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Video:Learn ESL: 5 Exercises for Practicing Phone Conversations

with Alex Jimenez

ESL students should practice phone conversations since they can be different from a typical face-to-face interaction. Watch this About.com video for 5 tips to practice phone conversations.See Transcript

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Transcript:Learn ESL: 5 Exercises for Practicing Phone Conversations

Hi, I’m Alex Jimenez, a licensed ESL teacher in New York City.  I’m here for About.com today to discuss 5 fun exercises for practicing phone conversations.  When we’re speaking on the phone with someone, we usually can’t see them.  So, when we practice phone conversations, it should be in a way where we can’t see our partner. 

Practicing Phone Conversations without Calling

If you have no phones to work with, you can practice a phone conversation by putting two chairs together back to back.  This way, you’ll be able to hear your partner, but you wont be able to see their mouth moving or see their body gestures.  This will simulate a real phone conversation.  If you have a partner to practice phone conversation, you can be in two different rooms to practice your phone conversation.  This is a great opportunity to practice your language skills when asking the caller if they want to be forwarded to someone’s voicemail or taking messages. 

Practice on the Phone

Exchange telephone phone numbers with a buddy and make a plan to call each other at a specific day and time.  This way you can have an authentic phone call with your classmate.  You can even plan in advance to have a certain set of vocabulary words that you’ve been studying.  For example, if you’ve been studying words that have to do with shopping, you can plan on having a phone conversation where you discuss all the shopping you did that week. 

Practicing a Phone Conversation by Yourself

If you can’t find a partner to practice phone conversations with, you can still do this by recording your own voice. Find a script or a two-way conversation – this is easy to do on the internet.  Then, say the words of the caller, while you record your voice on a smartphone, or other recording device.  Be sure to leave long silences in between each line.  Then, play it back to yourself and practice being the other person on the phone.  You can do this several times, you can even do it in the reverse order, where you play the role of the receiver and then practice being the caller.  This takes a little more time and planning, but it’s still fun and effective. 

Call Customer Service

There’s nothing like a real-life situation to practice your phone conversation skills.  The customer service representatives at a company are trained to give you information about their products and services.  So, go ahead and find a product or service that interests you and call that 1-800 number.  It’s perfectly okay to say, "My English isn’t very strong. Would you please speak to me slowly."  A good customer service representative will do just that, in fact, they’re quite used to it.  They’re happy to help you. 

 I hope these exercises help you to improve you phone conversation skills.   For more exercises for phone conversations, visit About.com.

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