic Party. And people who live in the northern U.S. are more generous with tips than those living in the South.

The survey found that people who earn $50,000 or more a year give bigger tips than those who earn less than $50,000. One likely reason: the wealthier Americans have more money to spend.

The report also said that when getting a haircut, 67 percent always tip the person doing the cutting, while 12 percent never do. In a coffee shop, 29 percent always tip the person preparing their coffee, while 30 percent never do.

And when staying at a hotel, 27 percent always tip the housekeeping crew and 31 percent never do.

Michael Lynn is a professor of consumer behavior and marketing at the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration in New York. In other words, he knows a lot about the issue of tipping.

In earlier surveys, Lynn said, he found mixed results on the generosity of men and women when it comes to tipping. In some studies, men gave bigger tips than women. In others, women gave more money.

Lynn’s own research found that men give bigger tips when the restaurant server is a woman and women give more when the server is a man.

Lynn said that in any survey dealing with human generosity, people can say they give more than they really do. There is no way of finding out if people answering a researcher’s questions are telling the truth.

Creditcards.com spoke to one server at a restaurant in Virginia. She said, “All of the really big tips I’ve gotten have been from men, and some of the really bad ones have been from groups of women. I think sometimes men tip more because they’re trying to impress someone.”

Tipping is important to service workers

Tips are very important to service employees. People who work at restaurants often get most of their earnings from tips.

Nationwide, Americans generally tip between 15 to 20 percent at restaurants and leave from $2 to $10 a day for the people who clean their hotel rooms. Tips of 15 percent are also common for people who drive taxis.

A taxi driver heads to his vehicle as other taxis line up outside LaGuardia Airport in New York.
A taxi driver heads to his vehicle as other taxis line up outside LaGuardia Airport in New York.

Tipping differs across the world

In 2015, Conde Nast Traveler magazine published a report on tipping around the world. Here are some of its findings about restaurants:

In Nigeria, a 10 percent tip is enough if a service charge has not already been added to the cost of a restaurant meal. In Brazil, no tip is required because a 10 percent service charge is generally added on restaurant bills.

In Cambodia, add $1 US dollar for the server. In Indonesia, a 10 percent tip is added to the bill. But diners often leave a little extra money.

In Vietnam, a service charge is not usually added to the restaurant bill. If that’s the case, you should add a 10 percent tip, and more if you use a credit card.

But here is something to keep in mind. If you are able to give the person serving you a tip or a bigger one than what is expected, your generosity will be welcome. Many service workers do not make much money, and even an extra dollar or two can make a difference in their lives.

I'm Bruce Alpert.

And I'm Lucija Milonig.

Bruce Alpert reported on this story for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section and share your views on our Facebook Page. What’s your experience? Do you tip? How often? All the time? Once in a while? Never? If you provide services, how often do you get tips?

Words in This Story

survey - n. an activity in which people are asked questions in order to gather information about what most people think about something

restaurant - n. a place where you can buy and eat a meal

generous - adj. freely giving or sharing money and other valuable things

impress - v. to cause someone to feel admiration or interest

consumern. someone who buys goods and services

impressv. to affect strongly or deeply

billn. a record of goods sold or services performed

http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2017/07/17/6031/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2017/07/17/6031/VOA Special EnglishMon, 17 Jul 2017 03:09:00 UTC
<![CDATA[Security Apps Help People Avoid Gun Violence]]>UNSV.COM英语学习频道如果想下载文章的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:

Computer programs called apps are helping people avoid violence in the streets of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Rio de Janeiro has an average of 15 gun battles every day. Innocent people often get caught up in the shootings.

One of the latest security apps is called OTT. That is short for Onde Tem Tiroteio, which means “Where There is a Shootout” in Portuguese.

The app collects reports of shootings and sends the information to its users through social media services, such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Telegram and Zello.

Henrique Coelho Caamaño provides technical support for OTT. He told the Reuters news agency, “I keep saying, I don’t want a million ‘likes.’ I only want to save lives.”

His group says its news alerts reach nearly 3 million people. That number represents almost half the population of Rio de Janeiro.

“Our job is not to arrest anyone,” Caamaño said. “We don’t have a direct link to the police and drug traffickers, or whatever. Our aim is to help people avoid crossing paths with lost bullets.”

Violent crime in the city rose by 11 percent in the first half of 2017, compared with the same period in 2016. More than 2,300 people were killed in the first five months of this year.

Another app that informs users of gun violence is called “Crossfire,” or Fogo Cruzado in Portuguese. The app was created just before the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Its developers received financial support from the rights group Amnesty International.

“Shootings take place on a daily basis,” says Cecília Oliveira, the data manager for the app. “Not a day goes by without the peace police unit recording gunfire or a shooting in some area.”

Oliveira said that people provide information about street violence through social media.

“Sometimes they’ll tell us: ‘I walked through a shootout just now,’ and sometimes they tell us: ‘It’s calmed down,’” she said. “We have that rapport from people. The number of app users grows every day.”

The app provides users with details about shootouts, such as the location, the number of people shot and other information. Since Rio de Janeiro does not keep an official list of shootings, the app helps provide unrecorded gun violence statistics.

I’m Mario Ritter.

And I’m Olivia Liu.

Olivia Liu adapted this story for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

Words in This Story

rapportn. to have good relations with someone

statisticsn. numbers that represent information about people or activities

location – n. a position or place

alert – n. a message or loud sound that warns people of some danger or problem

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

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<![CDATA[Looking to the Future at Boston University]]>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:

Editor's Note: This report is part of a continuing series about international student life at colleges and universities across the United States. Join us over the next several weeks as we bring you stories about international students and the American higher education system as a whole.

