Talking about neighbours in English
This post contains some reading and listening links that will give you some vocabulary and ideas for talking about about neighbours in English. This is an interesting topic because nearly everyone has a neighbour of some description (unless you lived somewhere incredibly remote like the Arctic Circle; even then you would probably have some scientists and penguins as neighbours). Another interesting thing about this topic is how the relationships between neighbours differ from country to country. Even between different regions of the UK and Ireland, it is possible to see very noticeable differences in how neighbours interact with other. In the third reading link, the author describes some common characteristics of Irish neighbours. This might actually be quite a challenging article for English learners to read because it contains quite a lot of colloquial Irish English, so you’re doing well if you can get the main ideas. They basically say that Irish neighbours do a lot of favours for each other and can also be quite nosey, along with some other characteristics. In contrast, the fourth link is by a British author who describes neighbours there as colder and more distant. Maybe this is true in some people’s experience, but I also remember having a lot of very friendly neighbours in England.
I have spoken to friends from other countries before about their neighbours, and sometimes it really isn’t normal for neighbours to speak to each other. This seems to be particularly true in big cities, and I remember this being the case when I lived in cities like Seoul and Liverpool. Sometimes I developed a very good relationship with my neighbours and even had dinner and drinks together with them, but other times I didn’t know the person living next to me at all.
What do you think about neighbours? Is it better to have a good relationship with them? Or is it better to acknowledge each other’s privacy and not have additional distractions around us? Do you have any experience of having a bad neighbour? In the first reading link, the author gives some advice for dealing with bad neighbours and being challenged by a neighbour about our own undesirable behaviour. If you believe the expert, then having some sort of good relationship with your neighbour can make it easier to overcome difficulties like loud noise or untidiness. Of course, this is impossible if you’re unfortunate enough to live next door to someone really obnoxious.
Speaking of obnoxious neighbours, the listening link is a clip from British TV and shows a situation where some people in England had some neighbours from hell. The speakers describe how they had to call the police several times because their bad neighbours were so rude and intimidating.
If you’re preparing for the IELTS exam or thinking of taking it, then talking about neighbours in English is also useful to think about because it is another potential topic in the reading and writing sections of the exam. Here are some the possible speaking and writing Part 2 questions:
Describe one of your neighbours.
You should say:
When you two became neighbours
how often you meet him/her
whether your neighbour is a good person
and explain why you like/ dislike this neighbour.
Describe a good neighbour of yours.
You should say:
who is s/he
how long s/he has been your neighbour
what sort of person s/he is
and explain why you think he/she is a good neighbour.
In general, people do not have such a close relationship with their neighbours as they did in the past. Why is this so and what can be done to improve contact between neighbours?
Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience.