The Meaning of Walls


Are there walls in your city? Do they keep people out, or let people in? Liz Waid and Luke Haley look at important walls around the world.

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Transcript


Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Liz Waid.

Voice 2 

And I’m Luke Haley. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

The Berlin Wall - dividing the city of Berlin into two parts.

Voice 2 

Hadrian’s Wall between England and Scotland.

Voice 1 

The Border Wall between Mexico and the United States.

Voice 2 

The Great Wall of China.

Voice 1 

Today’s Spotlight is on walls. Walls are simple structures. They separate areas of land. They can be made of wood, stone, metal or even just earth. But what walls mean is often not simple. One person may see a wall as protection. Another person may see the same wall as a barrier or an invasion onto their land. Some walls can make people feel anger. Other walls can encourage and inspire people. In today’s Spotlight we look at walls around the world.

Voice 2 

Humans have been building walls for thousands of years. One ancient wall divided England and Scotland. Over 2,000 years ago the Roman Emperor Hadrian visited the areas of England that he ruled. He wanted to protect them from tribes in Scotland. So he decided to build a wall. The finished wall was 117 kilometers long. It stretched across the island from the Irish Sea to the North Sea. And over 9,000 soldiers protected it. Today, people can visit some remains of the wall. They can walk a path where the wall once stood.

Voice 1 

Hadrian built this wall for mostly simple reasons. He wanted to protect his land. The wall provided a barrier from invaders. But other walls are more complex. They begin because of a failure to communicate. Governments often try to solve conflicts by talking about their issues. But, when governments cannot make peace, they may build a wall instead. This offers one solution to the problem. But it may not be a good solution.

Voice 2 

This is the case with a group of walls in Northern Ireland. For over 30 years there was a conflict between different political groups in Northern Ireland. It was not a religious conflict, but the fighting groups were mainly two different Christian groups: Catholic and Protestant. In the city of Belfast, there were riots and bombings. The conflict was extremely violent.

Voice 1 

During the war, in 1969, British soldiers put up a line of barbed wire. This fence has sharp objects on it and it is very difficult to climb over. The fence separated two religious areas - the Catholic side and the Protestant side. It was supposed to be temporary, but it became a permanent wall. Authorities built the first wall where this fence had been. But they built more walls in other areas too. They built the walls in areas where violence was the worst. Officials called these walls the “Peace Wall” or “Peace Lines”.

Voice 2 

War officially ended in 1997. But there were still bomb attacks in the city of Belfast. Today the Institute for Conflict Research in Belfast says that there are 99 peace lines in Belfast. In some parts the wall is made of five meters of solid concrete - a rock-like substance. On top of that, there is another three meters of wire fence. 

Voice 1

In 2012, the University of Ulster asked people their opinions on the Peace Lines. They found that 69% of the people of Belfast still believe the walls are necessary. They prevent violence. But most people do want them gone. 58% say they want to see the walls come down. In May 2013, Leaders of Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom agreed to remove all Peace Line walls by 2023.

Voice 2 

One wall that no one plans to take down is the Moroccan Wall. This wall is in the Western Sahara Desert and the southeastern part of Morocco. The Moroccan army built the wall to separate Morocco from a group of independence fighters. The wall is made of earth. It is 2,700 kilometers long and three meters high. The wall is covered with electronic equipment that watches the area. There is also an area around the wall covered in landmines - bombs buried under ground.

Voice 1 

Since 2008, people visit the wall to protest. They are Moroccans, international visitors and human rights activists. They all hold hands. Every year, they demand that the wall is removed. But there is no plan to remove it.

Voice 2 

Walls often exist at country borders. They aim to keep out people from another country. This is the case with the border between Mexico and the United States. The border is just over 3,000 kilometers long. And the United States has built walls on about 1/3 of the border. The other part of the border is watched by technology.

Voice 1 

Hundreds of thousands of Mexicans* try to cross the border illegally every year. However, crossing illegally is often very dangerous. Security forces guard the border with guns. The border is in a desert area. So even if a person gets across the wall he may not be safe. Many people die of hunger or thirst before they can find help.

