Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"
Jessica Beck
"Director of IELTS Training"

Today you’ll learn how to talk about the topic of politeness in IELTS Speaking Part 2.

A student in our course’s Facebook group shared this exam experience:

My Speaking Exam was very bad. I got the topic, “Describe a moment when you had to be polite.” Can you give some tips? How to give an intro. or some situations for this answer?

The topic of politeness comes up in Speaking Parts 1 and 3 as well, such as the Part 3 question, “How is being polite different than being nice?” That’s tough!

Overall, polite situations are usually formal contexts as well.

When tackling this Part 2 question, come up with a story of this polite moment.

Take notes in an organized way, describing details about this story. Example situations include a job interview, or meeting a partner’s parents for the first time.

Just go with the first story that comes to mind, so you don’t waste time brainstorming before you talk. Remember, there’s no right or wrong answer, as long as it’s connected to the topic!

Try to connect your answer directly to the topic immediately in your Part 2 answer.

A cool idiom to use in your intro. is, “Alright. this is a super tough topic, but I’m gonna take a crack at it. Here we go…”


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Notable phrases from Lindsay’s answer:

  • In order to answer this question properly, I’m gonna go straight to a personal story that happened…
  • When it comes to the person that you’re dating, …
  • There were three different pieces where I was making extra effort… while still maintaining my authentic self.
  • It was well-received by them.
  • cordial
  • I overstepped my boundaries a few times when breaking out the credit card.

Notable phrases from Jessica’s answer:

  • Usually I would correlate politeness with…
  • The context could not be more informal.
  • keep it intimate
  • a good half-hour
  • didn’t communicate about anything genuine
  • inconsequential questions
  • it turns out
  • all the formalities went out the window
  • our posture changed
  • conversation flowed more easily

Definitely listen to today’s answers more than once and mimic the way we expressively tell our stories. Also, note the natural transition phrases we use.

How would you answer today’s question about politeness?

Describe your situation, in detail, in the comments section below!


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