Meet The Neighbours! — a short story for English reading and speaking

Meet The Neighbours a short story for English reading and speaking (1)

Sarah is a good neighbour.

She talks to her neighbours, she likes to be a part of the community.

But when the new neighbours next door refuse to talk to her, she can’t resist finding out why.

And what she finds changes everything…

 

This is a mystery story about neighbours.

You can use this in your English or ESL class today!

The lesson comes complete with:

  • introductory questions
  • a short story for reading
  • a big list of reading comprehension questions
  • a table of essential vocabulary
  • another big list of discussion questions
  • many vocabulary exercises
  • a role play
  • a debate
  • and a writing exercise

Download the full lesson by clicking the link below!

Meet The Neighbours a short story for English reading and speaking (2)

Introduction

Do you get on well with your neighbours?

Are your neighbours friendly?

Should neighbours be friendly and engage with each other?

Or should we respect neighbours’ privacy?

Meet The Neighbours!

Sarah knocked on the door.

A loud, confident rapping that said she meant business.

Who did these people think they were anyway?

It was fine with the last neighbours — a family of three. But then the woman got pregnant again, and they moved away. Said they needed a bigger house.

But these new people were something else. They didn’t talk to anyone.

Sarah had gone round the day they moved in to introduce herself and they opened the door a tiny fraction and peered out at her like she was a thief.

She tried a couple of other times, and that was it. She made the decision they were just rude and anti-social.

But then the lights. And the camera. And then the drone.

The lights she could kind of understand. Everyone needed security — and these people looked terrified of the world, so it made even more sense.

But they were unbearably bright. The slightest movement outside — a cat just mooching around — and the lights flooded through her curtains.

They woke her up in the middle of the night.

Then the camera. What was that all about?

Having a security camera, she could also understand. But this thing was high up — and it moved around. It followed her every time she stepped outside her front door.

The woman in the house opposite said the camera was always focused on her front room window. It got to a point where she closed the blinds because she thought she was always being spied upon.

The lights and the weird camera were bad enough. But then the drone.

Sarah first heard it as she was in her kitchen cooking dinner for herself one night. She thought it was someone mowing their lawn. It had the same sound.

But then she looked out and noticed something up in the air. And there it was — a drone with a camera attached, a lens pointing straight at her.

That was enough.

She called the police, and they said they would send someone round to look at it. But then the officer mumbled something about it being out in public and it not being an offence.

She knew she had to take action in her own hands. So here she was.

She banged on the door again. But nothing.

The curtains of the front room were closed. She leaned over to the window and tried to peer in, but the curtains were pulled together in such a way that they did not allow one fragment of light inside.

Why would they do that in the middle of the day? These people were an odd bunch.

Sarah tapped on the glass of the window and called out.

“Hello? Anyone there?”

She had never done anything like this before. Never intruded on someone so much. But she had never felt so intruded upon herself. Their behaviour was unacceptable. She had to talk to them about it.

She tapped again, a little louder this time.

Hello. I need to talk to you.”

To the side of the house, a small pathway ran to the back of the house. She could go back there. It was not as if she were sneaking around. And she was being so loud about it, they couldn’t possibly accuse her of trying to break in.

If the police wanted to talk to her about it, she could ask them why they had not done anything about it.

Why had they left it all to her?

She walked down the little path and came to the back of the house. The garden had been abandoned. The old neighbours maintained the garden — cut the grass and tended to the plants.

But now it had been left. There were even discarded pieces of trash blowing around.

Sarah came to the back door and knocked loudly on it. Best to make her presence known to them. No skulking about or trying to hide.

As she tapped her knuckles on the door, it moved ajar a little. They had left it open.

What a strange thing to do for people who seemed so preoccupied with security.

She waited, imagining one of them to come to the door with a look of suspicion on their face. She was ready for them.

But no one came.

She pushed the door open a little more.

“Hello?” she called out. This time in a smaller voice.

The interior was in total darkness.

Without another thought, Sarah stepped inside the house. Was this breaking and entering? She had not broken the door.

It was open, and she just went in.

She got inside and saw pictures on the walls of the hallway. To the side of her was the kitchen — it looked like a total mess.

Piles of trash and flies buzzing around.

Her eyes adjusted to the darkness, and she looked at the pictures.

They were of someone walking down the street in front. Her street.

She gazed more at the pictures and then noticed who the person was in the photographs.

It was her.

Her mouth fell open, and she stepped further down the hallway. Every picture was of her.

Some of the pictures had markings on them — times and dates when the pictures were taken. A small comment like Seems in a hurry or Smiling to herself.

She came to a room at the front of the house and gently pushed the door open. Peering inside, she saw it was empty.

No furniture, no decorations — nothing.

But the walls were covered in photographs of her. Some small, some very large — like A5 size. All of them stuck to the walls and most of them with red marks and comments.