Growing up in Hong Kong, Jasmine Lee always planned on going overseas for her higher education needs.

Lee attended the Hong Kong International School, a private Christian school. It offers an American-style education from kindergarten classes all the way through high school.

The Hong Kong International School teaches both Hong Kong natives and foreigners who live in the former British territory. Almost all of the school’s classes are taught in English. So Lee improved her English skills and learned about the rest of the world at an early age.

BU undergraduate student Jasmine Lee, who studies early childhood education.
BU undergraduate student Jasmine Lee, who studies early childhood education.

When Lee finished high school in 2015, she already knew she wanted to go to a university in the United States. But even before then, she had one school in mind.

Her older brother started taking classes at Boston University in the American state of Massachusetts in 2012. He loved his experience at the school, she says, so it became her first choice.

Boston University, or BU, is a private research university with about 30,000 students. It was officially established in 1869, but it is even older. The school that would become BU was set up 30 years earlier as a religious college in Vermont.

Ever since moving to Massachusetts, the school has had a long history of producing world leaders and important thinkers. For example, Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone while working in one of its laboratories in 1876.

Lee liked the feeling of openness her brother described as part of his experience at BU. Many colleges and universities require students to choose a specific field of study before their first year of classes. But BU admitted Lee’s brother under its general studies program, which let him delay his decision on a field of study.

This made Lee so sure she wanted to attend BU that it was the only school to which she applied for admission. She even applied under the university’s early decision program. Usually, American students seek admission to more than one college in the late winter of their final year of high school. They learn which schools have accepted them by spring.

But the early decision process is for students who are very interested in attending a specific college or university. Schools with early decision policies let interested students apply earlier. And requesting early decision can help a student’s chances by showing schools just how much a student wants to study there.

Lee moved to the United States and began her studies at BU in 2015. She is hoping to complete a bachelor’s degree program in early childhood education.

From very early on, the 19-year-old says she enjoyed her newfound independence. On weekends, she explores the city and goes to stores and restaurants with her friends.

Inside the Questrom School of Business at Boston University.
Inside the Questrom School of Business at Boston University.

Boston is a city with a lot of history, especially events related to the American Revolution against Britain. Several parts of the city still have buildings and streets that date back hundreds of years.

But the past really is not what concerns Lee. She says she likes to make plans for the future and sets difficult goals for herself. Luckily, she has been able to establish personal connections with her professors at Boston University. Those ties will most likely help her reach her goals after college, she says.

'If your professor is in your field … I think you get to build that network with your professor. They can sort of guide you towards your career in the future.'

For Luka Miladinovic, preparing for the future and life after college has never been more important.

Miladinovic is from Belgrade, Serbia’s capital. He began attending BU in 2013. He just completed a bachelor’s degree program in finance. But that was not what he planned on doing four years ago.

Miladinovic was at one point listed among some of the best rowers in the world. In fact, he competed in the world championships of rowing in 2011.

At that time, Miladinovic was completing his high school education and considering universities to attend both in and outside of Serbia. He wanted to find a school with a top rowing team. After the 2011 world championships, several schools in the United States offered him large amounts of financial assistance if he agreed to join their rowing team.

At first, Miladinovic liked the University of Washington, which he says has the best college rowing team in the country. But as soon as he agreed to attend the university, the BU rowing team contacted him. Its coach told the young man he was coming to Belgrade to meet with him in person.

When they met, the BU coach said that Miladinovic could join the best team in the country and work to continue its success if he liked. But an even greater test lay in helping a weaker team improve, the coach argued.

Miladinovic says he did not agree with that argument at first. But after thinking about what they discussed for several days, he did think the coach might be right. So Miladinovic decided to attend Boston University instead.

BU rowing team member and undergraduate student Luka Miladinovic.
BU rowing team member and undergraduate student Luka Miladinovic.

In the end, Miladinovic says he made the right decision. BU completely covered the costs of his studies in exchange for being on the rowing team. It is common for American universities with the biggest and best sports teams to do so. And he notes the way the coach led his team taught him a lot about how to value the team’s rowers and not be too critical of others.

This is a skill Miladinovic says he knows is very important outside the world of sports.

'Right now, I believe I can talk to whoever about whatever topic and I’m not going to be judging right away, because I know that so many reasons that stand behind any decision people made in their lives. And that helped me the most, I believe.'

As his studies at Boston University came to an end, Miladinovic noted that his rowing career will likely end as well. That is why he is thankful he was not just interested in sports when he was considering which school to attend. He says he placed equal value on study programs.

Miladinovic says his classes were difficult, but satisfying. He is also happy that he was able to find a job with the university, working in the office responsible for paying BU’s employees. Most student visas do not let students work more than a few hours a week. But Miladinovic says even his short time working in the office greatly improved his communication skills.

These are skills he knows he will need for his next big steps in life.

I’m Pete Musto.

And I'm Alice Bryant.

Pete Musto reported this story for VOA Learning English. Lucija Milonig produced the video. George Grow was the editor.

We want to hear from you. How do colleges and universities in your prepare students for life after they complete their studies? What are some things you think they could do to improve how they prepare students? Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.

