Are you a bit nervous about calling up your friend and speaking in English? Many learners get a bit toey before they make the call, but today’s activity just might help lessen those nerves.
One of my students made a comment last week about how nervous they felt when having to speak on the phone in English. For some reason people do get nervous about calling someone up in a foreign language, and yet it has nothing to do with their linguistic level.
I’ve had people with a lower level of English enthusiastically phone up about having English lessons or perhaps they were answering an advert regarding our flat. I’ve also known friends in Prague who were advanced (C1) yet wouldn’t dare call someone up or even answer the phone! They’d text back instead.
Is this you?
There are two ways to approach this. First, it will give you some confidence to know some phrases and vocabulary we use to make social calls. Check out the ‘further reading’ below for more on this.
Beyond this, however, the only way to get better at something which you find difficult or which makes you nervous is simply to do it.
You need real-world practice. How will you know you can do it until you do it for real?
With the internet and Skype we can practise this in class, and this is something I’d like to do this week.
- Download the ‘Telephone Bingo’ reference sheet below and use it to call up a friend to organise a meeting
- If you’re a student of mine, you can start by calling me up to set up our next lesson. If I’m busy, I’ll call you back. No texts 😉
The idea of this worksheet is like bingo, a game where you have words or numbers on a sheet of paper, and when someone calls out a word or number on your paper you cross it off, like getting a point.
In our case the idea is to try to use as many of the phrases as you can. Each time you use a phrase in context, tick it off your list and give yourself a point 😉
After you speak with your friend or English teacher, call them back to tell them your plans have changed and that you want to change the time of the meeting!
Report how you felt
How did you feel before you made the call? What about afterwards? Make a few notes on this and report back to your teacher. Feel free to leave a comment below about your experience.
Practice – again and again
If you get nervous by telephoning in English, one call won’t cut it. Make it a regular habit! We feel more confident about doing difficult things by doing them again and again, so add calling me up once a week to list of things to do.
If you’ve paid for 10 lessons and you have a ‘bonus’ lesson to come, why not consider this 90 minutes to be used for a few Skype calls?
For the classroom
Students can get some practice in a supportive environment by arranging a meeting in a class role play. The same principle applies – they try it a few times, ticking off the phrases as they use them. If students are in groups of 3 one can be an umpire to make notes and give feedback.
Activity: organise a meeting
Or get it here -> Telephone bingo
What else can you do?
Why not write your own story of a phone call. Add some spice to it – it could be a guy calling up a girl he just met to set up a date. Use your imagination. Writing the story can help keep some of those phrases fresh in your mind for your next call. Here’s an example written today by Marcelo, check it out here.
The final word
Today can be the first step in getting better at telephoning in English. It can also be a new step in feeling more confident in using English in the real-world. Start dialling!