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ESL Lesson Plans: Interjections: ...Huh?

Level: ESL High-Intermediate

Objectives: introduce and practice a variety of interjections that express sudden emotions or strong feelings

Teacher Notes:

Write the word ‘interjections’ on the board. Ask students to look around the class and tell what emotion they can witness on their classmates’ faces (confusion and misunderstanding). Write ‘huh’ and explain that when speakers want to show that they haven’t understood or heard something, they often use the word ‘huh’ (informally) as a request for clarification:

- Today we’re going to learn about interjections.
Huh? (= What did you say? What are these?)

Come up with an extreme example that will most definitely baffle students, e.g.:

“Mexico was fantastic...it’s just that on my last day I got a touch of Montezuma’s Revenge.”
Huh? What’s that?”
“That’s traveler’s diarrhea. You get it from infested tap water or poorly handled food”.

Mention that the same interjection can be used in a another situation with a different meaning, e.g.: ‘huh’ can express a mild surprise:

No one answers the phone.
Huh. That’s strange.

Huh’ can be used at the end of the sentence when the speaker wants the listener to agree with what has been said:

They did a pretty good job, huh?

Explain that interjections express emotional state of the speaker. They have no grammatical relationship to any other words in the sentence; they just add ‘flavor’/emotional effect. Sometimes they serve a space filler: um, uh, er... They’re rarely used in formal writing, but frequently appear in spoken English. Interjections may be punctuated with an exclamation or question mark, or a comma.

Exemplify how the meaning of interjections varies based on the context. Write 4 sentences on the board and ask what the interjection ‘ah’ means:

Ah, I see your point. (expresses realization)
Ah, that smells good. (expresses pleasure)
Ah, it hurts. (expresses pain)
Ah, you’re early. Come in, let’s chat. (expresses surprise)

Put students in pairs. Have them read sentences 1-15 in What’s the Emotion? and find the emotion or meaning of the bolded interjections. Review the emotions as you take up the answers.

Students read the conversation between a real estate agent and potential home-buyers in Informal Conversation: Typical Interjections and fill in the interjections. Have students role-play the conversation in groups of three paying a special attention to interjections (encourage to exaggerate these ‘emotional words’).

With a partner, students make their own conversations and role play them in Role Play: Jazz It Up!

Student Handout

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