Telephone words – vocabulary mind map

Time for a new mind map. This one focuses on the vocabulary of phones and phoning.

The mind map has four sections. Three sections contain the nouns used to talk about and describe phones and phone numbers. The fourth section has a collection of verb collocations for talking about phone calls.

You can view the mind map on Popplet or click the button below to download the image file.


After you have done that, test your knowledge with this short quiz. The answers are at the end of the blog post.


Questions 1 – Verb collocations

Which of these verbs form collocations with the words ‘a call’?

    1. make
    2. miss
    3. do
    4. get
    5. take
    6. put
    7. hang up
    8. give

Question 2 – Common mistakes

Each of these sentences contains a common mistake. Identify and correct each mistake.

  1. I have to call to my colleagues in Italy.
  2. I’ll put you through my boss.
  3. Your client called earlier. Can you call back him?
  4. In my job, I do a lot of calls with customers.

Question 3 – part of a phone

Match these words to the parts of the phone.

  1. earpiece
  2. screen
  3. keypad
  4. handset
  5. call button



Now check the answers to see if you were right.


Question 1

make a call

miss a call

get a call

take a call

give someone a call

Question 2

  1. I have to call my colleagues in Italy.
  2. I’ll put you through to my boss.
  3. Can you call him back?
  4. In my job, I make a lot of calls to customers.

Question 3

  1. earpiece (b)
  2. screen (c)
  3. keypad (d)
  4. handset (a)
  5. call button (e)


Other telephone language

Here is some other blogs posts focusing on English for making phone calls.

Checking and clarifying on the phone – 1

Checking and clarifying on the phone – 2

Spellng words with the International Radio Alphabet


If you have any questions about the mind map, leave a comment below.

Do you need to practise speaking English on the telephone? Send us a message.


Checking and clarifying – test yourself

There are two aspects to successful communication. The first is making yourself understood. The second is understanding the other person. In order to be a good communicator in English, you need to develop both.

So, when you are speaking in English with somebody you should check and be clear that you understand correctly. This even more important when you can’t see the other person’s face, such as on the telephone.

in January we published a video demonstrating how to use checking and clarifying phrases on the telephone.

Here’s a simple interactive exercise you can use to test yourself or review the language from the video. It’s an easy game, click on the ? symbol to see the instructions.

If you have any questions about this exercise, leave a comment below.

Do you need to practise speaking English on the telephone? Send us a message.


Socialising and networking in English

Networking in English by Pete Sharma and Barney BarrettOne of the most common reasons people need to improve their English is so they can socialise and network with other people. In the business world, these other people are colleagues, customers and clients – both current and future.

Barney and his regular collaborator, Pete Sharma, wrote a book called Networking in English. It is full of language and advice about how to be a more effective networker.

In the introduction to the book, Pete and Barney list nine skills a language student needs to be a good socialiser and communicator in social situations.

  1. You are able to express yourself fairly fluently.
  2. You have the vocabulary to speak about a range of topics.
  3. You have reasonably accurate basic grammar.
  4. You have fairly good listening skills, and have strategies to deal with problems like listening to fast speech and catching the main message.
  5. You have a knowledge of the same kinds of communication strategies used by good native speaker communicators, such as an understanding of non-verbal communication.
  6. You know the typical forms of interaction in various social situations, such as in a restaurant, and can use a good range of appropriate and useful phrases.
  7. You speak with clear pronunciation.
  8. You are sensitive to cultural differences between you and people from other parts of the world.

(From Networking in English, Barrett and Sharma (Macmillan: 2010)

How would you rate yourself for each of these skills? Be honest. Many people speaking English for business can talk with confidence about their companies, products and services but do not have enough vocabulary to make small talk. Some people are able to talk and talk and talk but find it difficult to understand when other people are talking, especially at noisy social events. Other people find socialising with people from other countries and cultures stressful because they are unsure about differences in acceptable behaviour.

Here are a few videos and activities you can use to test or develop your knowledge and skills.

Making contact

Airport conversationListen to two conversations between people meeting each other in social situations. They use a lot of standard phrases. Notice the questions they ask and the answers they give. Think about the questions and answers you would give in the same situation.


The rules of small talk

The Rules of Making Small talk in English videoThe rules of small talk are simple and easy to remember but how do you apply them in English? Watch our video. Notice how the people in the video respond in the wrong way. Pause the video and think about how you would reply before seeing the answer we gave.


Stratford Teachers pub quiz

Everywhere you go in the world, the restaurants of France, the cafés of Italy, the diners of America, the hawker centres of Singapore and the pubs of Britain, there are rules and vocabulary unique to those places that are ‘natural’ to local people but confusing to visitors from other countries.

Try our short quiz about the vocabulary used in British pubs, what it means and how we use it. What vocabulary and advice would you give to a visitor to your country?


Of course, the best way to build up your socialising and networking in English skills is to practise with a teacher who can give you instant correction and advice.

Contact us to find out how we can help you become a better, more effective and more confident socialiser and communicator in social situations.



Checking and clarifying on the phone

Business English - Talking on the phone

Speaking on the phone can be more challenging than speaking face to face. You don’t always hear exactly what the other person said.

In order to avoid misunderstandings, it’s important to check and be clear you understand correctly.

In our first video of 2018, Louise and Simon play Kate and Tony, two colleagues making a phone call.

The first part of the video shows what can happen when there is a misunderstanding on the phone. The second part shows you how to use a set of phrases for checking and clarifying to make sure you understand.


Video by Barney


Here are the checking and clarifying phrases they use in their phone call.

Sorry, Kate could you say that again, please?
Sorry, Tony. I didn’t catch that. Could you say it again, please?
Sorry, did you say ten thirty or two thirty?
Sorry. I can’t hear you , Kate. Can you speak up a little?


Was this useful for you? Watch our videos and download information about using the International Radio Alphabet to spell words over the phone.

UPDATE (24/03/2018) You can now test your knowledge of the checking and clarifying phrases with this interactive exercise.

If you have any questions about this video, leave a comment below.

Do you need to practise speaking English on the telephone? Send us a message.

Spelling words with the International Radio Alphabet

When you say the alphabet in English, some letters can sound very similar.

For example:

B /bi:/ and P /pi:/

A /eɪ/ and H /eɪʧ/

M /em/ and N /en/

This means you must be careful when you spell words, especially on the telephone.

The International Radio Alphabet has a word for every letter of the alphabet. You can use it to be sure that you are clear when you spell something.

International Radio Alphabet

A for Alpha N for November
B for Bravo O for Oscar
C for Charlie P for Papa
D for Delta Q for Quebec
E for Echo R for Romeo
F for Foxtrot S for Sierra
G for Golf T for Tango
H for Hotel U for Uniform
I for India V for Victor
J for Juliet W for Whiskey
K for Kilo X for X-ray
L for Lima Y for Yankee
M for Mike Z for Zulu

Watch the video to hear how to say each word in the International Radio Alphabet.

Barney’s name contains several of these letters with similar sounds.

Watch the second video to hear how he uses the Radio Alphabet to spell it.


Hello. My name’s Barney. That’s B for Bravo, A for Alpha, R for Romeo, N for November, E for Echo, and Y for Yankee. Barney.

Download a pdf of the International Radio Alphabet.


By Louise and Barney


If you have any questions about this, leave a comment below.

If you are interested in learning with Stratford Teachers, send us a message.