Words in This Story

kindergartenn. a school or class for very young children

class(es)n. a series of meetings in which students are taught a particular subject or activity

specificadj. special or particular

appliedv. asked formally for something, such as a job, admission to a school, or a loan, usually in writing

admissionn. the act or process of accepting someone as a student at a school

bachelor’s degreen. a degree that is given to a student by a college or university usually after four years of study

networkn. a group of people or organizations that are closely connected and that work with each other

rower(s) – n. a person who participates in the sport of racing in long, narrow boats that are moved by using oars

financialadj. relating to money

coachn. a person who teaches and trains the members of a sports team and makes decisions about how the team plays during games

topicn. someone or something that people talk or write about

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<![CDATA[WORDS AND THEIR STORIES - The World Is Your Oyster!]]>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:

Now, Words and Their Stories from VOA Learning English.

On this program, we explore common expressions in American English.

On another Words and Their Stories, we went to the high seas to learn about expressions with sharks. Today, we go back into the ocean to explore expressions involving other sea creatures.

Okay, first of all, the ocean is a big place. And a single drop of water in the ocean is nearly nothing. So, when we say something is like a drop in the ocean, we mean it is a very small amount compared to what is needed.

Let's say a high school needs $80,000 to build a new computer laboratory for its students. The school organizes a bake sale – an event held for the purpose of raising money. But on the day of the bake sale, it rains. No one comes because of the weather. By the end of the day, the high school raises only $100. If $80,000 is the goal, $100 is a drop in the ocean.

Here in the U.S., you may also hear the expression drop in the bucket. But a drop in the ocean is much more dramatic.

Another marine animal is the octopus.

A giant Pacific octopus sticks its tentacle to the glass tank.
A giant Pacific octopus sticks its tentacle to the glass tank.

These eight-tentacle creatures are full of surprises! Sadly, in spoken English, they do not have a good reputation. In fact, the word “octopus” has at least two not-so-good meanings.

An octopus can be a powerful and influential organization with its tentacles reaching far and wide, usually with harmful effects. For example, a multinational corporation that only wants to make money has its tentacles in everything from food production to energy resources.

Also, when a man cannot keep his hands off a woman, we say he is an octopus or has octopus hands. To use this expression, it is important that the woman does not want the attention of the “octopus.'

Now, we move on to another unusual sea creature – the eel.

This is an electric eel, which is extra strange.
This is an electric eel, which is extra strange.

Eels are long and look like snakes. Like octopuses, some people like to eat them. But they are difficult to catch because they are slippery.

And that brings us to another expression.

If someone is slippery as an eel, they are tricky and difficult to catch. We often use this expression as a warning to others. For example, 'Watch out for her. She's as slippery as an eel.' Like many terms that compare two things, you can use the first 'as' or leave it out. So, it's fine to say 'She is slippery as an eel.'

We would like to end our program today on a happy note. So, here are two positive expressions that come from ocean animals.

This next one sounds very strange. It involves oysters.

Opening an oyster is called 'shucking.'
Opening an oyster is called 'shucking.'

Some people consider oysters a delicacy – a rare food that you only eat once in a while. Oysters are great for another for another reason. They make pearls! So, oysters are rare indeed.

And that brings us to our next expression.

When we say 'The world is your oyster!' we mean that you are able to make the most out of life. You take every chance given to you and put it to good use.

Language experts say this is one of the many expressions created by the English writer William Shakespeare. He used it in his play The Merry Wives of Windsor.

However, some people use this expression a little differently. It can also mean that you have every chance or opportunity you could possibly want. You have money, skills, ability and freedom to do exactly what you want.

For example, if you have a friend who grew up with extreme wealth, attended the best schools and have parents who are both highly connected in their professional fields, you could say, 'The world is her oyster!'

Where oysters are small and strange looking, whales are huge and majestic. Whales are some of the largest mammals on Earth.

Whales and mountains are often described as 'majestic.' This photo has both!
Whales and mountains are often described as 'majestic.' This photo has both!

And unlike to octopuses and eels, whales have a very good reputation.

In fact, if something is a whale of a … thing, it is a very good thing. If you performed very well at work, your boss could say you did a whale of a job.

'A whale of' something can also mean it's very big. For example, if you have a really big project to do, you could say you have a whale of a project.

Americans also use the expression “to have a whale of a time.” This simply means to have a really good time.

You might hear or read this expression, but we have other ways to say it. For example, if someone asks me how a party was, I could say, “It was a blast!” or “I had an awesome time!”

And I've had a whale of a time bringing you this Words and Their Stories. After all, when you do something you love as a career, the world is your oyster!

I'm Anna Matteo.

Anna Matteo wrote this story for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor. At the end, Ringo Starr sings 'Octopus's Garden.'

Words in This Story

dramatic adj. greatly affecting people's emotions : attracting attention : causing people to carefully listen, look, etc.

tentacle n. one of the long, flexible arms of an animal (such as an octopus) that are used for grabbing things and moving : tentacles [plural] often disapproving : power or influence that reaches into many areas : <The corporation's tentacles are felt in every sector of the industry.>

reputation n. the common opinion that people have about someone or something : the way in which people think of someone or something

slippery adj. difficult to stand on, move on, or hold because of being smooth, wet, icy, etc.

positive adj. good or useful

delicacy n. a food that people like to eat because it is special or rare

majestic adj. large and impressively beautiful

blast n. informal : a very enjoyable and exciting experience

awesome adj. informal : extremely good

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<![CDATA[Hate Crimes Rise, Still Under-Reported]]>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:

The number of hate crimes seems to be increasing in the United States.

