AIM: To explore and practise the effective use of back channelling.
INTRODUCTION: When listening to someone speak, it is common for the listener to indicate their comprehension and interest with words or phrases (such as OK, yeah, see) or sounds (such as uh-huh, mm). This is called back channelling. Used appropriately, this can facilitate communication and create rapport between listener and speaker.
The intonation of these back channels is important, as it can signal whether the speaker should continue or if the listener wants to speak.
Using a falling tone usually indicates that we think the speaker has finished or that we want to take a turn in the conversation ourselves
Using a tone that falls then rises again usually shows interest and encourages the speaker to continue
P: It started last week.
P: It wasn't too bad at first but it got worse.
P: By Friday I couldn't get out of bed.
INSTRUCTIONS: Listen to the recording and identify the intonation of the doctor's back channels. Remember that falling intonation usually means "it's my turn to speak now" and fall-rise intonation usually means "please continue"
FOLLOW-UP: Listen again to the audio recording of the conversation above. This time, the doctor's responses have been removed so you can say them instead. Concentrate on getting the appropriate intonation for the backchannels. Click the 'play' button and start the conversation with: Can you tell me about your family?.