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How Emojis Make Learning Awesome

posted by Rob on Wednesday, 17 July 2019

As a college, one topic that arises from time to time that makes us chuckle is the use of emojis. Why? Because some people take them too seriously. We’ve heard claims that emojis are a detriment to the English Language and, as a result, the nation is becoming dumber. The real question is, are emojis really dumbing us down or can emojis improve your learning experiences? Let’s explore that concept.

Rise of The Emoji

Did you know that the very first emoji was created in 1999? That’s right! Before the turn of the millennium, a Japanese coder by the name of Shigetaka Kurita invented emojis. In fact, Kurita had invented 176 of them. ‘Why?’ You may ask? Put simply, to make communication easier for the world’s first internet platform.

Emojis were made to make communication easier!

As a result, emojis enabled people to connect and interpret one another better through messages and emails. Moreover, open-ended phrases with multiple possible meanings became a thing of the past. For example, the phrase, ‘You’re so clever!’ can be read ironically, but with an emoji it’s entirely genuine, ‘You’re so clever!’ ?

The phenomenon, which boomed in Japan for over a decade, eventually made its way to the West in 2010. Moreover, it’s now used in all digital communications, from Facebook to texting to blogging, and even learning.

Two of the first emojis created by the legendary Shigetaka Kurita way back in 1999. The smiley face really has come a long way hasn’t it!

The Benefits of Emojis in Learning

We’ve mentioned above how emojis are useful when communicating with other people. Moreover, as a form of expression, 70% of people say emojis help them describe their ideas when lost for words. Likewise, emojis can support your learning in three unique ways: Interaction, Retention, Association. Let’s talk about each in turn:


Interactive scenarios strengthen learning and stimulate critical thinking. Furthermore, when we interact with something, we become more invested and our motivation and engagement levels rise.

Do you remember when you learned the alphabet, the word apple or what an apple looked like? Your teacher would often turn your learning into a game using neat interactive like flash cards. Moreover, it made learning fun. Adding emojis to interactive learning isn’t a new idea but an age-old trend.


When learning something new, sometimes it can be hard to retain the information. Similarly, when we listen to a lecture or our tutors speaking, our minds may not grasp, entirely, what we’re hearing. Has this happened to you? If so, you’re not alone. How can emojis help?

Well, our brains can process images 60,000 faster than text. In addition, we can retain 80% of what we see in comparison to 20% of what we read. What this means is there’s a link between visual cues and retaining information. For example, which of the following are you likely to recall? The word ‘Apple’ or the emoji ?. Link them together, though, and you’ll learn the word quicker.


In early childhood, we learn things quickly by association. It’s called conditioning and it starts with simple words, such as dog, apple, ball. We’re taught to link them to images. Pretty soon, we’re shouting dog at every four-legged animal that walks by. That is until we learn about cats.

The brain can be trained to make associations or connections between ideas, images, objects and sounds. Association works very well when learning something new or difficult, such as a language that’s alien to you. For example, Duolingo, a language learning mobile app, recognises how people link images and words together. For this reason, they designed their app to connect words to icons with characteristics people are familiar.

e.g. If you’re an English speaker learning French, you’ll find it easier to know that the word Chien means Dog if you have an image you can associate it with, such as this lovable dog emoji ?.

Our brains can process images 60,000 faster than text

The Use of Emojis in Learning

You’re probably wondering where emojis might be used in learning? Whether by your tutors in your learning materials or even by yourself in your own work. In a nutshell, it’s all about context and what situations emojis work and places they certainly don’t. For example, sharing your learning journey on social media with emojis is perfectly fine. However, using emojis in essays after making a good point is a no-no.

Likewise, emojis should never be used in any kind of formal writing: emails, letters, exams. However, they work wonders when note-taking, learning a topic or when trying to remember complex material. Always remember who you’re talking to, what the situation is, and also what you’re communicating.

Best Places to Use Emojis

It’s rare, but in some instances, there may be emojis in your learning materials, such as in a bullet list, quizzes or interactives. The aim is to encourage learning experiences that is super fun and informative. However, when you’re writing your assignments, it is best to stick to plain English to maximise marks. Nevertheless, here are some ways you might incorporate emojis into your learning:

Progress Charts: Create yourself a chart with all your assignments on them and place an emoji next to them when they’re complete. Give yourself a real sense of progression on your course. There are apps designed to track your progress. So, download one, and give yourself a few ?

– Timetabling: Creating a reliable timetable lets you chunk out time to do all the tasks you need for your studies and other commitments. A fun exercise is to use emojis to remind you of the tasks you need to work on for a particular day. For example, ? means you’ve got to pick up your child from nursery. ? and ? could be reminders to walk the dog after you study for an hour. And ? on Friday is your time to celebrate your essay results with your mates.

Did you know that 92% of internet users use emojis

– Interaction: Engage more with your topics by gamifying your experience. Create flash cards, word searches, and mnemonics to evolve your notetaking and rise your learning to the next-level.

– Community: Discuss ideas and concepts with your peers online. Platforms including forums, private groups on Facebook, and Twitter actively encourage use of emojis to express yourself. Emojis can be used to connect with people who share similar interests to you on a global scale. Community spaces are ideal places to break down barriers and show how passionate you are.

Where Not to Use Emojis

We’ve given you a number of areas where you might use emojis to support your learning. However, there are many places you should never use emojis. Primarily, formal writing, including exams, letters, reports, assignments, and emails. Why? Formal writing signifies professionalism. It shows our readers we’re here to make an impression or what we’re saying is worth listening to. That’s not to say people who use emojis aren’t worth listening to or don’t have anything important to say. There’s just a time and place to use them. For example, say you want an examiner to take you seriously, a big smiley face isn’t going to cut it. Thus, keep the emojis to learning and keep plain English for writing others will see.

Emojis are becoming more personable, inclusive, and add fun to the way we communicate

Are Emojis a Passing Fad or Fabulous Future

Do you remember when Myspace was a thing? What about when websites used Adobe Flash to show photos? No? We’re not surprised. That’s because as we evolve, and tech evolves, and the world evolves, trends come and go. Furthermore, many trends get lost in the past as new generations of learners rise.

However, emojis are on the rise because, unlike the trends that get lost in time, they’re evolving with the times. They’re becoming personable, inclusive, and add fun and personality to our communications. As a result, global brands such as Apple, Pepsi and Facebook are humanising their brands with emojis. Check out some of the latest emojis of 2019 from Google, Apple and Microsoft below:

The big three tech giants are speaking a whole new language with the excellent emojis.

There’s a reason 92% of internet users use emojis. Emojis are as Pepsi describe as ‘The Language of Now‘ and are a 21st century exploration of expression, freedom and representation.

How Will Emojis Affect Learning?

In conclusion, history has proven time and again that pictorials and words have always worked hand in hand. Just as cavemen used stone carvings to teach, learn and communicate, emojis are a modern format to do all those things and more. Emojis aren’t making us dumber or breaking down language as we know it. On the contrary, emojis are a celebration of language and enrich how we communicate with one another. In fact, with recent progression in interactive learning, we can only imagine emojis are here to stay.

Only the future knows, but for now, let’s continue to dissolve barriers to expression and connect more as humans. After all, a smiley face can go a long way ?