English Conversation – Manners and Etiquette
This is the preparation material for an English conversation lesson about manners and etiquette. Etiquette is a code that rules how everyone is expected to behave, according to the social conventions and norms in society. Because they are a product of the society's culture and history, the rules of etiquette are very different from one place and social group to another. Many people believe that manners and etiquette have deteriorated over time and that people are not as polite as they used to be.
The following video is an interview with actor, Stephen Fry, who discusses some issues he has had with his level of politeness.
- Stephen Fry was told: "politeness will be your downfall". What do you think was meant by this?
- Do you think it is possible to be too polite?
- Have you ever been in a similar situation in which you have wanted to leave a restaurant because of someone's rudeness to a waiter?
- Tuck in – Please tuck in your shirt before you enter the meeting room.
- Give up – It is polite to give up your seat for a pregnant, elderly or disabled person.
- Take off – You should take off your hat before entering a restaurant.
- Keep off – Keep your elbows off the table while you are eating.
- Do you think rules of etiquette are important? Why?
- What do you think are some of the best rules of etiquette?
- Are there any rules that you think are silly or unreasonable?
- What manners were you taught as a child?
- What’s the best way to teach manners to children?
- Do you have good manners and etiquette?
- Do you think etiquette has deteriorated in modern society? In what ways?
- What are some manners in your country that have disappeared over time?
- Do you think manners can affect your success in life? How?
- Do you think manners are affected by income and social status?
- What are some actions that are considered good manners in your country?
- What are some actions that are considered bad manners in your country?
- What customs does your country have that a foreigner might not know?
- Have you come across any rules of etiquette in other countries that are different to your own?
- Can you think of any countries or cultures that are known for being polite?
- What are some good manners for using a phone in public?
- What are some good table manners?
- What are some good manners when using public transport?
- Do you think it is rude to eavesdrop on other people’s conversations?
- Do you think it is rude to stare at someone with a disability?
- Why do you think some people stare?
- Have you ever seen someone with very bad manners? What happened?
- Can manners and etiquette ruin a person’s fun at a social event?
Rules of Etiquette
Which of the following are or are not considered rules of etiquette in your country?
- Say “Thank you” when you hand over money in a shop.
- Ask someone how much they earn.
- Arrive 30 minutes late.
- Yawn in public.
- Open the door for a woman.
- Begin speaking before another person has stopped.
- Brush your hair in public.
- Whisper to someone in front of other people.
- Put your feet up on the table or a chair.
- Take your shoes off when you enter a house.
- Wipe your plate clean with bread.
- Eat chicken with your hands in a restaurant.
- Put your elbows on the table during a meal.
- Speak while you are eating.
- Burp at the table.
- Get on a train before others have got off.
- Stare at someone who looks different.
- Listen to someone else’s conversation.