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Friday, December 30, 2011

Black People in America Seek Change: 1920s from VOA



THE MAKING OF A NATION – a program in Special English by the Voice of America.

The early years of the twentieth century were a time of movement for many black Americans. Traditionally, most blacks lived in the Southeastern states. But in the 1920s, many blacks moved to cities in the North.

Black Americans moved because living conditions were so poor in the rural areas of the Southeast. But many of them discovered that life was also hard in the colder Northern cities. Jobs often were hard to find. Housing was poor. And whites sometimes acted brutally against them.

The life of black Americans forms a special piece of the history of the 1920s. That will be our story today.

The years just before and after 1920 were difficult for blacks. It was a time of racial hatred. Many whites joined the Ku Klux Klan organization. The Klan often terrorized blacks. Klan members sometimes burned fiery crosses in front of the houses of black families. And they sometimes beat and murdered blacks.

The Ku Klux Klan also acted against Roman Catholics, Jews, and foreigners. But it hated blacks most of all.

The United States also suffered a series of race riots in a number of cities during this period. White and black Americans fought each other in Omaha, Philadelphia, and other cities. The worst riot was in Chicago. A swimming incident started the violence. A black boy sailing a small boat entered a part of the beach used by white swimmers. Some white persons threw stones at the boy. He fell into the water and drowned.

Black citizens heard about the incident and became extremely angry. Soon, black and white mobs were fighting each other in the streets.

The violence lasted for two weeks. Thirty-eight persons died. More than five-hundred were wounded. The homes of hundreds of families were burned.

The violence in Chicago and other cities did not stop black Americans from moving north or west. They felt that life had to be better than in the South.

Black Americans left the South because life was hard, economic chances few, and white hatred common. But many blacks arrived in other parts of the country only to learn that life was no easier. Some blacks wrote later that they had only traded the open racism of the rural Southeast for the more secret racism of Northern cities.

Blacks responded to these conditions in different ways. Some blacks followed the ideas of Booker T. Washington, the popular black leader of the early 1900s.

Washington believed that blacks had to educate and prepare themselves to survive in American society. He helped form a number of training schools where blacks could learn skills for better jobs. And he urged blacks to establish businesses and improve themselves without causing trouble with whites.

Other blacks liked the stronger ideas of William Du Bois.

William Du Bois
Du Bois felt that blacks had to take firm actions to protest murders and other illegal actions. He published a magazine and spoke actively for new laws and policies to protect black rights. Du Bois also helped form a group that later became the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The N.A.A.C.P. became one of the nation's leading black rights organizations in the twentieth century.

Probably the most important leader for black Americans in the 1920s did not come from the United States. He was Marcus Garvey from the Caribbean island of Jamaica. Garvey moved to New York City in 1916. He quickly began organizing groups in black areas.

His message was simple. He said blacks should not trust whites. Instead, they should be proud of being black and should help each other. Garvey urged blacks to leave the United States, move to Africa, and start their own nation.

Marcus Garvey organized several plans to help blacks become economically independent of whites. His biggest effort was a shipping company to trade goods among black people all over the world.

Many American blacks gave small amounts of money each week to help Garvey start the shipping company. However, the idea failed. Government officials arrested Garvey for collecting the money unlawfully. They sent him to prison in 1925. And two years later, President Coolidge ordered Garvey out of the country.

Marcus Garvey's group was the first major black organization in the United States to gain active support from a large number of people. The organization failed. But it did show the anger and lack of hope that many blacks felt about their place in American society.

Blacks also showed their feelings through writing, art, and music. The 1920s were one of the most imaginative periods in the history of American black art.

Langston Hughes
Claude Mckay, Langston Hughes, and Countee Cullen were three of the leading black poets during this time. Mckay was best known for his poems of social protest. Hughes produced poems about black life that experts now say are among the greatest American poems ever written.

Black writers also produced longer works. Among the leading black novelists were Jessie Faucet, Jean Toomer, and Rudolph Fisher.

The 1920s also were an exciting time for black music. Black musicians playing the piano developed the ragtime style of music. Singers and musicians produced a sad, emotional style of playing that became known as the blues. And most important, music lovers began to play and enjoy a new style that was becoming known as jazz.

Jazz advanced greatly as a true American kind of music in the 1920s. Musicians Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Eubie Blake played in gathering places and small theaters. White musicians and music experts from universities came to listen. Soon the music became popular among Americans of all kinds and around the world.

Blacks began to recognize in the 1920s their own deep roots in the United States. They began to see just how much black men and women already had done to help form American history and traditions.

The person who did the most to help blacks understand this was black historian Carter G. Woodson. Woodson received his training at two leading universities: Harvard in Massachusetts and the Sorbonne in France. He launched a new publication, The Journal of Negro History, in which he and other experts wrote about black life and history. Historians today call Woodson the father of the scientific study of black history.

Carter G. Woodson
The 1920s also were a period in which a number of blacks experimented with new political ideas and parties. The difficult social conditions of the period led many blacks to search for new political solutions.

Two leftist parties -- the Socialists and the Communists -- urged blacks to leave the traditional political system and work for more extreme change. Two leading black Socialists, Chandler Owen and A. Philip Randolph, urged blacks to support Socialist candidates. However, they gained little popular support from blacks.

Communists also tried to organize black workers. But generally, black voters showed little interest in communist ideas.

The most important change in black political thinking during the 1920s came within the traditional two-party system itself. Blacks usually had voted for Republicans since the days of Abraham Lincoln. But the conservative Republican policies of the 1920s caused many blacks to become Democrats.

By 1932, blacks would vote by a large majority for the Democratic presidential candidate, Franklin Roosevelt. And blacks continue to be a major force in the Democratic Party.

You have been listening to THE MAKING OF A NATION, a program in Special English on the Voice of America. Your speakers have been Harry Monroe and Kay Gallant. Our program was written by David Jarmul. The Voice of America invites you to listen again next week to THE MAKING OF A NATION.

Note: In order to fully understand the discrimination against African Americans for one hundred years, from 1865 to 1965, it is important to know about the "Jim Crow System" of segregation under which black people, who had suffered greatly under slavery, were denied their rights even after the end of slavery. The following link tells you about this repressive system which was much more prevalent in the South than the North, and is the reason many blacks came North to find greater equality and freedom. The Jim Crow System

COMPREHENSION CHECK
Choose the correct answer.

