Learning English Podcast Afghan refugees, Fiber Optic Internet, Disagree Politely
Welcome to Learning English, a daily 30 minute program from The Voice of America. I'm Ashley Thompson. And I'm Dan Novak. This program is designed for English learners, so we speak a little slower and we use words and phrases, especially written for people learning English.
Coming up on the program, Mario Ritter Junior reports on displaced Afghans leaving the country to survive. Bryan Lynn has this week's technology report on a Japanese experiment that broke the record for Internet speed. Later, Andrew Smith and Jill Robbins present the lesson of the day.
But first. The desert in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan is filled with hundreds of thousands of people. Some live in tents. Others live out in the open after they were forced to leave neighboring Pakistan.
More than 40 years of war, violence and poverty have turned 6 million Afghans into refugees. Another 3.5 million people are displaced within the country of 40 million. Many were driven from their homes by war, earthquakes and drought.
Afghanistan's economy collapsed after the Taliban returned to power following the withdrawal of the United States and NATO allies in 2021. Now, two thirds of its population depends on international aid to survive. Displaced Afghans live in camps around the country. They do not have enough food or firewood for heat in the winter. Women and children often turn to begging. Others marry off their young daughters to families willing to pay them money.
In May, for example, 15 year old Sharmila was married at a camp for internally displaced people outside Kabul. She stood in a bright red dress among the women of the family who congratulated her. But the girl was unhappy.
I have no choice. If I don't accept, my family will be hurt, said Sharmila, whose father did not give the family's name because he feared the Taliban. The groom's family is giving her father money to pay off debts taken to support his wife and children. I wanted to study and work.
I should have gone to school, Sharmila said. I have to forget all my dreams. So at least I can help my father and my family a little. And maybe I can take the burden off their shoulders. Last year, Pakistan decided to deport Afghans who entered the country illegally.
Many Afghans lived for years in Pakistan. They were afraid of continuing conflicts at home. When Pakistan's order was announced. Hundreds of thousands feared arrest and fled back to Afghanistan. The Afghans said Pakistani officials often prevented them from taking anything with them. Their first stop has been the camp in Torkham, where they might spend days or weeks before Taliban officials send them to another place.
With little food and little to protect them from the mountain cold, many in the camp are sick and a camp at the foot of a mountain. 55 year old Farooq Sadik sat with his wife and children on the ground. Among some of their belongings, Sadiq said he had been living in the Pakistani city of Peshawar for 30 years and owned a home there. Now they had nothing. Not even a tent, he said.
They had been sleeping on the ground for the past eight nights. I have nothing in Afghanistan, no house, no place to live. Not enough money to buy a house, he said. He hopes to settle somewhere in Afghanistan and get a visa to Pakistan so he can go sell his home there to use the money for his family. The deportation funds from Pakistan have greatly increased the large numbers of Afghans who try to migrate into Iran, hoping to find work.
Every month, thousands cross into Iran at the border near the ranch at night with the help of smugglers. They climb over the border wall and jump to the other side. Mostly young men from age 12 to their twenties flee Afghanistan. This way. They plan to work in Iran and send money home to their families.
Many are caught by Iranian border guards and sent back. Others take a longer trip by car through mountains and deserts on Afghanistan's southwestern border through Pakistan to reach Iran. There is no border wall there, but fighters from the Sunni militant group Jundallah, often attack the migrants, killing or kidnaping Shiites among them. Over several months, associate hated press photographer Ibrahim Noroozi traveled across Afghanistan from its eastern border with Pakistan to its western border with Iran to report their stories. I'm Mario Ritter, Jr. Japanese researchers say they have broken the world's speed record for sending internet data.
The recent experiment involved sending data over fiber optic lines enclosed inside cables. Fiber optic technology is currently the fastest way to transport or transmit Internet data. Fiber optic cables use signals of light to send data over long distance, as the fiber material is very thin, about 1/10 the thickness of a human hair fiber optic technology was meant to replace an older Internet transmission method that uses cables made mainly of copper wiring. This method can also carry data over the internet, but at much reduced speeds and capacity compared with fiber optics. A report released last year by the United Nations International Telecommunication Union, ITU, suggested current worldwide Internet data transmission is reaching full capacity levels. The Japanese data transmission experiment used fiber optic cables, but the engineers involved made some changes to the cables in an effort to greatly expand speed and capacity.
Such methods are known as multiplex ring technologies. They aim to increase the amount and speed of Internet data with existing transmission equipment. These technologies combine multiple communications signals into a single transmission line. One multiplexing technology called Wave Division.
