5 WAYS EMOJIS HELP YOU LEARN A FOREIGN LANGUAGE
Are you fluent in Emoji? 😎 is celebrated on 17th July (a date chosen because the calendar emoji looks like this: 📅 ). At last count, we had over 45,000 members of the Tandem community who consider themselves to be “native Emoji speakers”🤓. So there’s a good chance you are one of them!
While Emoji is not exactly considered to be a foreign language, it is an important one to include. Why? Because emojis are INCREDIBLY USEFUL for language learners!
We’re not expecting you to be replacing languages fully with emojis, but there is no denying that they can be used in lots of different ways when learning with a partner.
1. AVOIDING TRANSLATION
Emojis come into their own during the early stages of learning a language. There is an emoji picture for many simple words and phrases, so it can be a very useful tool indeed for teaching beginners. It's like using flash cards when learning new vocabulary. For example, when learning phrasal verbs in English I like to use emojis to help remember some of them. The 🛫 and 🛬 are particularly helpful when talking about flights and using phrasal verbs!
2. DIFFUSING TENSION
Ahh, we’ve all been there. You get a message from a fellow learner and you think, “Did they really mean to say that?!” It can be really hard to express things in the subtle way you would in your own language. Luckily, emojis are the universal tension diffuser. It's useful to use emojis to communicate when things get a little awkward – say the person at the other end of your chat doesn’t understand what you're saying, or I made a mistake. A simple 😂 goes a long way to diffuse any tension and help communication. It’s everyone's favourite emoji!
3. SIGNALLING HUMOUR
If you’ve ever spent time abroad, you’ll know that humour is something that differs from country to country. But that is also something that often gets lost in translation! There’s nothing worse than a joke falling flat. That’s why language learners often like to use emojis liberally to show exactly when they are making a joke. You can use the 😉 way more often when speaking in your second language, that way you can keep everything lighthearted.
4. SHORTCUT WITH COMPLEX SCRIPTS
Learning a new script can be really difficult when you first start out. Imagine having a chat with someone in a foreign language! If you’re having a video conversation with someone while you're speaking a foreign language and you have to explain something quickly, sometimes using emoji is the quickest and most effective way of doing this rather than having to change keyboards and work out how to say something (especially when you’re still relatively new to the written language). This is one of the reasons emojis have taken off to such a huge degree in countries with complex scripts.
5. TO SHARE OUR EMOTIONS WHEN WORDS AREN’T ENOUGH
Even when you are speaking to someone native in your language, most of us often find scenarios where an emoji speaks louder than words. Imagine you just mispronounced a word and said something totally inappropriate by mistake. Or you accidentally ate your least favorite vegetable. Or you saw something you didn’t want to see = 🙈 . One of our students' favourite emoji is the 🙃 which she uses when I am being a bit sarcastic. It’s a good way of showing complex emotions really quickly!
Could we see emoji replacing written language completely? Unlikely. But surely anything that helps us communicate more easily across languages and cultures is a good thing!