Using Emoji for Digital-Age Language Learning

Now that children operate smartphones and computers long before they learn to read, we have a new phenomenon: pre-literate children communicating digitally with the language of emoji. Parents of children ages 2-5 report that their kids send all-emoji texts to family members quite often. Linguist Gretchen McCulloch took a closer look at these texts to see how emoji characters help children to develop their digital communication skills.  

When kids use emoji it may seem random—a bunch of silly pictures on a screen. But kids start out learning spoken and signed languages in a similar way: by babbling nonsense syllables, which teaches them the rhythm of conversation and trains them to make fine articulatory movements. The silly strings of emoji that young kids send could serve a similar purpose. By exposing kids to the rhythm of electronic conversations, emoji may be a useful precursor to reading—a way of acclimating kids to the digital reality of using symbols to communicate with people they care about.

McCulloch takes us through the stages of learning communication with emoji, which children use in a profoundly different way from adults. Read what she’s learned at Wired.

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There is more insight in the discussion at Metafilter, where Foci for Analysis shared a real emoji message sent by their niece,


and Eyebrows McGee posted her observations about texting and how it makes students exceedingly more comfortable with writing than previous generations.   

Source: neatorama

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