Hate crimes include attacks on Muslim women who wear hijabs and threats against Jewish community centers.

But the true number of such crimes is not known. Experts say that is because such crimes are under-reported. So policymakers are discussing ways to change that.

A system to report hate crimes

In March, two Democratic lawmakers -- Senator Richard Blumenthal and Representative Don Beyer -- wrote a bill that would help make better use of a reporting system known as the National Incident Based Reporting System, or NIBRS.

Two months later, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a meeting to discuss religious hate crimes. Several Democratic members of the committee promised to support a plan to require hate crimes to be reported.

Mourners listen to speakers June 21, 2017, in Reston, Va., during a vigil in honor of Nabra Hassanen. Islamic leaders say the beating death of Nabar looks all too much like a hate crime.
Mourners listen to speakers June 21, 2017, in Reston, Va., during a vigil in honor of Nabra Hassanen. Islamic leaders say the beating death of Nabar looks all too much like a hate crime.

Last week, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke at a meeting about hate crimes. He said he had created a group to help find ways to improve the reporting of such crimes.

Jonathan Greenblatt leads the Anti-Defamation League. He told the Senate committee that “there are very real consequences to this lack of comprehensive reporting. It is well documented that victims are far more likely to report a hate crime if they know a special reporting system is in place -- if they believe the police are ready and able to respond effectively.”

The FBI’s definition of hate crime is a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole, or in part, by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender or gender identity.'


Experts say many hate crimes are not reported.

The FBI’s Uniform Crime Report (UCR) has gathered crime statistics since 1930. The bureau began including information about hate crimes in its yearly report after the passage of the 1990 Hate Crime Statistics Act.

However, the law did not require that police departments report such crimes. So thousands of the nation’s 18,000 law enforcement agencies either chose not to take part in the program or do not report any hate crimes.

The FBI’s most recent report was released in November. It showed 5,850 bias-motivated offenses in 2015. Yet a national study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics estimated that about 250,000 hate crimes took place in 2015.

Community members take part in a protest to demand stop hate crime during the funeral service of Imam Maulama Akonjee, and Thara Uddin in the Queens borough of New York City, Aug. 15, 2016.
Community members take part in a protest to demand stop hate crime during the funeral service of Imam Maulama Akonjee, and Thara Uddin in the Queens borough of New York City, Aug. 15, 2016.

Brian Levin is the director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University at San Bernardino. He says the gap between the two numbers shows how large the under-reporting of hate crimes is.

“This is not only because of an absence of trainings, model policies, executive leadership, outreach and coordination, but also because the reporting system itself is not mandatory,” Levin said.

Levin presented information about hate crimes reporting at the meeting last week at which Sessions spoke. Levin told the meeting that activists strongly support making hate crimes reporting mandatory.

Should reporting hate crimes be mandatory?

The FBI says the southern state of Tennessee is the only state that requires all law enforcement agencies to report hate crimes to the state’s bureau of investigations.

“We have a 100 percent participation rate,” Tennessee Bureau of Investigation spokesman Josh DeVine said. “All agencies in Tennessee are currently in compliance with” the state’s crime reporting system.

DeVine says the agency gives training to the state’s more than 550 law enforcement agencies.

“What we’re trying to do in talking about hate crime statistics in Tennessee is to create a culture and a climate where people realize that even one of these is a problem, and it’s not something we stand for as Tennesseans,” DeVine said.

The FBI has admitted for some time that its voluntary UCR reporting system is not perfect.

“There are jurisdictions that fail to report hate crime statistics,” then-FBI Director James Comey said in a speech to the Anti-Defamation League in 2014. “Others claim there were no hate crimes in their community -- a fact that would be welcome, if true.”

In 2015, almost 15,000 law enforcement agencies gave information about crimes in their area. But Greenblatt said just 12 percent of them “actively reported” on hate crimes. He said 66 cities with a population of more than 100,000 did not report hate crimes.

“It is absolutely clear that the data we have now significantly understates the true number of hate crimes committed in our nation,” Greenblatt said.

While Democrats have voiced support for a mandatory crime reporting system, many Republicans have not.

“If law enforcement is unwilling to call a crime a hate crime, I don’t see how a change in the law to require reporting of hate crime will change the current situation of spotty data and missed opportunities,” Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley said.

I’m Alice Bryant.

And I'm Bryan Lynn.

Masood Farivar reported this story from Washington. Christopher Jones-Cruise adapted the report for Learning English. Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor.

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

Words in This Story

motivate – v. to give (someone) a reason for doing something; to be a reason for (something)

offender – n. a person who commits a crime

bias – n. a tendency to believe that some people, ideas, etc., are better than others that usually results in treating some people unfairly

statistics – n. a number that represents a piece of information (such as information about how often something is done, how common something is, etc.)

gap – n. a difference between two people, groups or things (often + between)

outreach – n. the activity or process of bringing information or services to people

in compliance with – expression in the way that is required by (a rule, law, etc.)

jurisdiction – n. an area within which a particular system of laws is used

understate – v. to say that (something) is smaller, less important, etc., than it really is

spotty – adj. not always good; good in some parts or at some times but not others (chiefly US)

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<![CDATA[Scottish Researchers Closer to Turning Whisky Waste into Fuel]]>UNSV.COM英语学习频道如果想下载文章的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:

Whisky has grown popular around the world in the last 10 years. New distilleries are opening, and old distilleries are trying to produce more whisky.

