Thursday, April 28, 2011

Telephone conversations E.S.L.

Telephone conversations will vary depending on who you are speaking to.  However, there are some basic telephone vocabulary and expressions that one should use when having a personal telephone conversation in English.


Opening of a Phone Conversation/Call:

"How are you?"
"My name is..."
"What's your name?"
"Who's calling/this?"
"May I ask who's calling/or whom I'm speaking with?"
"Is this (name)?"
"Yes. This is her/him."
"Yes. This is (name) speaking."

Body of a Phone Conversation:

"Who would you like to speak to?"
"Can I help you?"
"I didn't get your name."
"Can I take a message?"
"I'll give him/her to message."
"I can't hear you (clearly).  Could you please speak up?"
"Could you please speak slowly?"

Ending A phone Conversation:

"Thank you (for your  help)."
"Could you please call back (in 10/15/20... minutes)?"
"I will call back. Thank you."
"Please call back in (time)."
"It was/been nice speaking with you."
"Thank for calling."
"Talk to you later."
"Bye for now."


Mark is making a personal telephone call to Jon.  The phone rings and Jon's mom answers...

Jon's mom: Hello?

Mark: Hello?  May I speak to Jon please?

Jon's mom: Sure.  May I ask who's calling?

Mark: Yes, it's Mark.

Jon's mom: Okay Mark. Could you please hold for one moment please?

Mark: Sure.  No problem.

Jon's mom: Thank you.

(Jon's mom leaves to get Jon).

Jon: Hello?

Mark:  Hi Jon.  I wanted to know what time you wanted to meet tomorrow to complete the sociology report.

Jon:  Well, I am busy in the morning so the afternoon is a good time for me.

Mark:  I cleared my whole day for this, because I really want to get this done.  It is due in a few days and we still have a lot to do.

Jon: Okay, 1:00pm is as early as I can get there.

Mark:  Okay.  I will see you then. Please call me if there are any changes in your schedule.

Jon: Sure. No problem. I will see you then. Bye.

Mark: Goodbye.

Now Your Turn!

Practice with a partner using the phrases above to create your own dialog.
Phone rings...

You:  Hello? Is ________ (name) there?

Your friend: __________________ (use the expressions above).

You: ______________ (respond according).

Your friend: _____________ (continue the dialog using the expressions above).

Saturday, April 23, 2011

How to Get a Taxi Cab In English

Most of us know that the standard color of a taxi cab is yellow; however, that may vary depending on where one lives. No matter what the color is we can always identify a taxi by the big bold letters printed on it; "TAXI".  Hailing a taxi cab can be challenging for anyone.  That's why I am not only going to review where and how to get a taxi cab, but the art of 'hailing' a taxi cab. It's also important to remember that in most Western countries (like the U.S. and Canada) taxi drivers do expect to be tipped.


"Taxi!" (You yell this while waving your hand at a taxi that is driving towards you or in your direction).
"Where can I get a taxi?"
"I'd like a taxi, please."
"I'd like a taxi to (address)."
"Do you have the number for a taxi (cab)?"
"Could call a taxi for me please?"
"Could you take me to the airport/train station/this address (if it's written down)/..."
"The address is..."
"I'm going to..."
"Can you get me there in 10 minutes/30 minutes/an hour..."
"I need to be there within the half hour/the hour/..."
"Is it far away/close by/...?"
"How much will it cost (to get there)?"
"Can you give me an estimate?"
"What's your flat rate?"
"How long do you think it will take to get there?"
"I need a receipt?"
"Is it possible for me to get a receipt (of the fare/charges)?"
"Here is your/a tip."
"(Please), keep the change."
"I would like my change back, please."
"Do you take visa, master or debit cards?"
"Do you have change for 10/20/40... dollars?


Max got off the plane in Los Angeles and now needs a taxi to his  hotel. He is unsure about where to go so he decided to go to the information stand inside the airport (terminal) for direction.

Max: "Excuse me. Could you please tell me where I can get a taxi?"

Customer Service Representative (CSR):  You can exit the main floor and flag a taxi or you can push the "taxi call" button in the exit. However, there are usually taxis sitting out front waiting for customers, so you can easily get one there.

Max: Thank you.

CSR:  You are welcome.  If you are having trouble finding one you can come back here and I'll call a taxi for you.

Max: Thanks again.

Max exits the terminal and finds a taxi...

Max: Could you take me to the Radisson Hotel, please?  How long to you think it will take to get there?

Taxi driver: It's very close to the airport, so it should take about 5 minutes to get there.

Max: That's perfect, because I had a really long flight.

Taxi driver: Where are you travelling from?

