ENG 099 Conversational American English MOOC (Dec. 2012) Lecture 2: Formal Telephone English

0.0 Table of Contents

  • 0.0 Table of Contents
  • 1.0 Lecture Video
  • 2.0 Formal Telephone English
    • 2.1 Vocab
    • 2.2 Recommended Video
    • 2.3 Recommended Reading
  • 3.0 Language Talk
  • 4.0 Short Story – The Gift of the Magi
  • 5.0 Assignment 1

1.0 Lecture Video

The lecture was recorded and is available below as a YouTube video.

Figure 1: ENG 099 Conversational American English Lecture 2: Formal Telephone English YouTube Lecture Recording

If you cannot see the video above, watch it on YouTube directly.

2.0 Formal Telephone English

The picture below show Alexander Grahm Bell with one of the world’s earliest telephones. He was probably using formal telephone English!

Alexander Graham Telephone in Newyork

Bell calling Chicago from New York the first time in 1892. Photo: Alexander Graham Telephone in Newyork. By Gilbert H. Grosvenor Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Figure 2: Early Telephones

Formal telephone English is what you use over the phone talking to someone at work; teachers and school officials; the government and to people you respect. A good choice to start a formal phone conversation is “Hello. How are you?” while “Yo. What’s up?” is better for talking with your friends as was discussed last lesson plan.

2.1 Vocab

These 2 words come up in the lecture recording’s example formal telephone English conversation.

Quote – A guess of the price of something, often a service
Check – document that orders a payment of money from a bank account. (Via Wikipedia)

2.1 Recommended Video Resource

Please watch “Learn English 4-2 : Answering the Phone” from the FreeEnglish Video YouTube Channel twice.

2.2 Recommended Readings

Read and take notes on both About.com’s Telephone Conversations ESL handout and Englishclub.com’s Telephone tips page.
VoIP Phone

Example of a VoIP phone, commen in many American offices in 2012. Photo by Towel401 (w:File:Cisco7960G.jpeg) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Figure 3: Unlike Mr. Bell, many office telephones in 2012 use the internet instead of phone lines 

3.0 Language Talk

See the first part of Language Talk in Lecture 1.

Teacher.—What did you learn in the previous Lesson?


Pupil.— I learned that a spoken word is composed of certain sounds, and that letters are signs of sounds, and that spoken and written words are the signs of ideas.

This question should be passed from one pupil to another till all of these answers are elicited.


T.- All the written words in all the English books ever made, are formed of twenty-six letters, representing about forty sounds. These letters and these sounds make up what is called artificial language.


Of these twenty-six letters, a, e, i, o, u, and sometimes w and y, are called vowels, and the remainder are called consonants.


In order that you may understand what kind of sounds the vowels stand for, and what kinds the consonants represent, I will tell you something about the human voice.

Ligaments of the larynx. Posterior view. Gray952

Ligaments of the larynx. Posterior view. Gray952. Public Domain. Via the Wikimedia Commons

Figure 4: The Windpipe

T.- The air breathed out from your lungs beats against two flat muscles, stretched like strings across the top of the windpipe, and causes them to vibrate. This vibrating makes sound. Take a thread, put one end between your teeth, hold the other in your fingers, draw it tight and strike it, and you will understand how voice is made.


Figure 5: The Lungs pushing air up into the windpipe.

T.- If the voice thus produced comes out through the mouth held well open, a class of sounds is formed which we call vowel sounds.


But, if the voice is held back by your palate, tongue, teeth, or lips, one kind of consonant sounds is made. If the breath is driven out without voice, and is held back by these same parts of the mouth, the other kind of consonant sounds is formed. Ex. of both: b, d, g; p, t, k.


You are now prepared to understand what I mean when I say that the vowels are the letters which stand for the open sounds of the voice, and that the consonants are the letters which stand for the sounds made by the obstructed voice and the obstructed breath.


DEFINITION.—Artificial Language, or Language Proper, consists of the spoken and written words used to communicate ideas and thoughts.


DEFINITION.—English Grammar is the science which teaches the forms, uses, and relations of the words of the English Language.


4.0 Short Story – The Gift of the Magi

See the first part of this story in Lecture 1.

In the vestibule below was a letter-box into which no letter would go, and an electric button from which no mortal finger could coax a ring. Also appertaining thereunto was a card bearing the name “Mr. James Dillingham Young.”

1977 US Christmas postage stamp depicting a mail box issued on October 21, 1977

1977 US Christmas postage stamp depicting a mail box issued on October 21, 1977. Uploaded by Serjmooradian at en.wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The “Dillingham” had been flung to the breeze during a former period of prosperity when its possessor was being paid $30 per week. Now, when the income was shrunk to $20, the letters of “Dillingham” looked blurred, as though they were thinking seriously of contracting to a modest and unassuming D. But whenever Mr. James Dillingham Young came home and reached his flat above he was called “Jim” and greatly hugged by Mrs. James Dillingham Young, already introduced to you as Della. Which is all very good.

5.0 Assignment 2

  1. Publish your notes from the Formal Telphone English Recommended Video (2.1) and Readings (2.2).
  2. Follow the example from Language Talk (3.0) “Take a thread, put one end between your teeth, hold the other in your fingers, draw it tight and strike it, and you will understand how voice is made.” put a picture of yourself holding a string from your mouth and write 2 to 3 sentences about the experience.
  3. Write a paragraph describing your apartment, try to use the same style as O. Henry (4.0) in section focus on descriptive details.

Please respect the copyright plus terms and conditions of all links and media not by Charlie Danoff. Blog post text Copyright © 2012 by Charlie Danoff. Rights given a CC Zero 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.

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