Culture(s) / On the phone

A1 Breakthrough
“Allô? Tu es où? ”, learn when and how to answer your phone.
In your country, what do you say when you answer the phone? Do you introduce yourself? Do many people have cell phones? Is it possible to call at any time?

If you have to call someone for business reasons, adapt to the schedule of the people you are calling and take into account the time difference if they are abroad.
When you call someone on the phone, greet the person, introduce yourself, apologize for disturbing them and quickly explain the reason for the call. You can leave a message for an intermediary and ask what time you can reach the person without disturbing them.
If you have to leave a voice mail, you should give the following information: your identity, the purpose of the call, the telephone number where you can be called back, and you should end with a greeting (merci, à bientôt, au revoir, …).
In most cases, when answering the phone, you simply say “Allô”. You greet the person on the other end of the line only after they have introduced themselves. 

If your phone rings while you are having a face-to-face conversation with someone (at the restaurant, for example) and you really can't reject the call, then excuse yourself, turn away and answer it by offering to call back at later time. 
In meetings, and during a job interview, you should turn off your cell phone to look at and listen to the person who is speaking.
Avoid using the telephone in an enclosed public place (for example at the museum, at the movie theater). If your phone rings on a bus or train, you can answer it, but don't speak too loudly: you have to be quiet for the people around you. If you are witnessing a conversation, look away and do not listen to the conversation.
With cell phones, you often hear “Tu es où? ” at the beginning of the conversation.
With video calls (“en visio”), you rather hear “Est-ce que tu m'entends ? ” or “Tu me vois? ” at the beginning of the conversation.
For personal calls, avoid calling before 10 AM on weekends, or after 9 PM on weekdays.

To learn more:

Practical exercises


Culture(s): on the phone

4 exercises
Look • Listen • Intercultural (everyday life)