Telephone language definitions game and roleplays

 Choose one of the boxes below that you know the meaning of and explain which one you are thinking of without using any of the words written there until your partner guesses which one it is. Do they agree with your definition?

 hold (the line)  hold on extension (number)  wrong number
 hands-free (international) dialling code  area code  Skype
(video) conference call pass your message on get in touch with/ contact (prepaid) mobile/ cell(phone)
 receptionist directory enquiries telephone directory/ Yellow Pages 999/911/ emergency services
 automatic redial ansaphone/ answering machine  voicemail engaged/ busy (tone)
 dialling tone  low/ flat battery  bad/ low signal  cut off
 transfer your call put you through/ connect you  new word underline/ underscore
 dash/ hyphen  (forward) slash  dot  double oh
 treble read it back/ check it back take/ leave a message  unattainable
phone/ call someone back  phone/ call again  in a meeting away from his/ her desk
 out of the office  out of the country  on another line  dial
 off (of work)  a text/ SMS a bad line/ bad connection not catch something
call centre/ helpline freephone/ toll free (number)  off the hook hang up/ put the phone down
 answer/ pick up  get through  call waiting  a (Post It) note
(public) phone box/ payphone/ phone booth  recharger (cradle)  handset/ receiver  headset
 local rate call 0898 number/ premium rate number landline/ home phone/ office phone  phone bill
automatic switchboard collect call/ reverse the charges telesales/ cold calling hash (key)/ pound (key)
star/ asterisk (key)  dictate  take down give someone a ring
 keypad  keypad lock  smart phone recorded message

Ask your teacher about any that you are not sure about the meaning of or how to use


Language questions

What’s the difference between “hold (the line)” and “hold on”?

What’s the difference between a note and a memo?

What’s the difference between “call back” and “call again”?

What’s the difference between “cut off” and “hang up”?

What’s the difference between “nine one one” and “nine eleven”?

What’s the opposite of:

–       freephone number

–       pick up

–        landline/

–        local call?



Each time, start the phone call from the beginning

Dictate a name and address to your partner, saying it really quickly the first time

Dictate a complex website address to your partner, saying it really quickly the first time

Dictate a complex email address to your partner, saying it really quickly the first time

You get a ringing tone but no one answers, so phone someone else in the same office to find out why

You can’t find a pen and paper, so try to persuade your partner to phone back rather than leaving a message

Think of different reasons why your partner can’t talk to the person they want to every time they phone

Think of different reasons to cut a conversation short every time your partner phones

Keep on phoning the same wrong number

Keep on putting your partner on hold for different reasons

Complain about all the problems you had getting through to someone

Exchange stories with your partner about finding it difficult to make a phone call or get through to someone (they can be made up stories if you like)

Phone the phone company and argue about your bill

Pretend to be an automatic switchboard that makes your partner go through many many stages until they finally speak to a real person


PDF version for easy saving and printing: PhoneLanguageDefnsAndRoleplays

Telephoning e-books with over 400 pages of similar activities

Teaching Telephoning: Interactive Classroom Activities

Really Learn the Most Useful Telephoning Phrases

Related pages

Telephoning page

Leave a comment (link optional and email never shared)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.