Our second suggestion for using this scene from the Simpsons is cultural. Students will see and become familiar with how body language conveys meaning in dialogue. Here are two activities that you can use to discover and identify body language and its meanings.
Body Language Activity A
Watch the scene with Ss once. Ask students to pay attention to the body language that each character does during the scene. Elicit their ideas after the scene and put them on the board. Watch it again.
Give out the Homer’s Enemy handout with the blanks. Ask Ss to describe the body language that each character did during the episode on the handout where the [#—] are. Put Ss into groups to compare their ideas and have them discuss what message the body language conveys. Take up as a class and go through the segment again to clearly demonstrate the body language done by the characters.
Body Language Activity B
Remind Ss that body language and facial expressions are exaggerated in the Simpsons so that the meaning is clear. Give Ss the Interpreting Gestures handout. Assign each pair a row of Simpsons characters in Activity 1 and have them look at the picture, imitate it and try to decide
a) what message or feeling is being conveyed and
b) what type of situation it could be used in
Do a charades style game afterward. As a class, in turns have pairs perform the body language of their Simpsons character for the class. The S that guesses correctly receives a point. When all are finished, pair Ss with the highest scores with Ss with the lowest scores for the next activity.
OPTIONAL: Show the segment again and have Ss note gestures that are used from the handout.
Body Language Activity C
In new pairs, have Ss write a description of body language or gestures from their country in Activity 2. Note: Body language and gestures are often quite different from culture to culture. Also note, Ss will need a good deal of help describing how to do their gesture in writing.
Remind Ss not to put the meanings down. Collect and redistribute sheets to new pairs. Ask Ss to read the description, try to imitate it and determine a) & b) again. Take up as a class and help Ss identify the correct words for use in the description.
Please also check out:
Milking Material, part 1: Inferring Context & Meaning