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Paul Sparks, Online Business English Lesson Plans, Lesson Material and Ideas for
Grade 1 English Conversation Lessons at Xiangtan Normal University...
Lesson 18 -
The purpose of this
lesson is to increase the vocabulary of students using a business
communication theme. The lesson aim is also to increase the students
knowledge of how British business works, through discussion about the
methods of communication available for business.
have separate departments or divisions of the company, in order for the
business to function correctly there has to be effective communication
between these departments. The internal communication of a company can be
in many forms (spoken, written etc.) but whatever method is used the
employees must be able to communicate with each other effectively. The
external communication of a business must also be efficient, communicating
with customers and suppliers must be a top priority for any company. The
main methods of communication for any business are as follows:
- Memorandum (Memo)
- Company Journal /
- Invoices / Statements
- Business Letters (To
Suppliers / Customers)
- Annual Report / Accounts
- Pictures / Photographs
- Graphs / Charts
- Facsimile (Fax)
- Office Network (LAN)
- Internet / Intranet /
- Computers (Word
Processors / Office 2000 etc.)
The telephone is
the most common method of business communication. External telephone calls
are used by a business to contact customers suppliers etc. A business
could not function without a telephone. A business may also have an
internal telephone system, so that employees can communicate with each
other, this system is known as an intercom system or telephone network.
The advantages of the telephone are that it is faster and more flexible
than letters or memos, you can be sure that the message gets to the
correct person. However the telephone does not keep a permanent record of
the communication, so sometimes it may be necessary to use letters. (For
more information on Telephone English see the bottom of this page)
A fax machine requires a
telephone line in order to be used for communication. It uses the
telephone line to transmit pictures from one fax to another fax machine or
a computer. Like a phone call the communication is instant. Fax can be
used to transmit graphs, charts, diagrams etc. The advantage is that a fax
can be kept as a permanent record.
The first e-mail
message was sent in 1971. In the beginning and even today, e-mail messages
tend to be short pieces of text, although the ability to add attachments
now makes many e-mail messages quite long.
Email has many advantages
to business including the following:
- Email is instant
- You can ask for a read
- Any documents can be
sent or received as attachments (pictures, sound etc)
- It is confidential
- It can be used to send a
message to any computer anywhere in the world
- It can store any
- Email reduces time spent
on writing letters etc.
- Email can be accessed
from any machine (at home or work)
- Email is very cheap
There is no doubt
that the Internet has changed the way businesses communicate. For many
companies e-mail has virtually replaced traditional letters and even
telephone calls as the choice for correspondence. Every day, billions of
e-mail messages are sent out. E-mail has been the most rapidly adopted
form of communication ever known. In less than two decades, it has gone
from obscurity to mainstream dominance. The newest development is Instant
Messaging - a form of email, however instant messaging is interactive -
you can chat in live time.
Most of the popular
instant-messaging programs provide a variety of features:
Companies are increasingly
introducing customised versions of Instant Messaging programs to allow
employees to communicate with one another.
- Instant messages - Send
notes back and forth with a friend who is online
- Chat - Create your own
custom chat room with friends or co-workers
- Web links - Share links
to your favorite Web sites
- Images - Look at an
image stored on your friend's computer
- Sounds - Play sounds for
- Files - Share files by
sending them directly to your friends
- Talk - Use the Internet
instead of a phone to actually talk with friends
- Streaming content -
Real-time or near-real-time stock quotes and news
There are a number of
phrases and idioms that are only used when telephoning. Here is an example
Secretary: Hello, Xiangtan
Normal University, how can I help you?
As you can see, the language
is rather informal and there are some important differences to everyday
English. See below for key language and phrases used in telephone English:
Caller: This is Paul Sparks. Can I speak to Mr Xiang?
Secretary: Certainly, hold on a minute, I'll put you through...
Mr Xiang's office: Mr Xiang's office, how can I help?
Caller: This is Paul Sparks calling, is Mr Xiang in?
Mr Xiang's office: I'm afraid he's out at the moment. Can I take a
Caller: Yes, Could you ask him to call me. I need to talk to him, it's
Mr Xiang's office: Does Mr Xiang have your number?
Mr Xiang's office: Thank you Mr Sparks, I'll make sure Mr Xiang gets
Caller: Thanks, bye.
Mr Xiang's office: Bye.
-"This is Paul" or "Paul speaking"
Asking who is on the telephone - "Excuse me, who is this?" or
"Can I ask who is calling, please?"
