Featured Stories - Voice of America http://learningenglish.voanews.com/archive/learningenglish-feature/latest/4446/4446.html VOA Learning English presents news and feature stories, audio, video and multimedia about the U.S. and the world in American English. Stories are written at the intermediate and upper-beginner level. Words are spoken one-third slower for ESL learners. http://www.voanews.com/Content/responsive/VOA/img/rssLogo.gif Featured Stories - Voice of America http://learningenglish.voanews.com/archive/learningenglish-feature/latest/4446/4446.html en 2016 - VOA 60 Fri, 09 Dec 2016 06:07:09 +0000 Pangea CMS – VOA Introducing English Verb Tenses Editors note: This is the first of a four-part series on verb tenses. Click here for part two. For VOA Learning English, this is Everyday Grammar. Today we are going to give you a basic overview of the verb tense system in English. Verb tenses tell us how an action relates to the flow of time. There are three main verb tenses in English: present, past and future. The present, past and future tenses are divided into four aspects: the simple, progressive, perfect and perfect progressive. There are 12 major verb tenses that English learners should know. English has only two ways of forming a tense from the verb alone: the past and the present. For example, we drove and we drive. To form other verb tenses, you have to add a form of have, be or will in front of the verb. These are called helping, or auxiliary verbs. Time, culture, and grammar Verb tenses can be difficult to learn in a foreign language. Different cultures think different ways about time. Chinese, for example, has no grammatical verb tenses. Other languages, like Indonesian, express time only through adverbs — there are no changes to the verb form.   English verb tenses give many details about time and action such as: Is the action finished? How long did the action happen? Was the action repeated? Did the action happen at a known or unknown time? Is the action a habit? Is the action planned or spontaneous? It is difficult to think about time distinctions that do not exist in your own language. So, it can take many years for English learners to master verb tenses. Let’s get started. We are going to give examples of all 12 verb tenses using the verb drive. Simple Tenses We’ll start with the simple tenses. These are probably the first tenses you learned in English. Simple tenses usually refer to a single action. In general, simple tenses express facts and situations that existed in the past, exist in the present, or will exist in the future. Simple present: I drive home every day. Simple past: I drove home yesterday. Simple future: I will drive home later. Progressive (Continuous) Tenses Let’s go on to the progressive tenses. We use progressive tenses to talk about unfinished events. Progressive tenses are also called continuous tenses. Past progressive: I was driving when you called. Present progressive: I am driving now. Future progressive: I will be driving when you call. Perfect Tenses Now let’s look at the perfect tenses. Perfect tenses cause the most confusion. To put it simply, they express the idea that one event happens before another event. There are many tricky exceptions with the perfect tenses, which we will discuss in a future episode. The adverbs never, yet and already are common in perfect tenses. Present perfect: I have driven that road. Past perfect: I had already driven that road in the past.   Future perfect: I will have driven 200 miles by tomorrow. Perfect Progressive Tenses Finally, let’s look at the perfect progressive tenses. Generally, perfect progressive tenses express duration, or how long? Perfect progressive tenses usually include the adverbs for or since. Present perfect progressive: I have been driving since this morning. Past perfect progressive: I had been driving for three hours before I stopped to get gas. Future perfect progressive: I will have been driving for five hours by the time I arrive. Don’t worry if you don’t understand everything yet. Here are some recommendations we have for learning verb tenses. Adverbs are your friends First, think of adverbs as your friends. Adverbs of time offer valuable clues about the correct verb tense. Let’s use the adverb ago. Ago is only used in the simple past as in, “I left home three years ago.” The adverb ago is never used in the present perfect. Certain adverbs occur with certain verb tenses. Keep it simple English learners sometimes try to impress people by using complex verb tenses. You often have a choice of several verb tenses. When you do, always choose the simplest one. It will be clearer for your listener, and there is less chance of making a mistake. Practice with questions Native speakers don’t think consciously about verb tenses. With enough practice, English learners can internalize the verb tense system, too. Instead of worrying about deep time relationships, try using adverbs and your ear to choose the right verb tense. Often when someone asks a question, you can respond in the same verb tense. We’ll ask a question in each verb tense. Give an answer in the same tense, then listen to our answer. Ready? 1. Did you get enough sleep last night? (simple past) Yes, I slept well. 2. Do you shower every day? (simple present) Yes, I shower every day. 3. Are you going to study tonight? (simple future) Yes, I’m going to study tonight. 4. What were you doing when I called you last night? (past progressive) I was eating dinner when you called me last night. 5. What are you doing right now? (present progressive) I am practicing verb tenses right now. 6. What will you be doing at midnight on New Year’s Eve? (future progressive) I will be celebrating the New Year with my friends. 7. Had you ever tried skiing before today? (past perfect) Yes, I had already done it several times before. 8. Have you ever broken the law? (present perfect) No, I have never broken the law. 9. Will you have gotten married by the time you turn 30? (future perfect) No, I will not have gotten married by the time I turn 30. 10. How long had you been smoking before you quit? (past perfect progressive) I had been smoking for two years before I quit. 11. How long have you been waiting for the bus? (present perfect progressive) I have been waiting for the bus for 20 minutes. 12. How long will you have been working before you retire? (future perfect progressive) I will have been working for 30 years before I retire. This is just a basic introduction to verb tenses. In the following weeks, we will cover the more difficult verb tenses in more detail. I’m Jill Robbins. And I’m John Russell. Adam Brock wrote this story for Learning English. Jill Robbins and Kathleen Struck were the editors. ______________________________________________________________ Words in This Story aspect – n. the verb form that indicates completion, duration, or repetition of an action. distinction – n. a difference that you can see, hear, smell, feel, etc: a noticeable difference between things or people spontaneous – adj. done or said in a natural and often sudden way and without a lot of thought or planning consciously – adv. done after thinking about facts and reasons carefully   Reference VERB TENSES past present future Simple It snowed yesterday.     Simple past verb It snows every winter.     Simple present verb It is going to snow tonight. It will snow this winter. Will / be going to + simple present Progressive It was snowing when I drove to work. Was/were + -ing verb It is snowing.   Am/is/are+-ing verb It will be snowing by the time I get home. Will be + -ing verb Perfect It had already snowed before I left.   Had + past participle verb I have driven in snow many times.   Have/has + past participle verb It will have snowed 6 inches by the end of the day. Will have + past participle verb   Perfect progressive It had been snowing for two days before it stopped.     Had been + -ing verb + for/since It has been snowing all month long.       Has/have + -ing verb + for/since It will have been snowing for three days by the time it stops.   Will have been + -ing verb + for/since   http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/introducing-english-verb-tenses/3628372.html http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/introducing-english-verb-tenses/3628372.html Thu, 08 Dec 2016 21:28:18 +0000 Featured StoriesEveryday Grammarhttp://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/introducing-english-verb-tenses/3628372.html#relatedInfoContainer Susan Watson: Still Singing After Decades in Musicals   Ask many actors and they will tell you it is hard to get work when you are just starting out and also as you get older. That has not been the case for American musical actress Susan Watson. In 1958, Watson was offered a part in the musical, “West Side Story,” in London. At that time, she was still a student at New York City’s Julliard School for musicians, dancers and actors. More than 50 years later, she was offered another part. Watson was to take an important role in a remake of the musical, “Follies,” at the Kennedy Center in Washington and the Marquis Theatre in New York City. In both cases, the offers came from musical theater legend Stephen Sondheim. He wrote the lyrics for “West Side Story” and the music and lyrics for “Follies.” “It felt so good being on stage nightly with fellow ‘senior citizens,’ Bernadette Peters, Linda Lavin and Elaine Paige,” Watson said of “Follies.” “Active, empowered senior women are a resource that I think Americans can be proud of.” As a teenager, Watson developed her dancing, singing and acting skills in her home town of Tulsa, Oklahoma. She traveled to study at New York’s Julliard School before Sondheim interrupted her studies with the offer of a part in “West Side Story.” The award-winning musical, based on William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” tells a story of the struggles of immigrants in New York City. Watson later had starring roles in such well-known musicals as “The Fantastics,” “Bye Bye Birdie,” “Carnival,” “Celebration” and “No, No, Nanette.” She has also appeared in many American television shows. Musical Theater Created in America Musical plays are an American invention. They tell stories through many art forms: spoken words, song, acting and dance. Music adds an important emotional element, making an interesting story even more powerful, Watson said. Now, musical theater is regularly shown in such countries as Australia, China, Israel, Japan, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, and South Korea. American musicals have been popular for many years in Britain and Canada. The end of a performance, when the stars of a show come out to a “curtain call,” to accept cheers from the people watching, never gets old, Watson said. The Theatrical Slap that Hurt In live theater, actors know the unexpected will happen -- it is just a question of when. Watson remembers how her co-star in the musical, “Carnival,” the late Jerry Orbach, liked to give as realistic a performance as possible. There was one scene, Watson recalled, where Orbach was supposed to slap her. “I’m a small person, and he was slapping me a little too hard,” she said. Watson said she asked him to lighten up, but if he did, it was not nearly enough for Watson. “So in one performance, I hit him back hard,” Watson said. After that, Watson’s co-star let up on their nightly hitting scene. That was important for her. Actors in Broadway shows in New York City do eight performances a week. Watson’s Strong Voice a Surprise to Some Watson’s singing voice often surprised people. John Wilson, writing for The New York Times in 1976, said a Susan Watson performance produced “shock value.” It surprised people that a small woman had such a “big full-bodied voice,” Wilson wrote. At age 78, Watson now lives in California, but she is not finished performing. She just released a new album of musical theater and other American music called, “The Music Never Ends.” She is excited that six of the 14 songs on her new album were written by “empowered women,” including Nancy Ford and Gretchen Cryer. “I’m 78 years old and still having a lovely time in show business,” Watson said. Some people have the opinion that it is harder to get started in the entertainment business. But Watson said today’s computer technology makes it easier to tell people about new shows, recordings and movies. Performers, musicians, television networks and theaters can tell the world “about their creative efforts” by placing messages on the internet and social media, Watson said. She said her new musical recording, “The Music Never Ends”, is selling “very well” partly because people do not have to go to a store to buy it. They can buy it online, like almost any other product. I’m Bruce Alpert. And I’m Jill Robbins.   Bruce Alpert reported on this story for VOA Learning English. Mario Ritter was the editor. We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section and share your views on our Facebook Page. Have you ever thought about being an actor? How hard do you think it will be to succeed? ______________________________________________________ Words in This Story   role – n. part in a play legend - n. a famous or important person who is known for doing something extremely well lyrics - n. the words of a song stage - n. a raised platform in a theater, auditorium, etc., where the performers stand senior - adj. older people interrupt - v. to cause someone to stop doing what they had been doing curtain call - n. at the end of a show, when actors appear on stage to accept the cheers of the audience slap - v. to hit someone http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/after-50-years-in-musicals-susan-watson-still-singing-stephen-sondheim-barack-obama-bernadette-peters/3619174.html http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/after-50-years-in-musicals-susan-watson-still-singing-stephen-sondheim-barack-obama-bernadette-peters/3619174.html Thu, 08 Dec 2016 21:05:57 +0000 EntertainmentLevel TwoFeatured Storieshttp://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/after-50-years-in-musicals-susan-watson-still-singing-stephen-sondheim-barack-obama-bernadette-peters/3619174.html#relatedInfoContainer Athena Zhe: Creating Art on Human Bodies   “I love to create. I’m very visual person and I love to paint. I love to express myself in doing makeup, special effects, body paintings. I feel like I haven’t worked a day in my life. It seems like I love to do everything that doesn't involve a job from 9 to 5 but by the end of the day I end up working so many more hours but doing what I love. ” That is Athena Zhe, artist. Her canvas is the human body on which she paints beautiful images.  