Emojis are super popular.
People use them more than 700 million times in Facebook posts daily as well as send over 900 million of them to respond to messages. They are literally everywhere on social media and have gained a new degree of prominence with the recent Emoji movie and many other features in prominent media.
Well, there’s even the World Emoji Day on July 17, started by Jeremy Burge to celebrate all things emoji. And it’s very popular, too. On this day, Twitter users create more than 100 tweets with #WorldEmojiDay per minute, and the hashtag itself generates about 3.5 billion impressions.
Clearly, we associate emojis with daily social media communication and entertainment, but are there any other areas in which they can benefit us?
As it turns out, there are, and education is one of them. Think about it: with so many students using them in everyday life, it should make a lot of sense to try emojis to create engaging lessons and improve learning outcomes. But how exactly should you use them to spice up your lessons?
If this idea sounds interesting and you’d like to know more, check out our ideas for emoji-inspired lessons for various student groups. I promise you’ll be surprised by the ways you can put emojis to good use in the classroom.
1. Use Emojis to Give Students Writing Prompts
Writing essays is a common task in the language classroom, and students often have difficulties with selecting topics to describe. That’s where emojis come in.
Why not give each of your students a series of several emojis as a writing prompt. This could be a combination of any emojis you think are suitable, and you can create a series for each student containing unique items.
By printing out the “task” or displaying it on a projector, tell the class that the purpose of the project is to write a paragraph, a short essay, or even something longer, using the assigned combination. Not only you can use your imagination to create the combinations, but it would be really fun for your class to imagine what the emojis convey.
For example, here’s a combination that can be used to create multiple versions of topics. Care to take a guess?
Some of the best ones here are:
- Benefits of eating healthy
- The dangers of fast food
- Why I’ve chosen to be a vegetarian.
I strongly encourage you to come up with your own topics, too. As you can see, your imagination is the limit here. However, emojis can also convey complex, college-level topics, too.
For example, take a look at this one.
If we analyze this one closer, then the Earth, a lot of vehicles, clouds, waves, a hurricane, and a red-yellowish sky have a good connection: global warming. The vehicles produce greenhouse gases that increase the ability of the atmosphere to trap heat, so drastic weather changes and phenomena like hurricanes intensify. Besides, the sky above the polluted cities looks grey to yellowish because of the smog.
Have you already thought of some topics for the next writing assignment? Don’t stop there!
Help your students come up with a great topic by adding a line to act as a sentence opener before the emojis. For example, take a look at this option:
I saw a lot of interesting things when I went to China for the holidays…
In this case, a student can speak about their experiences using specific ideas.
Thankfully, the online selection of emojis is already pretty large, so chances are you’ll find the ones you’re looking for.
Emojicopy is one of the largest online libraries out there where you can locate and copy emojis to your digital materials just by a couple of clicks.
2. Write Book Summaries with Emojis
A book/story summary or report is another common assignment where emojis can be put to good use.
“Writing summaries and reports can be a little bit unengaging for some students,” says Anna Rowe, an educational researcher from The Word Point. “So why not let the class use emojis to handle this task? It’ll make it much more interesting and engaging for them.”
There are countless ways in which they can be used, including the following:
- Setting description
- Character description
- problem/solution description
- A student’s reactions to the book.
When the reports are done, you can organize a lesson where the class guesses the contents of the story as described by an individual student.
Important: make sure to provide templates of the book or story’s report so the student could fill them out easily. However, be careful with the use of emojis that convey negative emotions; in fact, Psychology Today advises to stay away from them if they imply negative effects, as it can make the overall message negative as well.
3. Speaking Activity
This is a simple yet powerful technique: just tell your class take out their smartphones, find their favorite emoji, and ask them to explain their choice. It’s great for developing speaking skills, plus you can engage in a friendly discussion with the whole group.
4. Lesson/Self Assessment with Emojis
You’ve seen it many times: you’re browsing the internet and a window pops up in a browser, asking you about your experience with using a product or that website. That’s the principle that you can apply to let your students evaluate their experience or the lessons they’ve attended.
Here’s a simple way to evaluate the lesson.
Did You Understand Today’s Lessons?
Do You Think You’ll Need to Study the Subject More?
If you’d like your students to assess an individual task or language skill, you can use a form like this, also with emojis as possible answers.
How would you assess your writing skills in English?
Do you think argumentative essays are an effective method to teach you new vocabulary?
This way, you can include emojis in student surveys and other tasks involving multiple answer options.
As you can see, emojis can be used in multiple areas of language learning, and it’s safe to assume that their popularity will keep on growing, especially among young people. Hopefully, this article inspired you to explore the uses of emojis in education and maybe test their effectiveness in your classroom. Have fun!