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ESL Lesson Plan Intermediate Plus - The Meaning of Color

Updated on April 24, 2015


This activity is tremendous fun! (women and girls seem to enjoy it more too)


  • Writing activity
  • Reading section
  • Discussion questions

Time: 40-60 minutes

Levels: Intermediate, upper-intermediate and advanced.

ESL Lesson Plan Intermediate Plus - The Meaning of Color


Color is of huge importance in our world. It can affect our mood by irritating us or soothing us. It can invoke many feelings, from happiness to frustration to optimism. Let's find out about what you think about the meaning of color.

Before reading the text, think about the colors in the list. What do you think about when you see these colors? Write them down in the box. If you do not have a positive or negative association with some of the colors, then leave the box empty.

Writing Section

Positive Associations
Negative Associations
Fill in the table with your ideas.

Read the Text


  • People associate the color red with anger, love, passion, violence and danger.

  • Red means stop across the globe.

  • Red is the most common color on flags – 77%

  • Red dye that you find in some food, drinks and lipsticks comes from the cochineal beetle.

  • After blue, red is the world's most popular color.

  • Red is the color of good luck in Asia.

  • 8% of males cannot see red.

  • Red is one of the world's most noticeable colors – that's why stops signs and fire brigades are painted this color.


  • Blue is the most contradictory color because it can symbolize trust, sadness, peace, intelligence, authority, coolness and spirituality.

  • Blue is the world's favorite color.

  • Blue is a popular color for flags – 53% of them have it.

  • Aristocrat and royals are described as having blue blood.

  • Blue is a very common color for corporations.

  • In Korea, the color of mourning is blue.

  • There are very few blue foods.


  • Yellow is the color of creativity, happiness, optimism, spring, caution and danger.

  • Worldwide it is the color of traffic lights that indicate caution.

  • In Hinduism and Ancient Egypt, yellow is/was the color of religion.

  • Yellow captures the eye more than any other color on the spectrum and that is often why it is used to make people aware of danger.

  • In Japan, yellow symbolizes courage, but in the West it signifies cowardice.

  • Yellow can also symbolize sickness.

Purple Mushroom



  • Green is associated with ecology, nature, fertility and growth.

  • Traffic lights are green worldwide.

  • Green is the color of luck in Western cultures.

  • It is important to have green EXIT signs in case a building goes on fire. There have been cases where the exit signs were red and fire fighters sprayed water at them because they looked like fires.

  • To help color-blind people, some European states have put a triangle in the green light. In the U.S. some states use diagonal lines.


  • Orange represents warmth, energy, health and vitality.

  • Orange is the color of safety jackets for hunting and on construction sites.

  • It is also the color of safety cones.

  • Orange is associated with autumn and Halloween.

  • It is the color people associate with vitamin C and therefore good health.


  • Purple is symbolic of creativity, spirituality, royalty, intellect, romance and magic.

  • Purple was very rare in nature and therefore a difficult color to produce. In 1900 BC they needed 12,000 shellfish to make 1.5grams of dye and so this color used to be associated with emperors, royal or nobility.

  • Only 2 flags have the color purple in them.

  • Purple is the color of gay pride in Western countries.

  • It is a popular color for children's T.V. characters.

    Credited source:

Discussion Questions

  1. Do you believe that color can have such an effect on people?

  2. Is there anything you disagree with?

  3. If the sun wasn't yellow and the sea wasn't blue, what color should they be?

  4. What color makes you happy?

  5. What is the most negative color and why?

  6. Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston studied 10,000 heart attack patients and found that when the medication changed color, 34% stopped taking their pills. When the medication changed shape, 66% did not refill their prescription. Why do you think the shape and color have such an effect on people?

  7. Do you agree that blue and red are the most popular colors?

  8. What color would you choose for your car?

  9. White is the color of death in Asia, so brides there usually wear red on their wedding day. In the West, white is the traditional color of a bride-to-be. What about the weddings and funerals in your country?

  10. What color would you choose to paint a room if you had lots of children coming there?

  11. What color would you choose to paint a room if you were going to interrogate someone?

  12. What color would you never wear?

  13. Did you ever walk into a room and have a strong reaction? Do you think it was because of the color?

  14. What color do you associate with business?

  15. If there was only 1 pot of paint left in the world and you had to decorate your house with it, what color would you choose?

  16. In Russia the insane asylums used to be called 'yellow houses'. What color do you associate with psychiatric institutions?

  17. The color that has the greatest generational gap is purple. Do you agree with this?

  18. Do you think some colors improve your appetite or help you to fall asleep quicker?

  19. Think about a good friend or family member. If you were given permission to decorate a room for them, what would you do to that room?

  20. What color would the world's most comfortable sofa be?

© 2015 Muttface


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