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- Xiangtan University, Online Postgraduate (Phd Doctors) English Lesson Plans, Lesson Material and Ideas...
Speaking Lesson: Business Communications and Telephone
The purpose of this lesson is to increase the vocabulary of students
using a business communication theme. The lesson aim is also to
increase the students knowledge of how British business works, through
discussion about the methods of communication available for business.
Business Communication: Many businesses
have separate departments or divisions of the company, in order for
the business to function correctly there has to be effective
communication between these departments. The internal communication of
a company can be in many forms (spoken, written etc.) but whatever
method is used the employees must be able to communicate with each
other effectively. The external communication of a business must also
be efficient, communicating with customers and suppliers must be a top
priority for any company. The main methods of communication for any
business are as follows:
Written Communication (Internal):
(To Suppliers / Customers)
Annual Report /
Graphs / Charts
Intranet / Extranet
Processors / Office 2000 etc.)
The telephone is the most common method of business communication.
External telephone calls are used by a business to contact customers
suppliers etc. A business could not function without a telephone. A
business may also have an internal telephone system, so that employees
can communicate with each other, this system is known as an intercom
system or telephone network. The advantages of the telephone are that
it is faster and more flexible than letters or memos, you can be sure
that the message gets to the correct person. However the telephone
does not keep a permanent record of the communication, so sometimes it
may be necessary to use letters. (For more information on Telephone
English see the bottom of this page)
Machines: A fax machine requires a
telephone line in order to be used for communication. It uses the
telephone line to transmit pictures from one fax to another fax
machine or a computer. Like a phone call the communication is instant.
Fax can be used to transmit graphs, charts, diagrams etc. The
advantage is that a fax can be kept as a permanent record.
first e-mail message was sent in 1971. In the beginning and even
today, e-mail messages tend to be short pieces of text, although the
ability to add attachments now makes many e-mail messages quite long.
Email has many
advantages to business including the following:
Email is instant
You can ask for
a read receipt
can be sent or received as attachments (pictures, sound etc)
confidential (using encryption)
It can be used
to send a message to any computer anywhere in the world
It can store any
time spent on writing letters etc.
Email can be
accessed from any machine (at home or work)
Email is very
There is no doubt that the Internet has changed the way businesses
communicate. For many companies e-mail has virtually replaced
traditional letters and even telephone calls as the choice for
correspondence. Every day, billions of e-mail messages are sent out.
E-mail has been the most rapidly adopted form of communication ever
known. In less than two decades, it has gone from obscurity to
mainstream dominance. The newest development is Instant Messaging - a
form of email, however instant messaging is interactive - you can chat
in live time. Most of the popular
instant-messaging programs provide a variety of features:
- Send notes back and forth with a friend who is online
Chat - Create
your own custom chat room with friends or co-workers
Web links -
Share links to your favorite Web sites
Images - Look at
an image stored on your friend's computer
Sounds - Play
sounds for your friends
Files - Share
files by sending them directly to your friends
Talk - Use the
Internet instead of a phone to actually talk with friends
content - Real-time or near-real-time stock quotes and news
increasingly introducing customised versions of Instant Messaging
programs to allow employees to communicate with one another.
Telephone English: There are a number of
phrases and idioms that are only used when telephoning. Here is an
example phone call:
Hello, Xiangtan Normal University, how can I help you?
Caller: This is Paul Sparks. Can I speak to Mr Xiang?
Secretary: Certainly, hold on a minute, I'll put you through...
Mr Xiang's office: Mr Xiang's office, how can I help?
Caller: This is Paul Sparks calling, is Mr Xiang in?
Mr Xiang's office: I'm afraid he's out at the moment. Can I take a
Caller: Yes, Could you ask him to call me. I need to talk to him,
Mr Xiang's office: Does Mr Xiang have your number?
Mr Xiang's office: Thank you Mr Sparks, I'll make sure Mr Xiang gets
Caller: Thanks, bye.
Mr Xiang's office: Bye.
As you can see,
the language is rather informal and there are some important
differences to everyday English. See below for key language and
phrases used in telephone English:
yourself -"This is Paul" or "Paul speaking"
Asking who is on the telephone - "Excuse me, who is this?"
or "Can I ask who is calling, please?"
Asking for Someone - "Can I have extension 321?" or
"Could I speak to...?" (Can I - more informal / May I - more
Connecting Someone - "I'll put you through" (put through -
phrasal verb meaning 'connect') or "Can you hold the line?"
How to reply when someone is not available - "I'm afraid he is
not available at the moment" or "He isn't in at the
moment" Taking a Message - "Can I take a
message?" or "Could I tell him who is calling?" or
"Would you like to leave a message?"
Exercises for Practicing Speaking on the Telephone:
Real life situations - Businesses are always interested in telling you
about their products. Find a product you are interested in and
research it over the telephone. You can ...
call a store
to find out the prices and specifications.
company representative to find out details on how the product
consumer agency to find out if the product has any defects.
service to find out about replacement parts, etc.
Leaving a Message:
Sometimes, there may not be anyone to answer the telephone and you
will need to leave a message. Follow this outline to make sure that
the person who should receive your message has all the information
"Hello, this is Paul." OR "Hello, My name is
State the time of day and your reason for calling - "It's ten in
the morning. I'm calling to let you know that ....."
Make a request - "Could you ring me back?"
Leave your telephone number - "My number is ...." OR
"You can reach me at ...."
Finish - "Thanks a lot, bye." OR "I'll talk to you
Here's an example
Telephone: (Ring... Ring...) Hello, this is Paul. I'm afraid I'm not
in at the moment. Please leave a message after the beep..... (beep)
Mr Xiang: Hello Paul, this is Mr Xiang. It's about noon and I'm
calling to see if you are busy this afternoon. Could you call me back?
You can reach me at 123-45467 until five this afternoon. I'll talk to
you later, 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
Role Playing using the Telephone:
Student A: Choose
a city in your country. You are going to travel to this city for a
business meeting over the next weekend. Telephone a travel agency
and reserve the following:
Hotel room for two nights
Prices and departure times
Student B: You
work in a travel agency. Listen to student A and offer him/her the
Round-trip flight: Air JW $450 Coach, $790 First Class
Hotel room for two nights: Hotel City $120 a night in the downtown
area, Hotel Relax $110 a night near the airport
Restaurant Recommendation: Chez Marceau - downtown - average price
$70 a person
Student A: You
need to purchase six new computers for your office. Call JA's
Computer World and ask for the following information:
Current special offers on computers
Computer configuration (RAM, Hard Drive, CPU)
Possibility of discount for an order of six computers
Student B: You
work in at JA's Computer World answer student A's questions using
the following information:
Two special offers: Multimedia Monster - with latest Pentium CPU,
256 RAM, 40 GB Hard Drive, Monitor included - $2,500 AND Office
Taskmaster - cheaper CPU, 64 RAM, 10 GB Hard Drive, Monitor not
included - $1,200
1 Year guaranty on all computers
Discount of 5% for orders of more than five computers
Leaving a Message:
Student A: You
want to speak to Ms Braun about your account with her company,
W&W. If Ms Braun isn't in the office, leave the following
Telephone number: 347-8910 (or use your own)
Calling about changing conditions of your contract with W&W
You can be reached until 5 o'clock at the above number. If Ms Braun
calls after 5 o'clock, she should call 458-2416
Student B: You
are a receptionist at W&W. Student A would like to speak to Ms
Braun, but she is out of the office. Take a message and make sure
you get the following information:
Name and telephone number - ask student A to spell the surname
Message student A would like to leave for Ms Braun
How late Ms Braun can call student A at the given telephone number