Thursday, June 30, 2011

"Haym Salomon: Patriot" - Edcon Publishing

Haym Salomon will have more trouble if those British soldiers know what he is saying to the Germans.

Back in the 1700s, Poland was one of the weakest countries in Europe. Other stronger countries kept trying to take over Poland's government. A small band of Polish men tried to keep their country free, but it was no use. Poland was taken over by a new government. The brave freedom fighters were forced to leave their country or be thrown into prison.
One of these freedom fighters was a young man named Haym Salomon. Haym decided to leave Poland and come to the New World, America. He believed that America was a land of freedom.

Haym came to New York and started his own business. It made him a very rich man. Haym made many friends among the people who had come here from all parts of Europe. He was able to speak to them because he knew many languages.

After Haym had been in America a few years, life began to change. Even though the American people had their freedom, they were still ruled by the English king. When the king tried to take away some of America's freedom, many Americans feared this would lead to war. Haym knew that if war came, he would fight for freedom in his new country just as he had done in his old country. But this time, he would win.

When war did come, New York was the first city the British soldiers took over. Many Americans left New York, but Haym stayed. He gave most of the money from his business to the American government. This helped pay the soldiers and buy guns for George Washington's army. He also joined a group of Americans who had been working secretly for many years to free their country from England. These men planned attacks on British soldiers and on British ships in New York Harbor.

When the British discovered what Haym was doing, they threw him into prison. But even in prison, Haym managed to continue his fight for freedom. It happened this way. The British government needed extra soldiers to help fight the war in America. The king arranged to get them from Germany by paying the German government a lot of money. When these German soldiers arrived in America, the British officers were faced with new troubles. None of the Germans spoke or understood English. And none of the British spoke or understood German. No one could give orders, and no one could understand them.

One British officer remembered that Haym spoke German. The officer offered to let Haym out of prison if Haym would help talk to the German soldiers. Haym thought about this for a while. He really didn't want to do anything that might help the British win the war. But, on the other hand, he had no way to help the Americans if he stayed in prison. Haym also realized that by helping the British, he could learn their war plans. Then, once he was free, he could tell those plans to George Washington. So Haym decided to help the British.
As the British officer was explaining to him what to tell the Germans, Haym suddenly thought of another pfan. This new plan would put his life in danger, but if it worked, it would really help the Americans.

Haym stood up in front of a group of German soldiers and began to speak. The British officers watched him very closely, but they had no way of knowing what he was saying, for he was speaking in German. It was lucky for Haym that they didn't know!

For, instead of explaining the war plans to the Germans, Haym talked about America. He told them what it was like to live in a free country. He explained that America was fighting for its freedom. Then he offered the soldiers a chance to have their freedom, too. He showed them how they were taking chances with their lives while their government was getting all the money from England. Haym then promised the Germans that if they came over to the American side, George Washington would give them land for farms and homes. Then they would be free Americans,too.

Haym spoke so well that, at a later time, many German soldiers did run away from the British and join the American army. The British did not discover what Haym had done.

In a short time, they freed him from prison. Haym returned to his home and to his business. He helped raise money from his friends for the American army. He gave most of his own money as well. He also continued his secret work with the freedom fighters. America finally did win the war. Since that time, no country has ever tried to take away America's freedom. We can thank Haym Salomon and men like him for the freedom that every American enjoys today.


1. Haym left Poland because ___________________ .
a. he liked to travel to other countries.
b. a new government came into power.
c. he couldn't make any money there.
d. George Washington told him to come to America.

2 Haym was able to make many friends in America because ____________________ .
a. he spoke many languages.
b. he was very rich.
c. he knew them from Europe.
d. he had fought for freedom in Poland.

3. War between America and England started because ________________ .
a. the English king wanted the Americans to return to England.
b. both countries wanted to rule Poland.
c. George Washington had a fight with the English king.
d. the English king tried to take away America's freedom.

4. The money that Haym gave to the American government was used _________________
a. to buy soldiers from Germany.
b. to build ships in New York Harbor.
c. to pay for the soldiers and buy guns.
d to send gifts to the English king.