Zhe is also owner of Athena Entertainment. The company provides performances and performers for all kinds of parties and other events. Body art creation is among the possibilities. Athena Zhe was born and raised in Ukraine. Her parents wanted her to become a lawyer or a doctor. But she always knew she wanted to paint. She also realized early in life a career in painting would not be possible if she stayed in her country. “I've been painting my whole entire life as I'm thinking about it since I was a little kid. Everywhere all of all of the walls were painted, my notepads were painted everything everywhere I could paint, I always did. Like there's always doodles and in every single book I was reading, I was always creating stuff since I was a little child. Even though I was painting my whole life and it was my passion but it was only a hobby and I never really took it to the next level because back in the country that I came from all the artists were starving artist. So I know for some reason I never considered art as a career because I would never in a million years wouldn't be able to make money and be successful at it.” So, Athena Zhe came to the United States. She was clear on her goal. “I came here when I was 14 years old to pursue an American dream.” Athena first worked at a health food store. She began to paint on the store’s menu boards. A customer praised her skill and asked if she would help paint faces at street fairs. Athena says it was a good start. "I was doing it for about a year or two and I'm the type of  person that always like to take it to the next level. Like OK what’s next, what's next? I'm already done with facepainting, now what? And I went to FABAIC, its face and face and body art convention in Florida many years ago, and I saw that people were doing body painting and I'm like oh my god this is so exciting and so much better than just face painting because now I can do my all my art with the body painting as well. And I actually end up enjoying body painting so much more because it didn't limit my art to just faces. But now I can do body painting, I can create installations with human canvases which was extremely exciting and actually a little nerve-racking at first because I was really nervous in the beginning. I wasn't even 21 back then I think.  And that's how body painting came along. So face painting led into body painting and body painting led into special effects.” Athena Zhe says painting on the body is very different than painting on a flat canvas. “With body, you work with the human factor and it's not only you, paints and canvas it's you, paint, canvas and the person behind that canvas. When I pick up a brush it almost like  I'm getting into my own zone in my own new world my comfort zone. Very often my models try to talk to me throughout the process, but it's so hard for me to even keep up a conversation because I'm so focused about what I'm doing and I'm so inspired that it totally takes me like out of this world it's almost like a drug. When I paint like very often I can't stop. That's why doing body paintings actually been great for me because I know that I have to start to stop at some point because I'm painting on a human and obviously the model can’t stand still for three or four days. But I can definitely paint for three or four days nonstop if I'm in creative mode.”       Zhe considers the body shape of her models as well as their skin colors. She says the most important part of her work is how it makes the person feel. “When I'm doing a body painting, my goal is not only to create a beautiful piece of artwork, but also very important to make the model feel beautiful, because if the model will feel beautiful with your art work no matter how horrendous your body painting can be, she will rock it and it makes me feel accomplished and happy when I see that the model, my human canvas, is happy with the artwork I created on her." Bodypainting is a much bigger project than face painting. Zhe says it takes 15 to 20 minutes painting a face. A body can take as long as 10 hours to paint, depending on how detailed it is. She has won many awards for her paintings. Her work also has been featured in music videos, publications and on national television. Zhe says she is often inspired by nature, fashion and the world around her when creating her art.  And she is passionate about what she does. She says she believes passion should be everyone’s professional guide. “If you want to be an artist or an actor or a scientist you should do exactly that. Follow your passion and do what you love. Don't be afraid to start an industry that maybe some of your friends didn't succeed in because if you gonna love what you do, you will never work a day of your life and you will be so great at it, that you will be remembered and even to be a great example to the rest of the world about that particular art or field that he will choose.” I’m Marsha James. Marsha James wrote this story for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor. We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments section, and visit our Facebook page. Next time on People in America, meet Matthieu Finot, winemaker at King Family Vineyards. Listening Quiz See how well you understand this story by taking a listening quiz. Play each video, then answer the question. _______________________________________________________________ Words in This Story      special effects – n. an image or sound that is created in television, radio, or movies to represent something real (such as an explosion) or imaginary (such as a monster) notepad – n. sheets of paper that are attached at one end and used for writing notes doodle – v. to draw something without thinking about what you are doing installation – n. a work of art that usually has several parts (such as a sculpture, lights, and sound) and that is usually shown in a large space canvas – n. a specially prepared piece of cloth on which a picture can be painted by an artist mode – n. a specified way of thinking, feeling, or acting nerve-racking – adj. causing stress or anxiety http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/3625375.html http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/3625375.html Wed, 07 Dec 2016 21:32:59 +0000 Featured StoriesPeople In Americahttp://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/3625375.html#relatedInfoContainer Tools to Create Infographics An infographic is a powerful tool that can help explain something. Infographics present information visually and in an entertaining way. This can help watchers, listeners and readers understand the subject of interest. You can use infographics on social media, in presentations or just for fun. BitRebels.com says the human brain absorbs ideas presented in infographics three times faster than ideas presented in simple text. The easiest way to create infographics is to start with a template you can fill with facts. With most infographic templates, you can add images, icons and also backgrounds. Infographic websites offer free templates and tools to help you create. Just pick the template you want, then drag and drop items onto the infographic. Many of these sites let you add your own images from a computer. Type in text, choose fonts and colors, then save your infographic and/or share it on social media. These sites make creating infographics easy and free. Piktochart Piktochart is a website filled with infographic, presentation, poster and report templates. Register for an account and get started by choosing an infographic template. The free service gives a limited number of templates. Users can pay for more templates, and other help, such as the ability to save in PDF format. Piktochart has a helpful infographics tips page to guide you through creating infographics.   An infographic on Piktochart shows free tools to create your own infographic.                                                                   Canva Canva is a free design website to create infographics, social media cover images, invitations, posters, cards and more. Head to the site, register for an account and click Create a Design. Choose Infographic to find free templates. After choosing one, add background designs, images, text, charts and more. Use Canva's free photos or upload your own. Many of Canva's elements are free, though some cost about $1. Canva also has a free app for iPhone and iPad to create infographics on the go: Canva app.               Venngage Venngage is another website that gives free tools to create infographics, reports, posters, and social media posts. Sign up for Venngage and choose which type of infographic you want to create, such as process, timeline, comparison or charts. The templates are organized by level of difficulty: beginner, intermediate or advanced. Some of the templates are only available for sale. Venngage lets you include charts and their maps for free infographics. Users can create up to five infographics with Venngage for free.     Visme Visme lets you search for templates by keyword. Sign up for an account and search by format, such as comparison, or by subject, such as education. You can also view different templates to choose one that works best for you. Some of the templates are for sale only. A video on YouTube shows how to use Visme:   A very interesting feature of Visme infographics is that you can animate parts of the design. For example, you can make text move in a wave. Visme lets you create interactive maps you can use in the infographic. You can also add a YouTube video to your infographic. You can even add music to your infographic with free tunes from Visme. When you are finished with your Visme infographic, you can keep it to yourself, publish it or lock it with a password you can share. You must pay to use the shared password service.   Visme lets you make up to three projects with a free account.   Easelly Easelly has many free templates to use for infographics. Sign up for a free account and choose a template to get started. Select a background and add text, shapes, charts and objects to your infographic. Add images from Easelly or upload your own. You can add a YouTube video into your infographic.   The video from Easelly shows how to create an infographic using their site:   I’m Dorothy Gundy. And I'm Bryan Lynn. Carolyn Nicander Mohr wrote this report for VOA Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor. Have you ever wanted to make an infographic? Have you tried any of these infographic tools? Can you suggest any other tools to create infographics? Share your thoughts in the Comments Section below or on our Facebook page. ________________________________________________________________ Words in This Story infographic - n. a visual image such as a chart or diagram used to represent information or data text - n. the original words of a piece of writing or a speech template - n. a computer document that has the basic format of something (such as a business letter, chart, graph, etc.) and that can be used many different times icon - n. a small picture on a computer screen that represents a program or function item - n. an individual thing : a separate part or thing font - n. a set of letters, numbers, and punctuation marks that are all one size and style account - n. an arrangement in which a person uses the Internet or e-mail services of a particular company chart - n. information in the form of a table, diagram, etc. intermediate - adj. relating to or having the knowledge or skill of someone who is more advanced than a beginner but not yet an expert advanced - adj. far along in a course of progress or development animate - v. to make (something, such as a drawing) appear to move    http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/infographic-tools/3626893.html http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/infographic-tools/3626893.html Wed, 07 Dec 2016 21:21:13 +0000 Level TwoFeatured StoriesPersonal Technologyhttp://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/infographic-tools/3626893.html#relatedInfoContainer Prisoners Find Humanity in Theater Arts On a recent day in New York City, seven women prepare for a theater production. Their show is not for a Broadway stage, however. And, the actors are not professional. They are prisoners. They will perform in a gymnasium at Rikers Island jail. The correctional center sits on an island in the East River. It holds about 10,000 prisoners, most of them with little time left to serve. The performers range from teen-aged to midlife. They all look a little nervous, just like any actors might before a live show. But they are ready. These prisoners have trained with the famed Stella Adler Studio. It is one of the most respected acting schools in America. The studio launched the acting program at Rikers in 2014.  