Read the text and do the tasks after it.


How many ways to say hello?[14]


When two people meet in Tokyo they say konnichiha which means hello. But if they answer the phone, they say moshi moshi. Japan isn’t the only country to have its own special “telephone language”. The Spanish say hola for hello but on the phone they answer digame. Literally translated digame means “tell me” - but this sounds very rude in English. Similarly, if a caller heard the words: I’m ready in London or New York, they’d think this was very strange. They’d ask “ready for what?”. But in Italy the word pronto! means exactly this.

The rules for answering the phone in the international workplace seem to be more universal. Phone a business number and the receptionist is likely to say the name of the company and answer more politely or formally. For example, in English you make the polite offer of help with How can I help you? But even this isn’t quite as polite as the very formal Norwegian response: vaer so god literally meaning “be so good.”

Is it one of those days when the phone just won’t stop ringing? By call number four you still answer the phone with a friendly, polite “Good morning, how can I help you?” But four hours later, twenty calls later and you’ve lost your smile. You must finish the report for your boss and now - with all these calls – you’ll have to work late tonight. So if that telephone rings one more time, don’t hang up, don’t scream “Yes!” at the poor caller. Take a deep breath and smile. I know the caller can’t see you, but a smile makes your voice sound friendly and polite, a smile makes you feel better and it makes your colleagues in the office feel better.

Why is it that we will say to someone: “Sorry, I’m busy right now. Can we talk later?” but when the phone rings we stop what we’re doing and answer it? We even interrupt our conversations to answer the phone. Our friends can wait, but our phone just won’t! When you’re busy, remember these simple techniques:

­ switch on your voicemail

­ ask them to call back again later

­ ask someone else to answer and take a message

­ give people times when you are free to answer calls

­ ignore the phone!


Decide if the statements are true (T) or false (F).

1 Many nationalities greet people differently on the phone than they do face-to-face.

2 The Spanish are impolite.

3 When an Italian meets you in the street he greets you with the words “I’m ready”'.

4 At work, different nationalities use a similar approach to answering the phone.

How do you answer the phone? Tick what you do

1. greet the caller ( )

2. say your name ( )

3. say your company’s name ( )

4. say your department’s name ( )

5. say your telephone number ( )

6. offer to help the caller ( )

6. Study the table below and decide if sentences 1 - 10 are correct (ü) or incorrect (X).

Сan I speak to someone about + noun / verb + -ing

I’m calling about + noun / verb + -ing

It’s with regard to + noun / verb+ -ing

It’s about + noun / verb+ -ing

I’m phoning because of + noun

I’d like to + infinitive

I’m phoning to + infinitive


1 Is there someone I can speak to about applying for the course? ( )

2 There’s someone on the line calling about the new job. ( )

3 I’m calling arrange a meeting. ( )

4 It’s with regard to place an order. ( )

5 It’s about Natalie, I’m afraid. ( )

6 I’m phoning because of requesting a brochure. ( )

7 I like speaking to someone about the project. ( )

8 I’d like to have a chat. ( )

9 I’m phoning to ask for a catalogue. ( )

10 It’s with regard to your request for a brochure. ( )


7. Sometimes the person who answers the phone has to connect the caller to another person. Underline the correct word in italics in these phrases for connecting the caller.

1 I’ll put / connect you through ...

2 Let me just see if someone’s available to answer / deal with this...

3 You need to speak to my colleague. I’ll try / transfer his number for you.

4 I’ll just connect / call you to the person in charge of this ...

5 I’ll transfer / put you to Silvia.

6 I’ll put you on / back through to reception.



Future Simple

To be going to

Modal verbs: can, could

8. Complete the sentences with will / won'tand the words in brackets.

1. I promise I ________ (call) you later.

2. I’m sorry about what happened yesterday. It ________ (happen) again.

3. I ________ (try) calling again tomorrow.

4. Can you wait for me? I ________ (be) very long.

5. I ________ (call) you back in about 5 minutes.


9. Complete the sentences with to be going toand the words in brackets.

1. I ________ (book) a table for tonight.

2. _____ you _____ (call) him back?

3. I ________ (call) John this afternoon.

4. We ________ (meet) them at their office.

10. Complete the sentences withcan / can’tand the verbs in the box.

1. Good morning, how ________ I (help) you?

2. ________ you (take) a message?

3. I ________ (hear) you properly.

4. Sorry, that is too fast for me. ________ you (speak) more slowly?

5. This is a terrible line. I ________ (hear) a thing.

Put the words in the correct order.

1. you / I / help / can?

2. take / message / can / a / I?

3. room / in / book / this / I / advance / can’t.

4. do / it / I / for / can / you.

5. someone / brochure / can / to / speak / receiving / I / a / about?


Complete Bruce and Naomi’s conversation with the appropriate future forms.


