Role-play Cards #2 Telephone Skills (Intermediate – Advanced ESL/EFL)

ESL/EFL Telephone Skills Role-play Cards (Intermediate/Advanced) — Set 2

(Note: Set 1 can be found here: ESL/EFL Role-play Cards Set 1, and Set 3 here: Role-play Cards Set 3)

ESL role-play cards are great for warm-up, honing communication and negotiation skills, and making a lesson fun. Below are 6 role-play scenarios for practicing telephone skills. I teach many business English classes, so most scenarios are business-related. Use the telephone skills role-play cards you find suitable/interesting.

Telephone role-play conversations

Telephone Skills Role-Play Card Instructions:

  1. Download and print the telephone skills role-play cards.
  2. Put students in pairs. Ask each student read one side of one a role-play card, silently, to his/herself. When ready, have them begin the role-play.
  3. Take note of their mistakes (without interrupting) and encourage your student to debate and make it interesting. Tell them to use their imagination and try to win their position (where applicable).
  4. Discuss mistakes, commend students, and make recommendations when they have finished.
Student A RoleStudent B Role
(1a) You have an appointment tomorrow with your dentist, Dr. White, at 8 am. Call his office and try to reschedule your appointment to next week.
You are free next week on Thursday and Friday in the early morning.
(1b) You are a receptionist at a dentist's office. Dr. White, the dentist, is busy all this week. Next week she is free on Wednesday afternoon (3-5pm) and next Friday morning (8-10am). You will soon receive a phone call.
Note: your office charges $40 for canceling appointments without 24 hours notice.
(2a) You need a teacher to teach business English in your company. You have decided to phone a man named “Ken”, whose name you found in an ad in a local newspaper.
Call Ken. Ask about: his experience, pricing, availability, teaching style, etc. Try to decide if you want to hire him.
(2b) Your name is Ken. You have decided to become an English teacher. You have no experience but English is your native language.
You need students.
Your phone will ring soon.
(3a) You are a young adult. Tomorrow, you will have friends over for a turkey dinner. You have bought a 20-pound (9kg) turkey, but you have no idea how to prepare it. Call your parents for help.
(3b) It's holiday time.
One of your wonderful children will call you soon for help.
(4a) You want to take your wife/husband on a trip this weekend. First, decide where you want to go. Then, phone your travel agent to reserve a plane ticket and hotel.
Also: ask for recommendations of things to do there.
(4b) You are a travel agent. Try to sell Student A one of the following travel packages:
Option 1: roundtrip, first class, $950. Hotel: Hyatt, $250/night, *****
Option 2: roundtrip, economy class, $310. Hotel: Bob's Inn, $99/night, ***
(5a) You are a recruiter for a headhunting company. You'd like to recruit Student B, a senior accountant, for a position at another company. Call and ask if he/she is satisfied with his/her job. Try to get him/her to have lunch with you to discuss your offer.
(5b) You are a senior accountant. You have been with your company for 15 years.
Soon your phone will ring.
(6a) You are a web-designer. You need new clients. Marciano's, an Italian restaurant, has a horrible website. Call the restaurant, ask for the manager/owner, and introduce yourself. Explain why the company needs a good website. Set-up a meeting where you can present a sample of a new design.
(6b) You are a manager of an Italian restaurant, Marciano's.
Your restaurant is not doing too well. You need more customers. Your restaurant is nearly bankrupt.

Role-Plays for Making Requests and Clarifying Information on the Telephone

File Downloadspeaking-telephone-linc-roleplays.docx

Note: The below role-play cards reference strategies for clarifying information. These strategies include

  • asking for repetition ("I'm sorry, could you repeat that?")
  • repeating information for confirmation ("That's 115 Main St West, Apartment 305?")
  • asking the caller to spell their personal information ("Could you spell your last name, please?")

These strategies should be taught before assessing your students on these skills.