It hoped to bring some humanity to prison life. Tommy Demenkoff is the studio’s outreach director. He says the program is important to the prisoners. “They lose a lot of humanity when they come to jail,” he says. “We are allowed to come in and reinvigorate that humanity.” The Stella Adler prison program has grown. Today, film and stage professionals train prisoners at six Rikers Island centers. They do eight different programs each week. And, several former Rikers inmates now work with the studio on the prison program. The show today is called “The Compassion Project.” The audience includes about 50 prisoners, correction officials and invited guests. The crowd shows its support with loud cheers and by stomping on the floor. “The Compassion Project” combines movement and poetry written by the performers. The poems express the ideas of compassion and understanding between people. Performer Deanna Rhett’s piece describes her passion to be the best she can be, to love unconditionally and to let the past be the past. Rhett praises what the Stella Adler program has done for her. “It has let me escape to another dimension. It has changed me to be whatever and whoever I want to be, whenever I want to be.” Rhett says that she would like to work with the Stella Adler Studio when she gets out of prison. She wants to keep writing and improving her writing skills. She says she has hope for the future. “The Compassion Project” is a hit with the audience. Just as on Broadway, the prisoner-actors get a curtain call. Each steps forward to loud cheering from the crowd. Entertainment industry supporters of the Adler program at Rikers include Benicio Del Toro, Julianne Moore and Pauletta Washington. Washington introduced “The Compassion Project” to the audience. She says the Rikers program is important. “Anybody that can survive this, and come out on the other side, just to come out period, and then to come out with hope, that’s somebody we really need in our communities.” I’m Caty Weaver. Bernard Shusman wrote this story for VOANews.com. Bruce Alpert adapted it for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor. What kind of program do you think might help prisoners serve their time and improve their futures? Write to us in the Comments Section and share your views on our Facebook Page. __________________________________________________________________ Words in This Story gymnasium – a large room or a building used for sports activities or exercise compassion – n. feeling of wanting to help and be kind to someone allow – v. to permit something inmate – n. a prisoner stomp – v. to put your foot or feet down forcefully and noisily reinvigorate – v. to give life and energy to someone curtain call – n. at the end of a show, when performers come forward to accept the cheers of the audience http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/3626173.html http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/3626173.html Wed, 07 Dec 2016 21:05:31 +0000 American MosaicLevel TwoFeatured Storieshttp://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/3626173.html#relatedInfoContainer Refugees Improve English Skills While Waiting for Resettlement   For many refugees around the world, boredom is a fact of life. While the United Nations High Commission on Refugees – or UNHCR – works on resettling them, they wait. And wait. And wait. They cannot work, enroll in a school or travel. In 2014, several Hazara refugees in Indonesia found a way to spend their time. They created an informal school for children: the Refugee Learning Center, or RLC. Asad Shadan is one of the founders of the RLC. He left Afghanistan after the Taliban threatened his family. Shadan says that starting the school was a difficult process: "We asked the UNHCR to help us with some kind of educational program for three months, but after getting no response, we decided to just go for it and started a class on our own with 18 kids." The school's website describes how the local and international community came together to help it grow. An Australian couple paid the rent for the school. Parents gave $2.50 each to pay for carpet, whiteboards and other teaching materials. Women in the community volunteered to teach. The program, originally an informal class, has grown into a six-room school with classes for adults and children. The program, Shadan explains, grew quickly. "Within six months we had 100 children enrolled, and now we have 200 students and 16 teachers. It gives all of us something to do." Thanks to donations over the past couple of years, RLC now has a library, English classes and an indoor football league. Politics For years, Indonesia has hosted refugees. It is part of a transit route for refugees and migrants going to Australia. But, Shadan says, “the Indonesian government pretends that we don't exist.” Indonesia has never signed the UN Refugee Convention, and it offers no formal rights to asylum seekers and refugees. In addition, the Australian government's 2013 decision to cut the number of refugees it admits – in addition to turning away ships carrying migrants – has created a backlog of refugees in Indonesia. The UNHCR reports currently almost 14,000 refugees and asylum-seekers live in Indonesia. Around half of these come from Afghanistan. Building skills for the future While waiting for resettlement, the students at RLC are trying to build skills. They like to think about the future. "What we want to avoid is that, once resettled, we don't have any skills, or that kids have been wasting their formative years of their education," says Shadan. Although English is not the native language of the refugees, many speak English very well. "We have a lot of time to practice," jokes Shadan. Some of the refugees are being resettled, but very slowly. Masoma Faqihi, a 20-year-old, said her family of six have finally received approval to go to the U.S., after more than three years in Indonesia. "I like teaching at the school here but I'm just about done with school for myself, I think," she said. "I heard you can do anything in America, though, so really, I want to be a makeup artist. Wish me luck." I'm John Russell. We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section. Krithika Varagur wrote this story for VOA News. John Russell adapted it for Learning English. Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor. _______________________________________________________________ Words in This Story   boredom –  n.  the state of being tired and annoyed resettle – v. to begin to live in a new area after leaving an old one donation – n. something (such as money, food, clothes, etc.) that you give in order to help a person or organization migrant – n. a person who goes from one place to another especially to find work backlog – n. a large number of jobs that are waiting to be finished  http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/refugees-english-language-skills/3625321.html http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/refugees-english-language-skills/3625321.html Tue, 06 Dec 2016 21:44:50 +0000 EducationFeatured Storieshttp://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/refugees-english-language-skills/3625321.html#relatedInfoContainer To Fight Malaria, Bed Nets Are the Most Important Weapon   From VOA Learning English, this is the Health & Lifestyle report. United Nations researchers are reporting progress in the fight against the disease malaria. The researchers confirm that malaria-carrying mosquitoes are becoming more resistant to insecticide products. But they note that another way to guard against the insects -- chemically-treated bed nets -- still provides a lot of protection against the disease. The researchers reported on a five-year-long study. The findings were released at a meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in Atlanta, Georgia. A parasite called plasmodium is responsible for the spread of malaria. Mosquitoes infected with plasmodium pass the disease to human beings through mosquito bites. The parasites reproduce in the human liver, and then infect red blood cells. After they enter the blood cells, they reproduce again. As they do this, they destroy the cells. Signs of the disease appear in victims 10 to 15 days after they are bitten. People with malaria develop a high body temperature. They also can become weak, are unable to hold down food and suffer pain in the head or muscles. If not treated, malaria can make the victim sick and even cause death. The U.N.’s World Health Organization carried out the study on malaria infection in five countries: Benin, Cameroon, Kenya, Sudan and India. The U.N. agency received financing from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. WHO teams examined the effectiveness of long-lasting nets treated with insect-killing chemicals. Tessa Knox, a WHO scientist, was one of the researchers. She says the result of the study was positive. It showed that “the long-lasting nets that are being used all throughout sub-Saharan Africa are still working.” She says that finding showed that there needs to be an increase in the supply of nets. And she adds, health workers should “make sure that everybody who’s living in at-risk areas is sleeping under a net and using the net correctly.” Mosquitoes have developed a resistance to the chemicals in the bed nets. But Dr. Knox says the netting still can offer protection against the disease. “So a mosquito could land on a net and, while it wouldn’t die immediately, what it would do is continue to search on the net for holes so that it can penetrate and go underneath and bite the person beneath the net. In the process of searching on the net, it contacts the net’s surface and absorbs insecticide. And as it absorbs that insecticide, it would eventually take on a lethal dose, which would kill that mosquito. So even if they don’t die immediately, the searching process would mean that eventually they may die.” Dr. Knox says there is an “urgent need for new and improved malaria-fighting tools.” But she says until they are developed and deployed, officials believe the insecticidal nets will continue to be the main way malaria is prevented. As part of the study, researchers in Sudan covered the walls of homes with an insecticide made from chemicals that differed from those used in bed nets. They say that step reduced infections by an additional 50 percent, compared with using only long-lasting insecticidal nets. Dr. Knox says the insecticides used to kill malaria-carrying mosquitoes should not cause health problems for people. “All of the chemicals that are being applied broadly across sub-Saharan Africa have been through a very strict safety testing to get the WHO recommendation that would allow their usage. So there aren’t any concerns that the current insecticides that (manufacturers) have been using in the nets, nor are there concerns that the sprays that are being used on the wall, if they’re being used in the correct way.” The World Health Organization says long-lasting insecticidal nets are one of the most important parts of malaria control efforts in African countries south of the Sahara Desert. That part of the continent has 90 percent of the world’s malaria infections. The WHO says availability of the nets in the area rose from two percent in 2000 to 53 percent in 2015. I’m Anna Matteo.   VOA’s Joe de Capua reported this story from Washington. Christopher Jones-Cruise adapted his report for Learning English. George Grow 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   insecticide – n. a chemical substance that is used to kill insects net – n. a device that is used for catching or holding things or for keeping things out of a space and that is made of pieces of string, rope, wire, etc., woven together with spaces in between; a net that is placed over something (such as a bed) in order to keep out mosquitoes absorb – v. to take in (something, such as a liquid) in a natural or gradual way lethal – adj. causing or able to cause death apply – v. to put or spread (something) on a surface, a part of the body, etc. http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/health-and-lifestyle-malaria-bed-nets/3619180.html http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/health-and-lifestyle-malaria-bed-nets/3619180.html Mon, 05 Dec 2016 21:00:57 +0000 Health & LifestyleLevel TwoFeatured Storieshttp://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/health-and-lifestyle-malaria-bed-nets/3619180.html#relatedInfoContainer Supercharged Plants May Mean More Crop Production   One day, “supercharged plants” may help feed people around the world. Supercharged plants are ones that grow faster than normal plant life. Scientists can speed up the growth by modifying, or changing, the structure of plants’ genes. The modifications make them react quickly to changes in light.  This all has to do with photosynthesis, the process in which plants turn sunlight, carbon dioxide and water into food. Steve Long is a plant biologist with the University of Illinois. "Arguably, photosynthesis is the most important process on our planet. It is the driving force behind all of life." Plants grow fastest in the sun. That is when they make the most food for themselves. But their rate of growth can slow when things like clouds or trees block sunlight. But when the sun returns, it can take many minutes for growth to speed up again. This can be a problem because it means some of our most important crop plants are not as productive as they could be. Researchers say demand for food is expected to increase up to 70 percent by the middle of the century. They also note rising temperatures on Earth’s surface. That is why they are looking for ways to improve photosynthesis and make plants more productive. Steve Long wanted to find a way to help plants get back up to speed quickly after a period of darkness. So he and his team added genes that shortened the recovery time. It also increased the speed at which the plants grew. His modified plants grew up to 20 percent more than untreated ones. "This finding, where we've just made one modification that has boosted crop yield, is really a boost to the whole area, because everyone else working on photosynthesis can now see that if we can improve photosynthetic efficiency in crops, we will get more yield." In Long's study, his group used a form of genetic engineering called transgenics. It means taking genes from one plant, then putting them into another. There is a scientific debate about whether transgenics is a good idea or not. The findings were published in the journal Science. Why is it important for plants to be efficient at making their food? Some of our most important crop plants are ones that are not very efficient at photosynthesis. Matthew Reynolds knows this. He is with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, known as CIMMYT.  