A woman holding a phone with a smiling emoji on the screen

A picture speaks a thousand words. And with over a thousand emoji pictures to represent our words, who needs to speak or write any more?! Let's take a closer look at the UK's fastest-growing language.


Do the preparation task first. Then read the article and do the exercises to check your understanding. 

According to Professor Vyv Evans of Bangor University, Emoji is the UK’s fastest-growing language – evolving faster than any language in history. These little electronic images started life in Japanese mobile phones in the 90s and are now hugely popular. In the UK they are becoming more popular than internet abbreviations like ‘lol’ (laughing out loud), ‘muah’ (the sound of a kiss) or 'xoxoxo' (hugs and kisses). They have inspired fashion, like the real-life dress copied from the dancing lady emoji, and are even recognised as art! In New York’s Museum of Modern Art you can now see the first set of the 176 original emojis.

Why do we love them so much?

We really seem to ‘big red heart’ emojis! But why? They allow us to personalise text and have fun as we express ourselves, make people laugh and be creative in how we use them. UK teenagers also told us they really appreciated the fact that emojis are quick and easy.

‘… they’re quick to use instead of words and show hidden meanings.’
Will, 15

‘My favourite emoji is ‘laughing face’ because it saves you putting ‘hahaha’ or ‘lol’.’
Lucia, 15

‘It’s easier for lazy people.’
Lucy, 15

‘Yeah, cuz talking’s effort.’
Katy, 15

People also really identify with their favourite emojis. The emojis we choose can reflect our personality. What does your recently used emoji board say about you? Is it full of party poppers and smileys? Or unhappy faces? In the UK, the most used emojis are ‘face with tears of joy’, ‘face blowing a kiss’ and ‘love heart’. Maybe (with emojis at least) the British are more fun and romantic than people think! You can also tell a lot about a culture from their emoji complaints. Until 2015 when the ‘cheese wedge’ arrived, British people were constantly complaining about the lack of cheese! Now, the addition of ‘bacon’ in 2016 means we’re very close to a full English breakfast.

Diversity and representation

Getting the emoji you want can be a more serious problem than not finding exactly what you had for breakfast. Emojis do not always represent the people that use them. However, after many years of public anger and campaigning, things are changing. Instead of just cartoon-yellow people and faces, we now have the option for five different skin colours. Recent updates also included opposite gender pairs, so we have ‘Mrs Father Christmas’, a smartly dressed ‘man in tuxedo’, as a partner for the bride, and a ‘dancing man’, to match the dancing lady. Soon there will be a redhead emoji, by popular demand, and a woman wearing a headscarf, after German teenager Rayouf Alhumedhi campaigned for an emoji to represent her.

Emojis for campaigns

Can emojis help to change society for the better? Did you know that the ‘eye in speech bubble’ or ‘I Am A Witness’ emoji represents speaking out about online bullying? It was created by Apple and the Ad Council for their ‘I Am A Witness’ campaign. Use it to say that someone’s comment is rude and not OK, or to show someone that you’re on their side when people are not treating them right.

Companies such as McDonalds have also tried to use our love of emojis to their advantage. In their ‘good times’ campaign they use a series of emojis on a billboard to tell a story of a frustrating day given a happy ending by a visit to McDonalds. Unfortunately for McDonalds, the blank white space after the end of the story was too tempting for British graffiti artists. Can you guess what they added? That’s right … the vomiting emoji was a popular choice!

The future of emojis

What is the future of emojis? They are already shaping social media as existing and new platforms evolve to incorporate and respond to their use. Is emoji evolving so rapidly that it will soon compete with English as a global language? Or is technology changing so fast that emojis will soon be forgotten when the next big thing comes along? It is hard to predict and even technology and language experts are divided on the subject. What do you think? Keep your eyes open for new developments!


Do you have a favourite emoji? Why do you like it?

Language level
Average: 3 (2 votes)
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Submitted by Didik on Tue, 06/15/2021 - 15:36

I like ''thumbs up''. Fits any occasion and it is pretty cool and awesome to be used.

Submitted by Yali on Mon, 05/24/2021 - 04:56

I think emojis are cool because help to communicate singularly with other people, don't care if we talk in different languages, My favorite emoji is the clown

Submitted by Gary on Mon, 05/24/2021 - 04:43

I think emojis work very well to better convey a message when sending a text message plus they are easy to use being on all platforms

Submitted by lalin on Mon, 05/24/2021 - 04:29

I think emojis are very cool and indispensable

Submitted by katy13 on Mon, 05/24/2021 - 04:11

I think the emojis represent our daily life, as well as being easy and fun to use. we live in a time when technology advances and emojis with it, they get better and we use more frecuently

Submitted by Dema on Mon, 05/24/2021 - 03:00

I have two favorite emojis, the cowboy emoji and the flushed face. I think more than express my feelings, emojis helps me to make my responds less serious, I mean I feel like if I respond without an emoji, the person who I'm talking to will feel like I'm mad or something.

