Lots of my students tell me that they find it harder to understand English when they are speaking on the phone. That makes sense, doesn’t it?
When we are speaking face to face, we can use body language, lip reading and gestures to help us understand but on the phone we only have the words. The person on the other end also can’t see if you are struggling to understand so they may speak quickly or move onto the next topic before you are ready.
So it is a great idea to practise speaking English on the phone but how can you find someone to practise with? Here are a few tips I give my students.
Ways to practise speaking English on the phone
- Book a taxi – Find a taxi firm in Birmingham and phone to ask how much it costs to get from Birmingham city centre to Gatwick airport. Don’t worry, you don’t have to take that taxi 😉
- Reserve a table at a restaurant – Phone to check their smoking policy and if they have any vegan options.
- Research attractions with Tourist Information – Call Tourist Information in Edinburgh and ask them about their recommendations for things to do there.
- Plan a museum visit – Ring a London museum and enquire about opening and closing times and prices.
- Check train times – Call Network rail and ask about discounts for senior citizens and students.
- Book a weekend away – Phone a campsite/hotel in Devon and ask about pitch/room prices and facilities.
- Can you think of any other ideas?
Useful phrases to use on the phone
If you are feeling nervous, you can write a few notes and questions before you make your phonecall. Here are a few phrases you might need during the phonecall:
Sorry, I didn’t catch that.
Could you repeat that please?
Sorry about my English. Could you speak more slowly please?
Thank you so much for your help.
I’ll have a think and get back to you.
Remember, some of these places will often deal with non-native speakers so they will be patient with you but others may not. Don’t be offended or worried about your English – you will never meet the person on the other end of the phone 🙂 Remember to be polite and thank them for their time, as is the British way!!
It will feel difficult the first time but if you continue to practise speaking English on the phone, you will improve. That’s a promise!
If you try any of these ideas, please let me know how it went in the comments below! 🙂
Feeling shy about the phone but want to practise your English with native speakers? Try this suggestion!