Free Resources for Students and Teachers of English as a Foreign Language in China - by Paul Sparks

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Paul Sparks, Sino-Canadian International College, Guangxi University, Online English Lesson Plans, Lesson Material and Ideas for Semester 2 Reading Lessons...



Reading: Advertising




Advertising Activity: In groups students study a range of advertisements from a variety of sources - magazines, newspapers, brochures, etc.

Students analyse a range of advertisements, considering the following areas:


Colour: Colour is more than decoration. Colours, whether described in words or shown in images, often have symbolic significance that contributes to meaning.

Red might indicate blood or anger, black may invoke evil or grief, blue can convey sadness or depression - or, in other cases, calm. The choice of colours, such as the use of primary colours (red, blue, yellow), and the intensity or brilliance of the selected colour, all affect the impact of the image and therefore its effectiveness in communicating.


Shape: The term shape is being used to describe how the different elements of an image fit together and how shapes in an image combine to achieve a particular effect for a purpose.

Use of Space
The use of space is how the different elements are placed in the complete image. Examing the use of space extends the concept of layout, exploring not only how the elements are placed in relation to each other but also how and where they are combined and placed on the page or screen. The use of space includes the use of white space, where nothing is printed. White space is critical in helping highlight graphics and illustrations, throwing them into relief and creating visual interest to convey a message, such as "Watch This Space".

The use of space is a consideration in selecting how headings should be highlighted. UPPER CASE or bold formats tend to use more space, and italics generally use more space than underlining. The use of borders within the page redefines its space according to the purpose, the audience and the desired effects.


Proportion: Proportion is also a significant feature in reading or presenting static images. A comic strip frame or poster may contain several different elements, usually combining images and words and in different sizes. They may be represented as bigger or smaller in relation to one another than they might be in real life. The size of the different elements, and the ways these sizes are combined, will lead the viewer or reader to interpret them differently.


Composition: Composition is the process of organising the forms, shapes, colours, and any words into a balanced and rhythmical design. Composition is based on conscious choices made with the purpose, topic and audience in mind. These choices influence our reading or viewing accordingly.

Students need to take composition, balance, layout, lettering, size, font, spacing, shape, colour, proportion, the use of space, and the technology used into account when making choices in presenting their information and ideas.


Students select and discuss different advertisements

What is the same?
What is different?
How has colour been used?
What words and/or images have been used?
Who is the advertisement trying to persuade and how is this done?
Who is the targeted audience?
Does the advertisement use puns, hyperbole, cliches, metaphors, similes, adjectives and emotive language to attract readers' attention?

Vocabulary - Advertising Language

Alliteration - recurrence for effect of same letter or sound in several words or phrase.

Cliches - hackneyed phrase or opinion.

Colloquial language - belonging or proper to ordinary or familiar conversation, not formal or literary.

Comparatives - adjectives.

Compound words - made up of two words.

Emotive language - to excite or arouse feeling.

Exclamations - exclaiming.

Hyperbole - statement exaggerated for special effect.

Imperatives - of mood expressing command; peremptory.

Jargon - words or expressions used by particular group or profession.

Metaphors - a word picture, you say something is something else or speak as though it is something else.

Neologisms - newly- coined word.

Puns - humorous use of word to suggest different meanings, or of words of same sound with different meanings.

Rhetorical questions - asked not for information but to produce effect.

Rhyme - identity of sound between endings of words or verse-lines.

Similes - comparison of one thing with another, (a thing is like something else).

Slogans - short catchy phrase used in advertising.


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