Max: Augusta, Maine.

Taxi driver: Here we are. We have arrived.

Max: Great!  How much will that be?

Taxi driver: Your fare is 6 dollars.

Max:  Here's a 10.  Please, keep the change.

Taxi driver: Thank you.  Have a good stay!

Max:  Thank you.

Now your Turn!

Use the phrases and dialog above as a guide to create your own dialog.

You:  Could you take me to...?

Your partner: Sure! What's the address?

You:  What's the address?

Your partner:  The address is __________________.

You:   What's your flat rate?

Your partner:  The flat rate is ___________.

You:  Okay.  Thank you.

Your partner:  ________________ (use the phrases above to continue the dialog or start a new dialog).

Vocabulary Review:

Flat rate - A charge or fee that does not change, but remains the same in all cases.

Hailing - To stop or call out to something. For example; to "hail a taxi cab".

- receiving a bill which marks what you have paid or a payment made.

An optional payment given given in addition to payment made for a service given.  This is done as a show of appreciation, to reflect excellent or good service or as a way to say 'thank you'.

The art of... - To express something or the expression of something according to a set of principles or standard.

Great job today!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Talking About Health in English (E.S.L.)

It's important to be able to describe how you feel; however, that sometimes ties in one's medical condition or health.  Let's look at some phrases we can use to describe one's health.


"I'm (feeling) sick/ill."
"I'm hurt."
"I'm in a lot of pain."
"My (body part) is hurting me."
"I have a headache."
"I'm (feeling) nauseous."
"I have a tummy ache."
"I am stuffed/congested."
"I have sinus headache."
"My sinuses are blocked."
"My body is aching."
"I have a fever."/"My temperature is high."
"I feel weak (and tired)."
"My eyes are light sensitive."
"I have a backache."
"My chest is hurting."
"There is a sharp/acute pain in my (body part)."
"I am experiencing acid reflux."
"I am constipated...."
"I'm under the weather."
"I have a sore throat."


"You should see a doctor."
"You should get some rest."
"I know a great home remedy."
"You should take some cough/cold/flu/allergy/... medicine for that."
"You should drink some chicken soup/hot tea/orange juice/... for that."
"Drink lots of fluids."

Get Well Comments:

"Get well soon."
"Feel better."
"I hope you feel better soon."
"I hope you get lots of rest."
"I hope you're back on your feet soon."
"Take care of yourself."
"I'll be making happy thoughts."


Diane went to her family physician, Dr. Tran, because she was feeling really sick.

Dr. Tran:  Describe the symptoms that you've been experiencing.

Diane:  Well I have been experiencing nausea, watery and ichy eyes.  My neck has also been aching.

Dr. Tran:  Okay.  Open your mouth and let me take a look...  Great.  Say "aaah".

Diane:  "Aaaah".

Dr.  Tran:  It's allergies, which seems to have resulted in a sinus infection.

Diane:  I see.  It's good to finally know.

Dr.  Tran:  I will write you a prescription for antibotics.

Diane:  Thank you doctor.

Dr.  Tran:  Here you go.  Take care of yourself.

Diane:  Have a good day.

Dr.  Tran:  Bye.

Now Your Turn!

Use the expression above to practice the dialog below.

You:  You don't look so good. Are you okay?

Your friend:  No.  I'm not.

You: I __________ (use the expressions above to describe your symptoms).

Your friend:  You should _____________ (offer some suggestions; use the expressions above).

You:  I think I'll try that! Thank you.

Your friend:  You are welcome.  I do hope you feel better soon. (use the get well comments above).

You:  I will.

Now switch roles and keep practicing until you are comfortable.

Great job today!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Talking About Your Feelings In English (E.S.L.)

Let's look at some expressions that one can use to express emotions in English. 

"I'm unhappy."/"I'm unhappy about... (explain)."
"I'm excited!"
"I am frustrated."
"I am not feeling too well."
"I'm (feeling) confused."/"I am confused."
"I'm depressed."
"I'm exhilirated."
"I'm surprised."
"I'm hurt."/"My feelings are hurt."
"I'm (feeling) sad/blue/down."
"I'm (feeling) angry (right now)."

Daisy just returned home from work and is talking about her work day with  her daughter May.

Daisy:  Could you help me in the kitchen May?

May: Yes. Sure.

Daisy:  How was your day?

May:  Well, it was really hectic and I was on my feet the entire time so I'm really tired right now.

Daisy:  Usually you have a pretty easy going, more relaxed day.

May:  Yes, usually. However, it's that time of year again when we have a lot of shipments and we have to inventory so there is a lot going on.  It can be really overwhelming. 

