Fairfax County Adult ESL

  Job skills

Learner Level:
  Beginning level ESL

Time Frame:
  2.5 hours

Learner Grouping:
  Small group, Whole class

  This lesson was taught in a workforce preparation class to ESL learners who were looking for work.


  Fairfax County Adult ESL

Type of Program:

Student Population Served:

Telephone Skills - knowing whether to stay on the line or leave a message

Beginning ESL learners listen to a tape of a dialogue of a call to a workplace. They then determine whether to stay on the line or leave a message. They also practice short dialogues. __________________________________________________________

Learning Objective:
Over the telephone, the learner will be able to ask to speak to a supervisor at work using an appropriate telephone voice and to determine whether to stay on the line or to leave a message based on the response.

Primary Skill:
Speak so other can understand

Secondary Skills:
Listen actively

Learner Needs & Goals:
Beginning level learners needed to be able to communicate over the telephone during their job search and might also be responsible for answering the telephone at work. It was necessary for them to speak clearly.

Learning Activity Description:
Warm Up/Review - Bring in a tape of a simple telephone call or use the dialogue above. Tell learners to listen carefully as you play the tape. Ask learners "What was that?", "What did you hear?", and "Was the call to a business or a home?" Write all of this information on the board. Ask the class whether Mr. Jones was there.

Introduction - Tell the class that they will learn how to make a telephone call to a supervisor at work.

Presentation - Teach the class the dialogue. You can have the class repeat after the lines on the tape or after you. Ask half of the class to take the part of "A" and the other half to be caller "B." Switch roles. Have partners practice the dialogue. When everyone has mastered the dialogue, have individuals act out the dialogue for the class.

Ask the class if it is difficult to speak on the telephone. Talk about why that is. Ask them to describe how to speak. Be sure you say that the caller must speak with a loud, clear voice. Demonstrate this for the class. Also, focus on intonation and stress when learners continue to practice the dialogue. In addition, demonstrate that they must speak slowly in order to be understood. Use the evaluation worksheet to focus on each of these points.

Write the dialogue on the board and have the class read it with you. Discuss whether there are other ways to answer the telephone. Write the suggestions on the board. Also, ask learners if they can say "hold on" in another way. Write the suggestions on the board.

Change "Hold on, I'll get him." to "Mr. Jones isn't here now." Ask learners what to do. Talk about leaving a message. Tell them they will learn how to do this in another lesson.

Comprehension Check - Read the dialogue using the line "Hold on." Have the learners decide whether the third party is available or not. Use red index cards to indicate that the party is unavailable and green to indicate that s/he is. Learners answer the question by holding up the appropriate card. Read the dialogue with the line, "Mr. Jones isn't here now." Ask learners to say if Mr. Jones is at work or not by using the same procedure with the index cards.

Practice - Have learners practice telephone calls with each other while sitting back-to-back. Have them rate each other and themselves using the student evaluation worksheet. Discuss the ratings.

Distribute sentence strips for the telephone dialogue. Have pairs put the strips in the correct order.

Application - Have learners write their own dialogues and then perform them for the class. If the class is not able to write, they can act out these dialogues and you can write them on the board afterwards.

Materials and Resources:

  • A tape of a simple telephone call with the following dialogue:
    Good morning, Hilton Hotel.
    May I speak to Mr. Jones?
    Hold on, I'll get him.
    Thank you.

Attachments: (For Internet Explorer users, right click on link then choose "Save target as". For Netscape users, just hold down the shift key and click on the link.)
See Above

Pair students and have them use one of the examples practiced to call to each other as they sit back-to-back. Use the Teacher Evaluation Worksheet to rate them on their performance of the objective. Share the results with the students, pointing out their strengths and weaknesses.

I would arrange to have learners speak to each other on actual telephones.


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