I teach this with the concept of permission. - with a direct question the person being questioned has two options: answer the question or ignore it (ignoring it would be impolite) - with indirect questions the person being questioned is presented with two parts : Can I ask (permission) The question They have the choice of saying "no you cannot ask" or answering the question - both are polite. I use very direct questions when expanding this idea in front of a group. How much do you earn ? Are you looking for a new job ? Who are you dating at the moment ? With these questions the student would rather not answer them in front of a group - so has to choose the "no you can't ask" variation. Works for me :-) "