Asking for Someone - "Can I have extension 321?" or "Could
I speak to...?" (Can I - more informal / May I - more formal)
Connecting Someone - "I'll put you through" (put through -
phrasal verb meaning 'connect') or "Can you hold the line?"
How to reply when someone is not available - "I'm afraid he is not
available at the moment" or "He isn't in at the moment"
Taking a Message - "Can I take a message?" or "Could I tell
him who is calling?" or "Would you like to leave a
Exercises for Practicing
Speaking on the Telephone
situations - Businesses are always interested in telling you about their
products. Find a product you are interested in and research it over the
telephone. You can ...
Leaving a Message
- call a store to find out
the prices and specifications.
- ring the company
representative to find out details on how the product works.
- telephone a consumer
agency to find out if the product has any defects.
- call customer service to
find out about replacement parts, etc.
may not be anyone to answer the telephone and you will need to leave a
message. Follow this outline to make sure that the person who should
receive your message has all the information he/she needs.
Introduction - "Hello,
this is Paul." OR "Hello, My name is Paul."
State the time of day and your reason for calling - "It's ten in the
morning. I'm calling to let you know that ....."
Make a request - "Could you ring me back?"
Leave your telephone number - "My number is ...." OR "You
can reach me at ...."
Finish - "Thanks a lot, bye." OR "I'll talk to you later,
Here's an example of
Telephone: (Ring... Ring...) Hello, this is Paul. I'm afraid I'm not
in at the moment. Please leave a message after the beep..... (beep)
Mr Xiang: Hello Paul, this is Mr Xiang. It's about noon and I'm calling to
see if you are busy this afternoon. Could you call me back? You can reach
me at 123-45467 until five this afternoon. I'll talk to you later, bye.
As you can see, leaving a
message is pretty simple. You only need to make sure that you have stated
all the most important information: Your Name, The Time, The Reason for
Calling, Your Telephone Number
Role Playing using the
Choose a city in your country. You are going to travel to this city
for a business meeting over the next weekend. Telephone a travel agency
and reserve the following:
Hotel room for two nights
Prices and departure times
You work in a travel agency. Listen to student A and offer him/her the
Round-trip flight: Air JW $450 Coach, $790 First Class
Hotel room for two nights: Hotel City $120 a night in the downtown area,
Hotel Relax $110 a night near the airport
Restaurant Recommendation: Chez Marceau - downtown - average price $70 a
You need to purchase six new computers for your office. Call JA's
Computer World and ask for the following information:
Current special offers on computers
Computer configuration (RAM, Hard Drive, CPU)
Possibility of discount for an order of six computers
You work in at JA's Computer World answer student A's questions using
the following information:
Two special offers: Multimedia Monster - with latest Pentium CPU, 256 RAM,
40 GB Hard Drive, Monitor included - $2,500 AND Office Taskmaster -
cheaper CPU, 64 RAM, 10 GB Hard Drive, Monitor not included - $1,200
1 Year guaranty on all computers
Discount of 5% for orders of more than five computers
Leaving a Message
You want to speak to Ms Braun about your account with her company,
W&W. If Ms Braun isn't in the office, leave the following information:
Telephone number: 347-8910 (or use your own)
Calling about changing conditions of your contract with W&W
You can be reached until 5 o'clock at the above number. If Ms Braun calls
after 5 o'clock, she should call 458-2416
You are a receptionist at W&W. Student A would like to speak to Ms
Braun, but she is out of the office. Take a message and make sure you get
the following information:
Name and telephone number - ask student A to spell the surname
Message student A would like to leave for Ms Braun
How late Ms Braun can call student A at the given telephone number
Selling Your Product
You are a salesperson for Red Inc. You are telephoning a client who
you think might be interested in buying your new line of office supplies.
Discuss the following information with your client:
New line of office supplies including: copy-paper, pens, stationary,
mouse-pads and white boards
You know the customer hasn't ordered any new products during this past
Special discount of 15% for orders placed before next Monday
Any order placed before Monday will not only receive the discount, but
also have its company logo printed on the products at no extra charge
You work in an office and receive a telephone call from your local
office supplier. As a matter fact, you need some new office supplies so
you are definitely interested in what the salesperson has to offer. Talk
about the following:
New pens, stationary and white boards
Do they have any special offers
You would like to place an order for 200 packages of copy paper