Dates, times and comments about where she was going, who she met, the clothes she was wearing.

Sarah’s heart was thumping out a steady rhythm in her throat.

Who were these people?

And why were they taking so many photographs of her?

Then she felt a presence at the doorway.

A voice: Sarah?

She turned to see who was there.

Reading Comprehension Questions

Who is the main character in the story?

Where does the story take place?

Give a brief summary in your own words about this story?

Why did Sarah initially go to her new neighbour’s house?

Is Sarah happy with the new neighbours? Why/why not?

How did Sarah describe her last neighbours?

Why did the last neighbours move away? What was the reason?

What was the new neighbours’ reaction when Sarah first introduced herself?

Why did Sarah decide her new neighbours were rude and anti-social?

What were some of the issues Sarah had with the new neighbours’ security measures?

What three pieces of technology have the new neighbours installed or used to spy on the neighbourhood?

How did the lights from the new neighbours’ house affect Sarah?

What was unusual about the security camera at the new neighbours’ house?

How did the woman in the house opposite feel about the camera?

Describe the noise Sarah heard one evening while cooking dinner.

What was making this strange noise?

How did Sarah react to this?

Who did she call?

What did the police say when Sarah called them about the drone?

Why did Sarah decide to take action into her own hands?

What did Sarah notice about the front room curtains of the new neighbours’ house?

How did Sarah try to get the neighbours’ attention before going to the back of the house?

Describe the state of the garden at the new neighbours’ house.

What could Sarah see in the garden?

What was strange about the back door when Sarah knocked on it?

What did Sarah find inside the house when she entered?

How did Sarah convince herself she was not doing anything wrong?

What could she see in the photographs on the walls of the hallway?

What did the photographs have written on them?

Was the house furnished or not?

How did Sarah feel when she saw the photographs?

What happened at the end of the story?

Essential Vocabulary

Rapping

Adjusted

Interior

Anti-social

Gazed

Mess

Unbearably

Markings

Flies buzzing

Mooching

Stepped further

Gazed

Spied upon

Thumping

Stepped further

Intruded upon

Steady rhythm

Peering inside

Curtains

Presence

Decorations

Abandoned

Ajar

Photographs

Preoccupied

Intrude

Dates and times

Adjust

Accuse

Thumping

Mess

Suspicion

Steady rhythm

Buzzing

Skulking

 

 

Exercise

 

Write down all the words and phrases in your vocabulary notebook. Look in your dictionary and find the meaning of each word. Write the definition next to each word.

 

Then make up your own sentences using each word or phrase.

For example:

 

RappingTo strike a surface, often a door, with a series of rapid, audible blows, using one’s knuckles on the hand, especially to attract attention.

 

Anti-socialNot sociable; unwilling to engage in normal social interactions.

 

Then write a sentence of your own that uses the new word or phrase correctly.

 

She stood outside, rapping loudly on the door to get their attention.

 

His anti-social behaviour made it difficult for him to make friends at school.

 

Do this with all the vocabulary and, over time, this will help improve all your English skills — reading, writing, speaking and listening.

Meet The Neighbours a short story for English reading and speaking (5)

Discussion Questions

What do you think about this story?

Do you think Sarah was right to go into the neighbour’s home? Why/why not?

Do you think Sarah has a right for her neighbours to be more friendly?

What if they wish to be very private and left alone? Is this acceptable, do you think?

The story introduces three forms of technology often used for security.

Which of these three kinds of technology do you think is acceptable?

Do you think bright security lights are anti-social? Why/why not?

How about a moving camera?

What about the drone?

What do you think about the way the police reacted to Sarah’s complaint about the drone?

Do you think the police were being reasonable?

How should the police react in that situation?

When Sarah goes next door to talk to the neighbour, she finds the back door is left ajar.

How did this happen do you think?

Could it have been a trap to encourage Sarah to enter the house?

Why so?

When Sarah entered the house, do you think she was doing something illegal?

What would you have done in this situation?

Why is the neighbour’s garden in such a state of neglect?

And why is the kitchen such a mess?

Imagine you are Sarah in the story. What would you have done when you saw all the pictures of you on the wall inside the house?

Why are there so many pictures on the wall of Sarah?

Why are the neighbours taking pictures of her?

What could be the logical reasons for this?

At the end of the story, there is someone at the door of the room.

This person calls out to Sarah.

Who could this person be?

What do you think could happen next in the story?

If you lived next door to someone that refused to speak to you, would this bother you?

Or would you complain to someone about this neighbour?

Do neighbours have a responsibility to be sociable and friendly with the other neighbours?

Or can they live a very private life?

How is your relationship with your neighbours?

If you had a very private neighbour who did not wish to speak to anyone, would you demand that they be more sociable?

Or just leave the neighbour alone?

You can download the full lesson plan by clicking the link below!

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