1. In the 1920s, many blacks moved from the Southeast U.S. to Northern Cities because ______________________ .
a: they wanted to escape slavery
b: living conditions in the rural south were very poor
c: they were tired of living in a hot climate
d: they wanted to reunite with relatives who had already moved north

2. The Ku Klux Klan didn't hate ___________________ .
a: white southerners
b: Jews
c: Roman Catholics
d: foreigners

3. Brooker T. Washington felt that _______________________ .
a: blacks should move back to Africa
b: blacks should acquire skills through education so that they could get better jobs
c: blacks should fight for new laws that would lead to greater equality for them
d: blacks should depend only on each other, not the white community

4. Marcus Garvey's plan to start a shipping company run by blacks for blacks failed because ____________ .
a: he couldn't get enough African Americans to contribute to his business
b: he couldn't resist the government's claim that he collected money illegally
c: he couldn't organize the enterprise well because other countries didn't cooperate
d: President Coolidge ordered him out of the country

5. In the 1920s, African Americans excelled in __________________ .
a: literature and music
b: politics
c: academics and university life
d: journalism

6. A form of music not developed by African Americans in the twenties was ___________ .
a: rock and roll
b: ragtime
c: the blues
d: jazz

7. Carter G. Woodson helped African Americans to understand their ___________________ .
a: poverty
b: future
c: history
d: artistic potential

8. The "Jim Crow System" was a group of laws that ___________________ .
a: allowed African Americans to acquire greater freedom
b: improved economic conditions for blacks
c: enabled the south to keep blacks in a lower class, subservient position
d: legitimized the Ku Klux Klan

9. William Du Bois, founder of a group that later became the N.A.A.C.P., _________________________
a: felt that the situation would not improve for African Americans if they did not have legal rights.
b: felt that African Americans should not try to change U.S. laws
c: felt that blacks should acquire training to get better jobs
d: felt that African Americans should turn to religion in order to better cope with their suffering

10. Politically, African Americans ______________________ .
a: became attracted to the ideas of communism and socialism
b: continued to believe in the party of Abraham Lincoln
c: switched in large numbers to the Democratic Party and helped to elect Franklin Roosevelt
d: organized a new political party that would recognize and fight for justice and equal rights for African Americans


"I, Too, Am America" by Langston Hughes

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

Tomorrow,
I'll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody'll dare
Say to me,
"Eat in the kitchen,"
Then.

Besides,
They'll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed--

I, too, am America.

A tribute to Carter G. Woodson from Youtube:




Tuesday, June 21, 2011

"D-Day - The World War Two Normandy Invasion" from VOA


STEVE EMBER: Welcome to THE MAKING OF A NATION -- American history in VOA Special English. I'm Steve Ember.

(MUSIC)

On June fifth, nineteen forty-four, a huge Allied force waited for the order to invade German-occupied France. The invasion had been planned for the day before. But a storm forced a delay.

At three-thirty in the morning, the Allied commander, General Dwight Eisenhower, was meeting with his aides. The storm still blew outside the building.

General Eisenhower and the other generals were discussing whether they should attack the next day.

A weatherman entered the room. He reported that the weather would soon improve. All eyes turned toward Eisenhower. The decision was his. His face was serious. And for a long time he was silent. Finally he spoke. "Okay," he said. "We will go."

And so the largest military invasion ever known, D-Day, took place on June sixth, nineteen-forty-four.

(MUSIC)

The German leader, Adolph Hitler, had known the invasion was coming. But he did not know where the Allied force would strike.

Most Germans expected the Allies would attack at Calais. But they were wrong. Eisenhower planned to strike along the French coast of Normandy, across the English Channel.

The Second World War was then almost five years old. The Germans had won the early battles and gained control of most of Europe. But in nineteen forty-two and forty-three, the Allies slowly began to gain back land from the Germans in North Africa, Italy and Russia. And now, finally, the British, American, Canadian and other Allied forces felt strong enough to attack across the English Channel.

Eisenhower had one hundred fifty thousand men and twelve thousand planes for the attack. But most importantly, he had surprise on his side. Even after the invasion began, General Erwin Rommel and other German military leaders could not believe that the Allies had really attacked at Normandy.

But attack they did. On the night of June fifth, thousands of Allied soldiers parachuted behind German lines. Then Allied planes began dropping bombs on German defenses. And in the morning, thousands of ships approached the beaches, carrying men and supplies.

The battle quickly became fierce and bloody. The Germans had strong defenses. They were better protected than the Allied troops on the beaches. But the Allied soldiers had greater numbers. Slowly they moved forward on one part of the coast, then another.

(MUSIC)

DWIGHT EISENHOWER: "People of Western Europe: a landing was made this morning on the coast of France by troops of the Allied Expeditionary Force."

STEVE EMBER: General Dwight Eisenhower

DWIGHT EISENHOWER: "This landing is part of a concerted United Nations plan for the liberation of Europe. I have this message for all of you: Although the initial assault may not have been made in your own country, the hour of your liberation is approaching. All patriots -- men and women, young and old -- have a part to play in the achievement of final victory.

"To members of resistance movements, whether led by nationals or by outside leaders, I say: Follow the instructions you have received. To patriots who are not members of organized resistance groups, I say: Continue your passive resistance, but do not needlessly endanger your lives. Wait until I give you the signal to rise and strike the enemy."

STEVE EMBER: The Allies continued to build up their forces in France. Within one week they brought nearly ninety thousand vehicles and six hundred-thousand men into France. And they pushed ahead.

Hitler was furious. He screamed at his generals for not blocking the invasion. And he ordered his troops from nearby areas to join the fight and stop the Allied force. But the Allies would not be stopped.

(MUSIC)

In late August, the Allied forces liberated Paris from the Germans. People cheered wildly as General Charles de Gaulle and Free French troops marched into the center of the city.

The Allies then moved east into Belgium. They captured the port of Antwerp. This made it easier for them to send supplies and fuel to their troops.

Only when Allied troops tried to move into the Netherlands did the Germans succeed in stopping them. American forces won battles at Eindhoven and Nijmegen. But German forces defeated British "Red Devil" troops in a terrible fight at Arnhem.