5. The British Government got extra soldiers for their army _________
a. by using Americans who were in prison.
b. by buying them from Germany.
c. by taking over the Polish Government.
d. by forcing the Indians to fight for them.

6. When the German soldiers arrived in America, the British discovered that ________
a. the Germans couldn't shoot British guns.
b. the British soldiers didn't like German soldiers.
c. none of the German soldiers understood English.
d. the Germans really wanted the Americans to win.

7. If the British officers really knew what Haym was telling the German soldiers, they probably would have ___________________ .
a. freed Haym right away.
b. sent him back to prison.
c. given him a medal.
d. told George Washington about it.

8. Haym promised the German soldiers that George Washington would _____________
a. make them all officers in the American army.
b. give them a lot of American money.
c. give them land for farms and homes.
d. let them go home to Germany.

9. Another name for this story could be __________________ .
a. "Freedom Fighters Today."
b. "The Attack on New York Harbor."
c. "German Soldiers in America."
d. "One American's Courage."

10. This story is mainly about ____________
a. a freedom fighter who saved Poland from other countries.
b. the training of soldiers in George Washington's army.
c. A man who believed in freedom and fought for it twice.
d. the tricks that the British used to win the war in America.

Haym Salomon in Wikipedia

You'll find many more interesting reading materials at Edcon Publishing Group.

Friday, June 24, 2011

"World War Two, 1941 to 1943" from VOA

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


In December nineteen forty-one, the United States was at war.

It declared war against Japan after Japanese planes attacked the American naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. A few days later, Germany and Italy declared war against the United States.

President Franklin Roosevelt quickly decided that America could not fight major campaigns in the Pacific and in Europe at the same time. He and his advisers decided to fight first against the Germans and Italians. Then, when victory in Europe seemed sure, the United States could turn to fight the Japanese in Asia.

This left the Japanese free to extend their power throughout Asia and the western Pacific. Soon after the attack at Hawaii, Japanese forces invaded Hong Kong, Malaya and the Philippines. American forces in the Philippines suffered heavy losses. And Manila fell to Japanese troops. In February nineteen forty-two, Japan's forces won a great victory against the British in Singapore.

Japanese forces marched into Burma. They attacked Ceylon -- now Sri Lanka -- and captured the Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal. The Japanese military forces seemed too strong to stop.

President Roosevelt sent some forces to the Pacific. And he began to rebuild the American naval forces destroyed at Pearl Harbor. But he sent most of America's military strength to Europe. The United States rushed troops and war equipment to help Britain survive against Adolf Hitler's Germany.

American military leaders wanted to fight Germany quickly by launching an attack across the English Channel. But British Prime Minister Winston Churchill opposed this.

He and others feared such an invasion might fail. So, British and American forces attacked Italian and German occupation troops in North Africa. They defeated them, and then crossed the Mediterranean Sea to attack enemy forces in Sicily. Within weeks, they pushed the Germans out of Sicily to the Italian mainland. The Allied invasion of Italy followed.

Hitler could not strengthen his forces in North Africa and Italy, because Germany also was fighting hard in the Soviet Union.

Hitler's decision early in the war to attack the Soviet Union was a serious mistake. It divided his men and materials. His plan was to defeat Soviet forces quickly with one strong attack. But he failed. And his failure cost him valuable troops and supplies that might have helped him win the battles for North Africa and Italy.


Germany's attack on the Soviet Union began with great success.

In the middle of nineteen forty-one, a German force of more than three million men invaded the Soviet Union. It captured the Ukraine, took control of Kiev, and marched deep into Russia.

The situation changed the following year. Soviet forces under Marshal Georgy Zhukov won a fierce battle for the city of Stalingrad -- now Volgograd. A great many German soldiers died from cold and hunger during the bitter winter months that followed.


Zhukov's forces attacked the German troops and pushed back the invaders. Other Soviet troops forced the Germans away from the city of Leningrad -- now St. Petersburg.

