back-channel feedback


Senior Member

What do you call those "I see.", "Yes.", "Uh-huh.", "Right." type of short phrases/sentences that you say right after the other person finishes a sentence, but still in between a conversation, to create rapport, or just show the other person that you are interested in his/her talk?

My dictionary tells me "back-channel feedback" is the word for it, but I'm not sure if this is what natives would say.

I want to create a sentence that means: "I want to become good at saying 'I see.', 'Yes.', 'Uh-huh.' type of short phrases/sentences in a conversation.".

If "back-channel feedback" is the right phrase, can I say "I want to be good at giving back-channel feedback."?

If not, could you tell me how I should say it?

I know "I want to become a good listener." is a close enough expression, but it is not what I am talking about.

I want to know the phrase for it that I can use, (back-channel feedback maybe?) to talk about the art of learning to speak a foreign language, because unless you are really familiar with how natives use "I see.", "Yes.", "Uh-huh." type of phrases in a conversation, you can't really be good at using the right "I see.", "Yes.", "Uh-huh." type of phrases, at the right timing when you speak the language.

So, it is not the skill to "listen" in general that I am talking about, but the technical linguistic term for "I see.", "Yes.", "Uh-huh." an such.

I hope it makes sense...

Thank you.
  • Glenfarclas

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    It does make sense. Unfortunately, I think backchanneling is, indeed, a technical term in linguistics, and I don't know that there is any simple nontechnical term to describe the phenomenon. I might say something like, "I want to become good at using conversational fillers while somebody else is talking." Even then (if I were saying this to somebody else), I would probably go ahead and explain, "... like 'uh-huh,' 'right,' and so on."


    Senior Member
    Thank you so much, Glenfarclas!

    Right. I guess adding explanation is necessary because fillers can include much more, such as "well...", "uh..." an so on.


    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Yes, I deal with the analysis of conversation, and as Glenfarcas says, the normal term is back-channelling. We might even talk of back-channelling behaviour, but I've never heard the phrase back-channel feedback. Bennymix has suggested some alternatives. I think of back-channelling as the supplying of encouraging noises when someone is making a point or telling a story.
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