BEP 311 – Business by Phone 1: Discussing Production Problems

BEP 311 - Business English for Telephone 1: Production Problems

Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on discussing production problems on the phone.

In today’s economy, it seems like most of our communication is at a distance. Just think about how much time you spend on your phone or writing emails. Of course, it’s no surprise: everything from bookkeeping to manufacturing can be done remotely.

What this means is that we end up dealing with some pretty tough challenges without being able to look someone in the eye. And if you’re in the business of manufacturing, that might include production problems. So if you’re the one overseeing production and you have to explain a problem over the phone, how can you do that?

The first thing you might have to do is explain the situation, like the results of a test run. And just as with any problem, you want to stay positive, or optimistic about solutions. Of course, what makes you worth your pay check is how you deal with the problem. And that might involve explaining the causes, showing you’ve taken steps to deal with the situation, and describing what you’ll do next. And, although today’s lesson focuses on production problems, you can use these techniques to deal with pretty much any problem over the phone.

In today’s dialog, we’ll hear Cam and Dave, who work for a clothing company called Boston Vintage. The company has recently switched overseas factories, and Dave is reporting on the results of the new factory’s test runs. As you’ll hear, things haven’t gone perfectly. And Dave – who’s in China – has to discuss the problems over the phone with Cam, who’s back in the U.S.

Listening Questions

1. What does Dave say to introduce the fact that there were some problems in production?
2. What does Dave say are the root causes of the problems?
3. What are Dave’s next steps in dealing with the problems?

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BEP 23c – Telephone English: Getting Action

BEP23c Telephone English - Getting Action - Lesson Module

Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on how to get action over the telephone in English.

Being productive at work means getting stuff done. And sometimes to get our own work done, we need other people to get things done. So when you need action from someone, what’s the best or quickest way to get it? Well, often we just pick up the phone and call the person.

And what do you say? Is it okay to just come out and say “hey, do this” or “hi, do that?” Not really. You need to be firm and direct, but not that firm and direct. You might need to emphasize how important the issue is. Next, you might lead into the main issue before you actually talk about what you want or need done.

But that’s not all! If you want action, you want to make absolutely sure you’re going to get it. That’s why you might ask for a guarantee, which is like a promise from the other person. And finally, just to be 100% sure, you should finish off by confirming the action. In this way, you’re not being too direct or bossy, but you’re still firmly doing more than just making a polite request.

In today’s dialog, we’ll hear Nathan, who works for an aircraft company called Cyclops. Nathan is calling George at a company called Airtronics. Nathan is calling because he wants to get action on a proposal from George. More specifically, he wants to make sure George is going to submit the proposal to Cyclops today.

Listening Questions

1. Why does Nathan think it’s important for George to submit a proposal today?
2. What important question does Nathan ask that relates to whether George can complete his proposal?
3. Near the end of the conversation, Nathan asks George to do something just to confirm that the proposal is being sent. What does he ask George to do?

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BEP 22c – Telephone English: Making Enquiries

Business English for Telephoning BEP 22c - Making Enquiries

Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on how to make an enquiry on the telephone in English. Making an enquiry means that you want to ask a question, or questions, to get information.

Getting information over the telephone in English can be challenging! You need to be very clear about what you need, and sometimes you need to ask the other person for clarification when you can’t hear or don’t understand. If information isn’t correct, or if it’s misunderstood, there could be big trouble. So it’s important that you learn good ways of making telephone enquiries.

What do you actually do when you make an enquiry? Well, to begin, you will want to ask for information. That could simply mean telling the other person what you want to know more about. Sometimes you might also use an alternative choice question, like “is it A or is it B?” Giving limited options like that can help make things clear.

Now, what if you can’t hear the other person correctly? Well, you might have to use an expression like “sorry, what did you say?” to get the other person to repeat himself. And sometimes a word or abbreviation might not be clear and you might have to spell it out, letter by letter. All of these are ways of making sure your enquiry and the information is clear.

In today’s dialog, we’ll hear George, who works for a company called Airtronics. George’s company is writing a proposal to make radios for an aircraft company called Cyclops. George is talking to Simon at Cyclops Aircraft to get some information he needs for his proposal. The telephone connection isn’t always clear, which creates some difficulty in the call.

Listening Questions

1. George asks Simon about “shipping,” or delivering the radios. What are the two choices George gives Simon about shipping?
2. At one point, George can’t hear what Simon says. How does George ask Simon to repeat himself?
3. Simon uses two words to make it clear to George that he means “XV.” What are the two words?

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BEP 21 B – Telephone Skills: Taking and Leaving a Message


Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on how to take or leave a message on the telephone in English.

You’ve probably experienced this situation before: someone calls your office and wants to talk to someone who isn’t there. So what do you do? You take a message, of course. But how do you take a message?

Well, it starts with asking the caller if they would actually like to leave a message. Then you’ll get some information, like who the person wants to talk to and what they want to talk about. Also, don’t forget to get the caller’s number so the person can call them back. And it’s a good idea to check back with the caller that you’ve got the information correct, because incorrect messages can cause big problems.

But what if you are the caller and you want to leave a message? Well, you can simply ask if you can do just that. And then you’ll give all the important details, like who you want to talk to, what you want to talk to them about, and your phone number. It’s these techniques and language for taking and leaving messages that we’ll learn today.

In the dialog, we’re going to rejoin a conversation between Claire and Nathan. In our last lesson, we heard Claire answer the phone at a company called Airtronics. Nathan is the caller. He works for Cyclops Aircraft and he’s calling to talk to someone named George Kline. But George isn’t there, so Claire is going to have to take a message for him.

Listening Questions

1. Why is Nathan trying to get in touch with George Kline?
2. What part of the message does Claire repeat back to Nathan?
3. Near the end of the call, what does Claire say she will try to do immediately?

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BEP 21 A – Telephone Skills: Starting a Call

Business English for Telephone Calls

Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on how to start a telephone call in English.

On the telephone, you can’t use your smile or body language to communicate feelings or ideas. You’ve only got your voice! So it’s really important that you know what to say and how to say it at each step of the call. This is especially true of the start of the call. Whether you’re the caller or the receiver, you need to cover the basic information right away so you can move on and deal with the matter at hand.

So, what are those basic things you need to cover at the start of a call? Well, that’s what we’ll learn about in this lesson. If you’re the receiver, you’re going to have to answer the call with a greeting and something to identify yourself and company. On a very simple level, that might sound like “Good morning. This is Jane at City Contractors.” If you’re the caller, you’re also going to have to identify yourself before you ask to speak to someone. Once you’ve identified yourself, what happens next? Well, as the receiver, next you will want to connect the caller with the right person. But before you do that, or before you take a message if the person is not available, you want to find out why the person is calling. So you’ll ask about the purpose of the call.

In today’s dialog, we will learn how the call works from both sides. We’ll hear Claire, who works at a company called Airtronics. She’s answering the call. We’ll also hear Nathan, the caller, who works for Cyclops aircraft. Nathan is calling to talk to someone named George Kline in the contracts department.

Listening Questions

1. What are the different parts of Claire’s first statement when she answers the phone?
2. How does Nathan ask to speak to George Kline?
3. How does Claire ask about the purpose of the call?

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