Germany's brief victory stopped the Allied invasion for the moment. But in less than four months, General Eisenhower and the Allied forces had regained almost all of France.

At the same time, in nineteen forty-four, the Soviets were attacking Germany from the east. Earlier, Soviet forces had succeeded in breaking German attacks at Stalingrad, Moscow and Leningrad. Soviet forces recaptured Russian cities and farms one by one. They entered Finland, Poland, and Romania. By the end of July, Soviet soldiers were just fifteen kilometers from the Polish capital, Warsaw.

What happened next was one of the most terrible events of the war. Moscow radio called on the people of Poland to rise up against the German occupation forces. Nearly forty thousand men in the Polish underground army listened to the call. And they attacked the Germans. The citizens of Warsaw probably could have defeated the German occupation forces if the Soviet army had helped them.

But Soviet leader Josef Stalin betrayed the Poles. He knew that many members of the Polish underground forces opposed Communism as much as they opposed the Germans. He feared they would block his efforts to establish a new Polish government that was friendly to Moscow.

For this reason, Stalin held his forces outside Warsaw. He waited while the Germans and Poles killed each other in great numbers. The Germans finally forced the citizens of Warsaw to surrender.

The real winner of the battle, however, was the Soviet Union. Both the Germans and the Poles suffered heavy losses during the fighting. The Soviet Army had little trouble taking over the city with the help of Polish Communists. And after the war, the free Polish forces were too weak to oppose a Communist government loyal to Moscow.

(SOUND: Adolf Hitler)

Adolf Hitler was in serious trouble. Allied forces were attacking from the west. Soviet troops were passing through Poland and moving in from the east. And at home, several German military officials tried to assassinate him. The German leader narrowly escaped death when a bomb exploded in a meeting room.

But Hitler refused to surrender. Instead, he planned a surprise attack in December nineteen-forty-four. He ordered his forces to move quietly through the Ardennes Forest and attack the center of the Allied line. He hoped to break through the line, separate the Allied forces, and regain control of the war.

The Germans attacked American troops tired from recent fighting in another battle. It was winter. The weather was so bad that Allied planes could not drop bombs on the German forces. The Germans quickly broke through the American line.

But the German success did not last long. Allied forces from nearby areas raced to the battle front to help. And good weather allowed Allied planes to begin attacking the Germans.

The battle ended by the middle of the following month in a great defeat for Hitler and the Germans. The German army lost more than one hundred thousand men and great amounts of supplies.

The end of the war in Europe was now in sight. By late February, nineteen forty-five, the Germans were forced to retreat across the Rhine River.

American forces led by General Patton drove deep into the German heartland.

To the east, Soviet forces also were marching into Germany. It did not take long for the American and Soviet forces to meet in victory. The war in Europe was ending.

Adolf Hitler waited until Russian troops were destroying Berlin. Bombs and shells were falling everywhere. In his underground bunker, Hitler took his own life by shooting himself in the head. Several of his closest aides also chose to die in the "Fuhrerbunker."

(MUSIC)

One week later, the German army surrendered to Eisenhower and the Allies.

WINSTON CHURCHILL: "Yesterday morning at two forty-one a.m. at General Eisenhower’s headquarters, General Jodl, the representative of the German High Command and of Grand Admiral Doenitz, the designated head of the German state, signed the act of unconditional surrender of all German land, sea and air forces in Europe to the Allied Expeditionary Forces, and simultaneously to the Soviet High Command."

STEVE EMBER: British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

WINSTON CHURCHILL: "Hostilities will end officially at one minute after midnight tonight, Tuesday, the eighth of May. We may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing. Today is Victory in Europe Day. Long live the cause of freedom."

STEVE EMBER: The defeat of Germany was cause for great celebration in Britain, the United States and other Allied nations. But two facts made the celebrations less joyful than they might have been.

(MUSIC)

One was the discovery by Allied troops of the German death camps. Only at the end of the war did most of the world learn that the Nazis had murdered millions of innocent Jews and other people.

The second fact was that the Pacific War had not ended. Japanese and American forces were still fighting bitterly. The war in the Pacific will be our story next week.

Our program was written by David Jarmul. You can find our series online with transcripts, MP3s, podcasts and pictures at voaspecialenglish.com. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter at VOA Learning English. I’m Steve Ember, inviting you to join us again next week for THE MAKING OF A NATION -- American history in VOA Special English.

COMPREHENSION CHECK

1. In Poland, Soviet leader Josef Stalin called on Poland to rise against the German occupation forces, _____________________ .
a: and he sent Soviet troops to help the Poles
b: but he held back the Soviet troops and abandoned the Poles
c: but instead of attacking the Germans, he sent his troops against the anti-communist Poles
d: then, his troops attacked both Poles and Germans because he realized both sides were against him

2. Not among the troubles Adolph Hitler was seriously experiencing at this time was ________________ .
a: an assassination attempt
b: allied troops moving on Germany from the west
c: Soviet troops winning battle after battle in the east
d: scratchy records in his possession of Wagner's Ring Cycle

3. Calais is on the northern coast of France. It is the nearest French land to the coast of Britain. ___________________.
a: That's why England expected an attack from Germany there.
b: That's why Hitler expected an invasion there.
c: That's why Hitler expected an attack by the Allies on the coast of Normandy
d: That's why Hitler's forces were not surprised at the location of the invasion

4. In the winter of 1944, Hitler launched a successful counter attack in the Ardennes Forest. Part of the reason for his success in this desperate attack was ______________________ .
a: German troops were able to take advantage of the cover of many trees
b: the weather was so bad that Allied planes could not bomb the German forces
c: the Germans were better equipped and had more men than the Allies
d: the Allies were exhausted from the enormous amount of fighting in Normandy and elsewhere

5. In 1942 and 1943, the Allies were able to gain back some of the land conquered by the Germans in _________________________ .
a: France
b: Holland
c: Italy
d: Austria

6. Many Allies lost their lives on the coast of Normandy because ______________________ .
a: the Germans had strong defenses and were able to pick off undefended soldiers on the beaches
b: German planes attacked them
c: the parachutes didn't work
d: the German defenses were not bombed

