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On The Phone – Listening Lesson

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by Oli Redman on September 22, 2014 , No comments

Making phone calls in another language is much harder than talking face-to-face. In this free English listening lesson from Oxford Online English, you can listen to an example dialogue and learn useful words and phrases to help you with talking on the phone in English.

Man: Hello?

Woman: Hello, I’d like to speak to Paul Verhoeven, please.

Man: I’m afraid he’s with a client at the moment. Can I take a message1?

Woman: Er, OK… Do you know when he’ll be available?

Man: I’m not sure, but I can take a message or just get him to call you back2.

Woman: Well, what I need is quite hard to explain, so could you just tell him Wendy called, from ProLingua.

Man: Sure, and what’s the number?

Woman: He should have it3, but just in case4: it’s 020-411-76855

Man: OK, I’ll let him know.

Woman: The only thing is6 that I’m leaving in two hours, at 4.00. After that it’ll have to wait till7 tomorrow.

Man: OK, I’ll tell him.

Woman: That’s great, thanks very much.

Man: No problem, bye bye!

Woman: Bye!

1. Can I take a message? = Do you want me to tell me why you’re calling so I can tell him?

2. Get someone to do something = ask someone to do something.

3. He should have it = I think he probably has it.

4. (Just) in case means you do something to be careful, because you’re not 100% sure what will happen.

For example:

  • Take an umbrella, in case it rains. –> We’re not sure if it will rain or not, but it’s possible.
  • I’ll take a sandwich in case I get hungry. -> I don’t know if I’ll get hungry or not, but it’s possible.

5. Phone numbers in English are usually pronounced digit-by-digit, for example this number would be: “oh-two-oh, four-one-one, seven-six-eight-five.” We normally say “oh” instead of zero.

6. The (only) thing is is a phrase used to introduce a small problem or something you’re worried about.

For example:

  • That sounds fine, but the only thing is that I won’t be able to start until next month.
  • I could talk to him for you, but the thing is that he won’t be happy if he doesn’t hear it from you.

7. Till = until

Match the phrases to make sentences

1. I’m afraid… a. …to send you an email later today.
2. I’ll get her… b. …be ready on Friday.
3. The only thing is… c. …I just got your message.
4. Hi, Wendy… d. …I’m not sure if the budget is enough.
5. They should… e. …he’s busy right now.

Can you complete the sentences with one word?

  1. That’s fine—I’ll let him __________.
  2. It’ll just __________ to wait until everything is ready.
  3. I’m __________ there’s nothing I can do to help you.
  4. Take an umbrella just in case it __________.
  5. She’s only __________ from 2.00-4.00 on Thursday—she’s busy the rest of the time.
  1. e
  2. a
  3. d
  4. c
  5. b
  6. know
  7. have
  8. afraid
  9. rains
  10. available
Oli RedmanOn The Phone – Listening Lesson

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