Scenario #1

Student A: You have just moved to a new home. You would like to have Internet access in your home, so you need to call an Internet Service Provider (ISP). Prepare a list of questions to ask the salesperson of an ISP.

Call Speedy Internet and ask your questions. If you feel that their offer is suitable, sign up for the service.

Your personal information is as follows: Joseph Bednarczyk, 307 Vaughan St., Toronto, Ontario, M5P 1G7. Your telephone number is 416-778-5566.

Student B:

You are a salesperson for Speedy Internet Services. Prepare a list of 5-8 points about the Internet service you provide that you can tell callers (packages, prices, installation fees, equipment costs, etc.).

Answer the phone with a professional greeting. Answer the caller's questions. Get the customer to sign-up for the service. Use at least one telephone strategy to clarify information.

Scenario #2

Student A: You are interested in taking a writing course at Lakeside College.

First, think of questions you want to ask about the course and school. Then, when ready, call the college to get information. Your name is Rudolph McDougall, and you live at 85 McClearly Lane, North York, M4N 3G7. Your telephone number is 647-735-1259

Student B: You are a receptionist at Lakeside College. Your college offers a variety of courses. One of your most popular courses is its writing course. Prepare a list of 5-8 points about the writing course that you can tell callers (hours, price, course content).

Answer the phone with a professional greeting. Answer the caller's questions. Get the customer to sign up for the course. Use at least one telephone strategy to clarify information.


Scenario #3

Student A: You have just moved to a new city. You have a dental problem. You have found the name of a dental clinic called York Dental on the Internet. It has good reviews, so you would like to call there to make a reservation.

First, prepare some information about your dental problem. Also, think of some questions to ask the clinic. Try to make an appointment that suits your busy schedule.

Your personal information is as follows: Zach Galifaianakis, 307 Jacobs Quay. Mississauga, Ontario, M5P 1G7. Your telephone number is 416-778-5566.

Student B:You are a receptionist for York Dental. Your main duty is to schedule appointments. Prepare a list of 5-8 points about your clinic (location, cost, hours, dentist's names.).

Answer the phone with a professional greeting. Answer the caller's questions. Try to schedule an appointment. Use at least one telephone strategy to clarify information.


Rubric for Assessing Telephone Skills

Below is the rubric I used for assessing my students.

Answers the phone with appropriate greeting
Uses a strategy/strategies to confirm information
Closes conversation using an appropriate expression
Is polite and has appropriate tone


Provides necessary information
Asks relevant questions
Speaks clearly / Is understandable
Accuracy (grammar, word choice)


Task: Chose a partner. Decide who will be Student A and Student B. Next, take some time to prepare information for your role-play. Prepare by yourself; do not start practicing with a partner. When you are ready, your teacher will ask you to role-play the situation with your partner.

Role-Plays for Taking Live Messages on the Telephone

Before doing these role-plays, you should teach your students some expressions for taking messages on the telephone.

File Downloadtaking-messages-telephone-roleplays.docx

#1 — Student A: Caller

You are Elizabeth Walker from the Art Gallery of Ontario. Your phone number is 555-645-0179. You'd like to know if the students at Evergreen College would be interested in a free visit on May 29th. Tell him that he can find information about registering at

#1 - Student B: Recipient

Answer the phone at Evergreen College. Take a message for Marc Gammal.


#2 — Student A: Caller

You are Simon Vuong. Call Luba Minkov. Tell her that you bought an antique dresser at her store last weekend and it has just been delivered. However, you noticed a small crack on the front of one of the drawers. You can't accept it in this condition. You want someone to pick it up today. Your phone number is 555-784-3099.

#2 — Student B: Recipient

Answer the phone at Heritage Furniture Sales. Take a message for Luba Minkov.


#3 — Student A: Caller

You are Ella Lau from LaRoche Ltd. Your phone number is 555-367-2819. Call Joanne Fisher. You would like her to email her company's 2016 furniture catalogue to you at If the catalogue is not available electronically, she can send it to you by mail. Your address is LaRoche Ltd., 203 Queen St. West, Ste. 401, Toronto. Postal Code: M5R 1C9.

