When you overheard a stranger talking on the phone - Cue Card # 713

IELTS Speaking Part 2: IELTS Cue Card/ Candidate Task Card.

Describe a time when you were in a public place and you overheard a stranger talking on the phone.

You should say:

  • where this happened
  • when it happened
  • what the person was talking about

and explain how you felt about hearing the conversation.

[You will have to talk about the topic for one to two minutes. You have one minute to think about what you are going to say. You can make some notes to help you if you wish.]


Model Answer:
I always try my best not to overhear any conversation whether they come from a stranger or the people, I know. In fact, I consider that doing such a thing is generally the characteristic of a nosy person, and I have set a standard for myself not to be nosy at any time. But, unfortunately, sticking to this standard just may not be easy, when you are in a public place, and when strangers around you talk about all sorts of things, just as I couldn’t do it on a few occasions.

Anyway, it wasn’t like I was actually trying to overhear the conversation of that stranger when I was sitting at a food court of a shopping mall and enjoying some gourmet foods about a few months ago. Rather, I felt like the stranger, talking over his smartphone, was actually trying to attract attention from other people around him by boasting about how he tricked one of his fellow co-workers to cover for him at his work by making up some fabricated stories (I could call them just some “lies” in plain English).

The conversation had continued for almost 15 minutes, which provided complete details to the person on the other end as to how the stranger was planning to use his “holidays” into finding some real estate properties in another city instead of actually seeing his “imaginary” seriously sick uncle. At one point of his conversation, I even felt like moving away from the stranger after giving him some clues on how people around him were actually listening to his conversation, but I decided against it and just wanted to finish my food as soon as possible and leave that place.

Anyway, I felt a bit awkward and also embarrassed at the same time because I overheard a conversation which was quite distasteful by my standard. I also felt like we all have some kinds of secrets, and we all should try to keep them as such, by trying not to talk about them in any kind of public places, because our secrets can always be used against us.

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Jhorna Chowdhury
Generally, I am not interested in hearing anyone talking over the phone whether he is a stranger or a person known to me. But sometimes I had to hear such talks because nowadays peoples are using a smartphone without thinking people around and talking about personal matters loudly.

A few months ago, I came to a metropolitan city from my village by train. I always prefer window seats, and this day, I booked my ticket beside the window and started my journey. After a while, I noticed the person who sat opposite me started talking over the phone very loudly. Though I tried not to hear him, unfortunately, I had to hear him talking because he was talking about the street laws in my country and it is related to my subject in university as my academic subject is Law.

He discussed many things over the phone and I think he was either talking to one of his students or one of his colleagues. Either way, this is perhaps one of the very read occasion when a public conversation over a phone was something important and interesting to me. I wanted to thank him after he finished his conversation but I did not because it would only look indecent.