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Do emojis deserve a place in the classroom?


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First the Emoji movie and now this: the claim that using emojis at school could improve language skills. It is fair to say emojis have deeply embedded themselves into our communication culture.

Text terminology such as 'lol' has now been replaced by a laughing emoticon with tears streaming down its face. But has it all gone too far?

Vyvyan Evans, a former professor of linguistics at Bangor University, believes these friendly faces have a positive role to play in the classroom. Implying these icons do not make young people unintelligent, but rather more dynamic as the use of emoji’s can add depth to conversations by filling in the blanks where interpretation previously lay.  

Yet the reality of the matter lies in the distinction between academia, and personal communication.

Should emojis play a role in the development of academic text books and assignments? Probably not.

We all remember the outrage that ensued when it was reported that an average of two in three teachers found text speak in students work. Teachers, parents and adults alike had reactions which amounted to calling modern children lazy and uneducated, yet these children still had standard intelligence levels. What was different, however, was the culture they were used to.

Outside of school, text speak was the norm, not because they did not understand the English language but because it was faster and more convenient to use. The down grading of the quality of English language in education was merely the fault of teachers and parents alike for not establishing boundaries between slag culture and academia. Since then, slang communication has drastically changed.

No longer are abbreviations common place, the emojis have taken over. Informal communication is subject to consistent changes and developments. Imagine reading a text book from the year 2009, it is full of abbreviated slang and you do not understand a word of it because no one uses that language anymore. This is exactly why emoji’s do not deserve a place in the academic texts, in the future they may become irrelevant, no longer part of our communication and therefore illegible.

Respectfully, however, emojis can play a highly beneficial role in the way students and teachers communicate personally within the classroom. Emoji’s being a fairly universal form of communication across cultures can have the power to break down language barriers, whether with someone who is not confident in the English language or with an individual who is deaf (assuming you do not know sign language) the use of emoji’s in the classroom can have the power to enhance communication in a way which is none challenging and easy to understand.

Furthermore, the use of emojis at a primary school age can add creativity into how teachers communicate with students. For instance, if a teacher is attempting to quiet a noisy class and is getting angry, rather than shouting and risking both their voice and upsetting students they could use the angry emoji symbol or one which symbolises quiet to get their message across without causing too much offence.

Overall emojis can positively supplement verbal communication elements within the education sector, however boundaries should be established to demonstrate that the use of emojis are an informal tool of communication and there is a time and place for formal language within the academic sector.

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