7. On June 5th, 1944, Dwight Eisenhower spoke to the people of Western Europe by radio. He told them that ______________________ .
a: the initial assault was not going to take place in their country
b: the hour of their liberation was approaching
c: resistance groups should not strike the enemy
d: men and women, young and old, have an obligation to resist the enemy, even if it means endangering their lives

8. The invasion of German-occupied France was delayed because _______________________ .
a: there weren't enough ships
b: of a storm
c: the planes didn't have enough fuel
d: General Eisenhower couldn't decide when to invade

9. When Adolph Hitler at the "fuhrerbunker" heard the Russian troops destroying Berlin, ______________________ .
a: he sold his record collection and with the money bought a plane ticket for Argentina
b: he took his own life
c: he began to write his memoirs
d: he decided he needed to learn the Russian language

10. At three o'clock in the morning of June 5th, 1944, Dwight Eisenhower was meeting with his aides. A weatherman entered the room and ________________________ .
a: said that the weather would soon improve
b: predicted another five days of terrible rainstorms
c: announced that the Germans were in the English Channel
d: stated that it would be unwise to fly over France in this weather



Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Past Perfect Tense

"Siesta" Joan Miró, 1925
This video, from Learning American English, is a good
explanation of the "Past Perfect Tense"
Here is a good introduction to the grammar of the Past Perfect Tense.
A very simple "Past Perfect" exercise to get us started.
This grammar exercise will help you to learn The Past Perfect Tense.
The Job Fair is this Wednesday. You can use these dialogues to prepare for your interview.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Level Five Midterm Listening Test

Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain,
by architect Frank Gehry


"THINKING IN ENGLISH"
The teacher will supply the test booklet and a Scantron card for this test. Please, don't write on the test booklet. Write on the Scantron card only. Choose one answer, marking a, b, c, or d, whichever you think is correct. If you want to change an answer, erase the first one completely. When you're finished, return the test booklet and the Scantron card to the teacher. The teacher will correct your Scantron card and give you your results.

For an online pdf version of this exam, click here

Saturday, March 26, 2011

"Are People Who Speak More Than One Language Smarter??" from VOA.


This is the VOA Special English Health Report.

In the early nineteen fifties, researchers found that people scored lower on intelligence tests if they spoke more than one language. Research in the sixties found the opposite. Bilingual people scored higher than monolinguals, people who speak only one language. So which is it?

Researchers presented their newest studies last month at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The latest evidence shows that being bilingual does not necessarily make people smarter. But researcher Ellen Bialystok says it probably does make you better at certain skills.

ELLEN BIALYSTOK: "Imagine driving down the highway. There’s many things that could capture your attention and you really need to be able to monitor all of them. Why would bilingualism make you any better at that?"

And the answer, she says, is that bilingual people are often better at controlling their attention -- a function called the executive control system.

ELLEN BIALYSTOK: "It’s quite possibly the most important cognitive system we have because it's where all of your decisions about what to attend to, what to ignore, what to process are made."

Ms. Bialystok is a psychology professor at York University in Toronto, Canada. She says the best method to measure the executive control system is called the Stroop Test. A person is shown words in different colors. The person has to ignore the word but say the color. The problem is that the words are all names of colors.

ELLEN BIALYSTOK: "So you would have the word blue written in red, but you have to say red. But blue is so salient, it's just lighting up all these circuits in your brain, and you really want to say blue. So you need a mechanism to override that so that you can say red. That’s the executive control system."

Her work shows that bilingual people continually practice this function. They have to, because both languages are active in their brain at the same time. They need to suppress one to be able to speak in the other.

This mental exercise might help in other ways, too. Researchers say bilingual children are better able to separate a word from its meaning, and more likely to have friends from different cultures. Bilingual adults are often four to five years later than others in developing dementia or Alzheimer's disease.

Foreign language study has increased in the United States. But linguist Alison Mackey at Georgetown University points out that English-speaking countries are still far behind the rest of the world.

ALISON MACKEY: "In England, like in the United States, bilingualism is seen as something special and unique and something to be commented on and perhaps work towards, whereas in many other parts of the world being bilingual is just seen as a natural part of life."

And that's the VOA Special English Health Report, written by Kelly Nuxoll. Tell us about your experience learning languages. Go to voaspecialenglish.com or the VOA Learning English page on Facebook. I'm Steve Ember.

COMPREHENSION CHECK

1. The latest evidence shows that being bilingual makes you ____________ .
a. a little less intelligent
b. slightly more intelligent
c. better at certain skills
d. worse at many skills


2. You are asked to name the color that you see. You see the word "blue" in red letters. What is your answer?
a. blue
b. green
c. red
d. white


3. In the sentence: "It's lighting up the circuits in your brain," the best definition of the word "circuits" is " ________ ".
a. nerve connections
b. double languages
c. brain energy loops
d. circular reasoning


4. Bilingual people have to __________ one language in order to speak their second language.
a. engage
b. remember
c. forget
d. suppress


5. When I say "Blue is salient," I mean that "Blue _______ ."
a. recedes
b. causes saliva
c. stands out
d. transforms


6. The Executive Control System helps you to ___________ while you're driving.
a. ignore the road
b. focus on the road
c. attend to the view
d. talk on your cell


7. Children are more likely to be bilingual if they grow up in _________________ .
a. England
b. Wisconsin
c. The United States
d. South Africa


8. What is the infinitive in the following sentence from the TV Series "Star Trek": "Our mission is to boldly go where no one has gone before."
a. boldly go
b. to boldly
c. to go
d. is boldly


9. Another name for this article could be _____________
a. "The Advantages of Bilingualism."
b. "The Executive Control System."
c. "Lighting Up the Brain With Words."
d. "How To Distract Yourself Meaningfully."


10. This article is mainly about _________________ .
a. the hazards of knowing more than one language
b. the plus-side of bilingual skills
c. delayed Alzheimer's disease onset
d. the question as to whether bilingualism is advantageous


Read about increases in the brain's capacity resulting from second language knowledge here.
Read also "The Advantages of Being Bilingual."

Here's more:

Benefits of Being Bilingual

You can get a number of benefits of being bilingual in various aspects such as cognitive benefits, curriculum advantages, cultural benefits, employment advantages, communication advantages and tolerance of other languages and cultures.

