Technology Changing Modern Communication

dana robinson, via Flickr

Has modern technology changed the way you communicate? Do you use emojis, or other symbols? Liz Waid and Adam Navis look at the way technology is changing communication.

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Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I'm Liz Waid.

Voice 2 

And I'm Adam Navis. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

Julie Bishop is Australia's foreign affairs minister. In 2015, the popular website BuzzFeed interviewed her. They asked her many questions. They asked about her life. And they asked about Australia's government. They asked about Australia's relationship with other countries.

Voice 2 

All of these are normal questions. Government leaders like Julie Bishop often answer these questions. But this time, Bishop's answers were not normal. She did not answer these questions by speaking. And she did not answer these questions by writing. In fact, she did not use any words at all. Julie Bishop answered all of these questions using emojis - small pictures sent from her phone.

Voice 1 

When BuzzFeed asked Bishop what she likes to do, she answered with emojis of a book, a music device, and a television. BuzzFeed asked about Australia's relationship with China. Bishop answered with an emoji of a happy face. BuzzFeed asked how Bishop exercises. She answered with an emoji of running shoes and an emoji of a person dancing.

Voice 2 

BuzzFeed claims that this was the world's first political emoji interview. It was not a serious interview. It was an experiment.  However, it was important. It shows how the way people communicate is changing. Today's Spotlight is on the ways mobile phones have changed communication.

Voice 1 

People all over the world use mobile phones to communicate. These phones let people speak to each other no matter where they are. Mobile phones also make it possible to communicate without speaking. Millions of people use their mobile phones to write short messages every day. These messages are called text or SMS messages.

Voice 2 

But there are some problems with sending text messages. Mobile phones often have small buttons. It is difficult to write text messages with these small buttons. So people often remove letters from the common words in their messages. For example, in English, the word "you" is spelled with three letters: Y, O, and U. But the letter "U" sounds like the word "you." So people can write the word you with one letter instead of three. The word "see" can be written as just the letter "c." And the word "wait" can be written as "w8." Writing these shorter words is easier and faster. And a person can still understand these shorter words.

Voice 1 

Even some complete messages can be written with only a few letters. For example, a person can write "Laughing out loud" as "lol". This is a common answer when a person receives a funny message from a friend. Another common text message is "talk to you later." This can be shortened to "ttyl." Making words and phrases shorter in this way is called "text speak."

Voice 2 

These are all examples of English language text speak. But text speak is not only part of the English language. Almost every language in the world has its own text speak. What text speak do you use?

Voice 1 

Text messaging and text speak are very popular. But they are not perfect. Have you ever received a text message and you did not know if the sender was angry or happy? Many people feel this way. It can be difficult to communicate complex ideas through written messages. It is especially difficult to communicate emotions. Text messages are very short. So communicating complex ideas and emotions through text messages is even more difficult.

Voice 2 

Shigetaka Kurita is a computer programmer from Japan. He wanted to solve this communication problem. So in 1999, he created the first emojis. The word "emoji" means "picture character." Emojis are simple pictures that can be used in text messages. Shigetaka Kurita created emojis to help people communicate their emotions through text messages. The first emojis were only used in Japan. But now, emojis are popular all around the world. Even government officials use them, like Julie Bishop.

Voice 1 

Text speak and emojis are popular. But not everyone likes these new forms of communication. The National Association of School Masters Union of Women Teachers, or NASUWT, is a union that represents teachers in the United Kingdom. In 2003, the NASUWT tried to ban text speak in schools. They believed students were using text speak too often. Some students even used text speak on official school tests. Tino Ferri was a leader of the NASUWT. He believed text speak in the classroom needed to stop. He told the BBC,

Voice 3

"I am not happy about it. It seems to be normal now. Students are not expected to use correct English."

Voice 2 

Questioning communication changes is not new. Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press almost six hundred years ago. Because of the printing press, we now have books. But when he invented it, people wondered if it would ruin communication.

