It’s happened to all of us. Ask a student what they think is the most difficult thing in English, and they will all answer: speaking on the telephone. ‘I don’t know what’s correct to say’, ‘What if I don’t understand, what should I say?’, ‘Numbers and names are so difficult to understand’. Students fear talking on the phone more than anything else, and we should agree – it is sometimes a demanding task. But to help my students overcoming their problem with speaking on the phone, I used the section ‘Function globally: Speaking on the telephone’ in Global Elementary.
First of all, I brainstormed with them some of the expressions they already knew. I then split them in pairs, and gave them an enlarged copy of exercise 1 (in the Warm up section), cut into strips of paper. I then asked them to put all expression in order to build up the phone conversation. Once we checked they were all correct, they had to act it out with their partner.
We then moved to the listening section. In exercise 1 they listened to four conversations and matched each to the correct situation. We then listened again and they had to complete a True or False exercise. These two exercises help students to practise listening in a phone conversation-like context, and therefore help them to strength their confidence. They often complain that such a task is impossible to practise in class, and they are left alone to deal with it. With these activities they had the chance to get the practice they were looking for, but mainly to get acquainted with new specific functions and vocabulary. This will help them to feel more prepared, and therefore more confident, on the phone.
We then moved on to the Language Focus section. Students had to fill in the table in exercise 1. This grid summarises the main expressions they might need in a phone conversation. Once they completed the table, and compared their answers in pairs, they listened to the solution. This also gave them the opportunity to practice the pronunciation all the expressions.
Finally, I split them in pairs and asked them to create their own conversation. Combining all new functions and vocabulary we’ve just focused on, students managed to create new interesting dialogues that they later act out for all of us.