• Telephoning


The reality of every hotel in the world is that the telephone rings constantly, or ‘off the hook’ to use an English idiom.

Speaking on the phone in a second language can be a challenging and stressful experience.  Without the paralinguistic cues we interpret in face to face communication (facial expression, gestures and body language), the telephone offers a cold wake up call to how good our second language actually is.  But there are lots of tricks the receiver of a call can use to make life a little easier.  And with practice and repetition, these tricks become more and more automated and eventually a natural part of any telephone exchange.

  1. Ask the person to slow down

There are key expressions you can use if you find it difficult to follow what the other person is saying.

For example,

✅ “Can you slow down, please?”

✅ “Could you speak up, please?”

✅ “Would you repeat that, please?”

✅ “I’m afraid I‘m not with you”.


  1. Spelling

If you are not sure of how to spell someone’s name, ask them how to spell it.

✅ “Would you mind spelling your name for me, please?”

alphabet pronunciation chart

How to say the letters of the alphabet











3. Be polite.

Avoid using the word “want” and instead employ modal verbs like “could” or “would”.

This is especially important when talking with native speakers. Also say “please” and “thank you”. Some useful expressions are:

✅ “Could you email me the information, please?”


✅ “Would you contact me as soon as possible, please?”


  1. Memorise key expressions.

Repeating key expressions to yourself aloud lets your mouth get used to saying them so that using them becomes automatic. Again, recording yourself or asking for a friend’s feedback will allow you to make sure that what you are saying sounds natural and easy to follow. You can also copy good models for natural catenation (intonation and stress).  Perhaps a native speaker friend or a non-native speaker with a good level of English can let you record them as a model to copy?


  1. Rehearse important calls and make a checklist.

If you are feeling anxious ahead of an important call, it is always a good idea to rehearse beforehand. Have a checklist in front of you to remind you of the things that you need to ask or explain.


  1. Finally, smile!

It’s important to smile when speaking on the telephone.


Smiling tricks the brain into thinking that you are happy and this will help to calm you down. Research has shown that people can hear if you are smiling.

It is important to remember that everyone has, at some point, had difficulties communicating on the phone. Familiarity and practice are the things which create confidence and a good performance.

Here are some expressions to help you when you are communicating by telephone.





The Receiver



✅  Hello, John from the Grammar Goat hotel.  How may I assist you today?


✅  Hello, ………….. How lovely to hear from you. How are you?


Asking for the caller’s name

✅  May I ask who’s calling, please?


Offering help

✅  How may I be of assistance?

✅  How can I help you?

✅  What can I do for you? (informal)


Taking a message

✅  I’m (terribly) sorry, Mr Clarke is in a meeting / is unavailable / is out of the office.

✅  Could I take a message?

✅  Would you like to leave a message?


Ask someone to slow down

✅  Could you slow down a bit, please?

✅  Could you speak up a little, please?

✅  Would you repeat that, please?

✅  I’m afraid I‘m not with you.


Confirming details

✅  That’s a table for four at 9 o’clock this evening.  There are no special dietary requirements or allergies.



✅  Thank you for calling/ your call.


Indicating the end of the call 

✅  We look forward to seeing you later/tomorrow / at 6 o’clock this evening.


Saying goodbye


✅  Have a lovely day.

✅  Goodbye.


✅  Speak (to you) soon.

✅  See you soon.

✅  Take care.

Here are more useful phrases which can be used:

✅  It’s a bad line. Could I ring you back?

✅  It’s a bad connection. Could I call you back?

✅  The line is engaged/busy., I’m afraid.

✅  I’m afraid that you have the wrong number.

Happy telephoning and remember.  The more you practise, the more proficient you will become.  🐐