Submitted by Chettosdebolita on Mon, 05/24/2021 - 01:21

I like the puppy emoji becuase it is pretty, cute and the noise is very black and small.

Submitted by PharaohMv on Mon, 05/24/2021 - 01:03

I don't think I have favorite emojis, but the ones I use the most are the emoji with the cute face and the emoji of the laughing face, I like it because they are simple and I like their design. In addition, it is always much easier to express a gesture with emojis.

Submitted by Eve on Mon, 05/24/2021 - 00:22

I like to use the happy face emoji because it shows my mood and it's the emoji I use the most.

Submitted by Frank on Sun, 05/23/2021 - 23:48

I think emojis are a good tool for communication between any language, and personally the emoji I use the most is the one with the face with tears and the upside down face.

Submitted by Itachi_Uchiha0 on Sun, 05/23/2021 - 23:41

I don't like use emojis very often, but there are very nice. I can see emojis anywhere and my mom is using them every time. My favorite emoji is the face with a sunglasses, because i think it is really me XD
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Submitted by Zacatepec on Sun, 05/23/2021 - 23:34

I think emojis can help texts get a certain emotion. I think sometimes they can be used sarcastically

Submitted by Jane1 on Sun, 05/23/2021 - 23:04

I think emojis are a really fun language that everyone uses to communicate quickly and interestingly. They are important as they express who we are and what we want to say, in a better way.

Submitted by Mary_ on Sun, 05/23/2021 - 21:35

I like to use emojis because I feel like I express myself much better and I feel like it's more fun. my favorite emoji is the pink octopus

Submitted by Ernesto117 on Sun, 05/23/2021 - 20:17

I think my emojis are amazing and very useful. I love the emojis.

Submitted by Montana on Sun, 05/23/2021 - 19:37

My favorite emoji is a face that has a cute little face, because it expresses the way I express my mood when I see something cute.

Submitted by Greg2004 on Sun, 05/23/2021 - 17:56

Yes, my favorite emoji is the one with the very surprised face and I use it when something really surprises me or as sarcasm when someone says something very obvious.

Submitted by Chipboo on Sun, 05/23/2021 - 08:38

I think they are very good and practical since you can say a lot and also each one identifies with the great variety that there is so it is easier to handle them, it helps you give context to a sentence and they look good :))

Submitted by Rod on Sun, 05/23/2021 - 02:44

I like emojis since they are very useful to make a more entertaining conversation, I do not consider having a favorite emoji, but the one I use the most is the one of a face with eyebrows, glasses and a mustache.

Submitted by Issy on Sun, 05/23/2021 - 02:38

The emojis are so beautiful and cute, that's why is a little difficult to select for me, but I think that right now my favorite emoji is the cookie, because is so cute and I love cookies, and are one of my favorites desserts.

Submitted by Zaira on Sun, 05/23/2021 - 00:22

I think that emojis help us to express ourselves better and even teach a bit of cultural things, since, with the updates, new emojis are created such as kimono, flags, among other things. They are very funny.

Submitted by Tae on Sun, 05/23/2021 - 00:18

Yes, I have a favorite emoji, it is a sad face. I like it because to be sad is a rockstar and this emoji is very cool, this emoji defines me.

Submitted by Jane_2005 on Sat, 05/22/2021 - 22:00

I really like emojis because with them you can express many things without using words. My favorite is the angry cat face.

Submitted by Adr0412 on Sat, 05/22/2021 - 21:49

I think the use of emojis affects to the social skills and possibly may be unable to communicate more deeply.

Submitted by Nyx on Sat, 05/22/2021 - 19:53

My favorite emoji is the one that laughs because it emits more feelings than the letters, and I would like a lot if there was an emoji that cries tears of happiness to be able to say that something is too beautiful, I consider that emojis won't be forgotten because they are part of our text messages and even create more emojis for something specific.

Submitted by Marr08 on Sat, 05/22/2021 - 19:36

I think emojis are cute and they are a quick way to communicate because with them you express the way you feel or your personality. My favorite emoji is the one with the cute face.

Submitted by Katrish on Sat, 05/22/2021 - 17:56

I like emojis a lot because they allow to express not only with words, it also allows to express feelings a lot more than using only text. Personally my favorite emoji are the shiny pink heart.
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Submitted by misaoJu on Sat, 05/22/2021 - 14:29

Emojis are cute, I really like to use them sarcastically, although I usually only use them with people I talk a lot. The ones I really like to use are always the emojis created with keys like this.(๑•́ ₃•̀)

Submitted by fer10 on Sat, 05/22/2021 - 07:22

I don't have any emoji favorites, but I think they are fun to use.

