The Great Wall of China stretches thousands of miles. But there were many walls before The Great Wall. This story focuses on the wall built centuries before the Great Wall by Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China. Listen to hear why the Qi wall was originally built, how it was constructed, and who was recruited to do the construction work.
Story Length: 4:08
© 2013 National Public Radio, Inc. Used with the permission of NPR. All rights reserved.
AIR DATE: 12/29/2013
Chinese foot-binding was a common practice in the 1800s. This practice created tiny stumps of feet by breaking bones and wrapping the feet tightly. It was very painful, and made many women unable to walk properly. But the bound feet were prized by the wealthy class as the ultimate sign of feminine beauty. The custom was banned in 1912. This public radio story features women whose feet were bound talking about the pros and cons of this old Chinese tradition.
History tells us that peaceful empires are very rare. In the 21st century, China is the fastest-growing world power. China claims that its rise is peaceful: it has no plans to invade and conquer new territory. But is it possible for any nation to grow without causing any conflicts? In the 15th century the Chinese explorer Zheng He sailed across the Eastern Hemisphere from Taiwan to India to Arabia to Africa. He was on a trade mission, but the kingdoms he encountered were not really free to choose whether or not they would become part of the Chinese trade empire. This public radio story looks at China’s past to draw some conclusions about its future.
Mao Zedong, or Chairman Mao, lead the Chinese communist revolution and ruled China with an iron fist from 1949 to 1976. Mao’s communist philosophy changed the government, economy and lifestyle of all Chinese people. Mao wanted to eliminate anything considered to be foreign, elitist, or in any way opposed to the communist system. A group called the Red Guard helped make this a reality. In this public radio story the Red Guard tells their story.
The Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) was meant to wipe out all things non-communist in China. The Chinese government wanted its people to forget about literature, art, school, professional careers and anything else that China’s communist government considered foreign, elitist or in any way opposed to the communist system. Millions of Chinese people were forced to do manual labor in the country, to be “re-educated” into happy communist workers. One college student who was forced to leave school and work hauling manure on a farm in 1971 was Dai Sijie. He escaped from China after the Cultural Revolution ended and became a writer. His novel “Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress” tells his story. This public radio story tells how others who were part of the Cultural Revolution are beginning to tell their stories, too.
These levels of listening complexity can help teachers choose stories for their students. The levels do not relate to the content of the story, but to the complexity of the vocabulary, sentence structure and language in the audio story.
These stories are easier to understand and are a good starting point for elementary students or English learners.
These stories have an average language challenge for middle and high school students, and can be scaffolded for English learners.
These stories have challenging vocabulary and language and students may need to have some background knowledge to understand the story.