* Cognitive benefits: The bilingual people can have some specific advantages in thinking. They have two or more words for each idea and object. Hence, a bilingual person can develop a creative thinking and an ability to think more flexibly. The bilinguals are aware about which language should be spoken with which person in a particular situation. Therefore, they are more sensitive to the needs of the listener than the monolingual people. Being bilingual has a positive effect on intellectual growth. It enhances and enriches a person’s mental development. The latest research has proved that the bilinguals are better at IQ tests as compared to the monolinguals.

* Character advantages: The bilinguals are able to switch between different languages and talk to different people in various languages. It increases a sense of self-esteem. Being bilingual creates a powerful link in different people from different countries.

* Curriculum benefits: A bilingual education offers better curriculum results. The bilinguals tend to show a higher performance in examinations and tests. It is associated with thinking benefits of bilingualism. The bilinguals find it quite easy to learn and speak three, four or more languages.

* Communication advantages: The bilinguals enjoy reading and writing in different languages. They can understand and appreciate literature in various languages. It gives a deeper knowledge of different ideas and traditions. It helps improve the ways of thinking and behaving. The pleasures of reading poetry, novels and magazines as well as the enjoyment of writing to family and friends are doubled for bilinguals. They don’t face difficulties in communication while in a foreign country.

* Cultural advantages: Bilingualism offers an access and exposure to different cultures. Knowledge of different languages offers a treasure of traditional and contemporary sayings, idioms, history and folk stories, music, literature and poetry in different cultures. Due to a wider cultural experience, there is a greater tolerance of differences in creeds and customs.

* Employment benefits: Being bilingual offers potential employment benefits. It offers a wider choice of jobs in various fields. The bilinguals can get prosperous career opportunities in the retail sector, transport, tourism, administration, secretarial work, public relations, marketing and sales, banking and accountancy, translation, law and teaching.



Monday, March 21, 2011

Initial "y" and "j"


















1. A blue is a type of bird. It makes a loud cawing sound.

2. If the baseball player strikes out, the crowd will probably .

3. I should down your phone number now before I forget it.

4. is a type of dessert made from flavored gelatin.

5. I agree with you. would be a very nice color for your kitchen.

6. The teacher wants to review the homework, but I haven’t done it .

7. Fruit and vegetable are good for your health.

8. Your ring is very beautiful. What kind of is that in it?

9. “ “, the crowd cheered when the Giants became World Champions.

10. In 1947, Chuck Yeager flew the X-1 plane and broke the sound barrier.

11. For this recipe, you must separate each egg from the egg white.

12. On a clear day, you can see many s in San Francisco Bay.

13. If you attend class regularly, learn a lot of English.

14. Yes. It’s easier to learn a language when you’re , but it’s not impossible when you’re older.

15. My great grandfather went to University. He studied law there.

16. Did you to live on a farm when you were in Mexico?

17. Our newest employee told a very funny during lunch. Everybody laughed.

18. After Spike got out of , he promised himself he’d never break the law again.

19. We the peaches and used an air-tight lid. They were good the following year.

20. Too much food isn’t good for your health. You should avoid it.

21. Now they make a very nice shaving . It makes your skin feel good.

22. I started learning English one ago. I feel like I’ve learned a lot in a short time.

23. I tried to prevent my neighbor from running over a tree branch, but I didn’t loudly enough.

24. Our apartment house has a nice back where the kids can play.

25. People always say at garage sales, “One person’s is another person’s treasure.”

26. A blue sang in our back and frightened the cats.

a.yachte.yellowi.yellm.yearq.yardu.you'll
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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

"The Wright Brothers" from VOA



Welcome to PEOPLE IN AMERICA from VOA Special English. Today, Sarah Long and Rich Kleinfeldt tell the story of Wilbur and Orville Wright. The Wright brothers made a small engine-powered flying machine and proved that it was possible for humans to really fly.

(MUSIC)

Wilbur Wright was born in eighteen sixty-seven near Melville, Indiana. His brother Orville was born four years later in Dayton, Ohio. Throughout their lives, they were best friends. As Wilbur once said: "From the time we were little children, Orville and I lived together, played together, worked together and thought together."

Wilbur and Orville's father was a bishop, an official of the United Brethren Church. He traveled a lot on church business. Their mother was unusual for a woman of the nineteenth century. She had completed college. She was especially good at mathematics and science. And she was good at using tools to fix things or make things.

One winter day when the Wright brothers were young, all their friends were outside sliding down a hill on wooden sleds. The Wright brothers were sad, because they did not have a sled. So, Mrs. Wright said she would make one for them. She drew a picture of a sled. It did not look like other sleds. It was lower to the ground and not as wide. She told the boys it would be faster, because there would be less resistance from the wind when they rode on it. Mrs. Wright was correct. When the sled was finished, it was the fastest one around. Wilbur and Orville felt like they were flying.

The sled project taught the Wright brothers two important rules. They learned they could increase speed by reducing wind resistance. And they learned the importance of drawing a design. Mrs. Wright said: "If you draw it correctly on paper, it will be right when you build it."

VOICE ONE:

When Wilbur was eleven years old and Orville seven, Bishop Wright brought home a gift for them. It was a small flying machine that flew like helicopters of today. It was made of paper, bamboo and cork.

The motor was a rubber band that had to be turned many times until it was tight. When the person holding the toy helicopter let go, it rose straight up. It stayed in the air for a few seconds. Then it floated down to the floor.

Wilbur and Orville played and played with their new toy. Finally, the paper tore and the rubber band broke. They made another one. But it was too heavy to fly. Their first flying machine failed.

Their attempts to make the toy gave them a new idea. They would make kites to fly and sell to their friends. They made many designs and tested them. Finally, they had the right design. The kites flew as though they had wings.

The Wright brothers continued to experiment with mechanical things. Orville started a printing business when he was in high school. He used a small printing machine to publish a newspaper. He sold copies of the newspaper to the other children in school, but he did not earn much money from the project.

Wilbur offered some advice to his younger brother. Make the printing press bigger and publish a bigger newspaper, he said. So, together, they designed and built one. The machine looked strange. Yet it worked perfectly. Soon, Orville and Wilbur were publishing a weekly newspaper.

They also printed materials for local businessmen. They were finally earning money. Wilbur was twenty-five years old and Orville twenty-one when they began to sell and repair bicycles. Then they began to make them. But the Wright brothers never stopped thinking about flying machines.

