Special English 又叫“慢速英语”，是VOA 专为全世界非英语国家初学英语的听众安排的一种简易、规范的英语广播节目。该节目创始于50年代末期，是VOA 的专家们研究如何与世界各地的英语学习者进行交际的产物。它正式开播于1959年10月。当时只面向欧洲和中东，但由于这个节目适合许多国家英语学习者的需要，所以它的广播对象不久就扩大到世界其他地区，并很快在全世界范围内产生了广泛的影响。现在这个节目对欧洲、非洲和拉丁美洲每晚广播一次，对加勒比地区每晚广播一次（星期天除外），对东南亚广播次数最多，每天上午两次，晚上三次。
30多年来，VOA 为了办好Special English节目，进行了大量的调查研究工作，对播音速度、内容及用词范围都作了具体规定，基本上达到了既能为英语学习者提供信息，又不损害英语本身风格的目的，使之成为VOA 独具特色，拥有最大量听众的节目。
美国著名词汇学家S. B. Flexmer 指明了Special English的三条标准，也就是它所“特别”的地方：
- Meningitis is spreading across West Africa. The brain disease is a threat every year across 21 African countries. Health officials call this area, the meningitis belt.
- The head of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA, said that the space agency is on track to land people on Mars in the 2030s.
- Having an automobile can be costly. In addition to paying for fuel, the owner of a car should set aside money for an insurance policy to guard against possible damage or loss. The owner also has to pay for normal repairs, like an oil change, and other work.
- Consumers around the world benefit from large food stores and large-scale food production. They can buy many fruits and vegetables throughout the year that were once sold only a few months out of the year. But there is a price to pay for this year-round availability.
- When computer servers operate a complex program, they can get very hot. Cooling the servers can be costly. So researchers asked what would happen if the heat created by the servers could be captured and used?
- You may have heard about a process called 3-D printing. It is where a machine creates a three-dimensional object -- one with height, width and depth. The machine uses plastic or a similar material to produce the object. Usually, the material is added one layer at a time, with the layering process repeated again and again until the product is ready.
- Since 2009, earthquake activity has greatly increased in the central and eastern United States. A new report from U.S. earthquake experts links drilling for oil and gas with the rise in the number of earthquakes in those areas.
- Last month, 150 people were killed when Germanwings Flight 9525 crashed in the French Alps. Officials say the co-pilot flew the airplane directly into a mountain on purpose.
- Large governmental organizations controlled the production of seeds in Africa for many years. Owners of small farms had to buy their seeds from these agencies. But now there is an effort to make seeds from other suppliers available to African farmers. The new, improved seeds might someday help Africa feed itself.
- Before the Hubble Space Telescope, people saw the field of astronomy differently than they do today. American spacecraft did provide detailed pictures of Jupiter and Saturn, planets in our own solar system. But deep space, the place where nebulae and galaxies exist, remained mostly colorless -- until the Hubble Space Telescope.
- Plants have a biological clock that tells them when to produce leaves, seeds and other growth. A new study says understanding that clock may help scientists develop crops that can feed a growing population in an increasingly warmer world.
- Devices that help people walk were once thought to be difficult, if not impossible, to design. Until recently, such a device required electricity from an external power supply. Now, American scientists have built a small, wearable addition to normal shoes. Their new invention eases the load on muscles in the leg and makes walking easier.
- The South Korean capital Seoul demonstrated some of its investments in technology at a climate change conference earlier this month. The conference was called to explore what city governments can do to reduce air pollution, increase energy efficiency and help the environment.
- A new study has found the amount of antibiotics given to farm animals is expected to increase by two-thirds over the next 15 years. Researchers are linking the growing dependence on the drugs to rising demand for meat, milk and eggs.
- After several days of using the new Apple Watch, many reviewers called it the best smart watch but others wondered if the watch is for everyone.
- Scientists in the Philippines are working to make changes to rice. They hope these changes will help solve one of the world's biggest health issues: the lack of Vitamin A.
- An American astronaut is beginning a year long trip in space. NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly is traveling to the International Space Station for the second time. Mr. Kelly says that this time in space would present a greater challenge than his first visit.
- For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. NASA and other space agencies have announced plans to send people to the Red Planet. But such a manned mission is years away.
- For years, officials in Iran have talked about building what they call a Halal Internet – an Internet for Iranians completely separate from the rest of the world. Recently, government officials in Iran unveiled a new measure in their continuing effort to monitor where its citizens can and cannot go online. It is an Iran-only search engine called Yooz.
- A Swiss airplane powered only by energy from the sun left from Abu Dhabi early on March 9. Its creators hope the plane will make the first around-the-world journey without any fuel.
- Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, showed off their newest device, the Apple Watch. Mr. Cook said it is the "most personal" device Apple has ever created.
- The top U.S. and Iranian diplomats have been holding almost weekly meetings in an effort to finish an agreement on nuclear weapons. However, a website called The Intercept says that a "cyber war," attacks against computer networks, is taking place behind the scenes.
- So you think you know your dog. But how well does your dog know you? She probably recognizes you when she sees you. But can a dog tell by simply looking at you whether you have a happy or an angry expression on your face?
- An increase in cyber-attacks and identity theft make the Internet seem like a scary place these days. The hacking of Sony Pictures led the news for some time. The U. S. State Department public email system was shut down. Even the White House was a target of cyber-attack.
- More than fifty years ago, researchers developed an oral vaccine against the deadly virus, polio. The vaccine, taken by mouth, is credited with almost stopping the spread of polio. Now, researchers are looking ahead to the time when the disease will exist only in a laboratory.