#3 — Student B: Recipient

Answer the phone at ABC Office Designs. Take a message for Joanne Fisher.


#4 — Student A: Caller

You are Clyde Baker. Call ABC Pet Shop and ask to speak to the owner. You are a web designer. You would like to redesign ABC Pet Shop's website in order to increase its traffic and online sales. Ask the owner to take a look at your portfolio online at and then call you back at 204-592-9320

#4 — Student B: Recipient

Answer the telephone at ABC Pet Store. Take a message for the store owner.


Student A — Situation #1

#1 — Student A: Caller

You are Madeleine Wainright from University of Toronto. Call Vivian Lee. Tell her that her application has been received; however, you have still not received a copy of her academic transcript. You need this document immediately. Ask her to e-mail you a scanned copy at or fax it to 416-303-9329.

Student A — Situation #2

#2 — Student B: Recipient

Answer the phone at ABC Web Design. You are a graphic designer. Take a message for your co-worker, Elliot Friedman.

 Student B — Situation #1

#1 - Student B: Recipient

Answer the phone at XYZ Financial. Take a message for Vivian Lee.

Student B — Situation #2

#2 — Student B: Caller

You are Bolah Ngaw from XYZ PetShop. Call Elliot Friedman. Elliot has recently designed your petshop's webpage; however, there are two problems:

1) the page has the wrong address. The address should say “1304 Bloor East (not 1304 Bloor West)”.

2) The hours of operation are wrong. Your shop is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 11-8 p.m., not 10-6 p.m. Ask him to correct these mistakes as soon as possible. Your phone number is 647-545-2421



Related Articles: Best Role-plays & Debates of 2011Best Role-plays & Debates of 2012, Role-plays for Workplace Negotiation

ESL/EFL Telephone Skills Role-play cards copyright Matthew Barton of

English Current recommends Grammarly as a learning tool to reduce English mistakes. If you found this page helpful, consider a donation to our hosting bill to show your support!

7 comments on “Role-play Cards #2 Telephone Skills (Intermediate – Advanced ESL/EFL)

  1. Nyo (Posted on 4-3-2012 at 11:06) Reply

    I think these exercises will be very useful and effective for students speaking skills. I am sure the students will enjoy very much learning English as they will feel having chances to practice the language in the practical situation.

    Thank you so much in deed!!!

  2. Om Pakash Shrestha from Nepal (Posted on 12-21-2012 at 12:01) Reply

    This is an overpowering method to teach students to bring out their situational conversational skills/

    Thank you!!!

  3. Magyar Laci (Posted on 4-4-2014 at 01:42) Reply

    Great Stuff!

  4. Waconda (Posted on 12-19-2014 at 12:39) Reply

    Hi and over the years I have had students use tel. English..
    Like the flexibility of these instruction/directions..

    Knowing how some cultures are very conservative about
    online conversation…these seem interesting without being
    hotlines that get students into hot water….

  5. Joyce Ellis (Posted on 1-31-2015 at 02:02) Reply

    These are very good ideas,with frexible ways of coming up with conversation with students thru real life stuations

  6. Manny (Posted on 3-16-2016 at 12:09) Reply

    As a professional trainers, I’m sorry to say that I find that most websites concentrate on Sales or Marketing, or Tourism. And the levels, or language is pretty basic. That’s fine if that’s the type of client you have, and are working with low levels. For me, and the type of clients I deal with, it’s a bit limited due to the different fields, and subjects.

  7. Bano (Posted on 2-24-2022 at 02:50) Reply

    Design two comprehensive role play activities to help your students of Grade 8
    speak better English. The activities should include the following aspects:
    Objective/s of the activity
    Role-play activity used
    Detailed execution of the activity

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.