Telephone English - Tips for Getting People to Slow Down!!
By Kenneth Beare, About.com
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 are some 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 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.
• If the person does not slow down 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 :-)!
Exercises for Practicing Speaking on the Telephone
The most important thing about practicing telephone conversations is that you shouldn't be able to see the person you are speaking to on the phone. You may ask, 'How can I do that if I am practicing with a friend or another classmate?' Here are a few suggestions for practicing phone calls without looking at your partner:
• If you are in the same room - Put your chairs back to back and practice speaking on the phone, you will only hear the other person's voice which will approximate a telephone situation.
• Use the telephone - This is pretty obvious, but really not used that often. Give your friend a call and practice various conversations (role plays).
• Use internal office phones at work - This is one of my favorites and great for business classes. If your class is on site (at the office) go to different offices and call one another practicing conversations. Another variation is for the students to go into another office and have the teacher telephone them pretending to be a native speaker in a hurry. It's then up to the students to make sure they have communicated what they need, or understood what the caller wants. This exercise is always a lot of fun - depending on how good your teacher is at acting!
• Tape yourself - If you are practicing alone, tape standard answers and then practice using the tape recorder stopping and starting to simulate a conversation.
• 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.
• ring the company representative to find out details on how the product works.
• telephone a consumer agency to find out if the product has any defects.
• call customer service to find out about replacement parts, etc.
1. Speak slowly and clearly
Listening to someone speaking in a second language over the telephone can be very challenging because you cannot see the person you are trying to hear. However, it may be even more difficult for the person you are talking with to understand you. You may not realize that your pronunciation isn't clear because your teacher and fellow students know and understand you. Pay special attention to your weak areas (such as "r's" and "l's" or "b's" and "v's") when you are on the phone. If you are nervous about using the phone in English, you may notice yourself speaking very quickly. Practise or write down what you are going to say and take a few deep breaths before you make a phone call.
2. Make sure you understand the other speaker
Don't pretend to understand everything you hear over the telephone. Even native speakers ask each other to repeat and confirm information from time to time. This is especially important if you are taking a message for someone else. Learn the appropriate expressions that English speakers use when they don't hear something properly. Don't be afraid to remind the person to slow down more than once. Keep your telephone in an area that is away from other noise distractions such as a radio or television.
3. Practise with a friend
Ask another student to practise talking on the phone with you. You might choose one night a week and take turns phoning each other at a certain time. Try to talk for at least fifteen minutes. You can talk socially, or role play different scenarios in a business environment. If you don't have access to a telephone, you can practise by setting two chairs up back to back. The most important thing about practising telephone English is that you aren't able to see each other's mouths. It is amazing how much people lip-read without realizing.
4. Use businesses and recordings
There are many ways to get free telephone English practice. After business hours, you can call and listen to recorded messages. Write down what you hear the first time, and then call back and check if your notes are accurate. Use the phone in your everyday life. Call for a pizza delivery instead of going out to eat. Call a salon to book a hair appointment. You can even phone the movie theatre to ask for the listings instead of using the newspaper. Some large cities have free recordings you can call for information such as your daily horoscope or the weather. (Make sure that you aren't going to get charged for these numbers first.) Some products have free phone numbers on the packaging that you can call for information. Think of a question you might want to ask and call the free number! For example, call the number on the back of the cereal box and ask for coupons. You will have to give your name and address. Make sure you have a pen handy so that you can repeat the information and check your comprehension.
5. Learn telephone etiquette (manners)
The way that you speak to your best friend on the phone is very different to the way you should speak to someone in a business setting. Many ESL speakers make the mistake of being too direct on the telephone. It is possible that the person on the other line will think that you are being rude on purpose if you don't use formal language in certain situations. Sometimes just one word such as "could" or "may" is necessary in order to sound polite. You should use the same modals you would use in a formal "face-to-face" situation. Take the time to learn how to answer the phone and say goodbye in a polite manner, as well as all the various ways one can start and end a conversation casually.
6. Practise dates and numbers
It only takes a short time to memorize English Phonetic Spelling, but it is something that you will be able to use in any country. You should also practise saying dates and numbers aloud. You and a friend can write out a list of dates and numbers and take turns reading them over the phone to each other. Record what you hear. Swap papers the next day and check your answers.
You are probably used to making informal calls to family and friends. When making calls to companies, however, some special rules and conventions apply. On this page we explain how to call someone in a company that you do not know personally (the most common kind of formal call made by students) and give you some models and language that you can use.