Daisy: I understand.  I sorry to hear that you didn't have such a good day.

May:  Thanks... Well, enough about me.   How was your day?

Daisy:  My boss just announced that they are going to be laying off people, because of the fact that we lost one of our major accounts.  So everyone is panicking right now.

May: You seem pretty calm about the whole thing. But  how are really feeling?

Daisy:  I am worried about the fact that I could lose my job, but at the same time I don't want to think the worse.  What if I am one of  the lucky ones, then all that worrying would have been for nothing.  I just want to maintain a positive attitude.  If I do lose my job then I'll just find another one. 

May: I am so sorry to hear that mom.  I am sure everything will work out.  You are a good employee.

Daisy:  Thanks dear.

Now Your Turn!

Talk to a friend or family member about your feelings.

You: How are you feeling?
Your friend:  I am feeling ____________(adjective).
You:  I am glad/happy to hear that./I am sorry to hear that.
Your friend: Thank you.

Switch place and practice until you are comfortable with the dialog.

Great job today!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Talking About Hobbies/Interests In English

A great way to make small talk is to talk about what you do for fun or your hobbies.  It's also a great way to get to know someone. There are a few expressions that one can use when talking  about your interests and/or your  hobbies.

Conversation Opener:

"What are you into?"
"What are your interests/hobbies?"
"What do you like to do in your free/spare time?"
"Do you do anything for fun?"
"Do you have any interests/hobbies?"
"What sort of things do you do to relax?"/"What sort of things do like to do to help you relax?"
"What sort of  hobbies do you have?"
"What are you keen on?"

Possible Responses:

"I am really/quite into...(verb+ing/gerund + noun)."
"My interests and/or hobbies are....(verb+ing/gerund + noun)."
"I really like/enjoy..."
"In my spare/free time I like to _________."
"I like to __________ (list  hobby/hobbies) for fun."
"I like to...."
"My hobby is/hobbies are...."
"I am really keen on ____________ (verb+ing/gerund + noun)."
"I like/enjoy relaxing to ________ (noun)."
"I relax by _________ (verb+ing/gerund + noun)."

List of Reasons Why:

"...because it's a great way to relieve stress."/"...because it's a great stress reliever."
"...because it helps me to relax."
"...because it's fun and interesting."
"...because it's exciting/(other adjectives)."
"...because it helps me meditate/to clear my head/mind."
"...because it helps me to think."
"...because it's a great way to escape/get away from the everyday."
"...because it's a great form of meditation."
"...because my mom/dad/friend introduced me to it (and I've been doing it ever since)."


Jason has taken up a new hobby and has decided to call his friend Juan to share the news.

Juan:  Hello?

Jason: Hey man. Guess what?  Today I was at the bookstore and I found a Spiderman comic book from 1971.  Guess how much it's worth?

Juan: I am not into comics so my guess wouldn't be good.  How much?

Jason: $140!  Can you believe it?!

Juan:  I guess $140 is a good price?

Jason: Yes.  One reason is because there aren't a lot of them out there anymore and the second reason is because I only paid $2 for it!

Juan:  That is really good...  I didn't know you were into comic books?  I thought you were keen on collecting model cars?

Jason:  I am still into that, but I was at the bookstore with and saw boxes of old comic books a week ago that they were trying to get rid of and started to go through it and found it to be fruitful. 

Juan:  Really?  How?

Jason:  Because most of the comic books were in fine to very fine condition.  The problem is that they have so many of them and nowhere to store them. Maybe you would like to consider collecting...

Juan:  That's okay.  I will stick to collecting guitars, but thanks for the invitation.

Jason:  You are going to regret it... I got to run. 

Juan:  Bye.

Now Your Turn!

Use the phrases above to talk about your hobbies/interests or things you do to relax.

You:  What are you into? (You can replace it with any of the questions above).

Your friend:  I am really/quite into ___________ (verb+ing/gerund + noun).

You:  Why do you enjoy doing that?

Your friend:  I like it because/I like to doing that because....(give a reason)."

List of hobbies:
bunji jumping
stamp collecting
playing sports (can be more specific)
playing board games
water sports
fixing things (computers, cars, things that are broken,...)
watching/observing wildlife
playing video games
collecting/trading comic books
collecting action figures
creating things with my hands
designing websites
inventing things
collecting coins
collecting toys
collecting leaves
collecting insects
thrill seeker
collecting Cd's/DVDs
listening to music
meeting new people
playing computer games
collecting musical instruments (e.g.; guitars)
collecting paintings
learning a new language
playing a musical instrument
exploring different cultures

Great job today!