Friday, April 3, 2009

Using a mobile phone

A British newspaper recently revealed that there are 108 mobile phones per 100 people in the UK. The British are certainly not alone in their love affair with the mobile phone, and as mobiles become more sophisticated, we use them for a greater variety of reasons. But is it easier to communicate using a mobile?

On one hand, mobile phones have a number of advantages over fixed land lines. We can use them in emergencies, we can always contact people, and we can do business "on the move". But on the other hand, there are a number of difficulties which we don't generally have with fixed lines. We have less control over our surroundings and ambient noise, and the call quality is often worse than on fixed lines.

This article focuses on ways to improve mobile phone communication and to make phoning in English easier and more effective.

1. In noisy surroundings

It's obviously easier to make or receive a phone call when you're somewhere quiet and you can easily concentrate on what the other person is saying, but we don't always have this "luxury". If the surroundings are noisy, try the following phrases:
Sorry, can you speak up a bit? It's really noisy here.
I'm sorry, but I can't hear you very well. Can you speak louder please?
Sorry, I didn't catch the last thing you said.

I'm on a bus, and I can't hear you very clearly. I'll call you back later.
Look, can I call you back in a couple of minutes? It's really noisy here.

2. When the call quality is bad

The signal isn't very good. Can you speak more slowly please?
I think we're just about to lose the signal. Can I call you back?
You're breaking up. I'll call you back.
We're just about to go into a tunnel and I might lose you. Can I call you back?

3. When you can't discuss business with other people present

There are also privacy issues with mobile phones. If you're on a land line in an office, it's easy to close the door and make a personal or private call. But if you're in the middle of the street, or with another person, you might want to say something to show you can't talk.
I can't really talk about this now. Can you give me a call in a few minutes?
I'm not at my desk, and I don't have all the details. Can I give you a call back a bit later?
I'm sorry, but this isn't a good time to talk. Can I call you back later?

4. Useful phone phrases

Here are some general phrases that you can use on the phone to make communication easier.

Bad line / bad time
Can I call you back?
Can I give you a call back?
Can you call me back?

When you don't understand
Sorry, but I don't really follow you.
I'm not sure I understand.
Sorry, what was that?
Sorry, what did you say?
Did you say …..?
Can you say that again please?
Can you repeat that please?

Asking the other person to slow down
Could you speak more slowly please?
I didn't get the last thing you said.
It's a really bad line. Can you say it again more slowly please.

And finally, remember that it's perfectly acceptable to speak more slowly than in normal speech. Your main objective is to be able to understand - and be understood, so don't worry if you sound unnatural. Try to speak clearly, avoid speaking too fast, and be as concise as you possibly can.

See also the article on making phone calls in English and the blog post on

No comments:

Sammy Searh Engine

Custom Search

Sammy Bidvertisers

My Bidvertisers