Multiplexing, or WDM, aims to increase the wavelength capacity within transmission cables. Another method called Space Division Multiplexing, or SDM, can involve increasing the size or number of fiber optic centers called CORES Engineers from Japan's National Institute of Information and Communications Technology. NCI led the researchers who carried out the experiment. The tests measured speeds in petabytes.
One petty bit equals 1 million gigabits. The record transmission demonstrated a data transmission capacity of 22.9 petabytes per second in a single fiber optic cable.
The previous record for data transmission was 10.66 petabytes per second set by the same team at NCI. T Major progress has been made in recent years in Internet data transmission speeds. In October 2022, an international group of researchers announced they had broken the world record.
That team reported they had reached a test rate of 1.8 petabytes per second using a single optical cable. Results of the Japanese experiment were officially presented in a paper released at the 49th European Conference on Optical Communications in October. The teams said it was able to beat the previous record by a large amount, using new methods to expand and combine different WDM and SDM elements. The method used a fiber optic cable that contained 38 cores. The researchers said expanding the number of cores resulted in an increased number of optical paths.
For high speed data transmission. One researcher was Shigeo Okonkwo of Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands. He told the country's NL Times the rate of 22.9 petabytes per second represented about 20 times the global Internet traffic per second.
Okonkwo also noted the speed is about 229 times the total capacity of the kinds of fiber optic cables currently in use today. Worldwide, the estimated average Internet data transmission speed in 2023 was about 46.8 megabits per second, International Research Service Statista reports. The rate reached 118.7 megabits per second in Western Europe, while Northern Africa had the lowest estimated rate at 9.8, statistics said. The American based Pew Research Center studies Internet data transmission rates across the United States.
Pew reports the fastest current data transmission method available in the U.S., called Fiber to Home, is about ten gigabits per second. This amount is equal to about 10,000 megabit bits per second. Most Americans receive much slower data transmission rates, an average of just under 50 megabits per second.
Pew estimates fiber to home service only accounts for about 20% of the U.S. Internet service market. The NCI team described its latest test results as a major step toward the realization of future ultra large capacity optical communication networks. But in order to reach this goal, the team said its current methods must be further perfected. For example, the researchers pointed to one major issue that could delay future deployments of its superfast fiber optic system. This will be the need to complete significant upgrades to current telecommunication hardware systems in order to support the new cable technologies.
I'm Bryan Lynn. Bryan Lynn joins me now to talk more about his technology report. Thanks for being here, Bryan.
Sure, Dan, Glad to be here. This week you reported on a new Internet speed record reached by researchers in Japan. And the record was measured in petabytes, which I'm guessing most of us have not even heard of. Yes, that's right.
It truly can be hard to imagine or comprehend what some of these super fast speeds mean. But the report does note that just one petabyte is equal to about 1 million gigabits. So for comparison purposes, the most advanced fiber optic networks currently in the U.S. operate at speeds up to ten gigabits per second. But that kind of service, known as fiber to home, is estimated to be used by only 20% of America's population.
So the data transmits and rates demonstrated in the Japanese experiment are way beyond what any current system can deliver to homes. So that being said, how soon could we expect to start seeing the kinds of speeds reached in the latest experiments being widely deployed. At this point? It really is hard to say. Several years ago, for example, Americans were promised much improved 5G wireless service.
That still has not been deployed across wide areas of the U.S.. For example, one estimate suggested 5G was currently available in just 31% of homes across the U.S. Internet service providers are still saying they're seeking to expand that service. But it certainly demonstrates the difficulties and delays that can happen when building out new infrastructure to support these new high speed data transmission systems. All right. Thanks for joining me, Bryan. You're welcome. Thank you. Dan.
VOA Learning English has launched a new program for children. It is called Let's Learn English with Anna. The new course aims to teach children American English through asking and answering questions and experiencing funds situations. For more information, visit our website.
Learning English taught VOA News.com. Hello, my name is Anna Matteo. And my name is Andrew Smith. My name is Jill Robbins.
You're listening to the Lesson of the Day on the Learning English Podcast. Welcome to the part of the show where we help you do more with our video series. Level two of Let's Learn English. This series shows Anna Matteo in her work in life in Washington, D.C.. Today we're going to talk about lesson four when Anna and Pete go to see a circus, they show us some ways to politely disagree and state our opinions. As you may remember from our previous podcast, Ms. Weaver had asked Anna and Pete to do a new program
where they give different opinions on a topic. We can listen to the beginning of that program as we start Lesson four. Hello, I'm Anna. And I'm Pete. Welcome to he said. She said.
Because there are always two sides. To every story. Today's show is about circus arts.
Circus? That's not an art form. Yes, it is. No, it isn't.
