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The Phone Call: Terror of The Language Learner

Category: Business English Skills, Language Training | 2018-09-13

Even after almost ten years of studying the language, I still get butterflies when I have to make a phone call in German. So I can completely understand when my students say that they find making phone calls difficult.

Personally, I think the difficulty is two fold. First of all, I know when I’m speaking German with someone in person, I listen to what they’re saying and read their lips at the same time in order to increase my understanding. When you’re speaking on the phone with somebody, this isn’t possible. Secondly, when you’re speaking with someone on the phone, there’s a good chance that the person on the other end of the line is a native speaker, which adds a whole other level of angst to the task.

Never fear, though! Just like anything else, calling on the phone takes practice, and there are some essential phone call phrases in English that will help you on your way. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes, and check out these phrases to help you practice!

Essential Phone Call Phrases in English

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Phrases when picking up the phone

“Good morning/afternoon/evening, this is [company name], [your name] speaking. How may I help you?”
“Hello, this is ….. . How may I help you?”
“May I ask who’s calling?”
“Could I ask which company you’re with?”
“Can I put you on hold?”

Phrases when making a call

“Hello, this is [your name] from [company name] calling for [person you want to talk to].”
“May I speak to [person’s name] please?”
“I’m calling about [reason].”
“I just wanted to ask about [reason].”

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Nobody ever said it was easy!

Phrases to take a message

“I’m afraid they’re not in at the moment. May I take a message?”
“How would you like them to get in touch with you?”
“May I have your phone number, please?”
“May I have your email, please?”
“I’ll have them get back to you as soon as possible.”

Phrases to check information

“How do you spell that, please?”

“Ok, let me make sure I spelled that right. [spell name/company/etc.]”
“May I repeat that number back to you?”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that. Could you please repeat that?”
“Could you please speak up a little? I can’t hear you very well.”






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Putting it All Together

As usual, at the end of a call, it’s important to thank the person on the other end of the line and tell them to have a good day. Never be afraid to check information when on a call, especially when it comes to asking the other person to repeat themselves. The information they’re telling you is probably very important, so you want to make sure you get it right.

Practice makes perfect, so don’t be afraid to practice your speaking on the phone! Do you make a lot of phone calls for work? Share your tips and tricks for non-native speakers in the comments below! And if you want to continue improving your Business English skills, sign up for our monthly newsletter. You’ll receive a 7-day free trial of our online English course and get more tips, articles and exclusive deals. Thanks for reading!



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