5 Easy Steps to making a telephone call in English

Hello! Today is about using the telephone. Whether (v1) you have a low level or high level of English there is something about the telephone which makes it feel more stressing. Even some native English speakers I know dislike making calls!

Vocabulary v1 = if

What about this call? Is it a good example of a telephone call?




No, it isn’t a good call! They are not polite and they don’t use the standard telephone expressions! I hope you agree with me. By the end of this article you will be able to correct the conversation to make it perfect!

Let’s break it down into smaller bite-sized (v2) pieces to make it more manageable.




Vocab.-  v2 = smaller pieces we can handle, bite-sized is the size you would take to eat 1 bite at a time.


Step 1 Vocabulary





Step 2 Telephone Phrasal Verbs

Phrasal verbs connected to the telephone are often used so you need to learn these. These are the basic 8.







Step 3 Useful Expressions

Let’s look at these phrasal verbs and useful expressions in the context of a simple telephone conversation.





Step 4 Be prepared for possible problems


So, what could be a problem?  And what could we say when it happens?


*The person isn’t there

“Could I leave a message for her, please?”

“Could you ask her to call me back?”

“I will call back later.”


*The person is speaking very quickly

“Sorry, could you speak more slowly please?”


The telephone connection is bad and the sound is unclear

“I’m sorry I can’t hear you very well. It’s a bad line.”

“Could you repeat that, please?”


You don’t know how to spell their name or a product name they are saying

“Could you spell that please?”


You are not sure if you got all the details right in your notes 

“I’ll send you an email now just to confirm the details.”

“Just let me check that number/information with you.”


If it is impossible you could always use a plastic bag to make crinkle (v3) noises into the receiver (v4) and say the line is terrible and that you will call them back in a while, hehe (v5)  😂.


Vocab-  v3 = the noise of dry leaves or a plastic bag when you move it in your fingers.  v4 = the mouth piece of the telephone/ the microphone. v5 = how we write laughing in English.



Step 5 Prepare everything you need for the call


If you will be talking about product prices then have the list there with you. If you need the computer during the call then make sure it is turned on. If you are uncertain about your English prepare a list of the key vocabulary you may need and print out the example conversation or phrasal verbs from this article.

Now, prepare yourself and take a minute to relax. Lower your shoulders breath in for 3 counts and out for 3 counts.  Eg. In 2 3, out 2 3 and repeat.  The calmer you are on the phone the less likely you will block and forget things.


Are you ready to correct that terrible conversation from the beginning now?





The Corrected Conversation





I hope that helped you with basic telephone calls.

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See you soon,







About Kim Griffiths

Hello, I'm Kim. I'm a qualified English ESL teacher with a CELTA A qualification and I have over 25 years of experience teaching English to non-native speakers. I love teaching! I also write about English, sing jazz, paint and make things.

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