By the middle of nineteen forty-four, German forces throughout the Soviet Union were retreating. And Soviet forces were preparing to push them over the border and invade Germany themselves. The fighting came at a terrible cost. Huge numbers of soldiers and civilians were killed.


The fighting in World War Two was not limited to land. Battles were also being fought on the sea. The main goal of the German navy during the war was to prevent the United States from sending ships to Britain with war materials, food and troops. At first, the Germans were very successful. There was hunger in Britain in nineteen forty-one because so few ships could cross the North Atlantic with food.


German submarines were the greatest danger to ships crossing the Atlantic. These U-boats, as the Germans called them, could hide below the surface and attack without warning.

The threat from German submarines did not ease until new technology was developed in nineteen forty-three. Allied scientists improved sonar and radar systems that helped find submarines on the surface and underwater. More of the enemy submarines were found and destroyed. The Allies slowly gained control of the Atlantic.


Allied and German warships fought a number of traditional naval battles. But airplanes came to play an increasingly important part in the fighting at sea. British ships, with the help of planes launched from an aircraft carrier, destroyed a powerful German battleship, the Bismarck on May 27, 1941.


The most famous air battle of the war in Europe took place during the summer and autumn of the previous year. It was known as the Battle of Britain. It got its name from a speech to Parliament by Prime Minister Churchill following the evacuation of British and French forces from Dunkirk.

BBC: "This is the BBC Home Service. Here is the news. In the House of Commons this afternoon, the prime minister, Mr. Churchill, said: 'What General Weygand called the Battle of France is over. The Battle of Britain is about to begin.'"

STEVE EMBER: It was the most extensive aerial bombing yet in the war. It was also the first battle to be fought entirely in the air.


German Stuka dive-bombers attacked shipping centers, areas of political importance, airfields, and airplane factories.

Luftwaffe pilots in their Messerschmidts battled the Hurricanes and Spitfires of the Royal Air Force. While the flying skills of the German and British pilots were well matched, it was ultimately the greater maneuverability of the British Spitfire that won the long months of battle over the English Channel.


The British victory in the air helped prevent “Operation Sea Lion,” a planned German invasion of Britain.

In May of nineteen forty-two, Britain's Royal Air Force carried out an attack on Germany with one thousand bombers. It was just the first of many bombing runs over Germany and German-occupied areas by the air forces of Britain and the United States.

The planes bombed German military and industrial centers. They also bombed civilian targets in an effort to demonstrate to the German people the price of Germany's aggression. The German cities of Cologne, Dresden and Hamburg suffered widespread destruction. The Allied bombing attacks continued until the war's end in nineteen forty-five.

Hitler's victories in the early months of the war had struck fear in the hearts of people throughout the world.

Hitler and his Axis allies had won battle after battle. They had captured most of western Europe and invaded the Soviet Union. They had seized North Africa. And their submarines controlled the Atlantic.

Germany continued to seem strong during the first months after the United States entered the war in Europe. But the situation began to change. German strength and control were greatest in November of nineteen forty-two. After then, the mighty German military machine began to slow down.

Germany and its Axis partner Italy suffered serious losses in the first six months of nineteen forty-three.

German losses were extremely heavy in the Soviet Union. One hundred sixty thousand German troops died at Stalingrad, and more than one hundred ten thousand surrendered.

American and British forces captured two hundred fifty thousand German and Italian troops in North Africa. Many more thousands were killed or captured in Sicily and the Italian mainland. German submarines were being destroyed in the North Atlantic, allowing more Allied troops and supplies to reach Britain.

By the end of nineteen forty-three, Hitler and his armies no longer seemed so strong. But German forces continued to occupy France, Belgium and much of the rest of western Europe. Now, the time had come for the Allies to invade German-held Europe from Britain.

Allied forces planned the greatest military invasion in history to break the German control of Europe and win the war.

US GENERAL DWIGHT EISENHOWER: "People of Western Europe: A landing was made this morning on the coast of France by troops of the Allied Expeditionary Force. This landing is part of a concerted United Nations plan for the liberation of Europe. Although the initial assault may not have been made in your own country, the hour of your liberation is approaching."


