The Color Purple ESL Lesson Plan [Free PDF]


The Color Purple is a powerful novel that delves into themes of oppression, resilience, and the strength of female relationships. This ESL lesson plan aims to explore the language and topics within the book to help students develop their vocabulary, reading comprehension, and critical thinking skills. Through this lesson, students will have the opportunity to engage with important historical and social issues while improving their English language abilities. The story’s rich narrative provides an excellent platform for language acquisition and cultural awareness.

Vocabulary Building


The exercise of authority or power in a burdensome, cruel, or unjust manner.
The ability to recover from difficulties and challenges.
The action of setting someone or something apart from other people or things.
[Prejudicial treatment] based on race, age, gender, etc., resulting in unfair outcomes.
Spiritual Growth
Development towards deeper understanding and connection with one’s inner self and spirituality.

Contextual Usage

1. The character faced years of oppression at the hands of her oppressors.
2. Despite facing numerous challenges, she showed remarkable resilience in her daily life.
3. The novel portrays the harsh reality of segregation in the South during that time.
4. The narrative sheds light on the discrimination experienced by certain groups within society.
5. Through the protagonist’s journey, readers witness profound spiritual growth as she seeks meaning and inner peace amidst hardship.

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ESL Warm-up Activity

To set the tone for the lesson, start with a discussion about resilience. Ask students to share personal experiences where they had to overcome challenges or adversity. This can be done through a pair-share activity or a group discussion. Encourage students to use vocabulary related to perseverance and strength, mirroring themes found in The Color Purple. This activity not only warms up the students’ language skills but also primes them for the themes present in the novel, creating an engaging and immersive learning experience from the outset.

Main ESL Lesson Activities

Vocabulary Activity: Word Wall

Create a word wall in the classroom with key vocabulary from The Color Purple. Have students work in pairs to research and write simple definitions for each word. They can then present their findings to the class, leading to a group discussion about the significance of these words within the novel.

Reading and Writing Activity: Letter Exchange

Divide the class into pairs or small groups. Ask students to imagine they are characters from The Color Purple and have them write letters to each other, reflecting on important events from the novel. Encourage them to utilize vocabulary and themes discussed in previous lessons.

Listening Activity: Character Soundtrack

Assign each student a character from The Color Purple. Have them create a soundtrack or playlist that represents their character’s experiences, emotions, and journey throughout the book. They should justify song choices based on specific events or feelings of the character.

Roleplay Activity: Classroom Trial

Organize a classroom trial where students take on roles of characters from The Color Purple and act out pivotal scenes from the book as if they were in a court setting. This hands-on exercise encourages students to delve deep into character motivations, language use, and comprehension of complex themes through role portrayal and interactive discussion.

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ESL Homework Assignment

For homework, students can choose one of the following options:
– Write a reflective journal entry from the perspective of one of the characters in The Color Purple, focusing on a key event and its emotional impact.
– Create a poster that highlights and explains five vocabulary words learned during the lesson. Include relevant images or symbols to enhance understanding.
– Research and present a short analysis of how historical events, such as segregation or discrimination, are depicted in The Color Purple.

These assignments are designed to reinforce learning objectives from the classroom while encouraging independent study and critical thinking.



Throughout this lesson, we have delved into The Color Purple, exploring themes of resilience, oppression, and discrimination. We have expanded our vocabulary, honed reading and writing skills through engaging activities and discussions centered around the novel.


As you reflect on this lesson, consider how the themes and language elements in The Color Purple can be applied to your language development. Think about the new words you’ve learned and how they can be used in other contexts. Consider the emotions and experiences of the characters – how can their stories help you better understand real-life situations? Encouraging students to contemplate these questions will deepen their understanding while strengthening their language skills.

Why this topic is great for ESL learning

Relevance to Real Life

The Color Purple addresses relatable and significant themes, enabling ESL students to engage with language in the context of real-life issues such as resilience, discrimination, and personal growth. This relevance can foster deep understanding and connection with the language being learned.

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Cultural Insights

Exploring this novel provides an opportunity for ESL students to gain insights into African-American culture and history, broadening their cultural awareness while learning the English language.

Vocabulary Expansion

The rich and emotive narrative of The Color Purple offers a plethora of vocabulary that can significantly enhance students’ language skills. The lessons derived from this novel effectively expand their range of expression and comprehension.