Naomi Hi, Bruce. It’s Naomi here. I’m calling about the conference in Shanghai. We 1 ________ (have to) make some changes.

Bruce Hi, Naomi. OK, hang on, let me get a pen. Right, fire away.

Naomi I don’t think the Yangtze Garden 2 ________ (be) big enough. We 3 ________ (need) a centre that can seat at least 600.

Bruce That many? Any suggestions?

Naomi The Mandarin palace Center 4 ________ (be) free that day. I’ve already spoken to them and I 5 ________ (meet) the conference manager tomorrow. It 6 ________ (mean) increasing the registration fee by $50 through.

Bruce That 7 ________ (not / be) a problem. Anything else?

Naomi Alasdair Ross can’t do the morning session as his plane 8 ________ (not / land) until 9:30, so I’ve arranged things with Jimmy Tan and they 9 ________ (switch) slots. Also, Milan University say they 10 ________ (send) Carla Marisco because Professor Bertoni can’t make it. But the talk 11 ________ (be) the same.

Bruce Fine. Make those changes and I 12 ________ (inform) everyone at my end.




13. Underline the correct phrases in italics in the call. Then listen to the phone call and check your answers.

RECEPTION (1) Tell me / Good morning. AIC computing.

JOH Sales, please.

RECEPTION One moment.

SALES (2) Ready / Hello. Sales. (3) Can I help you? / What do you want?

JOHN Yes. (4) Give me / Can I speak to Vitale Marini, please?

SALES Certainly. One moment.

VITALE Vitale Marini (5) speaking / talking.

JOHN Hi Vitale. (6) I am / It’s John Peterson here.

VITALE Oh John. How are you?

Listen to these phrases. The speaker always sounds friendly and polite.

1 Good morning. Can I help you?

2 I’m very sorry, but he’s away today.

3 Can I help?

4 Good morning, Berry Technologies.

5 I don’t know when he’ll be back.

6 One moment. I’ll put you through.

7 Can I take a message?

8 I’m just looking for a pen.

9 Speak to you soon.

10 Goodbye.


Listen to it again and repeat the phrases. Remember to smile and sound friendly and polite. We can also sound more friendly and polite because of the words we use. For example, the first sentence here is less friendly than the second.

1 K Carlsen International.

2 J Carlsen International. How can I help you?

Add words from the first phrase in bold to complete the second friendly and polite phrase.


1 K What’s your name?

J Sorry, could I have your __name_________ ?

2 K Who do you want to speak to?

J Who would you like _______________ ?

3 K She’s in a meeting.

J I’m afraid _______________ .

4 K He’s talking to someone.

J One moment. He’s just _______________ .

5 K Do you want to wait?

J Would _______ like _______ hold?

6 K What’s it about?

J Can 1 ask _______________ it’s in connection with?

7 K Wait! I need to find a pen.

J Sorry, I’m just looking for _______________ .



A relocations consultant phones a client to make an appointment. Look at the diaries and role-play the telephone conversation. Use the phrases below to help you.


1. What can I do for you?

2. I’d like to arrange an appointment.

3. Are you free at the end of the month?

4. What date’s good for you?

5. I’m afraid I’m busy on the 28th.

6. How about Wednesday the 29th?

7. Let’s say around 9 o’clock?

8. OK, I’ll see you at 1:30 on Thursday the 30th.


Student A

You are a relocations consultant. Look at your diary. Phone your client and ask to make an appointment.


MONDAY (16th) Relocations conference Antwerp

TUESDAY (17th) Relocations conference Antwerp

WEDNESDAY (18th) l-3pm meet JG

3:30-6 pm interview for new PA

THURSDAY (19th) 10 am presentation

11:30 am-2 pm working lunch TK


FRIDAY (2Oth) 8:30-11 am relocations meeting with BL

3-4:30 pm meeting with project managers


Student B

You are a client. Look at your diary. You receive a call from the relocations consultant. He / She wants to make an appointment.


MONDAY (16th) 2-30 pm productivity meeting

TUESDAY (17th) 10 arn-12 pm staff appraisals

WEDNESDAY (18th) 9-10:30 am finish report

11 am-12:30 pm meeting with CEO

THURSDAY (19th) 2-4 pm meet visitors from New York office

FRIDAY (20th) 8-9:30 am prepare figures for finance meeting

3:30-5 pm finance meeting

The client from Exercise 1 phones the relocations consultant to change the appointment. Take turns to be the client and the relocations consultant. Try to find another date and time when you are both available.


­ Look again at the diary on page 99, and cross out two appointments.

­ Phone the relocations consultant.

­ Apologise and explain that you need to change your appointment.

Relocations consultant:

­ Look again at the diary on page 96 and cross out two appointments.

­ Your client phones and wants to change your appointment.


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