Wednesday, 13 December 2017

How to Conduct Telephonic Conversations in an ELT classroom

In today’s blog I am going to focus on how to assist learners in speaking on telephone in a very formal situation. This is what they may have to do at their workplaces and the confidence that they gain through this kind of exposure will make them more comfortable in using English at their workplaces in future. For doing such an exercise with the learners, the teacher will have to first clarify how talking on phone/ social media with their friends and talking on phone at their workplace is different. One cannot speak with the same informality with which one speaks to his/her friends/ family when one speaks to strangers/ colleagues/ customers at a workplace. Hence it is always helpful to know a few easy and short phrases in English, which can be used while talking on a telephone at a workplace.

Lesson: Hello!

Topic: How to speak on telephone at workplace

Activity 1: Mis-Pronounced Words/phrases: Teacher Directed: 5 Minutes:

The teacher will speak loudly and clearly the following words/phrases, one by one. The students will listen. Then, s/he will ask them to repeat after him/her. Special attention is to paid to clear and loud reproduction of pronunciations by the students. 

Hello!                                                          Who’s speaking?
How may I help you?                             May I help you?
Hold on for moment, please!                 Moment, please!
I will call back, later.                              Be online.
Good day/ goodbye.                                Have a nice day!
Let me connect you.                                Let me transfer your call.

Activity 2: Vocabulary: Teacher Directed: 5 Minutes

The teacher will write the following words/phrases on the blackboard and will say the words aloud. The students will repeat after the teacher. The teacher will explain the meaning and their usage in context when speaking on phone. The teacher can make judicious use of mother tongue if students fail to comprehend the meaning of words.
·         afraid: (by definition/ verbal context):  feeling fear about someone/thing, I don’t like to go alone at nights. I am afraid some ghosts will catch me.
·         call back: (by definition/ verbal context): a telephone call you make to somebody who has just called you or given you a missed call. Sudha never returns my calls. But she expects everybody to call her back as soon as she gives a missed call.
·         hang on: (by definition/ verbal context): used to tell somebody on phone to wait. Ramesh called up the Pizza Shop to check whether his favourite pizza was available. The service boy asked him to hang on until he checked it from kitchen.

Activity 3: Role Play 1: Teacher Directed: 10-15 Minutes

This activity will be done in pairs. The teacher will ask the students how they talk on telephones.  S/he will give the following conversation/dialogues to them to enact how a telephonic conversation in a company/ office takes place.
Learner 1: First Flight Travel Agency. Mr. Singh speaking. Can I help you?
Learner 2: Good morning, I am Amandeep from Alpha Company. Could I speak to Mr. Gupta?
Learner 1: Yes, of course. Would you hang on a minute? I´ll put you through.
Learner 2: Alright.
Learner 1: I am afraid; he is not in at the moment. Would you like to leave a message?
Learner 2: No, thank you. When could I call him back?
Learner 1: Could you please ring him up tomorrow morning?
Learner 2: Yes, of course. Thank you very much. Goodbye.

Activity 4: Feedback: Teacher Directed: 5 Minutes

Ask a few learners questions about their experience of talking on telephones/ mobiles. Review any common pronunciation problems the learners had.

Activity 5: Classroom Language: Telephone conversation: Group Work: Teacher Directed: 10 Minutes:

This activity will be done in pairs/ groups. The students will be given the following terms/ phrases and a situation for using them. They will enact the situation where they would conduct a Telecon using some/ most of these phrases. They will use all the terms in each given situation.

Terms/ Phrases for Telecon

May I help you?
Have problems with:
Let me connect you to:
One moment please:
What kind of problems are you having?
I am not sure
That will be extra:
Covered by warranty:
Send out a reminder:
Confirm the appointment:
Accept credit card payment
 Thank you for your help
Have a nice day!


Mobile repair shop
Fridge repair shop
Cycle repair shop
Television repair shop
Computer repair shop
Garments shop
AC repair shop
 Water Cooler repair shop
Microwave repair shop
Water Tank  repair shop
 Washing Machine repair shop
Scooter repair shop
Car repair shop

Activity 6: Variation: Role Play: 5 Minutes

The teacher can now prepare a different conversation for role play where the students can enact as if they are having short telephonic conversations. Divide the learners into pairs and tell them to take turns in knowing each other with the help of the following starting dialogue for telephone conversations.

Conversation 1 G: Hello, this is Nisha.
A: Hi, Nisha. This is Meeta from the Accounting department.
Conversation 2 G: Good morning. How may I help you?
A: Good morning, I have misplaced my hotel room key.
Conversation 3 G: Hi, this is Jennifer.
 A: Hi Jennifer, thank you for returning my call.
Conversation 4 Q: May I speak to John please?
A: One moment. Let me connect you.
Conversation 5 G: I was put on hold for a long time. I am still waiting for John.
A: I am so sorry. Let me connect you to John right now.
Conversation 6 Q: Who is calling, please?
A: This is Ram Niwas.
Conversation 7 G: I need to speak to Rishi Kapoor.
                   A: Let me transfer you. Please hold.
Conversation 8 G: Sorry, Rita is in the field at the moment.
A: Could you take a message? 
Conversation 9 G: Sorry, Seema is not available at the moment.
A: Can I leave a message for Seema then?
Conversation 10 Q: Lohan is still on the other line. Do you still wish to hold?
   A: Yes, I will hold.
Conversation 11 G: Thank you for holding. How may I help you?
   A: I need some information on one of your products.
Conversation 12 Q: For verification, may I have your home address?
    A: Yes please. My address is: House number 1234, Sector 5, Chandigarh.

Adolescent learners studying in government schools in urban and rural India studying in classes X and above are forced to quit formal school education and assist their parents in earning money for their daily livelihood. Many of them look for jobs in retail outlets in malls, shops, restaurants and other service stations. In such cases, they feel their school education especially whatever they were taught in their language classes is not at all useful to them in surviving at their workplaces.

It is at such times that the effectiveness of a language teacher comes into play. Various exercises that a language teacher conducts in a language class revolving around conversations based on real life situations will be most relevant for such learners. That is why it is said that a language teacher must try to go beyond the textbook syllabus while using the same as a launch pad for the students to start expressing themselves in the target language in every form possible such as spoken and written.

This is how a teacher may make the classroom language learning relevant and actually useful for second language learners of English in India.


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