Top Tips for IELTS

Neighbours and community essay

In this lesson I show you two different ways to approach a neighbours and community essay for IELTS. I also talk you through

different ways to structure the essay

language for cause/effect and problem/solution essays

ideas for neighbours and community essays

how to improve your vocabulary, cohesion and grammar skills

 

One of the main ideas here is to show you that there is always more than one possible way to structure an IELTS essay. To choose the right structure for you you need first to decide what you know about that topic/question.

Thinking about the question – task response

In many cities an increasing number of people do not know their neighbours and there is a lack of a sense of community. What are the causes of this problem? How can it be solved?

You should see that for this question you need to write about:

both neighbours and loss of community spirit in cities

the causes of this problem

and solutions to it

Any essay that writes about neighbours generally and not in cities or does not discuss both causes and solutions will have problems with task response.

Neighbours and community essay – 5 paragraphs

This essay adopts a 5 paragraph structure with 2 content paragraphs explaining the problems and one paragraph explaining possible solutions.

It is certainly true that the more people nowadays do not have a close relationship with their neighbours and that this has weakened communities in our cities. This is probably due to a combination of our more mobile society and the nature of new building developments and is a problem that will require better  planning policies.

One main cause of this change is the trend for people to move home to find work. This mobility means that there is less chance for people to put down roots in a community and establish relationships with their neighbours. If, for example, a person moves city once every five years then it is most unlikely that they will form lasting relationships where they live.

Another important factor is that when people move into a new area they often live in apartment blocks and not houses. This matters because these blocks do not have common social areas where people can meet each other in the same way as is possible in more traditional housing estates. It is possible for people who live in these new high rise buildings never to see each other, still less get to know each other well enough to form a bond.

Any solution to this problem will probably involve local government adopting planning policies that are focused on the community. While it is unlikely that anything can be done about social mobility, it is possible for local authorities to encourage a greater sense of community by ensuring new building developments have social spaces where people can meet each other regularly. These could include green spaces where children can play together, local markets and community halls.

My conclusion is that there may be nothing to be done about social mobility but it is possible for local government to foster a greater sense of community by ensuring new developments are more community friendly.

Neighbours and community essay – 4 paragraphs

This essay uses a 4 paragraph structure with each content paragraph explaining one cause of the problem and also setting out a possible solution.

One disturbing trend nowadays is the weakened sense of community in our cities. The two principal causes of this are in my view how our schools and shopping habits have changed. In this essay I discuss these problems and also how they might be solved to ensure we once again know our neighbours.

There is a clear connection between education and community. In the past people got to know their neighbours through their children and formed close bonds watching them play sport together or just helping out with childcare. Unfortunately, this connection has been broken in cities by allowing children to go any school and not the one in the neighbourhood with the effect that local children do not necessarily go to the same school. The easy solution to this problem would simply be to make sure that children in cities went to the local school in their district.

The change in shopping habits has also had a profound effect on community relations in cities. In the past people would shop at their local market or main street, but now they increasingly use supermarkets that are located on the edge of cities. This means that people no longer meet people who live in their neighbourhood as they go shopping and it has also led to a loss in community identity. The best way to solve this problem would be for the government to raise taxation on the large supermarkets and to reduce it for local businesses in order to bring back local markets and shops.

In conclusion I believe that the best way for governments to address the problem of loss of community spirit in cities would be to introduce measures that encouraged people to educate their children locally and to help more local businesses and shops to flourish.

Notes on essay structure and task response

You should note that both essays establish a clear position in the introduction which is reflected in the conclusion and that each content paragraph clearly relates to the question. You can see the overall structure of the essay by looking at the words in red.

Different introductions

Each introduction clearly identifies the task and topic and sets out the position/view. One uses a 3 sentence model which also says “In this essay”, the other doesn’t. Both approaches work equally well.

