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：
- The new rules from China’s Communist Party are meant to provide greater supervision of corruption investigators. Experts say they increase obedience to party leader and President Xi Jinping.
- Food is important to every country and in every culture. People around the world have their own types of meals they consider special. Now two chefs in New Orleans are combining traditional cooking styles from their own city and from Vietnam to make tasty food unlike any other.
- When Donald Trump takes office as president of the United States, he will find a healthier economy than Barack Obama did when was sworn-in in 2009.
- On January 11, Norway became the first country to begin turning off signals from its FM radio network. Some Norwegians are not happy about the move to all-digital radio. Other European countries are closely watching Norway’s move to turn off FM radio signals.
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- For the first time ever, Lady Liberty is shown as a black woman on American currency.
- After a year of violent confrontations between police officers and citizens in the United States, one police department is trying something different: Making 2017 a Year of Kindness.
- China has launched a new intelligence gathering ship in the latest addition to the country’s growing navy fleet. The official China Daily reported China’s navy now operates six electronic intelligence vessels. The launch comes as China has increased patrols in disputed areas of the South China Sea.
- Dug up from the earth, minerals play an important role in medicine and health. And many are as beautiful as a work of art.
- Michelle Obama made an appearance on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon on Wednesday. During one segment she surprised supporters who were thanking her for what she did as First Lady.
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- Barack Obama gave his final speech as President of the United States on Tuesday night. May people are wondering what he will do next. The streaming music service Spotify seems interested in offering him a job.
- Too Many Emails? Unsubscribe! If one of your goals in 2017 is an emptier email inbox, we know a way to help. There is a simple way to end subscriptions to email lists that can sen...
- FIFA has announced plans to add 16 teams to men’s World Cup play in 2026. The organization also named the Best Players of the Year in 2016.
- U.S. energy production remains strong causing OPEC members to reduce their output in an effort to lift prices.
- A powerful California storm has brought down one of the most famous trees in America. The giant sequoia fell Sunday in a northern California park during a storm that caused severe flooding.
- VOA慢速英语附字幕：2016年年度词汇Dumpster Fire和Aleppo2017-01-10
- The American Dialect Society and the American Name Society have announced their Words of the Year.
- Rafsanjani died on Sunday after suffering a heart attack. He served as Iran’s president from 1989 to 1997.
- Scientists are exploring new ways of treating people with liver cancer. A University of Missouri researcher is testing a treatment that uses green nanotechnology to fight this often-deadly cancer.
- Oil industry leaders and watchers have praised Trump’s nomination of ExxonMobil chief Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State. But others say conflicting policy statements could harm relations with Gulf States and affect oil markets.
- Health workers are helping people with mental health problems through a new program. Experts say the treatment could serve as a model for other countries in Africa.
- Khan Lab School is experimenting with a new model of educational. Many students and parents love the results so far.
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- China and the Vatican have held talks in recent months. The talks could lead to a re-establishment of diplomatic ties between the two. But if this happened, the Vatican would have to give up its existing ties with the government in Taiwan.
- Mickey Wilson planned to have a quiet day skiing on a mountain in Colorado recently. Instead, he wound up saving a man’s life.
- A small museum in Pennsylvania honors U.S. presidents. A lack of visitors has forced it to close. Now, officials are auctioning off the museums collection of statues.
- Just 15 percent of the more than one-half-million of those who took the test passed