Voice 1 

Today, we know that the printing press was a good change for communication. Some experts believe that text messaging and text speak are a good change, too. David Crystal studies language. He has written more than 100 books about the English language. Crystal thinks text messaging and text speak can help students learn. He believes they cause young people to read and write more often. They are reading and writing text messages! In a speech in Dubai, he said,

Voice 4 

“People say that text messaging will harm your spelling. No … It helps you to spell better. This is because it causes you to think about the connection between sound and letters. People say that young people do not read and write now. They may not read classic books, but have you ever seen a teenager not reading? Young people probably more than I did when I was that age.”

Voice 2 

We do not know what the future of communication will look like. But for now, emojis and text speak are very popular. And they continue to change as more people use them. Today, technology companies are creating new emojis for each culture that uses them. There are hundreds of emojis used around the world. And that number continues to grow. Some day, it may be normal to communicate using only emojis!

Voice 1 

What do you think about these new forms of communication? Do you think text speak and emojis help people communicate better? You can leave your comments on our website. Or you can email us at You can also find us on Facebook - just search for Spotlight Radio.

Voice 2

The writer of this program was Ryan Geertsma. The producer was Bruce Gulland. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the Internet at This program is called, 'Technology Changing Modern Communication.'

Voice 1 

We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye!


Do you use emoji? Why or why not? What is your favorite emoji?


Severino Ramos da Silva's avatar
Severino Ramos da Silva
said on October 04, 2016

From: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (Severino Ramos)
To: spotlight programme
Subject: answer to the question above
Date: Tuesday 04, October 2016
São Paulo SP Brazil

Dear Liz Waid, Adam Navis, Ryan Geertsma, and Bruce Gulland:

At first, I want to thank you to bring us readers and learners of English more one great article. Thanks!

No, I do not.
I do not use emoji because I do not understand the meaning of the small pictures to exchange for a word or phrase.
Also, I think that emoji is a very funny pictures but is not a good way to write because a teenager starts to write in this way he or she may forget the correct form to write in his or her language.
For example: in the northeast of the Brazil in Pernambuco where I was born I have five nephews and two nieces and two of them are studying in the high school level.
However, they like so much to write with these symbols in the internet Facebook. When they are going to write the word (SIM) in English it means (YES). They write only the letter (S). So, I understand what they want to tell me but I ask them or one of them , What does mean the letter (S)?Then , they answer to me or he or she answers to me execuse my dear uncle (TIO). The letter (S) means the word (SIM) or they just write one emoji.
Therefore, I think everybody should write in the correct way to avoid errors, mistakes in his or her mother language and to avoid to forget the correct grammar form of the own language.

The best regards,
Severino Ramos

Avatar Spotlight
said on October 05, 2016

I have been using emoji everyday via my phone and skype. It’s very useful to use answer quickly with a little emotion to questioners.  However we shouldn’t use it too much because many people don’t understand the meaning of these emojis, especially old people.

Hung Bac.

Avatar Spotlight
said on October 05, 2016

Yeah sure I use a lot of them . It’s more easy than writing words . Sometimes they express my emotions than sentences. Sometimes it’s vey funny when people don’t get them and make me to write what some emoji means lol.

Avatar Spotlight
said on October 11, 2016

in side, i think that emoji is helping us to communicate better through messages. Because you can’t see or know about how is your friend feeling when they chat or sms with you. You also can’t show your emotion to your friend. So emojis is useful. But, i think it can’t replace speaking between two people. By speaking we know more about the opposite, we learn more about how to show our emotion.

Avatar Spotlight
Mohamed Abdellatif
said on October 15, 2016

Dear Liz Waid and Adam Navis.
Thank you very much.
I don’t no use emoji, because I do not understand emoji. I search on google. i found i think that emoji is good.
Thank you & great work

Avatar Spotlight
said on January 28, 2018

I used to use emoji, but rarely. Because I don’ know its mean to use. I can’t say about my favorite emoji.

Avatar Spotlight
said on June 02, 2018

I think emoji are more of a fad that will pass with time. I see no great utility in their use, nor do I feel the need to forbid them. Its constant renewal clearly shows that they are ephemeral as meteors that arise and disappear into space rapidly.