Free Resources for Students and Teachers of English as a Foreign Language in China - by Paul Sparks

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Paul Sparks - Online English Lesson Plans, Lesson Material and Ideas for Oral English Lessons, Hunan University of Science and Technology...



ORAL ENGLISH: Using the Telephone - Telephone Idioms and Sayings / Sample Conversations

Lesson Objectives:
Students will learn to feel more comfortable using the telephone and expand their skills when speaking English on the phone. Students will further develop their vocabulary related to telephone calls. They will understand common expressions used in everyday situations and be able to ask for clarification when using the telephone. They will practice spelling names and addresses over the phone.


Adapted From:



Telephone Idioms:


  • Are you busy right now?

  • Take care.

  • Iím just on my way out the door!

  • Bye for now.

  • Can I get back to you later?

  • Have you time to talk?

  • Bye-bye.

  • What have you been up to?

  • Bye.

  • Whatís the latest?

  • May I take a message?

  • Have you heard?

  • Speaking.

  • Catch you later.

  • Iím not interested.

  • Thanks anyways.

  • Will you accept the charges?

  • How goes it?

  • Whatís new?

  • How have you been?

  • Whatís up?

  • Hi there!

  • Iím in a rush.


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.


  • 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.

  • By repeating each important piece of information or each number or letter as the spell or give you a telephone number you automatically 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.



Sample Telephone Conversations:


Phoning a Friend:


A: Hello

B: Hi Jean. Itís Mary. Are you busy right now or do you have time to talk?

A: Actually, Iím just on my way out the door to pick up some groceries for dinner. Can I call you back later this afternoon?

B: Sure. Iíll be in until four.

A: Talk to you later then.

B: Bye-bye.


Sorry Wrong Number:


A: Hello

B: May I speak to Jane please?

A: No, Iím sorry. You must have a wrong number.

B: Is this 343-9876?

A: No, Iím sorry itís not.

B: Sorry for bothering you. Good-bye.

A: Bye.


May I Take A Message?


A: Hello.

B: Is Jake there, please?

A: No, Iím sorry heís not in right now. May I take a message?

B: Yes, could you tell him Larry James called. My number is 498-7632

A: Iíll give him the message

B: Thank you. Good - bye

A: Bye




A: Hello.

B: Is Mrs. Jones in, please?

A: Speaking.

B: Good morning Mrs. Jones. This is Sarah from Sears calling. The dress that you ordered is here.

A: Great - Iíll come by and pick it up. What time are you open till this evening?

B: Until seven.

A: Thatís fine. Thank you very much for calling. Good-bye

B: Good-bye


You have been selected for ...


A: Hello.

B: Good evening. This is Jane calling from Handy Dandy Cleaners. Your household has been selected for our special offer. You have won a free gift. Our representative will drop by with your gift and demonstrate our new cleaning products. You are under no obligation to buy. Our  representative will ...

A: Iím really not interested.

B: There really is no obligation to buy and the gift is yours to keep whether or not you decide to purchase our time-saving products.

A: No, thank you. (Firmly)

B: Fine, thank you. Good-bye

A: Good-bye


Fridge for Sale:


A: Hello.

B: Hello, Iím calling about the fridge you have advertised in the Star Newspaper. Is it still for sale?

A: Yes.

B: Could you tell me more about it please?

A: Itís a small fridge, three-years-old in good working condition. Iím asking $200.00 for it

B: Thanks for the information, but I was actually looking for a regular size fridge, not an apartment size.

A: Thank you for calling. Good-bye

B: Bye


Iíd Like To Make An Appointment:


A: Sunnyside Health Clinic. May I help you?

B: Yes, Iíd like to may an appointment to see Dr. Chang.

A: Is this an urgent matter or a routine physical?

B: Just a check-up

A: Could you make it Saturday, November 9, at 10:30?

B: That would be fine.

A: May I have your name please?

B: Judy Smith. S-M-I-T-H

A: Have you seen the doctor before?

B: Yes, I have.

A: Fine, weíll see you on the ninth then.

B: Thank you. Good-bye

A: Good -bye


Reservation for Two:


A: Green Door Restaurant.

B: Hello. Iíd like to make a reservation for dinner this evening. A party of two at eight oíclock.

A: Yes, that would be fine. And your name please?

B: Ford.

A: Fine, thank-you Mrs. Ford. Weíll see you then. Good-bye.

B: Good-bye.


Iíd Like Some Information About:


A: City of Toronto, Permits Department.

B: Yes, Iíd like to find out about renewing a parking permit?

A: One moment please and Iíll connect you with the right department.

B: Thank you.


Directory Assistance:


A: Directory Assistance. City please?

B: Calgary Alberta.

A: Thank you. Yes?

B: Iíd like the number for Turner. T-U-R-N-E-R , first initial D.

A: Thank you. Do you have an address for that name?

B: I think its on Main St. Iím not sure.

A: The number is area code 708 938-0976.

B: Area code: 708 938-0976. Thank you.

A: Youíre welcome.


Collect Call from ...


A: Operator.

B: Yes, Iíd like to make a collect call to British Columbia, 604 989-7654.

A: Thank you ... May I have the name and telephone number?

B: Yes, Martha Vince 416 781-6549.

A: Thank you.

C: Hello.

A: I have a collect call from Martha Vince. Will you accept the charges?

C: Certainly ... Hello Martha.



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