STEVE EMBER: That invasion -- the famous D-Day landing on the beaches of Normandy -- 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 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.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

"Most States See Hispanic Population Growth" - VOA

BARBARA KLEIN: Welcome to THIS IS AMERICA in VOA Special English. I’m Barbara Klein.

MARIO RITTER: And I’m Mario Ritter. This week on our program, we talk about the growth in the Hispanic population, America's largest minority group. We also tell you about calls for a national museum to honor their history and culture. And we find out why some retired Americans are buying homes in Mexico.


BARBARA KLEIN: More than fifty million people in the United States identified themselves as Hispanic or Latino in last year's national census. That was sixteen percent of the population, or one out of six people.

The twenty-ten census defined "Hispanic or Latino" as a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race.

The Census Bureau recently published a detailed report on the Hispanic population of the United States based on the new findings. The population is growing at an even faster rate than many experts had predicted.

MARIO RITTER: There were thirty-five million Hispanics, or thirteen percent of the nation, in the last census in two thousand. The Hispanic population grew by more than forty percent between two thousand and two thousand ten.

During that period, Hispanic growth represented more than half of America's total population increase. The Hispanic population grew four times faster than the nation as a whole.

Experts at the Census Bureau estimate that more than sixty percent of Hispanic growth was from "natural increase" rather than migration. Natural increase is the term for the number of births minus the number of deaths.

More than half of all Hispanics in the United States live in just three states: California, Texas and Florida. But the latest findings show how the Hispanic population is spreading out across the country.

Patricia Foxen is the associate director of research at the National Council of La Raza. She said there are a few main reasons for the spreading of the Latino population.

PATRICIA FOXEN: "The number one reason is probably jobs. There are certain industries that have gotten saturated. People go where the jobs are. There are also a couple of other things going on that shouldn't be minimized. You also have questions like cost of living and quality of life."

BARBARA KLEIN: The Census Bureau says the Hispanic population grew more than expected in forty of the fifty states. Southern states had the largest increases. These states, including Alabama and North Carolina, traditionally have not had large Hispanic communities.

About three-fourths of Hispanics in last year's census identified themselves as being of Mexican, Cuban or Puerto Rican origin.

People of Mexican origin represented about three-fourths of the increase in the Hispanic population since two thousand. There are now about thirty-two million people of Mexican origin in the United States. Puerto Ricans were the second largest group, at nearly five million.

People of Mexican origin represented the largest Hispanic group in forty states last year. More of half of those states are in the South and West. Mexicans were also the largest group in the Midwest and in two states in the Northeast.

Puerto Ricans were the largest group in most of the Northeast and in one Western state, Hawaii. Dominicans were the largest group in one northeastern state, Rhode Island.

In the South, Cubans were the largest Hispanic origin group in Florida. Salvadorans were the largest group in Maryland and the District of Columbia.

MARIO RITTER: The Census Bureau first reported in two thousand three that Hispanics outnumbered blacks, formerly the nation's largest minority. Last year, just over twelve and a half percent of people identified themselves as black or African-American alone.

About five percent of people in the United States identified themselves as Asian and no other race. Compared to two thousand, there was a forty-six percent increase in people who described themselves as Asian alone or mixed race. That was more than any other major race group.

By some estimates, non-Hispanic whites will become a minority in the United States in about thirty years. In some states, non-Hispanic whites already are a minority, including Texas, California, New Mexico and Hawaii.

BARBARA KLEIN: Census results have important political effects. Every ten years, states use the population numbers to redraw the maps of legislative areas. The process is called redistricting, and it includes congressional districts in the House of Representatives.


MARIO RITTER: A federal commission is urging Congress to establish a national museum to recognize the history and success of Latinos.

The museums of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington already include the National Museum of the American Indian. A National Museum of African American History and Culture is expected to open in four years.