VOICE TWO:

In eighteen ninety-nine, Wilbur decided to learn about all the different kinds of flying machines that had been designed and tested through the years. Wilbur wrote to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. He asked for all the information it had on flying.

The Wright brothers read everything they could about people who sailed through the air under huge balloons. They also read about people who tried to fly on gliders -- planes with wings, but no motors.

Then the Wright brothers began to design their own flying machine. They used the ideas they had developed from their earlier experiments with the toy helicopter, kites, printing machine and bicycles.

Soon, they needed a place to test their ideas about flight. They wrote to the Weather Bureau in Washington to find the place with the best wind conditions. The best place seemed to be a thin piece of sandy land in North Carolina along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. It was called Kill Devil Hill, near the town of Kitty Hawk. It had the right wind and open space. Best of all, it was private.

In nineteen hundred, the Wright brothers tested a glider that could carry a person. But neither the first or second glider they built had the lifting power needed for real flight. Wilbur and Orville decided that what they had read about air pressure on curved surfaces was wrong. So they built a wind tunnel two meters long in their bicycle store in Dayton, Ohio. They tested more than two hundred designs of wings. These tests gave them the correct information about air pressure on curved surfaces. Now it was possible for them to design a machine that could fly.

The Wright brothers built a third glider. They took it to Kitty Hawk in the summer of nineteen-oh-two. They made almost one thousand flights with the glider. Some covered more than one hundred eighty meters. This glider proved that they had solved most of the problems of balance in flight. By the autumn of nineteen-oh-three, Wilbur and Orville had designed and built an airplane powered by a gasoline engine. The plane had wings twelve meters across. It weighed about three hundred forty kilograms, including the pilot.

The Wright brothers returned to Kitty Hawk. On December seventeen, nineteen-oh-three, they made the world's first flight in a machine that was heavier than air and powered by an engine. Orville flew the plane thirty-seven meters. He was in the air for twelve seconds. The two brothers made three more flights that day. The longest was made by Wilbur. He flew two hundred sixty meters in fifty-nine seconds. Four other men watched the Wright brothers' first flights. One of the men took pictures. Few newspapers, however, noted the event.

Wilbur and Orville returned home to Ohio. They built more powerful engines and flew better airplanes. But their success was almost unknown. Most people still did not believe flying was possible. It was almost five years before the Wright brothers became famous. In nineteen-oh-eight, Wilbur went to France. He gave demonstration flights at heights of ninety meters. A French company agreed to begin making the Wright brothers' flying machine.

Orville made successful flights in the United States at the time Wilbur was in France. One lasted an hour. Orville also made fifty-seven complete circles over a field at Fort Myer, Virginia. The United States War Department agreed to buy a Wright brothers' plane. Wilbur and Orville suddenly became world heroes. Newspapers wrote long stories about them. Crowds followed them. But they were not seeking fame. They returned to Dayton where they continued to improve their airplanes. They taught many others how to fly.

Wilbur Wright died of typhoid fever in nineteen twelve. Orville Wright continued designing and inventing until he died many years later, in nineteen forty-eight.

Today, the Wright brothers' first airplane is in the Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. Visitors to the museum look at the Wright brothers' small plane with its cloth wings, wooden controls and tiny engine. Then they see space vehicles and a rock collected from the moon. This is striking evidence of the changes in the world since Wilbur and Orville Wright began the modern age of flight, one hundred years ago.

(MUSIC)

This program was written by Marilyn Rice Christiano and produced by Paul Thompson. Your announcers were Sarah Long and Rich Kleinfeldt. I'm Faith Lapidus. Join us again next week for PEOPLE IN AMERICA from VOA Special English.

COMPREHENSION CHECK

1. The Wright Brothers invented the airplane _________________ .
a. less than 100 years ago
b. more than 100 years ago
c. about two hundred years ago
d. In the Nineteenth Century

2. The Wright Brothers first learned about wind resistance from a ________________ .
a. toy helicopter
b. well designed sled
c. new type of bicycle
d. heavier than air glider

3. Wilbur and Orville Wright had very _________________ .
a. similar interests
b. different ideas
c. different lifestyles
d. opposite viewpoints

4. As boys, Wilbur and Orville were encouraged by ______________ .
a. only their mother
b. only their father
c. both of their parents
d. only an aunt and uncle

5. They probably didn't learn too much about flight from their experiences with _______________ .
a. a toy helicopter
b. kites
c. a printing machine
d. typhoid fever

6. They decided that their information about air pressure on curved surfaces was wrong. So, they devised a way to test wings. They used _________________ .
a. a wind tunnel
b. long, level field
c. several rubber bands
d. several drawings

7. The first heavier than air flight accomplished by the Wright Brothers lasted for _______________ .
a. one hour
b. thirty-seven minutes
c. twelve seconds
d. twenty four hours

8. Their mother taught the Wright Brothers the importance of ________________ .
a. low wind resistance
b. starting with a good drawing
c. dating young women at an early age
d. finding financial backing

9. Another name for this article could be _________________ .
a. "Two Brothers Invent the Airplane"
b. "Traveling by Helicopter and Glider"
c. "The History of Flight"
d. "The Boys Who Imitated the Birds"

10. This story is mainly about how ______________________ .
a. to prevent gliders from crashing
b. the Wright Brothers invented the airplane
c. to make money publishing newspapers
d. to avoid common aviation errors

Everybody, get ready with your carry on luggage to board The Wright Brothers first airplane:



The Wright Brothers: A documentary from Youtube:


Monday, February 7, 2011

"Abraham Lincoln Portrait" from VOA.



SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: Welcome to THIS IS AMERICA in VOA Special English. I'm Shirley Griffith. This week on our program, Rich Kleinfeldt and I tell the story of President Abraham Lincoln. His birthday is February twelfth.

(MUSIC)

RICH KLEINFELDT: Abraham Lincoln was the sixteenth American president. He is considered one of the greatest leaders of all time. Abraham Lincoln was born in Kentucky in eighteen nine. He grew up in Illinois. His family was poor and had no education.

Abraham Lincoln taught himself what he needed to know. He became a lawyer. He served in the Illinois state legislature and in the United States Congress. In eighteen sixty, he was elected to the country's highest office.

SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: President Lincoln led the United States during the Civil War between the northern and southern states. This was the most serious crisis in American history.