Different content paragraph structure

Each essay takes a different approach. In the first essay I use 3 content paragraphs with each one focusing on either a cause or a solution. In the second essay I use each content paragraph to discuss a cause and its solution. Either approach can work equally well. Note

Separate causes and solutions: It is perhaps clearer to show that you are writing about both halves of the question

Causes and solutions together: It is a more coherent approach as it is easy to see how the solution fits the cause/problem

5 paragraphs: probably better if you have more “little” ideas that you can’t develop at length

4 paragraphs: better for developing ideas more completely

Note that there are also other approaches possible to this essay. You could easily, for example, write a 4 paragraph essay where you discuss causes in one paragraph and solutions in another.

I discuss 4 and 5 paragraph essays more in this lesson.

Notes on vocabulary and ideas

For this essay question you need a good range of problem/solution and cause/effect vocabulary. I have highlighted this language in blue in both essays. You should see that I use a wide range of words/phrases and often use different word forms and word combinations:

Cause and effect language

Here I use a wide range of different words and phrases:

probably due to

main cause

means that

important factor

led to

This matters because

two principal causes of this

with the effect that

had a profound effect on

This means that

Problem/solution language

Here I simply vary the word forms and word combinations – this works:

a problem that will require

solution to this problem

problems and also how they might be solved

The easy solution to this problem

The best way to solve this problem

to address the problem of

More ideas

There were ideas I didn’t use in these essays. You can also think about:

increased sense of the individual and not community – people look after themselves more nowadays – city people at most risk – needs a educational programme by governments to help – more funding of street parties and other local events

21st century popular culture and entertainment – people spend time on computers and not talking to neighbours – more evident in cities? 

work patterns- city people work long hours and often commute – never at home to talk 

Coherence and cohesion notes – think this/these

One of the most effective ways to link your writing together is using this/these. See how often I use these words in the essays – highlighted in green. It works well as it is a natural link between what you have written and what comes next.

You should see that almost every paragraph has a this – that’s a good model for you.

Grammar notes

I use a good range of grammatical structures in these essays. Note in particular:

If clause for an example

You can often introduce an example by using if.

If, for example, a person moves city once every five years then it is most unlikely that they will form lasting relationships where they live.

Range of tenses and verb forms

One way to change your grammar around is to think about different times. This is a smart thing to do as it also gives you more to write about. Look at this example where I talk about the past, the present and a conditional future. This allows me to use different tenses:

In the past people got to know their neighbours through their children and formed close bonds watching them play sport together or just helping out with childcare. Unfortunately, this connection has been broken in cities by allowing children to go any school and not the one in the neighbourhood with the effect that local children do not necessarily go to the same school. The easy solution to this problem would simply be to make sure that children in cities went to the local school in their district.

Practice ideas

You learn to write by writing but you don’t need to write whole essays. Here are some ideas for you to help you improve your skills.

write the same introduction twice – once in 2 sentences and once in 3 – use the introductions here as a model

write a content paragraph using the ideas above. Write it in 3 ways. This will really help you write more flexibly about more topics:

Once just focusing on the cause of the problem

Once focusing just on the solution

Once focusing on both the cause and the solution.

Feel free to post your paragraphs here for me and others to look at.

More connected lessons and resources

More sample IELTS essays

sample IELTS essays

Cause and effect vocabulary

You’ll find a lesson here to show you how to vary this area of language with useful word lists

cause and effect vocabulary

Using if for examples

I have a separate lesson on this:

using conditionals to improve your coherence

   

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9 Responses to Neighbours and community essay

  1. Reem October 5, 2016 at 12:01 am #

    Omg thank you so much .I never seen an explanation like this way.it is easy and clear to figure it out

  2. Jenny October 5, 2016 at 4:32 am #

    I have written whole essay, please leave a comment. Thank you.

    It is certainly true that the more people nowadays do not have a close relationship with their neighbours and that this has weakened communities in our cities. This is probably due to the change in work patterns and entertaniment culture and is a problem that will require better planning policies.

    One main cause of this change is city dwellers’ daily working patterns. This means that the more citizens in the metropolitan areas are inclined to work longer and often commute for over one or two hours. This matters because the more city people spend most time at the workplace, the less they absolutely interact with their neighbours.

