VOA Special English的由来
类似的问题不光是我们中国人有，别的国家的人也有。二次世界大战以后，对英语感兴趣的人日益增多，但是他们的英语水平一般都不太高，难以听懂正常语速的普通英语。为了适应非英语国家的人学习英语的需要，美国的 VOA 电台从 1959 年 10 月 19 日开始，开播了一个名为 Special English 的节目。播出后受到听众的广泛欢迎，因此英国 BBC 广播电台从 1989 年 5 月开始、中国国际广播电台（ CRI ）从 2001 年底开始也开播了 Special English 节目。有的电台为了适应初学者的听力水平，广播英语教学课程时，也有用类似于 Special English 的语速播送课文内容的。
Special English ，有译为“特别英语”的，也有译为慢速英语的。逆向英语采用慢速英语的译法。因为正是“慢速”二字比较准确地反映了它的特点，它“特别”就特别在“慢速”上，因而是一种比较容易学习的英语。如果只说“特别”，初学者猛一听可能还以为是特别难的英语呢！而且近年来 VOA 已渐渐地用 Slow-speed English （慢速英语）取代 Special English ，认为它的主要特点是“ clearly, slowly and understandably, one word at a time ”。
Special English 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：
1. 它是一种由美国人最常用的 1500 个基本单词为主体构成的美国英语；
3. 它以每分钟 90 个单词的速度，即 2/3 的 Standard English （常速英语）速度进行广播。
以下是 VOA 网站上关于 HISTORY OF SPECIAL ENGLISH 的全文：
On October 19, 1959, the first Special English program was broadcast on the Voice of America. It was an experiment. The goal was to communicate by radio in clear and simple English with people whose native language is not English. Experts said the goal was admirable, but the method would not work. They were proved wrong. The Special English programs quickly became some of the most popular on VOA. And they still are. Forty years later, Special English continues to communicate with people who are not fluent in English. But during the years its role has expanded. It also helps people learn American English. And it provides listeners, even those who are native English speakers, with information they cannot find elsewhere.
Today, Special English broadcasts around the world seven days a week, five times a day. Each half-hour broadcast begins with ten minutes of the latest news followed by 20 minutes of feature programming. There is a different short feature every weekday about science, development, agriculture and environment, and on the weekend, about news events and American idioms.
These programs are followed by in-depth 15 minute features about American culture, history, science medicine, space, important people or short stories.
Three elements make Special English unique. It has a limited vocabulary of 1500 words. Most are simple words that describe objects, actions or emotions. Some are more difficult. They are used for reporting world events and describing discoveries in medicine and science. Special English is written in short, simple sentences that contain only one idea. No idioms are used. And Special English is spoken at a slower pace, about two-thirds the speed of Standard English. This helps people learning English hear each word clearly. It also helps people who are English speakers understand complex subjects.
Through the years, Special English has become a very popular tool for teaching English, even though it was not designed as teaching program. It succeeds in helping people learn English in a non-traditional way. Individuals record the programs and play them over and over to practice their listening skills. In countries around the world, English teachers assign Special English to their students. They praise it for improving their students' ability to understand American English and for the content of the programs. Universities and private companies in many countries produce packages of Special English materials for student use.