Thursday, March 27, 2008


You may have read a factoid that states, "Today more people on Earth speak English as a second language than as a first." I can't say what the source of that is, but it seems believable. Today's tutor tip comes with a tip o' the hat to Jesse Kaysen, who recommends a free resource created specifically for millions of ESL learners who use the radio. She writes,
I was looking for some current-events reporting for my session with G— tomorrow, and I recalled hearing "Special English" broadcasts from the VOA many years ago. Not surprisingly, the VOA has moved into the 21st century. Their web site has parallel audio and print resources. Here’s the address:

Most of our learners do not yet have internet access, but Jesse was able to get a timely news article with a cloze exercise made for ESL learners to increase their comprehension. The VOA's articles are mostly written at a higher reading level than the majority of Literacy Network learners. Special English, though, is made for just one purpose, namely, to be understandable to people who are learning English as a second language. It comes out of the radio or computer speakers at 2/3 normal speed. The clear diction and the vocabulary--limited to 1500 words--make it more possible for learners to follow and learn from the broadcast. Take a look for yourself. The vocabulary list on the website might be particularly helpful for tutors and learners. I used to listen occasionally to VOA in Africa and can vouch that it is excruciatingly clear, precise and moderately paced.

Not all our learners use the internet regularly. Some do. And some have MP3 players. With a basic MP3 player, your learners can download podcasts for listening when they have time. It's one more way for learners to get more exposure to English between lessons.

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