But as people make more whisky, they are also making more whisky waste – huge amounts of leftover grain and liquid.

Distillers do not have many options for what to do with this material. Some give it away to farms to feed animals.

Others pay over $300,000 per year to dispose of it.

And now, a company in Edinburgh, Scotland called Celtic Renewables is trying to make fuel with it.

What is draff anyway?

To understand whisky waste, you have to understand how whisky is made.

First, distillers take barley, corn or rye and turn the grain into mash. Then they combine the mixture with yeast. The yeast causes fermentation and creates alcohol.

Distillers heat the mash, create steam and then cool it down quickly. Alcohol vapor turns into liquid, ages, and eventually becomes whisky.

The used grain and water remain. In Scotland, the leftovers are called “draff” and “pot ale.”

Waste to biofuel

In 2015, Celtic Renewables received money from the Scottish government for their idea to turn draff and pot ale into fuel. The money has allowed the company to create a factory able to produce 500,000 liters of biofuel each year.

The company hopes to open the factory next year.

Martin Tangney is the president of Celtic Renewables. He thinks Scotland alone has enough raw materials from the whisky industry to produce 50 million liters of biofuel right away.

Tangney recently drove a car powered by his company’s fuel around a university in Scotland.

“It's quite fitting to use a Ford for this historic drive as the original Model-T Ford ran on biofuel, and the fermentation that we've developed to put the fuel in this car is a hundred years old, proven at large scale.”

The goal is not to replace gasoline completely. It is to reduce gasoline consumption and figure out what to do with the leftover material from distilling whisky.

Tangney said his product can make up to 15 percent of commercial gasoline without drivers having to modify their engines.

'The whisky industry will now have a sustainable and reliable way of disposing of their residue,” Tangney said. 'Plus we’ll create a brand new industry out of something that has no value whatsoever.'

I’m Dan Friedell.

Dan Friedell wrote this story for Learning English based on reporting by VOANews.com and Reuters. Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor.

Would you drive a car powered by biofuel made from grain? We want to know. Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.

Words in This Story

distillery – n. a place where alcohol like whisky or vodka is produced

mash – n. a wet mixture of crushed malt or grain that is used in making alcoholic drinks (such as beer and whiskey)

yeast – n. a type of fungus that is used in making alcoholic drinks (such as beer and wine) and in baking to help make dough rise

fermentation – n. a chemical process that results in the production of alcohol

steam – n. the hot gas that is created when water is boiled

biofuel – n. fuel that can power vehicles or engines made from natural substances instead of oil

reliable – adj. able to be trusted to do or provide what is needed : able to be relied on

residue – n. a usually small amount of something that remains after a process has been completed or a thing has been removed

http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2017/07/15/9912/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2017/07/15/9912/VOA Special EnglishSat, 15 Jul 2017 09:51:00 UTC
<![CDATA[People Love Food at US Falafel Shop that Helps Refugees]]>UNSV.COM英语学习频道如果想下载文章的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:

Customers at a Washington DC falafel shop are praising the tasty food as well as the owner’s efforts to help refugees.

Falafel Inc. is located in the Georgetown area, one of the city’s most expensive places to eat and live. Many people cannot believe they can buy a falafel sandwich at the shop for $3.00.

The shop opened just two months ago. It stays very busy, especially around midday when workers in the area are buying lunch.

But the shop is different from most others. The owner, Ahmad Ashkar, gives some of the money he earns to the United Nations World Food Program (WFP). For every $10 Falafel Inc. makes, he donates about 50 cents to the U.N. agency. This is enough to feed one refugee for a day.

Ashkar told VOA that while there are many ways to help refugees, he found a way that works well with his business.

“We chose falafel for two reasons. One, because falafel stands are prevalent around refugee camps around the world, it's actually the main food in most refugee camps. Because it's so cheap, and it's affordable, and it's highly nutritious. Second is my personal love and passion for falafel.”

The idea to help refugees by selling falafels is welcomed by customers like Nick Wright.

“I think what they are doing with refugees is a very good cause and I support it.”

Lunch buyer Roland Spier agrees.

“The food is delicious and hearing about the owner’s story before we went in was really inspiring. And I think it makes the food all that more enjoyable.”

Falafel Inc. owner Ahmad Ashkar talks with customers outside the shop in Washington's Georgetown neighborhood. (J.Soh/VOA)
Falafel Inc. owner Ahmad Ashkar talks with customers outside the shop in Washington's Georgetown neighborhood. (J.Soh/VOA)

Ashkar grew up on the falafels cooked by his Palestinian mother. And he makes them exactly the same way for his shop. Since the shop only makes falafels and small sides, it keeps costs low.

Donating 50 cents might not sound like a lot, but the money adds up. The shop has already donated enough money to feed almost 10,000 refugees.

Ashkar said he is looking into opening up more falafel shops around the world. He has a goal of at least 100 franchises, which would allow him to feed about 1 million refugees a year.

Customers line up at Falafel, Inc., a shop in Washington that donates a portion of its profits to the UN to help feed refugees. (Courtesy Falafel, Inc. Facebook page)
Customers line up at Falafel, Inc., a shop in Washington that donates a portion of its profits to the UN to help feed refugees. (Courtesy Falafel, Inc. Facebook page)

But he wants to do more than just feed refugees. He also wants to employ them in shops and eventually give them a chance to be more than a worker.

“We're looking at a place where the refugee can actually become, after 24 months of employment, an actual owner of the stores themselves.”

