Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Special English is celebrating its 50th anniversary

Special English is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary next week. Mario
Ritter tells us about some of the ways we are celebrating this event.

It all started when Henry Loomis became director of the Voice of America in
nineteen fifty-eight. Mister Loomis traveled around the world. He saw that
English was becoming an important international language. He wanted to make
English easier to understand by listeners of VOA broadcasts whose native
language was not English. So Mister Loomis asked VOA program manager Barry
Zorthian to develop a way to broadcast to listeners with a limited knowledge
of English. This new method of broadcasting used a limited vocabulary. And
it was read slower than regular VOA broadcasts.

The first VOA broadcast in Special English took place on October nineteenth,
nineteen fifty-nine. Critics at the time said this new method would never
work. American embassies demanded that the program be cancelled. But Mister
Loomis supported the program. Soon, VOA began toreceive hundreds of letters
from listeners praising the program.

In nineteen sixty-one Hal Berman became the first chief of Special English.
He saved Special English from destruction by people who did not see its
value. And he showed how to change one thousand five hundred words into a
living language that informed, educated and entertained millions of people.
In the beginning, Special English had one fifteen-minute news show that was
broadcast to Africa and Asia once a day. Today, Special English broadcasts
thirty-minute programs by shortwave and medium wave sixteen times a day
around the world. We are also heard on VOA affiliate stations.

The Special English Web site is one of the most popular of all VOA Web
pages. We also have programs on satellite TV, podcasts, RSS feeds and
mobile. We have a growing number of followers on Twitter and our own popular
YouTube channel. And coming soon are videos on our Web site.

Help us celebrate our fiftieth anniversary! To thank our audience, we will
choose fifty people and send them a Special English gift. Go to
voaspecialenglish. com, and click on Contact Us on the left side. Under the
subject line, just type "50." Tell us your favorite Special English program
and suggest a new program or subject you would like to learn about. And be
sure to tell us what city and country you are from.

If you cannot access our Web site, send the information to VOA Special
English 50th Anniversary, Washington D.C., two-zero-two- three-seven USA.

http://www.voanews. com:80/specialen glish/2009- 10-15-voa5. cfm
Via mike Terry

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