Telephone English: Emma’s top tips

Hi there. My name is Emma, and in today’s video, I am going to teach you about the telephone and cell phones. Telephone English. I’m going to teach you some of my top tips on how to speak well when you’re on the telephone. A lot of students get very, very scared when they talk on the telephone. Why is this? Well, you can’t see the person’s lips moving when you’re on the telephone, and the English — it’s sometimes difficult to understand what someone is saying. So it’s okay. You can get better at talking on the telephone. And I’m going to tell you how. So let’s get started. I have eight tips for you. No. 1, one of the main problems students have when they’re on the telephone, is they’re very direct. What does “direct” mean? Maybe they’ll say something like, “I want to talk to Mr. Bob.” Okay? “I want to talk to Mr. Smith.” This is very direct English. Why is it direct? “Want.” It’s not the most polite way to speak. When you say “I want. I want.” It’s better, when you’re on the phone — especially to someone you don’t know that well — to use polite English, such as “could, would, may.” “May I speak to Mr. Bob? May I speak to Mr. Smith?” “Could you hold on a minute, please?” Okay? It sounds a lot nicer. So remember your “could, would, may”. Try not to use “want”. Tip No. 2, practice. Practice, practice, practice. Practice makes perfect. But how do you practice? Who will you practice with? Well, one idea is if you know that there’s a business, and the business is closed for the day, you can call their telephone number. Maybe they have an answering machine you can listen to. What I would recommend is call a business you know will be closed; listen to their answering machine message; and try to take notes on what they say. And then call back, and see. Did what you hear — is it the same? Is it the same from the first time you called to the second time? Are your notes correct? So very key is practice. You can also practice with a friend. You can practice in front of the mirror. “Hello!” Okay? So practice, practice, practice. No. 3, spelling. A lot of the time, we have to spell on the phone. Sometimes you have to spell your name, your last name, your address. So it’s very important to be able to pronounce alphabet letters, a-b-c-d-e. So it’s very important that you can say these letters correctly. And also that you know how to spell things out on the phone. So what do I mean by this? Well, for example, if you have to call someone, and they need to write down your last name, and your last name is — we’ll say your last name is White, so White. So you’re on the phone, and they say, “What’s your last name?” “My last name is White.” And then you start spelling it. “W as in ‘Wilson’; H as in ‘Hilgar’ — it’s a weird name, but — I as in ‘Iceland’.” So what you do is you spell out your name using examples. So for example, if I’m spelling “Emma”, I’d say, “My name is Emma. That’s E as in ‘Erin’; M as in ‘Mary’; M as in ‘Mary’; A as in ‘Anne’.” Why do we do this? It’s because some English letters sound the same. If you’re on the phone, and you say “p-d-t-v”, they all sound so similar. By spelling out in this way, the person will know which letter you’re talking about. Tip No. 4, numbers. A lot of the time, when you talk on the phone, you have to use numbers or someone will tell you a number, and you may have to write it down. It’s very important to practice your numbers. Practice listening for numbers. So for example, a lot of students have trouble with 30 vs. 13, okay? What’s the difference? 30, the first part is long, “thir”; the second part is short, “ty”. “Thirty”. Versus 13, where the first part of the number is short, and the second part is long. So it’s very important to get used to numbers like 14 vs. 40, 15 vs. 50. And you should also practice listening to long numbers. Okay? Maybe if I say the number one, you understand that. It’s easy. But try to listen to this number. If I say “4-45-1-7-8-10-100”, maybe it would be more challenging. So practice your numbers. No. 5, very important tip, ask if you don’t understand. A lot of students get nervous on the phone, and they’re too embarrassed to tell the person they’re talking to, “I don’t understand.” It’s very important you tell the person that, okay? So when you’re on the phone, you can say, “I’m sorry. Can you repeat that, please?” Or “I’m sorry. Could you repeat that?” Or “I’m sorry. Can you please slow down? My English is not strong.” This will help for the other person on the line to slow down their English, and then, hopefully you can hear what they’re saying, okay? So always ask for them to slow down if you don’t understand, and you can ask them to repeat. No. 6, it’s very good to memorize — so remember — key phone expressions, okay? What are some examples of these? Ring! Ring! Imagine someone’s calling me. “Hello?” Okay, they say, “Is Josh there?” I say, “Oh, I’m sorry. He’s not in. May I ask who’s calling please?” A lot of the phone English, it’s the same. You hear the same expressions again and again and again. Just remember these expressions. “May I ask who’s calling, please?” Okay? “Is so-and-so there?” If you remember these expressions, it will make talking on the phone a lot easier for you. No. 7, when you’re on the phone, it’s important to know if you should use formal or informal English. What’s the difference? Formal English, you would use, maybe if you’re talking to someone you don’t know. Maybe if you work at a business, you might use this with a customer. So it’s very polite English. Informal English is the English you would use with your friends. So it’s important to know which phone expressions are formal, and which ones are informal. An example of this, when I made a mistake was, one time, in a job interview, somebody called me, and they asked to speak to me, and I said, “Oh, hey! How’s it going?” This is very informal English. What I should’ve said was, “How are you?” Okay? So it’s important to know the difference. Finally, the last tip — and a very important one — smile. When you smile when you’re on the phone, it makes your brain think you’re very happy, and it will calm you down. Okay? So you’ll feel less nervous if you smile. And also, people can usually hear if someone is smiling. It sounds weird, but it’s true. When you’re smiling, people can usually tell that you sound happier. So it’s very good to smile when you answer the phone, when you call someone. Have a smile on, and you will feel calmer. So I hope you’ve enjoyed this video. I invite you to come to our website, There, we have some quizzes where you can practice my phone tips. So until next time, take care.. 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