Getting Schools Not Just to Go Green but Teach It, Too

Kasım 9, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Education Report, Voa Learning English 

Charter schools operate with public money but without many of the rules that govern traditional public schools. In the United States the rules for charter schools differ from state to state. But in general these schools have greater freedom to decide what to teach and how to teach it. A charter school might be independent or connected to the local public school system. It might be started by teachers, parents, community groups or, in some cases, a profit-making business.

The “charter” is a performance contract. It establishes the goals of the school and other details like how student performance will be measured. Forty-seven million students attend traditional public schools. But more than a million students attend charter schools.

And now a group of charter schools have formed the Green Charter Schools Network. The idea is to have environmentally friendly school buildings but to also go further than that.

The schools teach students to become involved in community issues that affect them and the environment. For example, young children grow crops in a school garden and learn about healthy eating. Older students help recycle waste from the cafeteria. And local schools share what they grow in community gardens with people in need.

Jim McGrath is president of the Green Charter Schools Network. He says there are about two hundred “green” charter schools across the United States.

He says the plan is to also include traditional public schools as well as private schools. He says every action we make has an effect on the earth. And we all need to be change agents so that we do not destruct our natural resources for future generations.

The Green Charter Schools Network holds its first national conference this October in Minnesota. It will include companies and organizations like Waste Management and the United States Green Building Council. Supporters of green schools say their goal is to expand the movement across the country.

And that’s the VOA Special English Education Report.

Is your school doing anything special to “go green”? You can tell the world by posting a comment at You can also read and listen to all of our reports and watch captioned videos. Plus, we now offer a verb phrase of the day by SMS. The service is free but standard message rates may apply.

A Military Education at West Point

Ekim 28, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Education Report, Voa Learning English 

Today we answer a question from a listener in Brazil who wants to know about the United States Military Academy at West Point.

West Point is a college for future Army officers. It has more than four thousand students. The students are called cadets. The school is located about eighty kilometers north of New York City.

West Point is the oldest continuously occupied military post in the United States. General George Washington built a fort there during the Revolutionary War. The aim was to protect the Hudson River from the British soldiers. He moved his headquarters to West Point in seventeen seventy-nine in the middle of the war.

In eighteen hundred and two, President Thomas Jefferson signed legislation to establish the military academy at West Point.

The education centered on civil engineering. West Point graduates designed many roads, bridges, harbors and railways for the young nation.

Today, math and science are still a large part of the education. But cadets can choose from almost fifty areas of study.

If cadets major in the humanities, they must also take many classes in engineering.

Not all the young men and women at West Point are American. This year, fifty-eight are from other countries. As many as sixty cadets can be international students.

International students are nominated by their governments.

They must satisfy physical and educational requirements. They must also do well on the Test of English as a Foreign Language.

After graduation, they return home to serve in their nations armed forces. Other services besides the Army also accept foreign students at their academies.

Major Joe Sowers, a West Point public affairs officer, says information about the military academy is available through American embassies. He says the presence of international students at West Point serves a purpose for the Army.

Major Sowers says cultural understanding is important for a modern-day officer. He says the American cadets begin the process of understanding that the world is bigger than their hometown and West Point and the United States of America. He says it is important for the cadets to establish relationships with those who come from different backgrounds.

And that’s the VOA Special English Education Report. You can learn more about higher education in the United States from our Foreign Student Series at

Rule 6: Only Use Real English Conversations

Ekim 26, 2009 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Effortless English 

We want you to think about something today:  You have studied English for more than 4 years-  why do you still have trouble understanding native speakers?

Nothing is wrong with you.  Something is wrong with the schools you went to, and the textbooks you used.  English textbooks and audio tapes are horrible.

You never learned real conversational English.  You never learned casual English- the kind of English we use in normal conversations. You learned TEXTBOOK English.

“Your teaching is excellent! I´m very grateful to you. Thank you!”
Milan Hodac, Czech Republic

**How To Understand Native Speakers
Megdelio studied English for 5 years in Venezuela.  Teachers said he was an advanced student.  When he came to the USA he felt good. He was excited to meet Americans. He was ready.  He wrote:

One day I tried to talk to an American woman and everything changed.  The woman started talking– and I couldn’t understand her.  Not at all! Her pronunciation was totally different than the textbook tapes and CDs I listened to.  She used idioms, slang, and many casual phrases. I was totally confused.  That’s when I realized I needed to learn real English!

**You Must Learn Casual Conversational English
We taught Megdelio to learn with real English conversations– learning the English we use everyday in conversations, books, movies, TV shows, comic books, audio books, articles, newspapers, magazines, and podcasts.

**Stop Learning Textbook English

If you want to understand native speakers, you must stop learning English from textbook tapes and CDs. To learn real English, you must listen to real English conversations… not to actors reading.  You listen to native speakers speaking real English.  You must study real conversations.

Listen only to English conversations
Listen only to English conversations
Listen only to English conversations

How do you learn casual English? It’s easy.  Stop using textbooks.  Instead, listen only to English conversations, movies, TV shows, audio books,  audio articles, stories, and talk radio shows.  Use real English conversations.

After 6 months of real English, Megdelio could speak easily.  He could understand English from real native speakers.   You will too.

“I’m very glad to get your Lessons. I was probably like many of your students – good at tests but hopeless at speaking. I wish I had known your method earlier!”
–Barbara Sitko

**RULE 6:  Only Use Real English Conversations & Materials

You learn casual conversational English if you want to understand native speakers and speak easily.  Use real conversations, magazines, audio articles, TV shows, movies, radio talk shows, and audio books.

Learn Real English, Not Textbook English
Learn Real English, Not Textbook English

**The Final Rule
In the next post, we will tell you the final rule. we’ll teach you how to speak 2-3 times faster. Until then, have a great day and enjoy learning English!

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Effortless English Club

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