Has anyone ever used BASIC ENGLISH (communicating with a basic 850 word vocabulary) to teach beginners?
May 16, 2018 3:17 PM
Comments · 26

This reminds me of the book "Thing Explainer."  The author used drawings and a limited vocabulary of only 1000 words to explain complicated things.  ;

That link shows one example.   It is a drawing of the Mars Curiosity Rover (a car-sized vehicle that explored the surface of the planet Mars).  Each part of the drawing is labeled with explanations written in very simple English that tell you what that part of the vehicle does.

The book shows that it is challenging to explain something when you sometimes can't even use the normal names for objects.  It can take a lot more words to describe something when you only have 1000 basic words as options to use.  But with some creativity, it can be done!

It is a fun and interesting book to read.

May 16, 2018

Even though I am very impressed with this translation into Basic English of a play by Bernard Shaw, I agree that an expanded and updated 1500 word version by Voice of America is much better suited to helping beginners learn English. Having said that, here is a Bernard Shaw play done in Basic English:

SHL, I do not wish to use Basic English, or even the nearly double-sized 1500 word VOA vocabulary set as an end product for communication in English. Rather, I think it is a good way to get English learners from ground zero to a functional ability to communicate in English. So many people I have talked to say that they took four years of a foreign language in high school in the US and have no ability to carry on a conversation in that language.

May 17, 2018

 "Basic English" also developed a larger restricted vocabulary list of about 2000 words, which I think can make one pretty functional in English. I agree that obsolete vocabulary is a problem. Voice of America has developed its own restricted vocabulary list of about 1,500 words which are based off of the "Basic English" ones. These words are up to date and in current use. I like their use of graded levels of English content in their materials. Here you can select one of three levels of articles/videos - you can watch videos and read an English transcript of the words spoken in the video. Level 1 is beginner, Level 2 is intermediate and Level 3 is upper intermediate level. In all three levels, English is spoken at a slower than normal pace. If you select Level 1 articles, you can click on a link in the upper right part of the page. This link will allow you to view or download a pdf of the 1500 restricted vocabulary used in its Special English program materials (VOA Special English Word Book). If you are brand new to learning English you can go through beginner lessons by clicking on "Let's Learn English 1" and "Let's learn English 2." There are 52 lessons in "Let's learn English level 1" and I counted 27 lessons in "Let's learn English level 2." Just as an example, here is what you see when you select level 1 articles:

May 16, 2018
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