Saturday, October 22, 2016


The article I found for this weeks blog reflection was titled “Using Emojis to Teach Critical Reading Skills,” written by Marissa King.  I’ll admit that I am an emoji fan, but not an advanced user.  I can throw in the occasional smiley face πŸ˜€ or a thumbs up πŸ‘, but that is pretty much the extent of my emoji keyboard usage.  While I have looked through the extensive library of characters, I am never motivated enough to take the time to find the right emoji to explain words that I could much more quickly type.  My children on the other hand love those emojis and like to write out messages that are just in emojis, having others try to figure out what the message could mean.  This of course is a wonderful process because it uses so much of those elements that make up a good reader, using context clues, inferences and multiple meanings.  They do this all in a way that is fun, because that is the point of emojis, to communicate in a universal way that is fun.  This is what is at the heart of King’s article.

To start the article, she mentions that the “Face With Tears of Joy emoji” was recognized as the 2015 Word of the Year by the Oxford Dictionary.  The blog post written by the Oxford dictionary announcing the word of the year was also a great read and explained why this emoji was chosen as the word of the year.  One could argue that emojis aren’t words and just pictures, but when they are used with such a huge frequency to communicate feelings they can most definitely fit into the category of words.  

In her article, King explains that “Internet-inspired trends may not seem important next to English 101’s selected texts, but the way students seamlessly navigate emoji usage is similar to critical reading skills we practice in class.”  She points out that emojis can have this one meaning, but through discussions with students she can see that emojis can have a much deeper and richer meaning than what is face value.  She noticed that students decode these pictures much the same way that we decode text.  She saw emojis as a way to “transfer digital skills to a written context”.  Which brings students digital communication world to that of their reading and language skills.

She mentions a bunch of different ways that she uses emojis in hear lessons.  From having students analyze tweets from social media and celebrities that utilize emojis to communicate messages, to decoding different meanings that a singular emoji could have.  She recognizes that that as a teacher students might have more experience and understanding of emojis, but this isn’t a disadvantage because it lends itself to students explaining in more detail in order for the teacher to understand their meanings.

Emojis have made their place in our daily lives as a fun and different way to communicate.  Because of this we can find value for using them in the classroom as a way to connect this personal method with that of their learning in school.  As for ESL and ELL students emojis offer a universal way to communicate.  Emojis are not regulated to one language or culture, they are a human way of communicating that we have been using for a lot longer than our written words.  Just look at cave drawings that go back 40,000 years ago, our first way of communicating a message.  
30,000-year-old cave hyena painting found in the Chauvet
Cave, France.  With an added Face with Tears of Joy’ emoji

King, M. (2016). Using Emojis to Teach Critical Reading Skills.
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Oxford. (2015). Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2015 is….
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  1. When emojis first started to be used more, my dad jokingly said something about how they remind him of cave drawings! He mentioned about how our language as come full circle from cave drawings, to simple words, to complex languages, fake languages, and now back to emojis/pictures. I once did a brain teaser exercise with my 7th grade students where they had to decipher the emoji and what the string of them together meant. This was something along the lines of cryptogram puzzles, but the kids absolutely loved it since it was using emojis!

  2. As I read your post, I thought of that car commercial where they ask participants to respond in emojis. Definitely a sign that emojis have become part of mainstream culture and not just something that teenagers use. My 10 year old daughter does not send a text without sending about every emoji out there. Again, a different way of using popular culture or something that students would be familiar with in their everyday interactions to connect meaning to learning.

  3. I enjoyed reading your post. Just like Carol, I also thought about that car commercial. I have become an emoji user because it is a lot of fun and they definitely add to the message I am attempting to relay. I did not know that the "Face with Tears of Joy emoji" was the 2015 Word of the Year. That is fascinating to me! I never really considered emojis words, but now have a different feeling toward them. I also never thought of them being universal and able to be used in any language. The things we just don't think about sometimes...