Reynolds was not involved in the research. He spoke to VOA on Skype. "Population is growing so fast, climate change is affecting negatively predictions of productivity, and so we're kind of forced to push our crops to the limit." His group studies how plants reproduce naturally. But he says that Long’s work of increasing plant growth is “a very big deal.”  He says the experimental use of transgenics is a start. "A transgenic event can prove a proof of concept so we can start looking for natural variation as well." Reynolds says the increased rates of production noted by Long's team are impressive. He has some hope about the process. But he also has questions. "What is the downside? Why have the plants not done that before? And we always ask those questions when we see something that looks a bit too good to be true..." Long's group worked with tobacco plants because they are easy to study. Now they are experimenting with rice, soybeans, cowpeas, and cassava – four important food crops. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation provided money for the study. The organization says any new technology approved from this research will be made freely available to farmers in Africa and South Asia. I’m Anne Ball. Steve Baragona reported on this story for VOANews.com. Anne Ball adapted his report for Learning English with additional information from Reuters. George Grow was the editor. We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section. And find us on our Facebook page. ______________________________________________________________ Words in This Story   modify – v. to change some parts while not changing other parts photosynthesis – n. the process plants use to make food using sunlight, carbon dioxide and water yield – n.  the amount of something produced by a plant or farm efficiency – n. the ability to do something or produce something without wasting materials, time or energy transgenics – n. biotechnology that involves producing plants, animals or foods into which genes from another species have been incorporated impressive – adj. deserving attention, admiration or respect http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/supercharged-plants-may-mean-more-crop-production/3619177.html http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/supercharged-plants-may-mean-more-crop-production/3619177.html Sun, 04 Dec 2016 21:01:12 +0000 Science in the NewsLevel TwoFeatured Storieshttp://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/supercharged-plants-may-mean-more-crop-production/3619177.html#relatedInfoContainer Majority of US Undergraduates Are ‘Nontraditional’   There is a commonly held belief in the United States about the best path to a college education. Many Americans would say this path involves graduating from high school at age 17 or 18. Then, going off to university to live and study for just four years. And, at the end of that term, receiving a degree. But, that is not as usual a path as people might think. U.S. Department of Education research suggests that the majority of undergraduate college students take a less traditional approach. Carey Dwyer is an example. She graduated from high school in 2005 and began studying physical therapy at Temple University in Philadelphia. But, after her first year, she decided she wanted to study nursing instead. Dwyer moved back home and began seeking an associate’s degree at Montgomery College in Takoma Park, Maryland in 2006. However, medical issues forced her to take time off school. She started working full-time and going to school part-time. Dwyer faced several difficulties. But she says nothing was as hard as returning to school after she took the time off. In 2010, Dwyer completed her associate’s degree -- also called a two year degree. She was 24. Then, she joined the Army. Using the money she earned, Dwyer completed a bachelor’s degree at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina in 2015. Now married with three children, she says she does not mind that it took her almost ten years to complete her education. In the end, she says she only put in all the effort because she wanted to. "Ultimately, all that matters is that I got my degree done. I didn’t get it for anyone else. I did it for me, specifically, to follow my goals and my aspirations." Strayer University is a for-profit college with centers all over the country. Earlier this year, Strayer worked with the media company U.S News and World Report to create the 2016 College Experience Survey. The researchers gathered information from 1,000 U.S. undergraduate students. The study findings showed that 70 percent of the students questioned were “nontraditional.” But what does nontraditional mean? The Strayer report identifies nontraditional college students in several ways. A student who passes General Educational Development (GED) tests instead of earning a high school diploma is considered nontraditional. So is a student who works more than 35 hours a week, or studies part-time while seeking a bachelor’s degree. And, a student who was 25 years or older when they last took classes, or when they graduated, is also considered nontraditional. Information from the U.S. Department of Education suggests the nontraditional student population may be growing. In 2013 the department reported 29 percent of undergraduates were between 18 and 24 years old, studying full-time in four-year degree programs. Karl McDonnell is the chief executive office of Strayer Education, the company that owns Strayer University. McDonnell says there are so many nontraditional students now because many see education as the best way to reach new opportunities. But, he adds, nontraditional students also have much different needs.  "Over the last 5 to 10 years we’ve had a more challenging labor market. So as people try to find well-paying jobs and/or move up in their organization, a college degree is becoming more and more important -- you might even say essential. And the types of programs that higher education needs to pursue, they tend to be things that are flexible in nature." McDonnell notes that most of the students at Strayer University are nontraditional. They are often older people with years of work experience and families to raise. This means they need to be able to attend classes during the times that they are not working or caring for others, he says. McDonnell argues that most schools are much more concerned with their traditional students. Online courses like the ones Strayer offers are increasingly useful for nontraditional students, he says. But others suggest there is more schools need to do for nontraditional students than just offering classes over the internet. Eva Yuma is in the final year of her bachelor’s degree program at the University of Maryland (UMD). She also took a long path to get where she is now. Yuma took a year off from studies after graduating from high school. She then started seeking a degree in art history at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland in 2009. More than two years later, she found she was unhappy and moved back to the U.S. In 2013, she returned to school and became a film major. Yuma says the most difficult part about going back to school was deciding to take on more debt to pay for her continuing education. But she also says her relationship to her school changed. For example, she says she does not seek new friends the way she did during her first few years of higher education. Yuma says she feels more professional than the traditional students. She believes she is less afraid to speak her mind. But Yuma argues UMD could do more to build connections between the nontraditional students. That way they could share their networks and experience. "There isn’t very much community for those students. I guess they assume that you already have an established community; you don’t need the undergrad experience like the other kids do." Yancey Gulley is an assistant professor for the higher education student affairs program at Western Carolina University. He has 15 years of experience as a college administrator. The educator says schools need to stop using the term “nontraditional.” He worries that the term could harm students. It may make some feel that their schools consider them less intelligent or less hardworking. "It really does say to them, ‘You are an exception. You shouldn’t belong here. You’re probably not going to be successful, but we’re gonna to let you give a good old try. Good luck to you.’ And that’s really demonizing students [that] walk around our campuses every day and take our classes." Gulley notes there are programs in place that are designed to support nontraditional students. For example, Fayetteville State University offers a program that opens a faster path to a nursing degree for people who already have nursing experience. The University of Maryland also works with a foundation to provide financial assistance to older students. But, Yancey Gulley says some schools may not realize they are failing to provide equal support to their students. The U.S. higher education system was designed for traditional students. Gulley says schools must make sure all their students can access all the same supports and services. I’m Pete Musto.   Pete Musto reported this story for VOA Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor. How do people in your country define traditional and nontraditional students? How do schools treat both? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page. ______________________________________________________________ Words in This Story   graduating – v. earning a degree or diploma from a school, college or university undergraduate – n. a student at a college or university who has not yet earned a degree associate’s degree - n. a degree that is given to a student who has completed two years of study at a junior college, college or university in the U.S. bachelor’s degree – n. a degree that is given to a student by a college or university, usually after four years of study aspiration(s) – n. something that a person wants very much to achieve diploma – n. a document which shows that a person has finished a course of study or has graduated from a school challenging – adj. difficult in a way that is usually interesting or enjoyable essential – adj. extremely important and necessary flexible – adj. easily changed online – adj. done over the Internet assume – v. to think that something is true or probably true without knowing that it is true demonizing – v. trying to make someone or a group of people seem bad or wrong realize – v.  to understand or become aware of something http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/majority-of-us-undergraduates-are-nontraditional/3619097.html http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/majority-of-us-undergraduates-are-nontraditional/3619097.html Sat, 03 Dec 2016 21:36:19 +0000 EducationFeatured Storieshttp://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/majority-of-us-undergraduates-are-nontraditional/3619097.html#relatedInfoContainer You’re Dreaming! Join us now for Words and Their Stories, a program from VOA Learning English. On this show we talk about the origins and meanings of common expressions in American English. Every week we dream up topics you might find interesting. Well, we also do research. But today we have dreamt up a show on “dreams.” Dreams are the visions we have when we are asleep. But the word “dream” fills the expressions we use when we are awake. “The stuff dreams are made of” is a romantic expression. It describes a really wonderful experience. For example, let’s say you really love flight and space travel. So, a friend invites you to see a launch of a space shuttle. She even invites you to meet the astronauts who are going to fly into space. After this experience you can say to her, “That was the stuff dreams are made of! It’s a dream come true!” A dream come true is exactly that – a dream that has become reality. Let’s make it even better. Let’s say your friend can get you on the space shuttle. You can actually wear a space suit and sit in the flight commander’s seat! That would be beyond your wildest dreams. In other words, even you could not have dreamed up such a wonderful experience. However, once you enter the space shuttle you feel ill. Your hands shake and you are unable to talk. The astronauts try to help you. But you freak out, yelling, “Let me out of here! Let me out of here!” When you start throwing the flight manuals around the cockpit, the police come and remove you from the shuttle. It’s a disaster. A nightmare.   After the police take your statement and your fingerprints, your friend tries to calm you down. She tells that everything will be okay. But all you can say to her is, “I wish it was all just a bad dream.” But it wasn’t. You are barred from participating in any NASA-related field trips. And now you have a police record. However, months later your childhood dream of space travel comes back strong. You decide to become a pilot. Your friend advises against it. She reminds you that you have a severe case of claustrophobia, a fear of being in small spaces. She calls your goal of becoming a pilot a pipe dream. A pipe dream is a hope or wish that is impossible to achieve. This expression began in the late 19th century. Word experts say it refers to a dream experienced when smoking an opium pipe. Those dreams rarely come true. But you insist it is possible for you to be the first person to fly around the world with your faithful pet cat -- Galaxy. Your friend, however, says, “Dream on!” She could also say, “In your dreams!” Both of these informal expressions are ways of saying that someone’s idea is a fantasy. Friends can use them in a funny way with each other. Otherwise, both expressions can sound a little mean. Then your friend uses another informal expression. She tells you to wake up and smell the coffee! She adds that you are living in a dream world if you think you can become a world-famous pilot who flies with a cat. People who live in a dream world are unrealistic. They refuse to face facts. Your friend’s remarks are hard for you to hear. But you know she is right. So, you decide to write a children’s book about someone who flies around the world with a beloved pet. As you are already a children’s book author, this is a dream that can definitely come true. For the next few months, you happily daydream about the story you will write. To daydream is to let your creative mind, your imagination, take over. Luckily for you, you can daydream anywhere – not just in small spaces such as a cockpit. It turns out you are better dreaming about air travel than doing it. Your book is a spectacular success. With the money you make from your book sales, you are finally able to buy your dream house. And it has a special room just for Galaxy, your cat. Your proud friend invites you to speak at the school where she teaches. You tell her students to follow their dreams and to dream big. You also tell them that even broken dreams have value. You can always pick up the pieces and make a new one! That night you call her on the phone to thank her for reminding you to never stop dreaming. She says that is what friends are for. “Goodnight,” you say. “Goodnight,” she says. “Sweet dreams.”   And that brings us to the end of Words and Their Stories. I’m Anna Matteo teaching English for Voice of America. And you know, I wouldn’t dream of doing anything else. Anna Matteo wrote this story for Learning English. Kelly Jean Kelly edited the story. The songs heard in this program are the Everly Brothers singing "All I Have to Do Is Dream" and Patsy Cline singing "Sweet Dreams." ______________________________________________________________ Words and Their Stories   romantic – adj. not realistic or practical : not based on what is real freak out – v. a wildly irrational reaction or spell of behavior cockpit – n. a space or compartment in a usually small vehicle (as a boat, airplane, or automobile) from which it is steered, piloted, or driven escort – v. to go with (someone or something) to give protection or guidance claustrophobia – n. abnormal dread of being in closed or narrow spaces opium – n.  a bitter brownish addictive narcotic drug that consists of the dried latex obtained from immature seed capsules of the opium poppy fantasy – n. the free play of creative imagination spectacular – adj. causing wonder and admiration : very impressive proud – adj. having or displaying excessive self-esteem http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/3617940.html http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/3617940.html Sat, 03 Dec 2016 21:15:50 +0000 Words and Their StoriesFeatured Storieshttp://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/3617940.html#relatedInfoContainer Virgin Islands National Park: America's Paradise The Virgin Islands National Park sits between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea on a small island. It is rich in beauty and history. http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/americas-paradise-virgin-islands-national-park/3620669.html http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/americas-paradise-virgin-islands-national-park/3620669.html Fri, 02 Dec 2016 21:57:02 +0000 Level TwoFeatured StoriesAmerica's National Parkshttp://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/americas-paradise-virgin-islands-national-park/3620669.html#relatedInfoContainer 'Luck,' by Mark Twain   Our story today is called "Luck."  It was written by Mark Twain. Here is Shep O’Neal with the story. I was at a dinner in London given in honor of one of the most celebrated English military men of his time. I do not want to tell you his real name and titles. I will just call him Lieutenant General Lord Arthur Scoresby. I cannot describe my excitement when I saw this great and famous man. There he sat, the man himself, in person, all covered with medals. I could not take my eyes off him. He seemed to show the true mark of greatness. His fame had no effect on him. The hundreds of eyes watching him, the worship of so many people, did not seem to make any difference to him. Next to me sat a clergyman, who was an old friend of mine. He was not always a clergyman. During the first half of his life he was a teacher in the military school at Woolwich. There was a strange look in his eye as he leaned toward me and whispered – “Privately – he is a complete fool.” He meant, of course, the hero of our dinner. This came as a shock to me. I looked hard at my friend. I could not have been more surprised if he had said the same thing about Napoleon, or Socrates, or Solomon. But I was sure of two things about the clergyman. He always spoke the truth. And, his judgment of men was good. Therefore, I wanted to find out more about our hero as soon as I could. Some days later I got a chance to talk with the clergyman, and he told me more.  These are his exact words: About forty years ago, I was an instructor in the military academy at Woolwich, when young Scoresby was given his first examination. I felt extremely sorry for him.  Everybody answered the questions well, intelligently, while he – why, dear me – he did not know anything, so to speak. He was a nice, pleasant young man. It was painful to see him stand there and give answers that were miracles of stupidity. I knew of course that when examined again he would fail and be thrown out. So, I said to myself, it would be a simple, harmless act to help him as much as I could. I took him aside and found he knew a little about Julius Caesar’s history. But, he did not know anything else. So, I went to work and tested him and worked him like a slave. I made him work, over and over again, on a few questions about Caesar, which I knew he would be asked. If you will believe me, he came through very well on the day of the examination.  He got high praise too, while others who knew a thousand times more than he were sharply criticized. By some strange, lucky accident, he was asked no questions but those I made him study. Such an accident does not happen more than once in a hundred years. Well, all through his studies, I stood by him, with the feeling a mother has for a disabled child. And he always saved himself by some miracle. I thought that what in the end would destroy him would be the mathematics examination.  I decided to make his end as painless as possible. So, I pushed facts into his stupid head for hours. Finally, I let him go to the examination to experience what I was sure would be his dismissal from school. Well, sir, try to imagine the result. I was shocked out of my mind. He took first prize! And he got the highest praise. I felt guilty day and night – what I was doing was not right. But I only wanted to make his dismissal a little less painful for him. I never dreamed it would lead to such strange, laughable results. I thought that sooner or later one thing was sure to happen: The first real test once he was through school would ruin him. Then, the Crimean War broke out. I felt that sad for him that there had to be a war.  Peace would have given this donkey a chance to escape from ever being found out as being so stupid. Nervously, I waited for the worst to happen. It did. He was appointed an officer.  A captain, of all things! Who could have dreamed that they would place such a responsibility on such weak shoulders as his. I said to myself that I was responsible to the country for this. I must go with him and protect the nation against him as far as I could. So, I joined up with him. And away we went to the field. And there – oh dear, it was terrible. Mistakes, fearful mistakes – why, he never did anything that was right – nothing but mistakes. But, you see, nobody knew the secret of how stupid he really was. Everybody misunderstood his actions. They saw his stupid mistakes as works of great intelligence. They did, honestly! His smallest mistakes made a man in his right mind cry, and shout and scream too – to himself, of course. And what kept me in a continual fear was the fact that every mistake he made increased his glory and fame. I kept saying to myself that when at last they find out about him, it will be like the sun falling out of the sky. He continued to climb up, over the dead bodies of his superiors. Then, in the hottest moment of one battle down went our colonel. My heart jumped into my mouth, for Scoresby was the next in line to take his place. Now, we are in for it, I said… The battle grew hotter. The English and their allies were steadily retreating all over the field. Our regiment occupied a position that was extremely important. One mistake now would bring total disaster. And what did Scoresby do this time – he just mistook his left hand for his right hand…that was all. An order came for him to fall back and support our right. Instead, he moved forward and went over the hill to the left. We were over the hill before this insane movement could be discovered and stopped. And what did we find? A large and unsuspected Russian army waiting! And what happened – were we all killed? That is exactly what would have happened in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred.  But no – those surprised Russians thought that no one regiment by itself would come around there at such a time.   It must be the whole British army, they thought. They turned tail, away they went over the hill and down into the field in wild disorder, and we after them. In no time, there was the greatest turn around you ever saw. The allies turned defeat into a sweeping and shining victory. The allied commander looked on, his head spinning with wonder, surprise and joy.  He sent right off for Scoresby, and put his arms around him and hugged him on the field in front of all the armies. Scoresby became famous that day as a great military leader – honored throughout the world. That honor will never disappear while history books last. He is just as nice and pleasant as ever, but he still does not know enough to come in out of the rain. He is the stupidest man in the universe. Until now, nobody knew it but Scoresby and myself. He has been followed, day by day, year by year, by a strange luck. He has been a shining soldier in all our wars for years.  He has filled his whole military life with mistakes. Every one of them brought him another honorary title. Look at his chest, flooded with British and foreign medals. Well, sir, every one of them is the record of some great stupidity or other. They are proof that the best thing that can happen to a man is to be born lucky. I say again, as I did at the dinner, Scoresby’s a complete fool. ______________________________________________ Words in This Story   ally– n. (pl. allies) a country that supports and helps another country in a war disabled – adj. having a physical or mental disability : unable to perform one or more natural activities (such as walking or seeing) because of illness, injury, etc. dismiss – v. to send away; to refuse to consider dismissal – n. the act of sending a person away (from a position at work or in a school) join up – (idiom) enlist in the military service superiors – n. a person of higher rank or status than another http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/luck-mark-twain/3619103.html http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/luck-mark-twain/3619103.html Fri, 02 Dec 2016 21:07:14 +0000 American StoriesFeatured Storieshttp://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/luck-mark-twain/3619103.html#relatedInfoContainer Getting to Know the Verb 'Get'   From VOA Learning English, this is Everyday Grammar. So, Alice, what did you do last night? Well, I was at home, getting ready to go to the movies. I was getting my shoes on when I got a feeling that something strange was going to happen. I've gotten those feelings, too. Then, I left the house, and got a cab, and got to the movies as fast as I could. Did you get there on time? Yes! But as soon as I got into the theater, I got a phone call from someone whose voice I didn’t recognize. That’s when things started to get weird… Did you notice anything unusual in this story? The verb get is used 10 times -- and with several different meanings. Get is one of the most commonly used, most tricky, and sometimes most hated words for English learners. When learning this verb, it is best to keep a sense of humor. That is because the verb has more than 50 uses, such as when it appears as part of at least 12 phrasal verbs or other expressions. Today on Everyday Grammar, we explore this simple three-letter word with many meanings. But don’t worry. By the time you come to the end of the program, we hope you will begin to enjoy this captivating and changeable verb. We will consider a few of the most common meanings of get and offer some ideas on how to use the verb. Let’s start with a very common meaning of get, which is to receive, obtain, or buy. The structure is: get + direct object Listening or reading for clues and then recognizing the meaning from those clues is the best way of explaining this meaning. For example, take the following sentence: I got an email from my friend Penelope. In this sentence, does ‘got’ mean received, obtained, or bought? Here, the word got means received. We know that the person did not buy the email. We also know that they did not obtain it, since obtain means to acquire by effort. Let’s try another sentence: I just got a new sofa! In this example, does got mean received, obtained, or bought? It probably means bought, since the speaker does not provide any evidence that it was received.   