Submitted by Johnsons on Sat, 05/22/2021 - 02:51

I like to use the smiley face emoji, because it is something that cannot be missed when I send a message to my friends. besides that they say that this emoji is already something that characterizes me since I use it for everything !!

Submitted by Jane_2005 on Fri, 05/21/2021 - 23:07

I like emojis because with them you express many things without using words. One of my favorite emojis is the angry kitty face.

Submitted by Jane_2005 on Fri, 05/21/2021 - 22:15

Emojis are so much fun for texting. You can express many things with them. My favorite is the red heart.

Submitted by Xim on Fri, 05/21/2021 - 19:57

Personally I really like emojis as they are a fun way to say and express the feelings we have in our day when we send messages. My favorite emojis is the face blowing a kiss and love heart, as they represent a lot of my personality and help me express my feelings to my friends.

Submitted by Joice on Fri, 05/21/2021 - 15:44

I think emojis are very useful for daily life since we can express how we feel or express something that words cannot, my favorite emoji is the one with the cute face and the monkey covering his eyes.

Submitted by Vainilla on Fri, 05/21/2021 - 02:42

In my opinion I think emojis are great and almost everyone uses them, my favorite is the face blowing a kiss.

Submitted by BEco on Sun, 05/23/2021 - 07:13

the emojies are really great and they help us a lot to express things that sometimes words cannot personally my favorite is the one who cries with laughter

In reply to by Vainilla

Submitted by Ezequi on Mon, 05/24/2021 - 03:07

I think emojis are cool nowadays, everyone uses them and my favorite emoji is the purple devil.

In reply to by Vainilla

Submitted by Elian1024 on Thu, 05/20/2021 - 03:16

I like the emojis beacuse is a form to express by example my mood or my personality, and my favorite emoji is the happy face wuth a cowboy hat

Submitted by Pau on Thu, 05/20/2021 - 01:49

My favorite emoji is the kitten with eyes of hearts because I find it to be very tender and love to wear it with my friends and family :)

Submitted by Mamidiablita on Wed, 05/19/2021 - 17:05

My favorite emoji is a little face that has a tender face because I feel that it remains on any occasion, it can be used to mention something, sad, well, funny, which at the same time sounds cute. He always used it to start a conversation, he is very kind. The person who reads the message will feel good and will think that the person who spoke to him or her is very cute.

Submitted by Maria_04 on Wed, 05/19/2021 - 02:03

My favorite emojis are face with tears of joy and read heart because they help me to express myself better with what I want to say, complementing the feeling so that the message is transmitted with the feelings that I feel when writing it, in this case something funny or something loving.

Submitted by banana on Tue, 05/18/2021 - 23:46

I do not use emojis, however it does help people's communication since emojis are closer to feelings,but also on the other hand I do not agree with their use because we lose this rationing of use of words , returning to our dumbest mind.

Submitted by MrMario_ on Tue, 05/18/2021 - 02:35

Yes, my favorite emoji is the face surrounded by hearts, I like it because it gives a feeling of a lot of love and I think it's very cute.

Submitted by hyrunely on Tue, 05/18/2021 - 00:58

I love emojis, because I think it is a great way to express our feelings or emotions through chat, in addition to defining us, my favorite emojis are pink hearts and stars, because I feel that they go too much with my personality as well that I use them too much.
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Submitted by Evegarden on Mon, 05/17/2021 - 22:54

My favorite emoji is this one ☺️ as you can use it to thank a person or as a response when someone thanks you
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Submitted by Minn on Mon, 05/17/2021 - 21:54

emojis are very funny, they can be used in many situations, sad, funny, when you are angry.There is a lot of diversity and we can express what we feel even with distance. it is like a rule, knowing to occupy each one. my favorite emoji is the face with tears

Submitted by abbykerman on Mon, 05/17/2021 - 20:18

The truth is that I do not have a favorite emoji and I only use them depending on the occasion or the one that is fashionable at the moment. And if I like emojis since in my opinion it is a way of making the other person understand what you want to give to express the text more accurately, besides that many times using an emoji and without using text is faster to understand how the other person feels.

Submitted by Sami on Mon, 05/17/2021 - 19:13

I like emojis because they are fun, easy, and fast to use and the best thing is that there are many emojis

Submitted by zanya on Mon, 05/17/2021 - 17:39

Many of the meanings of the emogis that come if you only knew that although it is true sometimes the meanings of these emogis can be misinterpreted

Submitted by Angel_MDZ on Sun, 05/16/2021 - 17:23

I like the heart emoji, since it is the one I use with my friends and my partner, since it makes it easier for me to make my feelings known through said emoji.
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