Emojis help children understand Shakespeare, teachers say

Images 'give pupils a starting point that they understand' 

Chloe Farand
Friday 18 May 2018 13:30 BST
Teachers are increasingly using emojis in a classroom setting
Teachers are increasingly using emojis in a classroom setting

Growing numbers of teachers are using emojis to help children engage with Shakespeare's work.

The expressive icons can help pupils connect with the subject they are learning some teachers say the emoji language has something to bring to the 21 century classroom.

"I've just taught A Midsummer Night's Dream and, when we've read a bit of the scene, they summarise it in two main emojis and then have to explain it," Charlotte Hodgson, an English teacher at Avonbourne College in Bournemouth told the TES, which originally reported the story.

She added that everyone in her department uses emojis and that they have helped her students engage with Shakespeare.

"The emojis are not used by themselves - there is always some kind of verbal or written explanation that then allows you to check the pupils' literacy, writing skills or speech skills," she said. "The emojis just give them a starting point that they understand."

Ms Hodgson said symbols can help pupils link ideas and can lead to higher understanding, engagement and learning.

Luca Kuhlman, a modern foreign languages teacher at a Stockton secondary school, added that emojis enable students not to have to translate everything into English when learning another language.

"Wherever possible, I take out the English words in a text and replace them with an emoji, so they associate the French with an image rather than with an English translation," he said. "If you can eliminate as much English as possible, they don't need much explanation."

The symbols "have to have purpose", he said, adding that he did not want to overuse them.

But the educational benefits of the colourful icons are yet to convince some.

Clare Sealy, headteacher of St Matthias School in east London, is against using emojis to teach.

She said: "As educators, we have not a single minute to waste teaching trivia, such as emojis. How will such learning help bridge the word gap? How can we help disadvantaged children gain the sorts of powerful knowledge that children in, say, the top public schools have?

"Not by devoting precious curriculum time to the detritus of youth sub-culture. That would be fiddling while Rome burns."

The Press Association contributed to this report.

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