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Coloured language

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• To introduce concepts of prejudice and discrimination and to make a difference between these concepts and the stereotypes
• Explore the way prejudices are perpetuated in language (and furthermore in society)
• To reflect on possible consequences of being treated in a discriminatory way in the society

Description of the tool

Ask participants to count off by saying the colours: red, black, blue, white and rainbow, until each person is assigned a name. Form colour and rainbow groups.

For the colour groups: distribute dictionary definitions and instruct participants to discuss in groups and
1. summarise the definition it is given in the dictionary with regard to their colour
2. write as many phrases, expressions they can think of, in which their colour appears

Ask the group to compile a list of ideas in discussion on a flipchart paper according to three categories: positive, negative and neutral.

For the rainbow group: ask participants to brainstorm on different expressions used in the languages they know (and to translate those in English) and that are based on references to other ethnic groups for describing a situation.

i.e in Romanian, when you don’t understand what the other is saying, you’ll say “you speak Turkish”

Reconvene the whole group and ask one representative to present the list. Invite participants to add other associations to the colours, new expressions.

- did you find about new meanings attached to words used that you have never thought about?
- which of the expressions used reflect prejudices against social groups?
- when you speak, are you constantly aware that you might use prejudiced language? If yes, where does this “care” come from? (family, school etc)
- ways of perpetuating prejudices in the society
- “socially acceptable” prejudices / prejudices are negative by definition?
- prejudices leading to different attitudes towards “other” groups (out-group)
- how prejudices affect my own behaviour if subject of such attitude
- what is the relation between stereotypes, prejudices and discrimination?


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SALTO cannot be held responsible for the inappropriate use of these training tools. Always adapt training tools to your aims, context, target group and to your own skills! These tools have been used in a variety of formats and situations. Please notify SALTO should you know about the origin of or copyright on this tool.

Tool overview

This tool is for

up to 30 (during SALTO TC on Cultural Diversity 2004 it was tried on 5 groups of 4-6 people)

and addresses

Anti-Racism, Intercultural Learning

Materials needed:

Flipchart, markers
Dictionary definitions (one photocopy for each group)


1h30 (30 minutes work in groups, 30 minutes presentation and comments in plenary, at least - 30 minutes debriefing)

Behind the tool

The tool was created by


(If you can claim authorship of this tool, please contact !)

The tool was published to the Toolbox by

Elizabeth Kasa (on 19 October 2004)

and last modified

17 December 2008

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