Emojis are more popular now than ever before! But how can you incorporate this medium into language teaching? With the help of online learning expert, Lindsay Clandfield, we’ve put together an emoji lesson pack. It consists of a lesson plan, an emoji poster and an accompanying worksheet! Hopefully it’ll inspire your students, and get them thinking about the English Language in a new and exciting way. Have a read of Lindsay’s lesson plan, take a look at the classroom materials, and let us know what you think!
Emoji lesson plan
Ah, the ubiquitous emoji. You surely don’t need a blogpost to tell you what these modern equivalents of hieroglyphics are by now. They are all over our phone messages, social media and in the world of advertising. A new book, called The Emoji Code, is now out. It looks at emoji from a range of academic fields, from linguistics and cognitive science to anthropology and archaeology. There is even an emoji movie, imaginatively titled The Emoji Movie, coming out in the summer of 2017. Do these much-loved and much-used images have any place in the language classroom? If you believe the answer to be even partly yes, then read on. Here are five ways that I have used some emoji to get students to use more English.
1 What your emoji says about you
Begin by asking students which emoji they think they use the most (assuming that the majority of students do use or have used emoji, that is). They can call this out, explaining what it is in English. You may even want to start by saying what your most commonly used emoji is (mine is the face with tears of joy, by the way).
Tell students to take out their phones and open their favourite messaging app. They should find the emoji keyboard there. In most operating systems (Android and IOS) there should be an option that shows the user either their most frequently used emojis, or their most recently used emojis. Ask students to find that option and check that the emoji they mentioned is there. They then show the screen to their partner, and explain why they use certain emoji more often than others.
2 Emoji weekend
This is a good activity for the first class of the week and is good for practising past tenses. Ask students to take out their phones and open their messaging app. Tell them to choose five emoji that best summarise their weekend. They can repeat the same emoji more than once. Tell them to type these emoji onto a message, but they don’t need to send the message.
When they have finished, put students in pairs, A and B. A shows B their ‘emoji weekend’. Student B has to make sentences in English, guessing what student A did (e.g. you went dancing, you ate pizza, you laughed, you had a good time…). A listens, and then confirms or corrects what B guessed. They then swap roles and repeat the activity.
3 Emoji writing prompts
Give students a series of three or four emoji to act as a writing prompt. This could be at the top of a worksheet, or projected onto a screen. Display the emojis and tell the students they need to create a paragraph that incorporates all of them. You could give them one of the following sentence openers to help even more:
1 Last night I had the strangest dream…
🐟 🌵 🚲 😂…
2 It was eight o’clock and the dinner party was almost ready…
🍅 🍤 🍤 🍨…
3 I come from a very interesting family…
👮 💂 👫 …
Alternatively, you could use a random emoji generator to get four or five completely random emoji. Students must then write these up into a story. I’ve used the Random Emoji Generator site for this.
4 Emoji exit ticket
An exit ticket is a written response by students at the end of a lesson. It’s a short, informal type of feedback. It may include questions such as ‘What did you enjoy most about the lesson?’ or ‘What was the most difficult thing we did today?’. It may include prompts, such as ‘Three things I learned today…’ or ‘The class was too slow/fast/just right’.
You can make an interesting exit ticket using emoji. This works especially well for younger students. Your exit ticket could look something like this:
Name: __________________________________ Date:____________________________
How did you feel about today’s class? Circle the best emoji(s) and briefly explain why.
😀 😬 😍 😐 😡 😰 😱 😭 😳 😴 👍
I chose this Emoji because
You can find lots of sample Emoji exit tickets by doing a search online using the keywords ‘emoji exit ticket’.
5 Emoji idiom quiz
Ever since Emoji appeared, people have used them to interpret written texts in funny ways on social media. You can find song lyrics, first lines from famous novels and entire fairy tales written only in Emoji. One area that could be of particular interest to English teachers would be idioms. A search for ‘Emoji idioms English language’ will reveal several collections. Here’s how to use this in class.
Find the idioms in Emoji you want to use. Then prepare a presentation where you can display one emoji at a time. Tell the students you are going to show them an English idiom but one Emoji at a time. They need to try and guess what it is. Display the first Emoji and ask them to write words they think it might be. Continue with the others. Who can guess the idiom first?
To finish, here are some sample idioms in Emoji for you to use. Can you guess what they are?