Voice of America Special English is a wonderful resource for English Language Learners. It broadcasts news using a simple and limited vocabulary, and is very accessible to ELL’s. Not only does it provide reports on current events, but it also has special series on U.S. History, geography, and many other particular areas of interest.  You can access both the audio and transcript on the Web.

It’s made several of my “The Best…” lists, including The Best Websites For Teaching & Learning About U.S. History and The Best News/Current Events Websites For English Language Learners — 2007.

However, it has two major problems.  One, they only keep a limited number of their programs accessible with audio for a certain period of time before they seem to eliminate the audio portion and, two, their “search” system is terrible so it’s difficult to find all the programs in a series in one place.

Different Asian-based websites have tried to rectify these two problems by maintaining their own much-better organized versions of the Special English broadcasts (I don’t know, however, if they’ve done this with permission or not, but I assume VOA doesn’t really care either way).  I have had direct links to specific history broadcasts from one Asian site on my U.S. History website for quite awhile, but they seem to go off-line quite a bit.

I just learned about a site that appears much better organized and more technologically advanced called 51 VOA.  It has all the VOA Special English broadcasts organized well, and they all still have audio.

I don’t quite have it in me right now to change the large number of direct links I have on my website to specific broadcasts on the other site, but I will at some point in the future.  For now, though, it’s easy enough to direct students to the main page and then to the specific broadcast.