How to start an English conversation on the phone


How to start an English conversation on the phone










My name is Jana and I've been working as National Sales Manager for the last 3 years. As a German, my main responsibility is my home market but my company has offices all around Europe. So I get calls from abroad every now and again - and I need to speak English!

Seeing a foreign number on my telephone display always used to make me nervous. I never knew what to say to my foreign colleagues. But now I've learned a few tricks and phrases to help me get the conversation started.

Firstly, I know that the person calling is probably just as nervous as I am! And if I speak clearly and simply, they will be put at ease and the conversation will flow. I start off a call with introducing myself:

Thank you for calling. My name is Jana. How can I help?

By asking a question, I find out what the caller wants. If they need information that I have to find, then I usually ask them to hold: Could you hold while I check that for you?

And when I find the relevant information, I usually start off with:

Thank you for your patience.

I sometimes receive calls meant for my co-workers in the department. So I use a phrase such as

X is not at his/her desk. Can I leave a message?

By learning a few simple sentences and phrases, I started to enjoy telephoning with my European colleagues. Of course, there are times when I do not understand the caller. But that is no problem when I ask:

I'm sorry, could you repeat that


Could you explain that again please?

Now, international calls are just a part of everyday working life. My international colleagues recognize my professionalism and helpfulness - and that is important to me.



Berlitz's seminar "Telephoning in English" is ideal for anyone who receives international calls as part of their job. As well as covering what to say when taking a call, topics also include making calls, leaving messages and making appointments. With an emphasis on practical exercises throughout the seminar, participants are encouraged to actively participate and improve their skills.

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