Ashkar said every day the number of worldwide refugees seems to grow. So he thinks expanding his business is one way to help solve a problem that he sees getting worse before it gets better.

I’m Bryan Lynn.

June Soh reported this story for VOA News. Bryan Lynn adapted it for Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.

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

Words in This Story

customer – n. person who buys goods or services from a business

sandwich n. two or more pieces of bread with a filling in the middle

prevalentadj. occurring in large amounts

cheap adj. low cost

passion – n. strong belief in or commitment to something

delicious adj. very tasty

inspiring – adj. causing someone to want to do something

franchise n. the right to sell a company’s goods or services in a particular area

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<![CDATA[AMERICAN STORIES - Hearts and Crosses - Part One]]>O. Henry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:

We present part one of the short story 'Hearts and Crosses,' by O. Henry. The story was originally adapted and recorded by the U.S. Department of State.

Baldy woods reached for a drink and got it. When Baldy wanted something, he usually got it. He — but this is not Baldy’s story. Now he took his third drink, which was larger than the first and the second. Baldy had been listening to the troubles of a friend. Now Baldy was going to tell his friend what to do. So the friend was buying him the drinks. This was the right thing for the friend to do.

“I’d be king if I were you,” said Baldy. He said it loudly and strongly.

Webb Yeager moved his wide hat back on his head. He put his fingers in his yellow hair and moved it about. It now looked wilder than before. But this did not help him to think better. And therefore he also got another drink.

“If a man marries a queen, it ought not make him nothing,” said Webb. Here was his real problem.

“Surely not,” said Baldy. “You ought to be a king. But you’re only the queen’s husband. That’s what happens to a man in Europe if he marries the king’s daughter. His wife becomes a queen. But is he a king? No. His only duty is to appear with the queen in pictures. And be the father of the next king. That’s not right. Yes, Webb, you are only the queen’s husband. And if I were you, I’d turn everything upside down and I would be king.”

Baldy finished his drink.

“Baldy,” said Webb, “you and I have been cowboys together for years. We’ve been riding the same roads since we were very young. I wouldn’t talk about my family to anyone but you. You were working on the Nopalito Ranch when I married Santa McAllister. I was foreman then. But what am I now? Nothing.”

“When old McAllister was the cattle king of West Texas,” continued Baldy, “you were important. You told people what to do. Your commands were as strong as his.”

“That was true,” said Webb, “until he discovered that I wanted to marry Santa. Then he sent me as far away from the ranch house as he could. When the old man died, they started to call Santa the ‘cattle queen.’ Now I tell the cattle what to do. That’s all. She takes care of all the business. She takes care of all the money. I can’t sell any cattle— not one animal. Santa is the queen, and I… I’m nothing.”

“I would be king if I were you,” said Baldy Woods again. “When a man marries a queen he ought to be the same as she is. Plenty of people think it’s strange, Webb. Your words mean nothing on the Nopalito Ranch. Mrs. Yeager is a fine little lady. But a man ought to be head of his own house.”

Webb’s brown face grew long with sadness. With that expression, and his wild yellow hair, and his blue eyes, he looked like a schoolboy who had lost his leadership to another, strong boy. Yet his tall body looked too strong for such a thing to happen to him.

“I’m riding back to the ranch today,” he said. It was easy to see that he did not want to go. “I have to start some cattle on the road to San Antonio tomorrow morning.”

“Well, I’ll go with you as far as Dry Lake,” said Baldy.

The two friends got on their horses and left the little town where they had met that morning.

At Dry Lake, they stopped to say goodbye. They had been riding for miles without talking. But in Texas, talk does not often continue steadily. Many things may happen between words. But when you begin to talk again, you are still talking about the same thing. So now Webb added something to the talk that began ten miles away.

“You remember, Baldy, there was a time when Santa was different. You remember the days when old McAllister kept me away from the ranch house. You remember how she would send me a sign that she wanted to see me? Old McAllister said that he would kill me if I came near enough. You remember the sign she used to send, Baldy? The picture of a heart with a cross inside it?”

“Me?” cried Baldy. “Sure I remember. Every cowboy on the ranch knew that sign of the heart and the cross. We would see it on things sent out from the ranch. We would see it on anything. It would be on newspapers. On boxes of food. Once I saw it on the back of the shirt of a cook that McAllister sent from the ranch.”

“Santa’s father made her promise that she wouldn’t write to me or send me any word. That heart-and-cross sign was her plan. When she wanted to see me, she would put that mark on something that she knew I would see. And when I saw it, I traveled fast to the ranch that same night. I would meet her outside the house.”

“We all knew it,” said Baldy. “But we never said anything. We wanted you to marry Santa. We knew why you had that fast horse. When we saw the heart and cross on something from the ranch, we always knew your horse was going to go fast that night.”

“The last time Santa sent me the sign,” said Webb, “was when she was sick. When I saw it, I got on my horse and started. It was a forty-mile ride. She wasn’t at our meeting-place. I went to the house. Old McAllister met me at the door. ‘Did you come here to get killed?’ he said. ‘I won’t kill you this time. I was going to send for you. Santa wants you. Go in that room and see her. Then come out here and see me.’

“Santa was lying in bed very sick. But she smiled, and put her hand in mine, and I sat down by the bed—mud and riding clothes and all. ‘I could hear you coming for hours, Webb,’ she said. ‘I was sure you would come. You saw the sign?’ ‘I saw it,’ I said. ‘It’s our sign,’ she said. ‘Hearts and crosses. To love and to suffer—that’s what they mean.’