President Lincoln helped end slavery in the nation. And he helped keep the American union from splitting apart during the war. President Lincoln believed that he proved to the world that democracy can be a lasting form of government.

RICH KLEINFELDT: In eighteen sixty-three, President Lincoln gave what became his most famous speech. Union armies of the North had won two great victories that year. They defeated the Confederate armies of the South at Vicksburg, Mississippi and at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

Ceremonies were held to honor the dead soldiers at a burial place on the Gettysburg battlefield.

President Lincoln spoke at Gettysburg for only about two minutes. But his speech has never been forgotten. Historians say the speech defined Americans as a people who believed in freedom, democracy and equality.

Abraham Lincoln wrote some of the most memorable words in American history. He was murdered a few days after the Civil War ended in eighteen sixty-five. Yet his words live on.

SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: Here is Christopher Cruise reading the Gettysburg Address:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of it, as a final resting place for those who died here, that the nation might live. This we may, in all propriety do. But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate – we can not consecrate – we can not hallow, this ground – The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have hallowed it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here; while it can never forget what they did here.

It is rather for us, the living, we here be dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that, from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here, gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve these dead shall not have died in vain; that the nation, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people by the people for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: In nineteen forty-two, orchestra conductor Andre Kostelanitz asked composer Aaron Copland to write a piece of music about Abraham Lincoln. Copland was one of the best modern American composers. He wrote many kinds of music. His music told stories about the United States.

Aaron Copland wrote "Lincoln Portrait" to honor the president. Copland's music included parts of American folk songs and songs popular during the Civil War. Here is the Seattle Symphony playing part of "Lincoln Portrait."

(MUSIC)

RICH KLEINFELDT: Aaron Copland added words from President Lincoln's speeches and letters to his "Lincoln Portrait." It has been performed many times in the United States. Many famous people have read the words.

To celebrate Presidents Day, here is actor James Earl Jones reading part of Aaron Copland's "Lincoln Portrait."

(MUSIC)

JAMES EARL JONES: “Fellow citizens, we cannot escape history.” That is what he said. That is what Abraham Lincoln said: “Fellow citizens, we cannot escape history. We of this Congress and this administration will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance or insignificance can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation. We – even we here – hold the power and bear the responsibility … “

Lincoln was a quiet man. Abe Lincoln was a quiet and melancholy man. But, when he spoke of Democracy, this is what he said:

He said: “As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of Democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy.”

Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth President of these United States, is everlasting in the memory of his countrymen, for on the battleground at Gettysburg this is what he said:

He said: “That from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion: that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; and that this nation under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: This program was written by Shelley Gollust. It was produced by Lawan Davis. Our engineer was Al Alevy. I’m Shirley Griffith.

(MUSIC)

RICH KLEINFELDT: And I'm Rich Kleinfeldt. Join us again next week for another report about life in the United States on the VOA Special English program THIS IS AMERICA.

COMPREHENSION CHECK

1. Abraham Lincoln was born in the _________________ Century.
a. Twentieth
b. early Nineteenth
c. late Nineteenth
d. Eighteenth

2. Abraham Lincoln's parents were very ______________ .
a. educated
b. rich
c. poor
d. happy

3. Another name for the Civil War was _________________ .
a. "The War Between the States"
b. "The American Revolution"
c. "The War of 1812"
d. "The Mexican-American War"

4. The best meaning of the verb "to hallow" is _____________________ .
a. to reject
b. to bury
c. to plant crops
d. to sanctify

5. The purpose of the Gettysburg Address was to _____________ .
a. celebrate a victory
b. honor dead soldiers
c. campaign for president
d. declare the end of slavery

6. Lincoln strongly felt that in a democracy, slavery ______________ .
a. was economically necessary
b. had no place
c. should be confined to the south.
d. shouldn't be abolished

7. Lincoln felt that the Civil War was a test of whether or not a democracy could ______________ .
a. survive
b. be for the people
c. create more jobs
d. free black people

8. Aaron Copland wrote "________________ " to honor the 16th American president.
a. The End of Slavery
b. The Civil War
c. The Abolition Movement
d. Lincoln Portrait

9. "These dead shall not have died in vain" means __________________________.
a. they shall not have died for nothing
b. they shall not receive any recognition
c. they shall not have died painfully
d. their death will not be remembered

10. "Four score and seven years" means _____________________ .
a. 47 years
b. 87 years
c. 407 years
d. 11 years

11. Another name for this article could be __________________ .
a. "The Meaning of the Gettysburg Address"
b. "The Personality of Abraham Lincoln"
c. "Honoring Abraham Lincoln"
d. "The War Between the States"

12.This article is mainly about ___________________ .
a. Abe Lincoln's place in American history
b. the assassination of Abraham Lincoln
c. Abraham Lincoln's victories during the Civil War
d. the consecration of a battlefield in Pennsylvania

For more about Aaron Copland, read and listen to "Aaron Copland: His Music Taught America About Itself."

The following is a Youtube version of "Lincoln Portrait" by Aaron Copland.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

"The History of Ballet" from Voice of America

"The Rehearsal" by Edgar Degas, 1873



STEVE EMBER: I’m Steve Ember.

SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: And I’m Shirley Griffith with EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English. Ballet is a formalized kind of dance performance with a rich and interesting history. The word “ballet” comes from the French language, and is based on the Italian word “balletto.” “Balletto” means a little dance. Ballet’s early roots began in Italy in the late fourteen hundreds. But it was in France that ballet developed into the form we know today.

(MUSIC)

STEVE EMBER: The French ruler Louis the Fourteenth had a big influence on the direction of ballet in its early history. He ruled France for seventy-two years, starting in sixteen forty-three. He started dancing as a boy and worked hard at it daily. He performed in long and complex ballets.

Louis the Fourteenth turned ballet into a form of dance that reflected his power and influence. Ballet’s many rules and extremely detailed movements expressed a person’s power and social relations. The king made sure that ballet became a requirement for the people of his court. He also started the Royal Academy of Dance, where important people could learn this art. The aim of this dance was self-control, order and perfection.

SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: Louis the Fourteenth’s ballet teacher Pierre Beauchamps created a way to write down the dance steps for ballet. He helped to write out a system of rules for how the body should move during dance. These include the five positions of the body, which are still the foundation for all ballet moves today.

