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ESL America: Telephone Dictations

Example Web Site and/or Technical Equipment Required


Website Example:

More Ways

Computer(s), Internet access, projector, speakers and/or headphones

Activity Description

In this activity, students listen to phrases commonly used during telephone conversations and write what they hear. While this activity starts out at the ESL America site, the actual activity comes from English Club.


  1. Test the Example Web Site to be sure the computers in your lab are equipped with the proper players for the audio and ensure the volume on the teacher's computer is set to an adequate level.
  2. This activity should be part of a unit on using the telephone. Be sure your students are familiar with the following commonly-used telephone phrases before engaging in this activity.
    • Hello, may I speak with _________?
    • I'm afraid _______ is out at the moment.
    • Would you like to leave a message?
    • I'll call back another time, thank you.
    • I'm going to have to let you go now.
  3. Students need to have keyboarding skills before engaging in this activity. They will need to know how to type capital letters as well as commas, periods and question marks.
  4. Be sure your lab has headphones for students if you want them to work independently.
  5. In order get students to the Example Web Site to work on their own (Step 6 below), you can bookmark the site on each computer browser, e-mail them the link, e-mail a word processing document with the link in it, or post the link on your class Web page.


  1. Review the words and phrases your students learned as part of the unit on the telephone.
  2. Review the words "comma," "period," and "question mark" as well as how to type these on the keyboard.
  3. Review the use of capital letters for proper nouns as well as how to type capital letters on the keyboard.
  4. Visit this Web site  and display it for the class using the projector.
  5. Model the activity by doing question 1 with the class (the instructions are posted at the top of the page). Show them they can listen to the audio as many times as they need.
  6. Direct student to the Web site and have them do questions 1-5 independently.
  7. Have them show you their screens when they are finished. Look for common errors and discuss these errors with the class.

More Ways

ESL America has categorized links to resources from a variety of Web sites for beginning, intermediate, and advanced learners of ESL, all of which contain audio/sound. The site is divided into the following categories:

  • Conversation
  • Dictation
  • Grammar
  • Holidays
  • Life Skills
  • Pronunciation
  • Reading
  • Vocabulary
  • Writing.

The activity detailed above is from the "Dictation" category. While all of the sites provide the necessary audio, they vary greatly in format so the "How To" instructions listed above will not apply to all of the activities.


  • Beginning High
  • Intermediate Low


Basic Communication

  • (0.1) Communicate in interpersonal interactions

Basic Communication

  • (2.1) Use the telephone and similar communication systems
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OTAN activities are funded by contract CN200091-A2 from the Adult Education Office, in the Career & College Transition Division, California Department of Education, with funds provided through Federal P.L., 105-220, Section 223. However, OTAN content does not necessarily reflect the position of that department or the U.S. Department of Education.