    Another important factor is that there is a change in how city people spend their leisure time. As the advance in technology seems to be apparent, watching TV, playing video games and surfing the Internet have replaced our traditional entertainment culture, such as going camping and playing conventional games with their neighbours. It is possible for young people who are addicted to new industrial entertainment devices never to talk to their next doors.

    Any solution to this problem will probably generate the effort of local governments to adopt new policies that are focused on the communities. It is possible for governments to encourage cooperations to create new regulation which do not allow employees to work longer, and for local authorities to establish a lot of clubs where residents can socialize each other. These could, for instance, be social sports match, local markets and community halls.

    My conclusion is that due to the change of working patterns and individuals’ leisure habit, a sense of bonding with neighbours have weakened. However, it is feasible for firms and local officials to foster a greater sense of community by ensuring new development are more community friendly.

    • Dominic Cole October 5, 2016 at 9:35 am #

      Yes I like this a lot. There are one or two minor language issues but the structure, task response and coherence all work well.

      Look at for example:
      THE more citizens in the metropolitan areas are inclined to work longer and often commute for over one or two hours. (delete THE)
      This matters because THE more city people spend most time at the workplace, the less they absolutely interact with their neighbours. (same problem)
      My conclusion is that due to the change of working patterns and individuals’ leisure habit, a (THE) sense of bonding with neighbours have (HAS) weakened. However, it is feasible for firms and local officials to foster a greater sense of community by ensuring new development are more community friendly. (same problem in another way)

      • Jenny October 5, 2016 at 10:23 am #

        Thank you so much. If you assess my essay, which score would you give?

        • Dominic Cole October 6, 2016 at 4:50 am #

          I’m not an examiner and so I won’t give you a score.

  3. Mahmoud Dawod October 5, 2016 at 4:05 pm #

    Thank you for your awesome topic, it both enjoyable and informative, moreover new linking words you add, and developing the topic from different sides, once again I would thank you for highlighting some phrases, it show how the topic structure should be, allot of conclusion sentence also are included in your topic…. thank you for lights you shed

  4. Seyi October 8, 2016 at 12:49 pm #

    I have written a whole essay using your format and trying to apply your previous lessons in my little way:

    It is quite through, though saddening that most people living in the cities have little or no knowledge about their neighbours and this is also affecting their sense of community. The two principal causes of this in my view are economic pressures and poor community planning. In this essay, I discuss these problems and how they might be solved in order to improve community bond.

    The burden placed on most people by the recent global economic recession is taking a toll on their way of life especially as regards community human relations. Recent analysis show that most city dwellers leave home for work at dawn in an effort to avoid getting late and risk being sacked from a job whose salary could barely meet the present economic realities. Not only do they travel far to work, they are also confronted with daily traffic resulting in getting home late into the night. This routine leaves little room to know, still less meet who is living next door. To them, survival takes precedence over making friends. The best solution would be for Government to tackle issues making daily routine and survival a rigorous task for these individuals. This would include creating allowance for people that travel far to work or better still see to it that people get employed at locations not too far from home so they can utilize part of their free time for community bonding.

    Equally significant is the problem created by the way most cities are planned. This at times is due to error on the part of planning agencies to ensure that residential areas are strictly used for homes. It is not uncommon to find companies within the so called housing estate, and churches erected between houses. This would hamper the possibility of creating rapport with anyone or developing a sense of responsibility towards others. The way out of this would be for planning agencies to see to it that residential areas are utilized strictly for homes. This would ensure everyone have a relatively fixed neighbour that can be known and interracted with.

    In conclusion, I believe if the economic stress on people is lessened and proper community structure strictly adhered to, the problem of neighbours living as strangers and lacking a sense of community would be reduced.

    • Seyi October 8, 2016 at 5:21 pm #

      I meant to write ‘ True’ and not ‘through’ in my opening sentence

    • Dominic Cole October 10, 2016 at 12:23 pm #

      This is an excellent essay – well done indeed. You can be proud of this.

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