But, in this statement, whether the speaker bought the sofa or obtained it in some other way is not very important. The most important thing to know here is that the speaker did not receive the sofa – they obtained it in some way. Now, let’s turn to a different meaning of get. This one means to bring or fetch. The structure is: get + direct object Listen to this example: I’m going outside to get the mail. Sometimes, however, the structure can be: get + indirect object + direct object Listen to the example: Could you get me my phone? It’s in the bedroom upstairs. In this sentence, the direct object is my phone and the indirect object is me. This is a structure you can use to ask someone to bring something to you. You would probably not use it unless the thing were fairly close. For example, if you left your mobile phone at a friend’s house, and you will see the friend tomorrow, you would not say: Could you get me my phone tomorrow? Instead, you would say: Could you bring me my phone tomorrow? Now, you try it. Ask someone to bring something nearby to you. Our next meaning of get is to arrive somewhere. There are two structures here. The first is:           get + location adverb   The second is: get + to + location Listen to a few examples: What time will you get here? I got to Tokyo at 6 a.m. I got to the concert late. In these examples, the clue to the meaning of get is the name of a place right after the verb, such as “Tokyo,” “the movies,” “here” or “there.” Our last meaning of get on today’s program is to become. The structure is: get + adjective Listen to a few examples: The food is getting cold. I get nervous when I have to speak in public. In this use, the verb get simply replaces the verb become. You will recognize this easily when you hear or see an adjective immediately after get. Here are three suggestions to help you better understand and use the meanings of get: Tip #1: Guess the meaning from clues Guessing can be your best friend when trying to understand and use the meanings of get. Use context clues to help you know how get is used. Context means words that are used with or next to a specific word or expression that helps explain its meaning. Look for a direct object or a location adverb or an adjective before or after the verb get. These will help you to know its intended meaning. Tip #2: Practice, practice, practice Read and listen to as much as you can in English. The more you do this, the more easily you will be able to use clues as a tool to quickly understand meaning. Americans, the British, and other native English speakers can recognize these clues very quickly. You can learn to do this, too! Try to immerse yourself in English by listening to Learning English podcasts, watching movies and YouTube videos, and listening to music. Tip #3: Use other verbs If you are not sure how to use some of the meanings of get, you can instead use verbs with similar meanings. Sometimes the other verbs sound natural, and other times they sound formal. For example, you can say, “I just bought a new sofa!” and it sounds perfectly natural. By comparison, saying, “I arrived home at 10 pm” sounds very official. Yet, both are correct and can be used.    Orin Hargraves is a lexicographer. He writes and studies dictionaries. Hargraves recently told Everyday Grammar that, “Many of the jobs that we currently give to get…can also be expressed by other verbs.” Hargraves’ advice is good advice. The Everyday Grammar team hopes you enjoyed learning a few of the many meanings of the verb get. So, get going and enjoy this wonderful verb. We've got to go now. But keep listening in the coming weeks for more words with many meanings. I’m Phil Dierking. I'm Jill Robbins. And I'm Alice Bryant. Alice Bryant wrote this story for Everyday Grammar. George Grow was the editor. Have you noticed how often get is used in popular movies and music? Try to find an example and then write to us in the comments section. We want to hear from you. _______________________________________________________________ Words in This Story verb - n. a word that is usually one of the main parts of a sentence and that expresses an action, an occurrence, or a state of being   phrasal verb - n. a group of words that functions as a verb and is made up of a verb and a preposition, an adverb, or both  obtain - v. to gain or get, usually by effort acquire - v. to come to own something fetch - v. to go after and bring back someone or something clue - n. something that helps a person find something, understand something, or solve a mystery or puzzle intend - v. to have something in your mind as a purpose or goal guess - v. to form an opinion or give an answer about something when you do not know much or anything about it sofa - n. a long and comfortable piece of furniture on which a person can sit or lie down immerse - v. to put (something) in a liquid so that all parts are completely covered http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/getting-to-know-the-verb-get/3617759.html http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/getting-to-know-the-verb-get/3617759.html Thu, 01 Dec 2016 21:40:29 +0000 Featured StoriesEveryday Grammarhttp://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/getting-to-know-the-verb-get/3617759.html#relatedInfoContainer Seven Hidden Google Games Google has some secret fun with at least seven hidden games you can play when you need a break from life. These games are free and can be a great way to escape from stress. You may even learn as you play. Some of these games bring back memories of classic arcade games. One game tests your knowledge of the world. Another game helps you learn how to fly a plane. An infographic shows you what the games are, how to find them, and how addictive they are.                                                               Google Maps and Earth Games Lovers of flight and geography will enjoy these games hidden in Google Maps and Google Earth. Flight Simulator Flight Simulator is a hidden game in Google Earth that lets you fly a virtual jet across the sky. Go to Google Earth and download the Google Earth software to your computer to become a virtual pilot. Click on Tools, then Enter Flight Simulator to begin playing the game. Choose the kind of airplane you want to fly. Then, decide on a departure airport. Maybe you would enjoy a takeoff from the Katmandu airport. You could cyber-soar above the Himalaya mountains. Users can operate the plane with the keyboard or a joystick. Follow the Flight Simulator guidelines to learn how to do it. A video from Google Earth shows you how to fly using Flight Simulator.   Smarty Pins Test your knowledge of geography and more with Smarty Pins. The game provides questions about places around the world. You answer by placing a marker on Google Maps.   smartypins.withgoogle.com Once you are on the website the first step is to choose a subject . These include Arts and Culture, Science and Geography, Entertainment and more. You will be asked five questions. The answer could be a country, city or building. Place your marker on Google Maps where you think the answer should be. Click the plus + button to zoom in and place your marker on a location. Smarty Pins gives you 1000 miles or kilometers to use. If your answers are correct, and you place your marker on the exact place, you keep all your miles. If you miss by a certain distance you lose that number of miles. You can play until all your miles or kilometers are gone. After answering five questions, you may get an award. But, do not expect any prize money! Google Search Games Use Google search to find hidden games you can play on your computer, phone or tablet. Atari Breakout Google lets you play the classic arcade game Atari Breakout without needing to drop coins into a machine. Type "Atari Breakout" into Google Image Search. The game will appear and you can start playing immediately.   Move the bar at the bottom of the screen to bounce the ball and hit the colored squares. When you have hit all the squares you are done. You can then use the pause button to get a link for sharing your Breakout score with others. Learn more about the game at the Atari Breakout website. Zerg Rush Zerg Rush is based on the game Starcraft. Zerg Rush will attack and destroy your Google search results. Go to the Google search page and type in "zerg rush". Zeros will start dropping from the top of your screen, erasing your search results. Click on the zeros to erase them and protect your results. A video on YouTube shows how Zerg Rush works.   Pac-Man This classic arcade game was re-created as a Google Doodle on May 21, 2010 to celebrate Pac-Man's 30th birthday. You can play it by typing "Pac-Man Google Doodle" in Google search. Click the Pac-Man Google Doodle result to play. You move the Pac-Man so it can eat the dots, just like in the famous arcade game. Watch out for the destructive ghosts! Android Device Games If you have an Android phone or tablet, Google has some surprises for you. Check out these hidden games for new ways of having fun. Flappy Droid Flappy Droid is Google's version of the game Flappy Bird. This game is hidden on devices running Android versions 5 and 6, also known as Lollipop and Marshmallow. To find Flappy Droid go to Settings => About Phone => Android version. You will see the version of Android your phone is running. Tap the Android version text several times and a new screen will open showing the letter “M.” Press and hold the “M” to see a lollipop or a marshmallow.   Tap either image to begin playing the game. Move your Droid through barriers. Be quick! The game moves very fast. T-Rex But what about when you do not have Internet? T-Rex is a game for offline play. Open Chrome on your Android device and search for "t-rex." If you are not connected to the Internet, you can begin playing the T-Rex game. Tap on the screen to have your T-Rex hop over barriers. You can remain playfully occupied as you wait for reconnection to the Internet! I’m Caty Weaver and I'm Kaveh Rezaei Carolyn Nicander Mohr wrote this report for VOA Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor. Did you know about these hidden Google games? Do you know about any other hidden Google games? Which of these games have you tried? Share your thoughts in the Comments Section below or on our Facebook page. * Infographic courtesy of eurooffice.co.uk Words in This Story infographic - n. a visual image such as a chart or diagram used to represent information or data geography - n. an area of study that deals with the location of countries, cities, rivers, mountains, lakes, etc.​ virtual - adj. existing or occurring on computers or on the Internet departure - v. the act of leaving a place especially to start a journey joystick - n. a lever used to control the movement of images on the screen in a computer or video game bounce - v. to cause (a ball, rock, etc.) to hit against a surface and quickly move in a different and usually opposite direction   http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/google-hidden-games/3614935.html http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/google-hidden-games/3614935.html Wed, 30 Nov 2016 21:34:39 +0000 Level TwoFeatured StoriesPersonal Technologyhttp://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/google-hidden-games/3614935.html#relatedInfoContainer Pirelli Calendar Features Women Without Makeup   This is What’s Trending Today. Pirelli is known for making high-performance tires used on racing cars. The Italy-based, Chinese-owned company is also known for producing calendars at the end of the year. In years past, Pirelli calendars had photographs of models wearing very little clothing or nothing at all. But this year, the company decided to publish photos of Hollywood movie stars. In many ways, all calendars are the same. They list the days of the year in exactly the same order. But people do not buy calendars just to know what day it is. Over the years, calendars have become popular gifts because many are filled with beautiful pictures. Pirelli’s 2017 calendar has photos of 14 women who won Academy Awards. They include actors Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore and Helen Mirren. This week, the company released some of the images to the media. All of the pictures are in black-and-white. None of the women are wearing makeup. Some look different from the way they do in movies. A story on the Facebook page of the magazine Harper’s Bazaar listed comments both for and against the photos.   Some people said the pictures are a sign of progress for the “no makeup movement.” That is a movement where well-known women are trying to look more natural. Some performers say going out without putting on beauty products makes them feel more at ease in public. One of the performers is the American singer Alicia Keys. Keys wrote that since people know what she looks like without wearing makeup, she feels more relaxed when she goes out in public. She appears in a television program with her “natural” look.  Other personalities have been taking selfies without makeup and posting the pictures on social media sites. Until last year, the Pirelli calendar’s photos had subjects in provocative poses. This year, the photographer was Germany’s Peter Lindbergh. While his photos do not show women as the Pirelli calendar has in the past, they do show the women without another kind of covering: beauty products. Lindbergh said he wanted his photos to show “a different beauty, more real and truthful and not manipulated…” And that’s What’s Trending Today. I’m Jill Robbins. Dan Friedell wrote this story for Learning English. George Grow was the editor. What do you think of the images from the Pirelli calendar? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page. _______________________________________________________________   Words in This Story manipulate – v. to deal with or control (someone or something) in a clever and usually unfair or selfish way provocative –adj. causing sexual feelings or excitement selfie –n. a picture that you take of yourself especially by using the camera on your smartphone trend – n. a way of behaving, proceeding, etc., that is developing and becoming more common relax – v. to become or to cause (something) to become less tense, tight, or stiff   http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/pirelli-calendar/3617677.html http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/pirelli-calendar/3617677.html Wed, 30 Nov 2016 21:30:27 +0000 Level TwoFeatured StoriesWhat's Trending Today?http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/pirelli-calendar/3617677.html#relatedInfoContainer What Is a Charter School?   