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New Program Will Soon Make It Easier to Travel to U.S.

Brianna Blake and Nancy Steinbach


HOST: Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English. I'm Doug Johnson. On our show this week:

We play songs nominated for an Academy Award …

Answer a question about American English …

And report about new rules for traveling to the United States.

Travel to the United States

Visiting the United States will soon become easier for international travelers under a new government plan. Barbara Klein tells us more about this new program.

BARBARA KLEIN: Travel to the United States decreased after the terrorist attacks of two thousand one. In reaction to the attacks, the United States government increased security requirements for travelers.

These requirements have caused long lines in airports and extended searches of passengers and their belongings. Businesses and universities have become increasingly concerned that the problems involved with travel have reduced the number of foreign visitors.

But recently, the Bush administration announced a plan it says will improve security at the nation’s borders, while welcoming foreign visitors. The plan uses improved technology to speed up security processes.

Officials say the new system will reduce problems that often delay the approval of international travel documents, or visas. People coming to the United States to study at American colleges will receive visas that permit them to remain in the country for longer periods of time.

Under the new program, travelers will no longer be required to appear at American diplomatic offices in their country to be questioned for visas. Instead, they can be questioned at local offices throughout their country on live video broadcasts.

The government plan also includes changes at American airports to make foreign visitors feel more welcome when they arrive in the United States. This program will first be tested at airports in Houston, Texas and Washington, D.C. Foreign travelers arriving in the United States through these airports will receive helpful information and personal assistance.

New passports, called e-passports, will also be created. These documents will contain biological information on computer chips. The biological information makes it difficult to copy the passports for illegal use. Other governments in addition to the United States are also beginning to develop these documents.

American and British English

HOST: Our VOA listener question this week comes from Iraq. Harbey Muhammad Ali asks about differences between American and British English.

Language experts say that spoken English was almost the same in the American colonies and Britain. Americans began to change the sound of their speech after the Revolutionary War in seventeen seventy-six. They wanted to separate themselves from the British in language as they had separated themselves from the British government.

Some American leaders proposed major changes in the language. Benjamin Franklin wanted a new system of spelling. His reforms were rejected. But his ideas influenced others. One was Noah Webster.

Webster wrote language books for schools. He thought Americans should learn from American books. He published his first spelling book in seventeen eighty-three. Webster published The American Dictionary of the English Language in eighteen twenty-eight. It established rules for speaking and spelling the words used in American English.

Webster believed that British English spelling rules were too complex. So he worked to establish an American version of the English language. For example, he spelled the word “center” “c-e-n-t-e-r” instead of the British spelling, “c-e-n-t-r-e”. He spelled the word “honor” “h-o-n-o-r” instead of “h-o-n-o-u-r” as it is spelled in Britain.

Noah Webster said every part of a word should be spoken. That is why Americans say “sec-re-ta-ry” instead of “sec-re-t’ry” as the British do. Webster’s rule for saying every part of a word made American English easier for immigrants to learn. For example, they learned to say “waist-coat” the way it is spelled instead of the British “wes-kit”.

The different languages of the immigrants who came to the United States also helped make American English different from British English. Many foreign words and expressions became part of English as Americans speak it.

Sometimes Americans and British people do not understand each other because of different word meanings. For example, a “jumper” in Britain is a sweater. In the United States, it is a kind of a dress. The British word “brolly” is an “umbrella” in America. A “wastebasket” in America is a “dustbin” in Britain. French fried potatoes in the United States are called “chips” in Britain.

All these differences led British writer George Bernard Shaw to joke that Britain and America are two countries separated by the same language.

Oscar Nominated Songs

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will present its Academy Awards in Hollywood, California, Sunday night. Bob Doughty tells us about the nominees for the best song written for a movie.

BOB DOUGHTY: Three songs were nominated for the best original song. This one is from the movie “Crash." Michael Becker and Kathleen “Bird” York wrote “In The Deep.” York sings it.


The second Oscar-nominated song is from the movie “Hustle and Flow.” Jordan Houston, Cedric Coleman and Paul Beauregard wrote the song, “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp.”

Country singer Dolly Parton wrote and performs the final original song nominated for an Academy Award. It is from the movie “Transamerica.” We leave you now with that song, “Travelin’ Thru.”


HOST: I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today.

Our show was written by Brianna Blake and Nancy Steinbach. Caty Weaver was our producer.

Send your questions about American life to Please include your full name and mailing address. Or write to American Mosaic, VOA Special English, Washington, D.C., two-zero-two-three-seven, U.S.A.

Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.