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Milking Material, part 4: Interjections & Interjecting Sounds

The fourth and final tangent we’re going to show you with this very short Simpsons clip is to practice interjections and interjecting sounds.  What you’ll need is this handout.

You’ve introduced the video and context however you find most interesting for you students.  At this point, here are our suggestions:

Write the word “yes” on the board.  Elicit from Ss ways that they can convey this meaning without saying “yes”.  For example, “yep”, “ya”, “uh huh”, nodding up and down, “mm-hmm” and there may be some other backchannel expressions or gestures used by various cultures. Introduce that some of these little words or sounds are also used a lot in conversation to convey meaning, along with body language and the words themselves.

Elicit from Ss other interjections they use in their language.  If lost for suggestions, prompt Ss with words like “no”, “confused”, “nervous”, “thinking”, “shocked”, etc.  If duplicated in English, add them to the board.   As Ss volunteer information, try to note to them that for ones that we don’t use in English, it can be misunderstood by native speakers if they use their own in conversation.  Give an example if you have any experience.  For example, from Korea, they use the first half of “uh huh” as a backchannel to demonstrate they are listening or agreeing in conversation.  To English native speakers, it comes across as just a meaningless sound.

Watch the video. Ask Ss to identify how many interjections are used by the Simpsons in the segment.  Answer:  9, with “See?” being arguable since it’s a short form for “Do you see?”.  Give Ss the handout, watch again and have Ss highlight each interjection or interjecting sound on their handout.  Take this up as a class.

Finally, watch the video a third time.  Assign Ss one of the characters (Homer or Frank) to pay attention to the attitude of the character from whom the interjection comes.  Are they happy?  Sad?  Annoyed?  Angry?  When finished, have Ss roleplay the dialogue in small groups together.  Watch Ss and try to pick Ss who act most exactly.  Have them perform the dialogue for the class.  While they do so, stop at each interjection and facilitate Ss’ understanding of meaning and usage:

Interjection/Sound Meaning Form
Ya Dismissive way to get to the point Speaker A:  TopicA

Speaker B: Ya, request for directness.

See? Attempt to prove something Speaker A: X is true.

Speaker B to Speaker C: See?

Look Get to the point Speaker A: TopicA

Speaker B: Look SpeakerA name, request for directness.

Ya but, Mild disagreement Speaker A: Opinion

Speaker B: Ya but, opposing opinion

Wow Amazement Speaker A: Fact about Topic A

Speaker B: Wow!

Oh! Sudden memory of another thing Speaker A:  X, Y and Oh, Z.
God Frustration Speaker A: God, complaint
Gasp Surprise, shock After something shocking happens or is said
Groans Uncomfortable situation When you don’t know what to say in a certain situation

*may be a sound, “uh” or “mm” or “um”

As an interesting aside, you could also mention the two Simpsons-created interjections (“d’oh” and “meh“) that have officially be added to the dictionary.

Although none of the posts in this series attempts to be a full lesson, the point that we are trying to make is that instead of spending hours making more and more materials or killing class time watching an entire movie or television episode, why not see how you can reuse video clips you’ve already chosen?  There is an enormous amount of language that can be taken from so many short scenes.

Please also see other activities based on this same video clip:
Milking Material, part 1 : Critical Reading
Milking Material, part 2:  Body Language
Milking Material, part 3:  Common Expressions

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Thanks for these lesson ideas! I really like the angles you’ve taken with the video.


Glad you like them. There are so many things you can extrapolate from short video clips. Too many times I’ve observed teachers using video for very litttle beyond general comprehension (and more likely entertainment). It’s really unnecessary–and from a language point-of-view, wasteful–to watch an entire episode in one sitting.

Boram Jeon



Hello Boram! Thanks for stopping by.

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