“And old Doctor Musgrove was there. And Santa goes to sleep and Doctor Musgrove touches her face, and he says to me: ‘You were good for her. But go away now. The little lady will be all right in the morning.’

“Old McAllister was outside her room. ‘She’s sleeping,’ I said. ‘And now you can start killing me. You have plenty of time. I haven’t any- thing to fight with.’

“Old McAllister laughs, and he says to me: ‘Killing the best foreman in West Texas is not good business. I don’t know where I could get another good foreman. I don’t want you in the family. But I can use you on the Nopalito if you stay away from the ranch house. You go up and sleep, and then we’ll talk.’ ”

The two men prepared to separate. They took each other’s hand. “Goodbye, Baldy,” said Webb. “I’m glad I saw you and had this talk.” With a sudden rush, the two riders were on their way.

Then Baldy pulled his horse to a stop and shouted. Webb turned.

“If I were you,” came Baldy’s loud voice, “I would be king!”

At eight the following morning, Bud Turner got off his horse at the Nopalito ranch house. Bud was the cowboy who was taking the cattle to San Antonio. Mrs. Yeager was outside the house, putting water on some flowers.

In many ways Santa was like her father, “King” McAllister. She was sure about everything. She was afraid of nothing. She was proud. But Santa looked like her mother. She had a strong body and a soft prettiness. Because she was a woman, her manners were womanly. Yet she liked to be queen, as her father had liked to be king.

Webb stood near her, giving orders to two or three cowboys. “Good morning,” said Bud. “Where do you want the cattle to go? To Barber’s as usual?”

The queen always answered such a question. All the business— buying, selling, and banking—had been held in her hands. Care of the cattle was given to her husband. When “King” McAllister was alive, Santa was his secretary and his helper. She had continued her work and her work had been successful. But before she could answer, the queen’s husband spoke:

“You drive those cattle to Zimmerman’s and Nesbit’s. I spoke to Zimmerman about it.”

Bud turned, ready to go.

“Wait!” called Santa quickly. She looked at her husband with surprise in her gray eyes.

“What do you mean, Webb?” she asked. “I never deal with Zimmerman and Nesbit. Barber has bought all the cattle from this ranch for five years. I’m not going to change.” She said to Bud Turner: “Take those cattle to Barber.”

Bud did not look at either of them. He stood there waiting.

“I want those cattle to go to Zimmerman and Nesbit,” said Webb.

There was a cold light in his blue eyes.

“It’s time to start,” said Santa to Bud. “Tell Barber we’ll have more cattle ready in about a month.”

Bud allowed his eyes to turn and meet Webb’s. “You take those cattle,” said Webb, “to—”

“Barber,” said Santa quickly. “Let’s say no more about it. What are you waiting for, Bud?”

“Nothing,” said Bud. But he did not hurry to move away, for man is man’s friend, and he did not like what had happened.

“You heard what she said,” cried Webb. “We do what she commands.” He took off his hat and made a wide movement with it, touching the floor.

“Webb,” said Santa, “what’s wrong with you today?”

“I’m acting like the queen’s fool,” said Webb. “What can you expect? Let me tell you. I was a man before I married a cattle queen. What am I now? Something for the cowboys to laugh at. But I’m going to be a man again.”

Santa looked at him.

“Be reasonable, Webb,” she said quietly. “There is nothing wrong. You take care of the cattle. I take care of the business. You understand the cattle. I understand the business better than you do. I learned it from my father.”

“I don’t like kings and queens,” said Webb, “unless I’m one of them myself. Alright. It’s your ranch. Barber gets the cattle.”

Webb’s horse was tied near the house. He walked into the house and brought out the supplies he took on long rides. These he began to tie on his horse. Santa followed him. Her face had lost some of its color.

Webb got on his horse. There was no expression on his face except a strange light burning in his eyes.

“There are some cattle at the Hondo water-hole,” he said. “They ought to be moved. Wild animals have killed three of them. I did not remember to tell Simms to do it. You tell him.”

Santa put a hand on the horse and looked her husband in the eye. “Are you going to leave me, Webb?” she asked quietly.

“I’m going to be a man again,” he answered.

“I wish you success,” she said, with a sudden coldness. She turned and walked into the house.

Webb Yeager went to the southeast as straight as he could ride. And when he came to the place where sky and earth seem to meet, he was gone. Those at the Nopalito knew nothing more about him.

Days passed, then weeks, then months. But Webb Yeager did not return.

Download activities to help you understand this story here.

Part two of this story will come next week. Now it's your turn to use the words in this story. Do you think Webb Yeager will return to his wife? What kind of relationship should a husband and wife have? Let us know in the comments section or on our Facebook page.

Words in This Story

kingn. a boy or man who is highly respected and very successful or popular

queenn. a girl or woman who is highly respected and very successful or popular

cowboy(s) – n. a man who rides a horse and whose job is to take care of cows or horses especially in the western U.S.

ranchn. a large farm especially in the U.S. where animals such as cattle, horses, and sheep are raised

foremann. a person who is in charge of a group of workers

cattlen. cows, bulls, or steers that are kept on a farm or ranch for meat or milk

crossn. an object or image in the shape of a cross that is used as a symbol of Christianity

proud n. very happy and pleased because of something you have done, something you own, someone you know or are related to

http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2017/07/15/9708/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2017/07/15/9708/VOA Special EnglishSat, 15 Jul 2017 09:25:00 UTC
<![CDATA[US Education Chief Wants to Give Students More Choices]]>Jill Robbins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:

When Betsy DeVos was selected by President Donald Trump to head the U.S. Education Department, some said she would do more to help charter and private schools than public schools.