Many ballet steps are French words because of ballet’s important history in France. Examples of the names for dance movements include pirouettes, pliés and grand jetés.

Ballet slowly changed from a dance performed at the king’s court to one performed by professional dancers. By the time of Louis the Fourteenth’s death in seventeen fifteen, ballet had spread to other parts of Europe and was evolving in other ways.

(MUSIC)

STEVE EMBER: Jennifer Homans is the dance critic for the New Republic magazine. She is also a historian who teaches at New York University in New York City. In two thousand ten she published a book on ballet called “Apollo’s Angels: A History of Ballet.” She knows this subject well because she started her career as a ballet dancer.

Ms. Homans’ book is extremely detailed. She spent about ten years researching and writing the book. It shows how ballet changed over time. These changes are similar to the changing ideas about society, men and women’s roles, clothing and the ideals and limits of the human body.

She begins her book with an explanation of how the earliest forms of ballet began in Italy. This ballet was a kind of social dance that was performed during special occasions.

SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: Catherine de Medici of Italy married the French King Henri the Second in fifteen thirty-three. She brought her interest in dance performances and traditions to France.

Ms. Homans describes how ballet developed and evolved during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Ballet then was very different from ballet today. Ballets were not stand-alone performances like they are now. Ballet dances were often included in other kinds of theatrical performances such as opera. And, people who performed in these dances did not wear ballet shoes, tutus or tight costumes as dancers do today.

People dressed in the fine clothing of their times. Women wore long dresses that covered their legs to the ankle. So, it was not easy to see what steps they were performing. This clothing also limited the movements women could make.

STEVE EMBER: Today we think of female dancers called ballerinas as the stars of the ballet world. But this was not always the case. It was not until the late sixteen hundreds that women began to perform professionally as dancers. And it was not until the nineteenth century that female dancers called ballerinas became the stars of the stage.

SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: One of the greatest ballerinas of the nineteenth century was Marie Taglioni. She was an extremely hardworking and strong dancer who spent hours each day perfecting her skills. She developed a special method of walking on her toes so that she seemed to be floating on stage.

The ballet “La Sylphide” made her internationally famous when it was first performed in Paris in eighteen thirty-two. She played a magical winged creature who falls in love with a human. Taglioni wore a white dress with airy fabric and pink roses. Her clothing marked the beginning of the traditional ballet costumes used in modern ballet.

“La Sylphide” influenced another major ballet, “Giselle.” This ballet is about a young girl named Giselle who loses her mind and dies when she finds out her lover is to marry another woman. Giselle returns as a ghost and protects her lover from evil spirits that have risen from the grave.

STEVE EMBER: Jennifer Homans says that “La Sylphide” and “Giselle” were the first modern ballets. They are still performed today, although with changes. Ms. Homans said by this period, ballet was no longer about men, power and important people. Modern ballet was about women, dreams and the imagination.

(MUSIC)

SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: By the middle of the nineteenth century, Denmark and Russia became very important places for ballet. Danish dance creator August Bournonville developed a new method of Danish ballet influenced by French traditions. Ms. Homans writes that in Russia, ballet was at first part of an effort to make the country more western. She says ballet there did not start as an art. It was a system of how one should behave. Dance training there developed into a military-like exactness, which continues to this day.

St. Petersburg became a center for dance supported by the Imperial Russian rulers. Russian ballet experts were extremely conservative and guarded its traditions fiercely.

The Kirov Ballet performs "The Sleeping Beauty"
AP
The Kirov Ballet performs "The Sleeping Beauty"

STEVE EMBER: The French-born dance creator Marius Petipa lived in Russia for over fifty years. He helped redefine ballet in Russia by making it bigger and more expansive. One of his famous ballets, “La Bayadere,” was first performed in eighteen seventy-seven.

Petipa worked with Russian music composer Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky to create the famous ballet “The Sleeping Beauty.” Ms. Homans describes “The Sleeping Beauty” as the first truly Russian ballet. She says Tchaikovsky’s music pushes the mind and spirit of the dancer to move with fullness and care.

SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: Dance creators Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov used Tchaikovsky’s music to create two other famous ballets, “The Nutcracker” and “Swan Lake.”

Russia’s importance to ballet continued in the twentieth century thanks to the forward thinking Sergei Diaghilev and his Ballets Russes dancers. He introduced Russian ballet to Europe by bringing top dancers, including Anna Pavlova and Vaslav Nijinsky, to Paris. Diaghilev’s Russian ballets include “The Firebird” and “Petrouchka.” These bold works, in addition to Nijinksy’s “Afternoon of a Faun,” redefined ballet and modern art.

However, ballet changed during Soviet rule in Russia. The repressive government supported and controlled ballet and its dancers. Ballet became a sign of state culture, both for Russians and the rest of the world.

(MUSIC)

Suzanne Farrell listens to choreographer George Balanchine during a 1963 rehearsal in New York
AP
Suzanne Farrell listens to choreographer George Balanchine during a 1963 rehearsal in New York

STEVE EMBER:In the United States, the nineteen fifties and sixties were a time of great economic success. This helped fuel support for the performing arts. Ballet was part of this success.

The New York City Ballet and American Ballet Theater were two of the early American ballet companies. They travelled widely in Europe and other areas of the world.

This was part of the American government’s efforts to show the country’s dance culture. Russian-born dance creator George Balanchine worked hard to modernize ballet further and increase its popularity as an American art. So did American choreographer Jerome Robbins.

SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: The subject of Jennifer Homans’ closing chapter is somewhat unexpected. She says ballet has been slowly dying around the world since George Balanchine’s death in nineteen eighty-three.

She says today’s dance companies have the choice of recreating either ballet’s nineteenth century past, or its modern past. But there is little great new work or energy remaining. She says that she hopes she is wrong. But she says the force to awaken this sleeping art must come from outside the ballet tradition.

Many critics have dismissed Ms. Homans’ prediction. But her statement raises real questions about how an art based on the past can successfully survive in the future.

STEVE EMBER: This program was written and produced by Dana Demange. I’m Steve Ember.

SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: And I’m Shirley Griffith. Our programs are online with transcripts and MP3 files at voaspecialenglish.com. Join us again next week for EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English.