Last week, U.S. President-elect Donald Trump nominated Betsy DeVos to be the Secretary of Education in his administration. DeVos is an education activist. She supports school choice -- a term for policies that let students and their families choose between attending private or public schools. Devos has been a leading supporter of charter schools. So, what are charter schools? How are they different from traditional public schools in the United States? In today's Education report, we explore the charter school movement. What are charter schools? The American state of Minnesota passed the country’s first charter school law in the early 1990s. Since then, charter schools have spread from coast to coast. There are currently more than 6,700 charter schools, educating nearly 3 million students nationwide. Those numbers come from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, a non-profit organization. Charter schools are a kind of public school that receives a special charter, or written rules, from a state government. A charter is a document, or series of documents, that gives rights to a person or group of individuals. Charter schools cannot require students to pay tuition for their education. The schools also cannot set admissions requirements. If too many young people asked to be admitted, the school must choose its students through a lottery system. Charter schools are different from public schools in many ways. They often have flexibility in the kinds of classes and programs that they can offer. They often do not have to follow the rules public schools do. Jon Valant is an education expert at the Brookings Institution, a public policy group. He says the charter school movement grew out of unhappiness with public schools.  Over time, different groups began supporting the charter cause. Civil rights groups wanted schools that broke down barriers based on race or wealth. Parents wanted greater ability to choose where their children went to school. Some Americans said that competition between schools could improve the quality of education. The main idea was that increased flexibility in an education program would let charter schools better serve their students. Why do Americans debate charter schools? Not all Americans like charter schools. For over 20 years, critics have argued that charter schools take money away from public schools, and may not serve students with special needs. Some civil rights groups have opposed charter schools. The NAACP and Black Lives Matter movement, for example, have released statements criticizing charter schools. They say that charter schools have exacerbated segregation, increasing racial barriers. The groups have also criticized the use of suspension as a punishment in charter schools. They point to studies that suggest that charter schools are more likely to suspend minority students. Some labor and union organizers disagree about whether charter schools are actually public schools. The National Labor Relations Board, for example, recently ruled in two cases teachers at charter schools operate under rules that govern private sector employees.* Traditionally, public school teachers are subject to laws for public employees. What does the evidence about charter schools say? In the United States, tests are often used to measure educational success. When opponents and supporters of charter schools talk about a school’s performance, they are often talking about state test results. Whether current state tests are the best way to measure success is a subject of debate. Valant, at Brookings, explains what the evidence shows about state tests and charter schools: "The best evidence we have now is that if you look across the country, kids in charter schools perform similarly on state tests to kids who are in similar schools. So it doesn't look like there are very large effects across the board on test scores." Valant goes on to explain that charter schools are not all the same. Some charter schools do a better job than others do. "Having said that, the effects on test scores are more positive in urban areas, which is where there is a lot of energy behind charter schools, so that's where you do tend to see charters outperforming some of the local traditional public schools on state tests." Another point, Valant adds, is that one of the hopes of charter school founders was to de-segregate American schools. This reality was one that the charter school movement hoped, but has not been able to change. Another hope of the founders is that charter schools would increase competition with public schools. The idea was that competition would lead all schools to improve. To date, there is no proof that the competition has improved public school quality. "That evidence just isn't there," Valant says. What does the debate over charter schools show you about America? Michael Hansen is an education expert at the Brookings Institution. He says he thinks the debates over charter schools show that some Americans are suspicious of the idea of public money going to private interests. The idea that charter schools have ties to private organizations, such as religious groups, is one common misconception. Valant, also at Brookings, adds that the charter movement has appealed to Americans with different beliefs. This appeal, which has not been true of other education reform ideas, helps to explain some of the growth of charter schools. Charter schools have not unified both political parties, Valant explains, but these schools have found enough support in the country’s two leading parties. "I think that support" he adds, "has been important in the sustained development of what is a pretty fundamental restructuring of the way that schools are governed." I'm John Russell. And I'm Phil Dierking. John Russell wrote this story for Learning English. George Grow was the editor. We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section. *These cases involved unionization efforts at two charter schools. Read the Washington Post's story for more information.  ________________________________________________________________ Words in This Story   charter – n. a document issued by a government that gives rights to a person or group tuition – n. money that is paid to a school for the right to study there flexibility – n. able to change or to do different things across the board  -- phrase adj. affecting everyone or everything in a group misconception – n. a wrong or mistaken idea exacerbate – v. to make more violent or severe lottery – n. a game or event in which the final result is decided by chance http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/education-report-what-is-a-charter-school/3615966.html http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/education-report-what-is-a-charter-school/3615966.html Tue, 29 Nov 2016 21:36:34 +0000 EducationFeatured Storieshttp://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/education-report-what-is-a-charter-school/3615966.html#relatedInfoContainer Obamas Prepare for Their Final White House Christmas   This is What’s Trending Today… President Barack Obama and his family will celebrate their eighth and final Christmas in the White House next month. On Tuesday, White House staff and first lady Michelle Obama revealed this year’s holiday decorations. They include nearly 70,000 ornaments, 63 Christmas trees, 56 gingerbread houses, and two very large statues of the Obama family’s dogs, Sunny and Bo. An estimated 68,000 people will visit the White House during the holiday season. There is no cost to enter. But, the very first people to see this year’s decorations were military members and their families. Michelle Obama welcomed them to the White House Tuesday. The first lady said the gold ornaments on the official White House Christmas tree honor military heroes. The Christmas tree is almost six meters tall and stands in the Blue Room. This year’s theme is “The Gift of the Holidays.” Many of the decorations represent important gifts in America, including the “gift of a great education,” Michelle Obama said. In the White House Library, another Christmas tree is decorated with ornaments that honor girls. The word “Girls” is printed in a different language on each ornament. A program called Let Girls Learn has been a major effort of Michelle Obama’s. It aims to help girls and young women around the world get a quality education. Another “gift” is the gift of good health. A tree in the White House Green Room is hung with fruit grown in the White House Garden. Healthful eating and exercise have also been important issues during Obama’s eight years as first lady. Most of the ornaments and other decorations were reused, the White House said. Just 10 percent were new. More than 90 volunteers worked on the decorations. On Tuesday, the first lady thanked the volunteer decorators. “We can’t wait to start welcoming people into their White House this holiday season. To everyone who created these stunning displays…. I want to once again say thank you. You all did a phenomenal job of turning this house into a magical place.” And that’s What’s Trending Today. Ashley Thompson adapted this report from the Associated Press, with additional materials from WhiteHouse.gov. Caty Weaver was the editor.  ________________________________________________________________ Words in This Story   staff - n. a group of people who work for an organization or business​ reveal - v. to show (something) plainly or clearly​ decorations  - n. ​things that are added to something else to make it more attractive ornaments  - n. ​small balls, figures, etc., that are hung on a Christmas tree for decoration​ gingerbread  - n. ​a cake or cookie made with molasses and ginger​ theme  - n. ​ the main subject that is being discussed or described in a piece of writing, a movie, etc.​ stunning - adj. very beautiful or pleasing​ phenomenal ​- adj. ​very good or great​   http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/obamas-prepare-for-final-white-house-christmas-decorations/3616456.html http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/obamas-prepare-for-final-white-house-christmas-decorations/3616456.html Tue, 29 Nov 2016 21:00:03 +0000 EntertainmentFeatured StoriesWhat's Trending Today?Level Onehttp://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/obamas-prepare-for-final-white-house-christmas-decorations/3616456.html#relatedInfoContainer Update: Breakthrough in Fighting Zika   From VOA Learning English, this is the Health & Lifestyle report. Researches have reported a breakthrough in the search for a treatment for Zika virus. To better understand this report, you will need to know the following words: antibody, vaccine and immune system. Researchers have discovered an antibody that greatly reduces infection with Zika. This antibody could possibly be made into a vaccine to protect people against the virus. Researchers named the antibody ZIKV-117. An antibody is an immune system protein. Researchers got the antibody from a Zika patient. Then they tested the antibody in pregnant mice infected with Zika. ZIKV-117 protected the fetus against infection. The antibody creates a strong reaction to the virus in the immune system. In fact, ZIKV-117 neutralized, or made harmless, each kind of Zika that the scientists tested. The antibody also greatly decreased the amount of virus in the pregnant mice. And, the researchers found decreased levels of the virus in fetal tissue, including brain tissue. Zika-infected male mice with the antibody were more likely to survive than those without. Some of the mice did not receive the antibody until five days after being infected with Zika. The antibody was still effective, suggesting that it can treat an active infection. Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in Missouri and Vanderbilt University in Tennessee did the study. They reported their findings in the publication Nature. Michael Diamond is a microbiologist and immunologist at Washington University. A microbiologist studies extremely small forms of life such as bacteria and viruses. An immunologist studies the ways in which the body protects itself from diseases and infections. Diamond was a lead investigator of the research. "(Be)fore this study, there had been no vaccine or any other study that had done anything in pregnant animals to show that anything could abort or prevent disease. So, one thing this does is suggest that antibodies are able to do it and this actually bodes well for future vaccine efforts." Diamond says scientists could develop ZIKV-117 into a drug that could be used different ways. "Either you give it before somebody went into a high-risk area if they were traveling, or as soon as they knew they were pregnant and they were not infected already. Or if they were pregnant and then got infected but (it) was early in their stage of infection, you might be able to administer it and still have beneficial effects." Diamond says researchers are now preparing to test the antibody in monkeys. This process, he says, could take six to nine months. If those experiments are successful, human testing could begin soon after that. Zika can cause severe problems in newborns. The most worrisome is microcephaly. Microcephaly causes babies to be born with very small heads and brains. * Researchers and doctors also think that Zika causes a rare and severe disease called Guillain-Barré. Guillain-Barre syndrome is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks healthy nerve cells in your peripheral nervous system. Zika, which is carried by mosquitoes, is currently spreading through the Americas. For the Health & Lifestyle report, I’m Anna Matteo. Jessica Berman wrote this story for VOA News in Washington. Anna Matteo adapted it for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor. *Editor's Note: The definition of Guillain-Barre syndrome was updated after publication of this story.   ________________________________________________________________ Words in This Story   breakthrough – n. a sudden increase in knowledge, understanding, etc. : an important discovery that happens after trying for a long time to understand or explain something antibody – n. medical : a substance produced by the body to fight disease immune system – n. medical : the system that protects your body from diseases and infections abort – v. to stop something before it is completed because of problems or danger : to stop in the early stages <abort a disease> actually – adv. in act or in fact   bode – v. to indicate by signs stage – n. a period or step in a process, activity, or development beneficial – adj. producing good or helpful results or effects : producing benefits peripheral nervous system – n. medical : the part of the nervous system that is outside the central nervous system and comprises the cranial nerves excepting the optic nerve, the spinal nerves, and the autonomic nervous system http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/3608675.html http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/3608675.html Mon, 28 Nov 2016 21:03:44 +0000 Health & LifestyleLevel TwoFeatured Storieshttp://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/3608675.html#relatedInfoContainer Weather Predictions Expected to Improve with New U.S. Satellite A new American weather satellite could save more lives by better predicting extreme weather conditions. The satellite was launched from Cape Canaveral, in the state of Florida, on November 19. It will be in orbit some 36,000 kilometers above Earth’s surface. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, also known as NOAA, has been working with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on the project. NOAA officials are calling the new satellite GOES-R. That is short for a much longer name -- the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite – R Series. NOAA said GOES-R could improve the nation’s ability to observe weather conditions and make weather predictions. It said the satellite’s deployment would lead to more exact and timely weather forecasts, watches and warnings. The government agency said the satellite will require testing of its six instruments and will be ready to work “within a year.” Next generation of weather satellites “The next generation of weather satellites is finally here,” said NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan. She described GOES-R as one of the most sophisticated Earth-observing machines ever created. Sullivan said its instruments will be able to study Earth five times faster and with four times more detail than any other NOAA satellite currently in operation. She believes this will make the United States an even stronger, more “Weather-Ready” nation. A NOAA statement said the greater detail will help improve the agency’s study of ocean storms, as well as “the prediction and warnings of severe weather.” In addition, GOES-R will be able to provide improved rainfall estimates, which will lead to more timely and detailed flood warnings. The statement also said that GOES-R will give better estimates of wind strength, as well as better measurement of fog, ice or lightning strikes. One of the six instruments on the satellite is designed to help scientists study lightning strikes and map them. This, NOAA says, will help the agency follow the movement of severe storms and provide more detailed warnings. Craig Fugate serves as administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. He says that the GOES-R satellite will improve the ability of people and organizations across America to prepare for, and react to, weather-related disasters. Fugate feels that better understanding of the world around us will lead to better results. These include knowing where to best position supplies before a storm hits and providing more targeted information to local officials. That information could help the officials decide when to order civilians to leave an area because of bad weather. In addition to weather forecasting, GOES-R will be part of an international search and rescue network. It will have a “special transponder” that will be able to find signals from emergency beacons. I’m Phil Dierking. This story first appeared on VOANews.com. Phil Dierking adapted the report for Learning English. George Grow was the editor. How could better weather forecast help you? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page. ______________________________________________________________ Words in This Story   beacon – n. a radio signal that is broadcast to help guide ships, airplanes, etc. forecast – n. to say that (something) will happen in the future geostationary – adj. moving in orbit in space along the equator, so that it remains stationary to a fixed point on the surface sophisticated – adj. highly developed and complex transponder – n. a device that receives a radio signal and sends out a signal in response and that is used especially to show the location of something http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/weather-predictions-expected-to-improve-with-new-us-satellite/3609135.html http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/weather-predictions-expected-to-improve-with-new-us-satellite/3609135.html Sun, 27 Nov 2016 21:04:57 +0000 Science & TechnologyScience in the NewsFeatured StoriesLevel Onehttp://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/weather-predictions-expected-to-improve-with-new-us-satellite/3609135.html#relatedInfoContainer ‘President Trump’ Worries Some International Students   Hussain Saeed Alnahdi was one of the almost 400 international students attending the University of Wisconsin-Stout. Twenty-four-year-old Alnahdi was from Saudi Arabia. He began his studies at the school in the Midwestern part of the United States last year. But early on the morning of October 30, Alnahdi’s experience as an international student came to a violent end. An unnamed attacker beat him until he died outside a restaurant in the city of Menomonie. A few weeks later, police announced they had arrested a suspect. They said they do not believe the attack was a hate crime, or a crime influenced by race. But events like the attack in Wisconsin have raised concerns for many international students living and studying in the U.S. Study in the U.S.A. is a company that supports international students who want to study at American colleges and universities. A few days before the U.S. presidential election, the company released the results of an opinion study of 1,000 international students from 130 countries. Over 65 percent of the students said they would be less likely to study in the U.S. if Donald Trump were elected president. FPP EDU Media also works with international students. The company released its own survey of 40,000 students in June. Those results suggested 60 percent of their students felt the same way. During his campaign, President-elect Trump made statements about Mexican people that many critics called racist. At one point, he called for a ban on all Muslims entering the U.S. The Southern Poverty Law Center is a civil rights group based in Montgomery, Alabama. The group says it has received 437 reports of incidents of intimidation and harassment in the six days following the election. Renait Stephens is the chief executive officer of Study in the U.S.A. She says international students and their parents are worried. However, she is also hopeful. She argues that what a politician says during a campaign and what they do once they are in power are two different things. Stephens says international students will have to wait and see what happens. "It’s early days. And until we know something more about any policy changes, then I think we just have to really emphasize that and hope that our education system will continue to be how it is right now. So right now we’re just trying to reassure students that nothing has changed. U.S. campuses are still safe. They’re still open. They’re still diverse. And you still get a fantastic education." Other experts say there has never been any real threat to international education. The Institute of International Education (IIE) is a nonprofit organization that studies and supports international student exchanges. Together with the U.S. Department of State, the IIE releases a report every year on the number of international students in the U.S. The 2016 Open Doors report says about 1,044,000 international students attended American colleges and universities last year. That is a record number. Peggy Blumenthal is an official with the IIE. She says the organization has been recording international student numbers for over 90 years. She says international students are mostly concerned with the quality of the education they can get in the U.S. The rest of the world still values the strength of the American higher education system above almost any other country, she adds. Blumenthal points to historical examples. When the U.S. accidentally bombed the Chinese embassy in the capital of Serbia in 1999, major protests took place at the U.S. embassy in Beijing. But, she says, shortly after the protests, Chinese students were complaining the American embassy was not processing their visas fast enough. Blumenthal says this shows world events do not easily affect international student exchanges. "International students really value their opportunity to study in the United States. And throughout the whole history of our collecting data, there has almost never been a drop in the number of international students coming to the United States. There have been many important changes in American policy, in international circumstances, in the economy. But the numbers of international students pretty much continues to rise regardless of what’s going on elsewhere around them." Blumenthal admits there may be a small decrease in the number of Muslim students coming to U.S. schools. That also happened after the terrorist attacks in New York on September 11th, 2001. But she says a decrease in students from one country is often balanced by an increase in students from other countries. Foreign students bring a lot to the economies of many towns and cities across the U.S. The U.S. Department of Commerce says international students added about $30 billion to the U.S. economy in 2015. Blumenthal argues that no politician is willing to risk losing that. However, Philip Altbach remains worried. Altbach is the director of the Center for International Higher Education. The center works through Boston College to research and support international study. Altbach says there are examples of decreases in international study in other countries. He notes the major decrease of Indian students studying in Australia after several Indians were attacked there in 2009 and 2010. He also says the language Trump and his supporters used during the campaign has lowered the world’s opinion of the U.S. "I think that the toxic discourse of the campaign and of what Mr. Trump has said for a long time actually is extraordinarily damaging for the image of the United States in general and in the thinking of students and faculty members overseas who may be considering studying in the United States or coming here as professors. Because the choice of where to study in the world depends very significantly on the comfort that students and their families will feel about the country to which they are planning to go." Altbach says international students and professors bring different perspectives to the universities where they study or teach. Losing them would cost the American students a lot -- educationally and financially. He says international graduate students and professors are involved in much of the research done at most U.S. universities. Also, decreases in international student numbers may not affect large, well-known universities, he says. But many others need international students to pay the full price to attend. Having international students pay more makes it possible for schools to let American students attend at reduced cost, he says. Altbach admits there is no way to know what will happen until the new administration takes office. But until then, universities must make clear public statements saying they will support and protect international students. If not, Altbach says, America may no longer be the first choice for people seeking the best education in the world. I’m Pete Musto.   Pete Musto reported on this story for VOA Learning English. Mario Ritter was the editor. We want to hear from you. How would Donald Trump being president affect your decision to study in America? Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page. _______________________________________________________________ Words in This Story   hate crime – n. a crime influenced by an unfair feeling of dislike for a person or group because of race, sex or religion, typically involving violence influence(d) – v. to affect or change someone or something in an indirect but usually important way survey – n. an activity in which many people are asked a question or a series of questions in order to gather information about what most people do or think about something racist – adj. showing belief that some races of people are better than others intimidation – n. enforcing agreement by making someone afraid or using violence harassment – n. constant or repeated action causing someone to feel slightly angry or troubled, worried, or concerned emphasize – v. to give special attention to something reassure – v. to make someone feel less afraid, upset, or doubtful diverse – adj. made up of people or things that are different from each other toxic – adj. very unpleasant discourse – n. the use of words to exchange thoughts and ideas perspective(s) – n. a way of thinking about and understanding something, such as a particular issue or life in general graduate student(s) – n. a person who is working on a degree or diploma from a school, college, or university after earning a bachelor's degree or other first degree http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/donald-trump-worries-international-students/3608595.html http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/donald-trump-worries-international-students/3608595.html Sat, 26 Nov 2016 21:35:07 +0000 EducationFeatured Storieshttp://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/donald-trump-worries-international-students/3608595.html#relatedInfoContainer