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 the background 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.
Making a call to someone you do not know
The most difficult calls to make are calls to people that you do not not know. Usually, the purpose of your call will be to make a request for information or a meeting. This kind of call can be divided into sections according to the function each serves:
• Locate the person
• Make request
• Make arrangement
• Close the call
In the following examples, we will imagine that you are calling Mr. Lau to arrange a visit to his office.
Locate the person
If the person you want to speak to answers the call, this part is simple. If the receiver gives her name when he answers your call, you can skip to the next stage. If the receiver does not give his name, you can confirm that you have the right person:
Hello, is that Mr Lau?
More often the number that you have will connect you to an operator or secretary. In this case you will have to ask to speak to Mr. Lau:
Hello, I'd like to speak to Mr. Lau Kam-cheong, please.
If Mr. Lau is not available, you will need to find out when you can speak to him:
Could you tell me when he will be available?
If the person you are calling has a busy schedule, you may have to call several times. When you are finally connected, it is best to pretend that this is your first call. Do not mention how difficult it was to make contact!
Sometimes, you will not know the name of the person who might be able to help you. In this case, you can state your request and then say:
Could you put me through to someone who might be able to help me?
Locating someone at a company can be frustrating if you are passed from person to person. Try not to let your frustration show!
I wonder if I could pay a visit to your office for an hour or so sometime in the next two
Making a request involves three stages: introducing yourself, giving background, and making the request itself.
Introduce yourself by giving your name and explaining who you are:
I'm ...., I'm a first-year student at Hong Kong University....
If you have been given the receiver's name by someone else, you should also mention this:
Mr. Chan from Eurasia Products suggested that I call you....
Give the background to your request by explaining why you are making it:
I'm doing a project on work experience and I need to arrange a visit to a company in your field....
Make your request politely and clearly. Make sure that the receiver knows exactly what agreeing to your request will involve: how much of her time will it involve and what will she or her staff will have to do:
weeks, to talk to one of your staff about....
If the person you are calling agrees to your request, it is important to make a clear arrangement. If you are arranging a meeting, for example, arrange the time and place and make sure you know where to go and what to do when you get there. Make a note of all the information so that you do not need to call back again to find out something you have missed.
If the person you are calling cannot agree to your request, he may modify it. Listen carefully and try to fit in with his schedule.
If the person you are calling cannot agree to your request at all, ask if he knows someone else who can help:
Do you know anyone else who might be able to help me?
Close the call
As the caller, it is your job to close the call when you have got the information you need. Unless the receiver shows that he wants to talk, it is not polite to chat once your business is finished. If there is a difficult silence at the end of the call, it is probably because you are not doing your job of closing the call. You can do this by confirming the arrangement:
So, I'll come to your office on Monday at 10....
thanking the receiver,
Thank you very much for your help....
and saying goodbye
In each case, wait for the receiver's response before you go on to the next stage. Wait until you have heard the receiver say goodbye before you hang up.
Whether the receiver can help you or not, thank her and close the call politely.
Telephone language and phrases in English
How to answer and speak on the phone
Answering the phone
Good morning/afternoon/evening, York Enterprises, Elizabeth Jones speaking.
Who's calling, please? Problems
I'm sorry, I don't understand. Could you repeat that, please?
I'm sorry, I can't hear you very well. Could you speak up a little, please?
I'm afraid you've got the wrong number.
I've tried to get through several times but it's always engaged.
Could you spell that, please?
This is Paul Smith speaking.
Hello, this is Paul Smith from Speakspeak International.
Putting someone through
One moment, please. I'll see if Mr Jones is available.
I'll put you through.
I'll connect you.
I'm connecting you now.
Asking for someone
Could I speak to John Martin, please?
I'd like to speak to John Martin, please.
Could you put me through to John Martin, please?
Could I speak to someone who …
Taking a message
Can I take a message?
Would you like to leave a message?
Can I give him/her a message?
I'll tell Mr Jones that you called
I'll ask him/her to call you as soon as possible.
I'm afraid Mr Martin isn't in at the moment.
I'm sorry, he's in a meeting at the moment.
I'm afraid he's on another line at the moment.
Putting someone on hold
Just a moment, please.
Could you hold the line, please?
Hold the line, please.
Selasa, 12 Mei 2009
Telephone English - Tips for Getting People to Slow Down!!