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Voice of America Reaches Out to Farsi Listeners, Teaches English

Voice of America is offering Farsi speakers an Internet-based English course.

In a statement Friday, VOA announced the launch of a Web site ( that will allow users to practice the English required for common cultural interactions, like greeting friends or looking for a new apartment.

The program's start Saturday is part of VOA's celebration of Nowruz, the Persian New Year.

VOA's New Media Director, Rebecca McMenamin, says the program offers a "glimpse into everyday American life." She says the lessons mimic situations a visitor or exchange student might encounter in the U.S.

The program, called "," uses simulated conversation partners, called "avatars" to teach students, who interact with the program using headsets and microphones.

There are three levels offered - beginner, intermediate and advanced.

The program has already been available for Mandarin speakers since November 2009.

VOA plans to add more languages in the future.