Telephone phobia (Telephone English phrases)

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Vocabulary - telephone phrases

telephone English phrases


In this lesson, we want to focus on telephoning skills as these are the life skills our students often struggle with, but they need them very much when they use English. We also look at the phenomenon of telephone phobia (aka phone anxiety) which is an issue many people need to deal with and may especially be valid for learners of foreign languages. On top of that, our lesson plan includes a set of common telephone English phrases and of course a couple of roleplays to practise them.
B1 / Intermediate60 minStandard LessonPremium Plan


The lesson starts with a couple of standard questions related to telephoning to introduce the topic and get students engaged. The last question concerns phone anxiety and is related to the video.


The video section includes 3 parts: vocabulary (phrasal verbs), video, discussion. First, ask your students to fill in the phrasal verbs with prepositions. They have the definitions of those phrasals provided to help them choose the right preposition. All of these phrasal verbs come from the short video so let them watch it and check their answers. Afterwards, play the video again so that they can focus more on the content so that they don’t have a lot of problems with the language.
The last part is a discussion. Let your students discuss the provided questions, what will allow them to reflect on the content of the video and express their opinions.


In the next exercise, your students will discover some common telephone English  phrases and learn the target language they will need for the roleplays. In this task, students need to categorize the phrases they get according to their functions.
Cut out two sets of phrases for pairs of students (available on page 3 of the Teacher’s Version below). Each student should get one set and put the phrases there in suitable categories. This way they will have half of their categories completed and to get the second part they need to share and check their partners’ handout. As a result, your students will be equipped with 20 different telephone English phrases grouped by their functions.


The last activity brings together all that your students have learnt so far on the lesson. They will have to put those phrasal verbs and telephone English phrases into practice by role playing two scenarios. There’s plenty of information provided in their role cards so let them absorb it before starting the roleplays. The best way to do those roleplays is to make them as real as possible:

  • Put your students in pairs and ask them to actually call each other and do the task over the phone – ask half of your students to leave the classroom and call their partners.
  • Alternatively, ask your students to sit back to back so that they can’t see each other. This way at least your students can’t rely on body language and need to communicate using only their voice – just like when they talk on the phone.



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  1. Francesca

    I love all ESL Brains lessons I think they’re amazing. This one has a mistake on the teacher’s worksheet. One of the phrases on page 3 says ‘I quite didn’t catch that’. Also a lot of the phrases seem a little short and unprofessional and not what a person calling from a business would actually say. All of the putting on hold ones seemed very unnatural and almost a bit inpolite. I did this in a 1 to 1 class and I found myself having to change a lot of the phrases when doing the role play with my student. I think the phrases could do with an update. One thing that might be nice is to have phrases from very formal to informal and students can rank them, or maybe even a funny thing of ‘what not to say’ roleplay as a little extension. Anyway I hope all these points help. Thanks so much for all the lesson plans so far. They have really helped me during my time teaching English.

    1. Stan

      Thanks Francesca for the comment. I’ve just fixed that issue on page 3. In terms of the phrases, we put a rather basic set as this is a B1 lesson plan. I guess we might think about updating it or adding another set. Probably, we could also create another lesson (or worksheet) on formal vs informal language – you got some good ideas there 🙂

  2. Daniel

    IMPRESSIVE to say the least. Great lesson, I will definitely use it for my private lesson today.

    1. Justa

      Thank you, Daniel 🙂

  3. Sina

    I’ve used this lesson (the online version) a few times already and it’s incredibly useful. However, this morning, when I used it, I found that the links to the different role play cards were no longer functional, which was quite the hiccup in our lesson. I’m aware this is an older lesson, but I still found it disappointing to encounter such an issue. I worked around it by quickly taking a screenshot of the teacher’s version of the PDF and sharing those, but I’d really appreciate it if this was fixed.

    1. Stan

      Hello Sina! It seems you must be using an old version of this e-lesson plan. The current one links to the right role play cards. We encourage everyone to always use the most recent version as we sometimes fix some errors or make improvements and so if you have your own copy, such changes won’t be reflected there.

      1. Sina

        Hi Stan,

        Sorry, I completely forgot to check back for a reply on this.

        It never even occured to me that the error may be due to me using an old copy, so thanks for pointing that out.
        It makes perfect sense to check back for updates, it’s just not something I’ve made a habit of. Equally though, I now realise I could have avoided the issue altogether had I thought to make copies of the role play cards in the first place.

        Thanks again for your quick response!



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