Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

The Best Sites To Learn About Walls That Separate Us


'Wall' photo (c) 2009, stefg74 - license:

This is a little different from my usual “The Best…” lists.

Inspired by the twentieth anniversary of the falling of the Berlin Wall this week, I’ve begun to think about developing some lessons related to walls — physical, mental, and emotional — and how they’re used by us and others to stay separate. I’m thinking it’s also an opportunity to help students learn about metaphors and similes.

This list is different, though, because usually I don’t post a list like this until I have some specific ideas on how to use the resources in a lesson.

I’m not there year, and, instead, am sharing these resources and asking for ideas on how best to use them. Please share your thoughts in the comments section.

Absent a lesson plan, here are my choices for the The Best Sites To Learn About Walls That Separate Us (and are accessible to English Language Learners):

Raising Walls is an intriguing feature from The Wall Street Journal highlighting famous….walls in history and around the world.  The interactive graphic is supplemented by a slideshow, video, and article focused on walls being built around slums in Rio de Janeiro.

Great Walls In History is a slideshow from Newsweek magazine.

Here are two sites on the Great Wall of China:   One is a site from the University of Washington called the Great Wall that has text accessible to Intermediate English Language Learners and some nice photos.   I really like this other site.  It’s from an organization called The China Guide, and it’s a cool Virtual Tour of The Great Wall.  It gives a 360 degree tour and you can click on “hot spots” to move throughout the wall.

Two nice sites on the Berlin Wall are a series of photos from The Denver Post and an interactive from The Guardian.

The Wall’s Rise and Fall is an interactive from the Wall Street Journal. The Berlin Wall, 20 years gone is a series of images from the Big Picture. Both are about the Berlin Wall.

Of course, the United States is building a huge border fence between the U.S. and Mexico. The New York Times has a map showing it. Here’s an interactive interviewing people who live near it. Earlier this year, the U.S. built a fence in the middle of ‘Friendship Park,” which is near San Diego and a place where friends and relatives from both countries would gather. You can watch a slideshow about what happened and also hear and read an NPR report on the event.

The Washington Post has an interactive about Israel’s plan to build a fence on the West Bank to separate Israel from the Palestinians.

Here are a series of images of Hadrian’s Wall, which was built in Great Britain long ago by the Roman Empire.

Walls of Incompetence is a series of photos of modern-day walls.

Baghdad: City of Walls, Pt.1: Scars of war is from the British newspaper The Guardian and highlights giant walls that have been built to separate Shia and Sunni neighborhoods.

CNN Go beyond borders Tape Art Project – Case Film is a short video on YouTube documenting a CNN project to place tape along the original border of the Berlin Wall. Here’s a CNN video on the same project.

CNN has many videos on the fall of the Berlin Wall.

CNN also has several videos on the Great Wall of China, including:

At The Great Wall

Obama Visits The Great Wall

Atop The Great Wall

West Bank Barrier Protest is a CNN video about a Palestinian protest against a dividing wall being built by Israel.

Eco-Wall Or Segregation is a CNN video about a wall being built in the slums of Brazil.

“The Fall Of The Wall” is an interactive on The Berlin Wall.

Walls that separate Catholic and Protestant neighborhoods in Belfast are called Peace Lines.

Here are some multimedia features about them:

Still Divided is an audio slideshow from The Guardian.

Peace Walls of Belfast is another slideshow from The Guardian.

Here’s another slideshow.

Thanks to Ira Socol for writing about them. I had never heard of these walls before.

The Border Fence Rises In The Southwest is the title of a slideshow from TIME Magazine.

The Boston Globe has published an excellent piece titled “Building divisions:Political scientist Wendy Brown explains why the world is seeing a boom in wall building.” It’s not accessible to English Language Learners, but a teacher could certainly modify portions.

“Growing Up Palestinian In The Age Of The Wall” is the title of a slideshow from TIME Magazine.

Walled World is a fascinating infographic showing how our world is divided by real walls, income walls, and political walls.

Remembering The Berlin Wall is a slideshow from The Boston Globe.

The border fence is a wall by any other name is from The San Francisco Chronicle.

US-Mexico immigration: Even oceans have borders is from The BBC.

Crossing Into Nogales, Mexico is a NY Times slideshow.

The Gated Community Mentality is from The New York Times.

The State of the Gate is a photo gallery and article from The Wall Street Journal.

Bethlehem nuns in West Bank barrier battle is from The BBC.

Roman Walls is an interesting article from National Geographic.

The Great Wall of China is a photo gallery from The Atlantic.

The Berlin Wall: Then and Now is a slideshow from The Wall Street Journal.

Here are images of the border fence between Israel and Egypt.

Controversy Flares Again at Berlin Wall is a Wall Street Journal slideshow.

Same Southern Border, Varied Views is a photo gallery from The New York Times.

The Great Wall Of America is a TIME slideshow.

Readers Capture the Complexity of the U.S.-Mexican Border is a photo gallery from The New York Times.

On the Border is a photo gallery from The Atlantic.

Immigrants Reach Beyond a Legal Barrier for a Reunion is from The New York Times.

Walls is a photo gallery from The Boston Globe.

New York Times columnist Charles Blow sent this image on Twitter of the still segregated cemetery where his family is buried:

The Guardian has published an excellent, though sad, interactive titled Why are we building new walls to divide us?

The Berlin Wall in the cold war and now – interactive is from The Guardian.

Here’s a video of a project that placed balloons in the original location of the Berlin Wall:

Interactive Timeline: The Berlin Wall, Beginning to End is from TIME.

“The Fence” Is Award-Winning Video About U.S. Mexico Border

Again, lesson ideas are welcome, along with suggestions of additional resources.

If you found this post useful, you might want to explore the other 350 “The Best…” lists and consider subscribing to this blog for free.

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.


  1. Thanks Larry, for posting about this. In December we’ll celebrate 20 years of freedom in Romania. I am also planning a lesson with my students (most of whom were born in 1989 or after…) about the fall of the communist regime in our country.


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  3. Wonderful idea as usual, Larry! :)
    One of the walls I want to talk about with my HS students is the digital wall. How the digital divide is shaping the world and the possible consequences of the digital gap.

    Thanks for your great blog!

  4. Very interesting topic choice, Larry. Lots of interesting geographic & societal possibilities here but I think the philosophical ponderings around exclusivity & inclusivity are even more intriguing. I have been interested in the ‘walled’ nature of education for some time. Henri Giroux developed the concept of ‘border pedagogy.’ I understand it as the kind of teaching we do that enables learners on the Outside (outside of a community of practice, outside of citizenship, voiceless) to move into & participate effectively within the community.

    People who are interested can read more about it here:

  5. Lots of great ideas – thank you so much, Larry.
    Together with friends I have been exploring walls within a graffiti sharing project titled Listen to the Walls Talking – the idea here is to share graffiti photos and learn about the world around us this way and also about ourselves – we sometimes see and understand things so differently….
    Warm regards from Slovenia

  6. I love this topic and intend to use it for a bit of thinking extension while teaching Frost’s “Mending Wall.”

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