There are museums throughout the country that display Latino culture. But supporters say it is important for the country's largest minority group to have a national museum in the nation’s capital. The commission included actress Eva Longoria and other celebrities. The group spent a year asking Latinos what they would want to see in a museum of their own.

We asked some visitors to Washington what they thought of the idea.

Chris Peek and his family are from Louisville, Kentucky.

CHRIS PEEK: “It’s part of the melting pot. It’s part of American culture and history.”

John Carreiro and his wife, Sally, live in Southern California.

JOHN CARREIRO: “In about ten years the Latinos are going to mean a whole lot for voting and everything in this country. I would love to see one. And especially people from this part of the United States, because where we’re from in California, it’s probably fifty percent Latino at this time. I think people here would love to see that.”

Maxine lives in Maryland.

MAXINE: “I think you should represent everybody you know, why just a few groups? Everybody should be represented.”

Maxine’s friend Carol Bradwell lives and works in Washington.

CAROL BRADWELL: “Sure, I’d go. Especially since Smithsonians are free and people come from all over the world just to visit here. Why not build something good?”


BARBARA KLEIN: Some retired Americans looking to save money are moving south to Mexico. Among them are Michael Baldwin and Stephanie Villareal. They spoke with VOA on Skype recently from their home on Mexico’s Baja peninsula.

MICHAEL BALDWIN: “We have been here almost a year now. We came from Houston, Texas. We came down temporarily last summer and made the decision to make it permanent, and we actually drove from Houston to Cabo San Lucas.”

MARIO RITTER: Mr. Baldwin says they love the natural beauty and weather of Mexico. They also love the savings.

MICHAEL BALDWIN: “Houston versus Cabo, our expenses have been reduced by about thirty percent.”

Stephanie Villareal says they have enjoyed getting to know people in their new community.

STEPHANIE VILLAREAL: “We have lots of friends, they are very welcoming, and this is one of our favorite parts of living here is the people.”

BARBARA KLEIN: One thing they have noticed very little of, she says, is crime. In the past five years, an estimated forty thousand people have been killed in drug-related violence in Mexico. The Mexican government has been fighting powerful drug groups, and these cartels have also been fighting each other.

But Rodolfo Lopez-Negrete says there are still many areas untouched by the crime and violence of the drug trade. Mr. Lopez-Negrete is the chief operating officer of Mexico’s Tourism Board.

RODOLFO LOPEZ-NEGRETE: "Out of the two thousand five hundred municipalities we have in Mexico, the equivalent of your counties in America, eighty of those have witnessed episodes of violence.”

He says American citizens living in the main resort areas of Mexico provide their own vote of confidence.

RODOLFO LOPEZ-NEGRETE: "In the major time-share developments, the major fractional developments or full ownership, more than half of those purchases are from Americans."

MARIO RITTER: In Houston, Chris Hill works with an industry group called the Mexico Real Estate Coalition. Mr. Hill says activity has slowed in the past few years, partly because of the recession, but also because of the violence. But he points out that the violence in the news is generally not near areas that are popular with foreigners.

CHRIS HILL: "All of these crime-related stories that we are hearing, drug-related, they have very little impact on a tourist or someone going to live in Mexico."

Americans who want to buy a home in Mexico might also have another security concern. It involves the security of their investment. Mexico’s constitution bars foreigners from owning property within fifty kilometers of the coast. But foreigners can buy part of a Mexican real estate trust. Through these trusts, Americans can own a beach home indirectly.

Chris Hill says new legal guarantees make real estate investment in Mexico safer and easier than in the past.

CHRIS HILL: “We believe that, long term, Mexico is going to be a wonderful opportunity for retirees to live, the cost of medical services and health-related issues, but also the overall cost of living in Mexico is far lower.”


BARBARA KLEIN: Our program was written and produced by Brianna Blake with Greg Flakus. I’m Barbara Klein.

MARIO RITTER: And I’m Mario Ritter. You can watch a video about Americans living in Mexico at You can also find transcripts, MP3s and podcasts of our programs. Join us again next week for THIS IS AMERICA in VOA Special English