A. Listen to three people who have lived in England answering the questions ‘Are English people too polite?’ Do they answer yes or no? If yes, what do they think the English should do?

1   László, an English teacher from Hungary   Yes / No ____________

2   Paula, a businesswoman from Argentina   Yes / No ____________

3   Melik, an economist from Turkey   Yes / No ____________

4   Renata, a student from Germany   Yes / No ____________

B. Listen again and answer the questions.

1   Why were László and his friends in London?

2   Did he and his friends think they were going to pass or fail? Why?

3   What happened in the end?

4   What do Latin people think when English people are polite?

5   How does Paula describe Latin people?

6   What does Melik think about the English people he has met in his job?

7   What kind of English people does he say aren’t polite?

8   What happened to Renata when she was in London?

9   What did she say to the last person? Why?



1 Yes; they need to say what they think / be more direct.

2 Yes; they need to relax more.

3 No.

4 No.


1   They were doing a training course for teachers of English.

2   Pass, because the tutors were very polite when they gave their opinion about their teaching progress.

3   They failed – and they were very surprised! They didn’t realize they were doing badly.

4   That they are cold / unfriendly.

5   Noisy and extrovert.

6   He thinks they are more polite than people from his country / have better manners.

7   English football hooligans and tourists who drink too much.

8   It rained a lot and people kept hitting her with their umbrellas and then saying sorry.

9   ‘Please stop saying sorry and be more careful.’ She was tired of people saying sorry when they didn’t mean it.


LÁSZLÓ   Well, I think sometimes yes. English people can be so polite that you don’t really understand them. For example, I went to London with some other teachers from Hungary to do a training course for teachers of English. It was a special course for foreign teachers. During the course the tutors, the people who were teaching us, talked to us a lot about our progress – and we thought we were all doing really well. So we were very very surprised when some of us failed the course! What had happened was that the English tutors were so polite when they gave their opinion about our teaching that we didn’t realize we were doing things badly. I think that’s typically English. I think sometimes they need to say what they think, to be more direct.

PAULA   I think English people are so polite that it makes us Latin people think that they’re cold. I mean we’re very noise and extrovert and so when they’re quiet and polite we think that they don’t like us, that they’re being unfriendly. So maybe yes, they can be too polite. I think they need to relax more.

MELIK   I think the English are very polite, but I don’t think they are too polite – I mean I don’t think it’s a bad thing, I think it’s a good thing. In my job, I have met a lot of English people and I think they’re much more polite than we are both in the way they talk and also in the way they respect other people’s opinions. And their manners in general are much better. OK, this isn’t true about all English people. The football hooligans and some of the tourists that come here to Turkey and drink too much – they’re not polite – but the majority are and I like it.

RENATA   Well, I went to London a few years ago and one day, surprise surprise, it was raining and I was walking along the street and everybody had an umbrella and every time someone went past me they hit me with their umbrella and then said, ‘Oh sorry’, or ‘I’m awfully sorry,’ or ‘I’m terribly sorry’. And after the tenth time this happened, I just said to the person who hit me, ‘Please stop saying sorry and just be more careful!’ So in answer to your question, I don’t think English people are too polite. They say ‘sorry’ and ‘thank you’ a lot, but it doesn’t really mean anything.

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