Using Rainbow War to Raise Global Awareness

Ken Fujioka, International Christian University


Key Words: Global Perspectives
Learner English Level: Intermediate though advanced
Learner Maturity Level: Junior high school through adult
Preparation Time: approx. one hour
Activity Time: Varies; usually 70-90 minutes

I have often used videos to give students opportunities to observe and hear language in action, in addition to understanding the content. Rainbow War, however, was my first attempt to introduce a global perspective using video. One of the features that drew my attention to its pedagogical possibilities was the video's potential to attract a wide range of viewers. The plot is simple yet conducive to exploration into cross-cultural issues, and thus serves well for open-ended discussion and reflection. Summerfield (1993) states "learning about stereotypes, ethnocentrism, discrimination, and acculturation in the abstract can be flat and uninspiring. But if we experience intercultural contact with our eyes and ears, we begin to understand it" (p.1).


Rainbow War is about three "one-color cultures" existing in isolation who eventually come into contact with one another with tumultuous consequences. Conflict is portrayed in both novel and entertaining ways. Each color culture tries to dominate the others by painting the enemy with their own national color, using their weapons of choice, that is paint cans, paint brushes and rollers, and paint spray and hoses. Colors, like ideas and attitudes, mix and blend in unpredictable ways. In the end, the opposing groups become united in one world, finding acceptance of each other.

Previewing Activities

Prior to watching the video, I usually begin the activity with a list of preview questions. Students form groups of three or four and a group leader is appointed in each group to facilitate discussion by going over the questions and encouraging each group member to share their views and experiences. After the discussion, vocabulary words related to the topic of the video are introduced. Students work together in the same groups to complete the vocabulary matching task.

I. Preview Questions

  1. Are there different ethnic, national, racial groups that exist in your country? Are there people who speak a different mother tongue than you? Are there foreigners or immigrants earning a living by working in your country? Please explain.
  2. How do people relate to immigrants or foreigners who behave differently from the majority of people?
  3. Do people generally accept one's differences or do they expect them to behave in the same way they do? Please share your ideas.
  4. How would you describe the relations among these different groups?
  5. Do problems exist among these groups? If so what kinds of problems occur?

II. Vocabulary Matching


1. ___ censor a.) the act of deliberately separating one group, person, or thing from others. An Amazon tribe who lived in ______________from modern society was recently discovered.
2. ___ dominate b.) to completely get rid of something that is unnecessary or unwanted. The PTA has come up with a plan to ______________violence from schools.
3. ___ isolation c.) to examine books, films, letters etc. to remove anything that is considered offensive, morally harmful, or politically dangerous. Some of the movie scenes which were to be shown on public TV have been_____________(ed).
4. ___ eliminate d.) having the highest position of power, importance, or influence. One of this decade's_______________achievements has been the development of the computer microchip.
5. ___ discourage e.) to have power and control over someone or something. Two thousand years ago, the Roman empire_____________(d) the continent whichwe now call "Europe."
6. ___ supreme f.) to prevent or try to prevent someone from doing something by making the action difficult or unpleasant, or by showing them that it would not be a good thing to do. His parents wanted to_____________him from dropping out of high school.


Definitions for this activity were obtained from Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.

III. Video Viewing

Assign existing groups either Task A or B. At the conclusion of the video, elicit from the group leader words or phrases that characterize the similarities and differences between each color culture. List them on the board.

Task A: View the video and write words or phrases that characterize the differences between each color culture. (Students can take notes while viewing the video if they like.)

Task B: View the video and write words or phrases that characterize the similarities between each color culture. (Students can take notes while viewing the video if they like.)

IV. Comprehension Questions

  1. What were some ways that friendship was shown?
  2. Explain what happened to the Yellow Queen at the end of the "Rainbow War."
  3. How did the three kingdoms discover their similarities?

V. Post-discussion Questions

  1. In the beginning of the video the narrator stated that "in the red land, everything was red because they trusted red. But they were afraid of everything else." Why do you think they were "afraid of everything else?"
  2. Was it better for the three kingdoms to be in contact with each other or to be isolated from each other? Explain.
  3. The three kingdoms overcame their color differences. Do you think there will still be problems to solve? Explain.
  4. Did you see anything in the video that may represent events that have happened or are happening in the world today? Give your view(s).
  5. What is the message or theme of this video?


I encourage teachers to view and explore Rainbow War for its global implications. The merits for using Rainbow War in the classroom are (a) its time manageability for viewing (entire presentation is only 20 minutes), (b) minimum language (audience can focus on the visual and conceptual impact), (c) interest arousal (relative ease of information necessary for comprehension), and (d) platform for discussion (students can experiment by extrapolating and applying their theories to existing world situations).

Rainbow War can be ordered through GEMCO:

Rainbow War (Pyramid Film and Video)

ATTN: Ms. Miyazaki

TEL: 03-3400-7737

FAX: 03-3400-1873



Acknowledgement: I would like to thank Sonia Yoshitake-Strain for her suggestions on an earlier version of this activity.




Stoller, Fredericka, L. (1993). Reviews: Rainbow War. TESOL Journal, 3 (1), 44-45.

Summerfield, Ellen. (1993). Crossing Cultures Through Film. Yarmouth: Intercultural Press.