Telephone english

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Competence: How to communicate effectively on the phone the telephone 

Making and receiving telephone calls. 
Taking and leaving messages. 
Asking for & giving repetition. 
Cross cultural communication on the telephone. 

General rules

When making a formal call, three rules should influence your choice of words:
• Be brief. Do not waste the receiver's time.
• Be clear. Explain thebackground and purpose of your call.
• Be polite. Recognize the receiver's point of view.
These rules can sometimes conflict. If you are too brief, you may confuse the receiver or appear impolite. Try to balance the three rules.

1. Introduction - - - - Hello, this is Ken. OR Hello, My name is Ken Beare (more formal).
2. State the time of day and your reason for calling - - - - - It's tenin the morning. I'm phoning (calling, ringing) to find out if ... / to see if ... / to let you know that ... / to tell you that ...
3. Make a request - - - - Could you call (ring, telephone) me back? / Would you mind ... ? /
4. Leave your telephone number - - - - My number is .... / You can reach me at .... / Call me at ...
5. Finish - - - - Thanks a lot, bye. / I'll talk to you later,bye.

Here's an example of message

Telephone: (Ring... Ring... Ring...) Hello, this is Tom. I'm afraid I'm not in at the moment. Please leave a message after the beep..... (beep)

Ken: Hello Tom, this is Ken. It's about noon and I'm calling to see if you would like to go to the Mets game on Friday. Could you call me back? You can reach me at 367-8925 until five this afternoon. I'll talk to youlater, bye.

As you can see, leaving a message is pretty simple. You only need to make sure that you have stated all the most important information: Your Name, The Time, The Reason for Calling, Your Telephone Number

Tips for Getting People to Slow Down!!

One of the biggest problems is speed. Native speakers, especially business people, tend to speak very quickly on the telephone. Here aresome practical tips to get native speakers of English to slow down!

• Immediately ask the person to speak slowly.
• When taking note of a name or important information, repeat each piece of information as the person speaks.

This is an especially effective tool. By repeating each important piece of information or each number or letter as the spell or give you a telephone number youautomatically slow the speaker down.

• Do not say you have understood if you have not. Ask the person to repeat until you have understood.

Remember that the other person needs to make himself/herself understood and it is in his/her interest to make sure that you have understood. If you ask a person to explain more than twice they will usually slow down.

• If the person does not slowdown begin speaking your own language!

A sentence or two of another language spoken quickly will remind the person that they are fortunate because THEY do not need to speak a different language to communicate. Used carefully, this exercise in humbling the other speaker can be very effective. Just be sure to use it with colleagues and not with a boss :-)!

Teaching Telephone English forBusiness ESP English Classes

Teaching telephone English can be frustrating as students really need to practice their skill as often as possible in order to improve their comprehension skills. Once they have learned the basic phrases used in telephoning, the main difficulty lies in communicating without visual contact. This lesson plan suggests a few ways to get students to practice their telephoningskills.

Aim: Improving Telephoning Skills

Activity: Role playing using office telephone lines

Level: Intermediate to advanced


• Review phrases used in telephoning. See Telephone English: Dialogue and Appropriate Vocabulary
• Ask each student to write out notes for a telephone conversation that they would typically have with a native speaker. Example: Order 500 Liters...
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