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AMERICAN MOSAIC - February 7, 2003: Music by Michelle Branch / Question About Foreign Language Study in US / Museum of American Financial History - 2003-02-06



Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC -- VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.


This is Doug Johnson. On our program today:

We play some music by Michelle Branch ...

Answer a question about which foreign languages American students study ...

And tell about a museum in New York City that celebrates capitalism.

Museum of Financial History


The Museum of American Financial History in New York City is the only independent public museum of capitalism in the nation. It tells the story of America’s economic system. Shep O’Neal has more.


The Museum of American Financial History helps people learn about the financial history of the United States. The museum opened in nineteen-eighty-eight in the Standard Oil Building, near Wall Street, the financial center of the country. About thirty-five-thousand people visit the museum each year. Half of them are school children. The museum shows the history of Wall Street and the American stock market. It also tells about famous American businessmen and women.

The museum tells about the bad days in America’s financial life as well as the good times. For example, there are brightly colored stock ownership documents from failed businesses. These certificates show ownership of one share of stock in companies including Enron, ImClone Systems and WorldCom. Investors in these companies once made lots of money. The certificates were highly valued. Now they are almost worthless except to collectors.

The museum received many of these stock certificates from a company called Scripophily (skrih-POFF-a-lee)-dot-com. Scripophily buys and sells collectible stock and bond certificates on the Internet.

A popular museum exhibit shows the events of October twenty-fourth, nineteen-twenty-nine. On that day, the American stock market crashed. Many investors lost all their money. The crash started the Great Depression. Visitors at the museum can see the list of falling stock prices.

The museum also is showing the most valuable piece of paper money that the United States ever produced. This paper money was worth one-hundred-thousand dollars. It was printed in nineteen-thirty-four. It was used to send money between Federal Reserve banks. Today, the highest valued paper money in America is the one-hundred-dollar bill. The government stopped printing bills of larger amounts to try to prevent illegal financial activities.

A statue of John D. Rockefeller looks over the museum’s exhibits. Mister Rockefeller was one of America’s richest businessmen. He started the Standard Oil Company in eighteen-seventy. His headquarters once was in the building that now is home to the Museum of American Financial History.

Foreign Language Study


Our VOA listener question this week comes from China. Jessica asks if students are required to learn a foreign language in the United States, and if so, which ones are the most popular.

Foreign language study starts at a very young age for many students in America. A recent report by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages says some students start language training at age six. States do not require foreign language training this early in education. But many students choose to study languages in elementary school. The most popular languages for young students are Spanish, French and German.

Almost seven-million students in public secondary schools in the United States are studying a foreign language. This is about thirty-four percent of students at the junior high and high school level. These students are from twelve to seventeen years old. Nearly seventy percent of students studying a foreign language at this level choose Spanish. French, German, Italian, Japanese and Russian are also popular. There is also a growing interest in the Arabic language in the United States.

Each state sets its own requirements for foreign language study at the junior high and high school level. Many students graduate high school with at least two years of foreign language study. Some study a foreign language for four years.

There are different foreign language requirements at colleges and universities. Some universities require students to have had several years of language education in high school. In addition, many colleges and universities require students to complete at least two years of foreign language study before graduating.

Two years ago, the United States government passed legislation to help states increase foreign language study for all public school students. State and local education agencies can request money to help establish, improve or expand foreign language study. The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages says interest in the program is huge. The council says this proves that young Americans are ready and willing to learn foreign languages.

Michelle Branch


Female singer-songwriters are very popular in the United States. These young women sing, write their own songs and play their own musical instruments. Mary Tillotson tells us about one of them.


Michelle Branch has been singing for as long as she can remember. Michelle was born in the southwestern state of Arizona in nineteen-eighty-three. She was raised in the town of Sedona.

Michelle began playing the guitar when she was fourteen years old. A short time later, she began writing her own songs and performing in the Sedona area.

Michelle started recording songs for her first album, “The Spirit Room,” two years ago. That album has sold more than one-million copies. Here is a song from “The Spirit Room.” It is called “Everywhere.”


Michelle Branch also performs on the album “Shaman” by Carlos Santana. Her hit song from that album is called “The Game of Love.”


Last month, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences announced nominations for its Grammy Awards. The awards will be presented February twenty-third. Michelle Branch was one of five nominees for the award of Best New Artist. We leave you now with her song “Goodbye to You.”



This is Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today. And I hope you will join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC -- VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.

This AMERICAN MOSAIC program was written by Jill Moss, Jerilyn Watson and George Grow. Our studio engineer was Glen Matlock. And our producer was Paul Thompson.