DeVos, a wealthy businesswoman from the state of Michigan, said that is not true.

“Let’s be honest. There’s no such thing as a cure-all in education,” DeVos said in a recent speech. “Even the best school in the country with the best-trained educators and the most resources will not be the perfect fit for every child.”

Who is Betsy DeVos?

Betsy DeVos attended a private religious school in Michigan and also sent her four children to religious schools.

She was a former chairman of the Michigan Republican Party. She also led a group, the Great Lakes Education Project, which successfully pushed Michigan’s Legislature to allow public charter schools. Public charter schools are mostly run by private groups and can operate independently of local school districts.

DeVos also supports government vouchers that help low-income parents pay to send their children to private schools.

The Senate voted February 7 to approve her nomination as Education Secretary by a vote of 51-50. Vice President Mike Pence gave her the needed 51st vote.

Students from St. Joseph Catholic School wave yellow scarfs during a rally in support of school choice on Jan. 24, 2017, in Austin, Texas.
Students from St. Joseph Catholic School wave yellow scarfs during a rally in support of school choice on Jan. 24, 2017, in Austin, Texas.

Opponents and supporters speak out

Her opponents said she did not have enough education training and would move federal money to private and charter schools at the expense of public schools.

Public schools educate 90 percent of America’s K-12 students.

But defenders said DeVos, as an education “outsider,” would bring important reforms to a system that has underperformed for poor children.

First-term Republican President Donald Trump is a supporter of vouchers. As a candidate for president, he proposed $20 billion in federal money to help parents send their children to private schools.

His first budget proposal as president calls for $1 billion to allow states to move forward with more school choice. It includes $250 million to help low-income students attend private schools and another $167 million to start or expand charter schools.

As Trump’s Secretary of Education, DeVos said the budget proposal is aimed at increasing choices for parents.

“A system that denies parents the freedom to choose the education that best suits their children’s individual and unique needs denies them a basic human right,” DeVos said in a June speech to the National Alliance for Charter Schools.

Charter schools performance

But there is little agreement about the performance of students who attend charter schools, or use vouchers to attend private schools.

One of the largest voucher programs in the United States operates in the Midwest American state of Indiana.

Here is how the Indiana program works: It provides vouchers of up to $4,500, enough to cover tuition at many, but not all private schools in the state. To get a full voucher, a family of four can earn no more than $45,000 a year.

When serving as Indiana’s governor, Pence, the current vice president, oversaw a big increase in private school vouchers in his state.

Mike Pence speaks at education meeting, as Educaton Secretary Betsy DeVos (center) watches.
Mike Pence speaks at education meeting, as Educaton Secretary Betsy DeVos (center) watches.

Joseph Waddington of the University of Kentucky and Mark Berends of the Notre Dame University recently released a study of Indiana’s voucher program.

They looked at students in grade 3-8 who moved from public schools to private schools. On average, the students saw drops in math scores during the first and second year at their new private school. The study found no difference in test scores in English language.

Other studies found problems with voucher programs in Louisiana and Ohio. Waddington and Berends said government-supported private school voucher programs operate in 16 of the 50 American states and Washington D.C.

Robert Enlow is president of an Indiana group called EdChoice. It supports private school voucher programs.

About the research suggesting declines in math performance and no change in English test scores, Enlow said it is because most students who attend new schools “no matter how good” have a period of adjustment.

For many students, it takes time to adjust to the more difficult subjects offered at their new private schools, he said. Many parents want their students to attend religious schools that offer morality- and values-based programs.

Milwaukee first to offer vouchers

Milwaukee is the first-American city to create a scholarship program that helps low-income parents pay for tuition at private schools. The program started 26 years ago.

The city’s public school superintendent is Darienne Driver. She said the voucher program takes money away from public schools. After 26 years, it is only now that private schools receiving vouchers are being asked to show their test scores.

“So, there has been no accountability, no way to compare them with public schools,” Driver said.

Despite their differences on vouchers and other programs, Driver is not giving up on DeVos. She met with the secretary and had a telephone discussion with her.

Driver said she is pleased with the discussion. DeVos said she is willing to look at federal rules that Driver and other local school officials believe are unfair to public schools.

Proposed cuts unify supporters and opponents

Both supporters and opponents of vouchers and charter schools agree that the proposed education spending cuts of 13.5 percent in President Trump’s budget are wrong.

Driver said the cuts would make it more difficult for schools to provide special services for low-incomes students.

Jacqueline Cooper is president of the Black Alliance for Educational Options. She praised Trump for supporting federal money for private school vouchers and charter schools.

But she added that the proposed cut in federal education money is the wrong way “to put families and children first.”

I'm Jill Robbins.

And I'm Bruce Alpert.

Bruce Alpert reported on this story for VOA Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.

We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section and share your views on our Facebook Page. What kind of choices do you and your parents have about what schools you can attend?

Words in This Story

push - v. to encourage

voucher - n. a document that gives you the right to get something such as a product or service without paying for it

suit - v. to provide what is required or wanted by someone

tuition - n. payment required to attend classes at a school

adjustment - n. a change that improves something or makes it work better

accountability - n. required to explain actions or decisions to someone

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