Voice 2 

But walls are not always dangerous. And they are not always barriers. Other walls can be symbols. The Lennon Wall is in Prague, in the Czech Republic. In the 1980s the Czech Republic was part of Czechoslovakia and was under communist rule. John Lennon became a symbol for peace in Czechoslovakia. Lennon was a member of the popular music group The Beatles. He was murdered on December 8, 1980. After his murder, someone painted his image on a wall in the city. They painted political graffiti and words to Beatles songs. The political graffiti said things against communism. Over time people added more and more anti-communist poems and words. Authorities often tried to paint over the graffiti and pictures. But people always put up new graffiti and pictures of John Lennon. People can still visit the wall today. It is a symbol of peace and love.

Voice 1 

Are there walls in your city? Are they built to keep people out? Or do they encourage people? What do you think about the walls in this program? Tell us your opinions by writing a comment on the script page of this program. Or find us on Facebook. Just search for Spotlight Radio.

Voice 2 

The writer of this program was Liz Waid. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, ‘The Meaning of Walls’.

Voice 1 

We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

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*Instead of "Mexicans" this should say "people". People trying to cross the US southern border are from many different countries.

Question:

Are there walls in your city? Do they keep people out, or let people in?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
dungn9926@gmail.com
said on March 04, 2015

These history walls have different meanings.It belongs to the reason and purpose to build.They’re to protect national security,prevent outside invasion,devide power and area after group conflict or to show the peace and pride…I know the great wall in China is one of the famous wonders in the wall.It was built thousand years ago by demand of King named TRAN THUY HOANG.He was a very talented and rule king in China history.He forced thousand workers to build very long wall through mountain.He wanted to protect border and show how big power he had.This killed thousand people.It’s the greatest and solidest contruction in China history.Now it becomes the pride of Chinese.And a place attract many tourists all over the wall.I wish I can come there once.

Avatar Spotlight
Jonmar
said on May 04, 2017

We can see in this Spotlight, there are different reason to people buid a wall, but, no matter the reason the wall may be in most case the reflect of not solved conflict or a possible conflict, so,  finally this keep away the human beings. I apologies to everyone because my english, but I´m a learner and my native language is Spanish. Greetings

Long Pham's avatar
Long Pham
said on February 19, 2019

I agreed the wall only built on the war if 2 countries which have sharing borders, this will prevent invaders from other country. However, should not built the wall on the peace, because of this seperate between people from 2 countries affect to communicate business and exchange culture both side.

Severino Ramos da Silva's avatar
Severino Ramos da Silva
said on February 21, 2019

From: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
To: spotlight programme
Subject: to answer the questions below
Date: Thursday 21, February 2019
Location: São Paulo city, Avenida Líder 1150 bloco 2 ap 42 cidade líder São Paulo SP Brasil 03586-000
Telephone number (55) 11 22545124 home

Dear Liz Waid,  Michio Ozaki, and Luke Haley:

First, I want to thank you for bringing us more one great article, thank you.
Questions:
Question 1 - Are there walls in your city? No, there are not. There are only fences around buildinds and houses.
Question 2 - Do they keep people out, or let people in? Well, when someone comes to visit me at my building and that was invited by me I let he or she in. And I communicate to the guard of my building to call me when that person arrives at my building.
Comment: I think walls extremely necessary between borders to protect the nation against invaders, thieves, and drug dealers.
The Donald Trump President is extremely correct to build a Wall between Mexico and his country The United States of America to protect his people and his nation. Congratulations!
Your regards,
Severino Ramos
Brazil

Avatar Spotlight
learner-psicologyst
said on February 22, 2019

In my city have a lot of walls. In my country almost every houses have walls. And this walls are to keep peoples out, and to protect the peoples inside. I loved this program and its text. The “wall” too was sung by Pink Floyd band on the album Another Bricking The Wall. Thank you!!!

Avatar Spotlight
Honneur
said on February 23, 2019

No. In my city there are no walls of any kind that this program has shown. The wall we have and is my concern is the wall between ignorance and knowledge; the great wall between whealth and poverty; the wall between whites and blacks and so on ... But physical walls, fortunately, we do not have.