Yes, it is. No, it isn't. I think Pete and Anna have different ideas about what an art form is, but we don't know what they are yet. They are disagreeing in a very simple way, as we heard. Yes, it is. No, it isn't.
Kind of a boring way to disagree. In this lesson, we learn about some more interesting ways to disagree by politely giving your opinion and supporting it with examples. So let's listen to how Pete supports his opinion. Recently I went to a circus festival.
There was a huge circus tent and many different circus performers. It was a celebration of circus arts. That looks fun on a But I don't think circus performers are artists. I think they're athletes with interesting skills and costumes. Pete supported, or we might say, backed up his opinion with more information about the circus performers. He is giving a reason for thinking the way he does.
This is an important point for English learners who want to develop their writing and speaking skills. When you give an opinion or argue a point, you should provide support for that opinion. And when you have a different opinion, you can choose to politely say a different opinion the way Anna does. That is a very interesting point of view.
Pete and I completely disagree. And that is supporting your opinion. There are several ways. One is to state facts.
Pete says the performers have skills and where costumes. You can also support your opinion with statistics or numbers. Another way is to give examples. Listen to how Pete continues to support his opinion. On a michaelangelo was an artist. Rembrandt was an artist.
People who swing from ropes are not artists. I know it's not easy to swing from a bar and catch someone by the hands. You have to be very athletic to do that.
What do you think, listeners? I believe he's giving some examples of people he considers artists. Then he gives an example of an athletic activity swinging from a bar and catching someone. You may have noticed that Pete mispronounced the names of the artists, Michaelangelo and Rembrandt. That's a way of showing that Pete really might not understand very much about what makes something artistic or what makes someone an artist. When you are having a disagreement, as Anna and Pete are here, it's important to listen to the other person's argument and see if you can find some point of agreement.
Do you think Anna will do that? Let's listen. That's a good point, Pete. They are athletic, but they are called trapeze artists. Trapeze artists? I hear what you're saying, Anna. I do. But where is the art? Look at these guys. They're jugglers. Yes.
They are skilled in the art of juggling. They have a special skill. But are they artists? No, They're just throwing things back and forth. Kind of like you and me, Pete. We're going back and forth on this issue.
I don't think we'll ever agree on this one. No, but we can agree that these young people are amazing. Okay. Yeah, we can agree on that. But still, they are very athletic, flipping and throwing each other around.
Yes, I agree with you on that point. Notice that Anna said that's a good point to show. She is listening to Pete's argument. Pete and Anna are still going back and forth with the art question, but they both think the young performers are amazing.
And Anna tells Pete she agrees in this way. Yes, I agree with you on that point. When you have a disagreement with someone, it's sometimes helpful to get a third person involved. We find that one of the circus performers has an idea to support honest opinion. Pete, Lets let the performers speak for themselves. Kate and Piper tell stories while hanging upside down on a ring.
Was it hard to interview them upside down? I interviewed them right side up. Pete Kate says circus performer may be athletic, but it's not competitive with most sports. You compete.
It's an art form because, like other. Sports are competing. This is simply performing and having fun. OC Kate made a really good point. In athletics, there's a lot of competition.
But still. Here's Piper, Pete. Well, when you're up in the air doing Circus, you have to perform. And so we learn to embody characters and to move fluidly and gracefully and artistic ways.
And that is why they are artists. You're right on up. you're right. It's just so. Beautiful.
I know, I know, Pete. Pete is seeing from Honor's point of view, I think with the help of Piper and Kate, it seems one important difference they see is that athletes are competing while the performers are having fun, not trying to do their performance faster than others. For example. It's an art form because like. Other sports, they're competing. This is simply performing and having fun.
Yeah. And the other difference is that the circus performers are becoming a character. Essentially, they are acting.
Well, when you're up in the air doing circus, you have to perform. And so we learn to embody characters and to move fluidly and gracefully and artistic ways. That may be a new word for you Embody. It's spelled E, m, b, o. d, y.
It means to give form to an idea, like when you make a symbol or an example of something. Here Piper is talking about expressing or becoming a character. I think it's time for us to give our listeners their assignment for this lesson. Choose a topic that people are talking about where you live. Or pick one from our activity sheet in less than four. Write to us with your opinion on the topic and support it with at least two reasons.
Facts. Statistics or examples. You can email us at learning English at VOA News.com
or put your comments on our YouTube video for this podcast. And it'll be great if you share the lesson of the day with your friends and family. Remember that you can also find us on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook. Thanks for listening. I'm Andrew Smith. And I'm Jill Robbins.
And that's our program for today. Join us again tomorrow to keep learning English through stories from around the world. I'm Ashley Thompson.
And I'm Dan Novak.