Writing skills: Cause and effect
By Lexy Holt
Level: Intermediate, Upper intermediate Type: Teaching notes
To bring attention to the need for lexical variation in a good essay and to increase range of cause and effect phrases and topic related vocabulary.
- To bring attention to the need for lexical variation in a good essay.
- To increase range of cause and effect phrases and topic related vocabulary.
- To provide a lexical resource for future essay writing.
Cause and effect
so/ As a result/ are due to/The consequence of/ Owing to/one effect of/ This is because/ as/ Hence/ consequently/ The effect of/ consequent (levels)/ therefore/ (creates)/ As a result/ For this reason/ Thus/ as a consequence
Population/( uninhabitable)/ overcrowding/ teeming with people/ inhabitants/ too dense a population/ over peopled/ crowded with people/ crawling with cars/ overpopulation/ epidemic of people/ most populous nation/ overcrowded
Time: 1 hour plus writing task for homework
Materials (see attached)
- Cards (cut up one card for each student)
- Prediction task (one copy on an OHP or one copy between two)
- Reorder following sentences (one copy each)
- Analysis worksheet (one copy each)
- Vocabulary extension worksheet (one copy each)
- Homework sheet (one copy each)
- Model essay – Answer Key (one copy each)
- As a warm-up exercise, give one card, from ‘Cards’, to each student. (Make sure you are using matching cause and effects). Tell students to mill until they have found their partner. (5 minutes)
- Tell the new pairs to then sit down and connect their sentences by introducing a phrase which expresses the relationship of cause and effect. (5 minutes)
- Pairs read out their sentences and the teacher marks up cause and effect phrases on the board as they come up. (5 minutes)
- Tell the class they are now going to read some sentences which use (hopefully) some different cause and effect phrases. They are taken from an essay entitled ‘Describe some of the problems caused by overcrowding in modern cities’ and write this title on the board. (2 minutes)
- Put ‘Prediction task‘ on the OHP (alternatively give out one copy between two) and cover over all but the top unfinished sentence. Students guess the ending, shout out their answers and the nearest answer gets a point/ sweet/ counter etc. (15 minutes)
- Explain again that the prediction task comes from the essay on the board and give out ‘Reorder the following sentences‘ and the ‘Analysis worksheet‘ to complete individually. Explain that in writing such an essay you need to list a lot of problems of a single cause (overcrowding) so a lot of cause and effect phrases are needed. Also you would need a lot of words which function as an alternative to the topic word, in this case, ‘overcrowding’. (15 minutes)
- Be available to help as the students work through the worksheet. Give out ‘Model essay – Answer Key ‘ and allow students to check through it quickly before looking at it as a class (see teachers’ notes.) (10)
- Give out ‘Vocabulary extension worksheet ‘ explaining that the words on the sheet come from other common essay themes, one of which they will write an essay on for homework. You could work through this as a class, answering questions about the slight differences in meaning, in order to keep the pace up and finish on a chatty note. (5)
- Give out ‘Homework sheet ‘ for homework.
Teacher's notes (numbers correspond to lesson steps above)
- If your class doesn’t like moving around, give each pair a complete set of jumbled cards to match up. However, still limit one sentence to each pair for connecting them with a phrase.
- Some students’ written work lacks coherence because of a paucity of cause and effect in their ideas. This step will help focus these students on the need to use clear connections in their written work.
- The idea here is that if you make the introduction of these phrases fun, students will have a better chance of remembering them (step six gives further comprehension and analytical focus on the target phrases) .
- And 8) are simply to prepare for written homework so keep the pace relaxed and chatty and reiterate that the point of their homework is to produce a piece of writing that has a good range of topic vocabulary and cause and effect phrases.
These materials are prepared by Lexy Holt a former winner of the Lesson share competition.
Cause and effect essays are another common essay type, either as an essay type on its own, or as part of a larger essay which includes one or more paragraphs examining causes and effects. This page gives information on what a cause and effect essay is, how to structure this type of essay, how to use cause and effect structure words (transition signals) for this type of essay. There is also an example cause and effect essay on the topic of women at work.
What are cause & effect essays?
A cause and effect essay looks at the reasons (or causes) for something, then discusses the results (or effects). For this reason, cause and effect essays are sometimes referred to as reason and result essays. They are one of the most common forms of organisation in academic writing. Sometimes the whole essay will be cause and effect, though sometimes this may be only part of the whole essay. It is also possible, especially for short exam essays, that only the causes or the effects, not both, are discussed. See the examples below.
There are two main ways to structure a cause & effect essay. These are similar to the ways to structure problem-solution essays, namely using a block or a chain structure. For the block structure, all of the causes are listed first, and all of the effects are listed afterwards. For the chain structure, each cause is followed immediately by the effect. Usually that effect will then be the cause of the next effect, which is why this structure is called 'chain'. Both types of structure have their merits. The former is generally clearer, especially for shorter essays, while the latter ensures that any effects you present relate directly to the causes you have given.
The two types of structure, block and chain, are shown in the diagram below.
Cause and Effect Structure Words
Cause and effect structure words are transition signals which show the cause and effect relationships. It is important to be clear which is the cause (or reason) and which is the effect (or result), and to use the correct transition word or phrase. Remember that a cause happens first, and the effect happens later.
Below are some common cause and effect structure words. X is used to indicate a cause, while Y is used to indicate the effect.
Below is a cause and effect essay. This essay uses the block structure. Click on the different areas (in the shaded boxes to the right) to highlight the different structural aspects in this essay, i.e. Causes, Effects, and structure words. This will highlight not simply the paragraphs, but also the thesis statement and summary, as these repeat the causes and effects contained in the main body.
Title: More and more women are now going out to work and some women are now the major salary earner in the family. What are the causes of this, and what effect is this having on families and society?
In the past, most women stayed at home to take care of domestic chores such as cooking or cleaning. Women's liberation and feminismhave meant that this situation has been transformed and in contemporary society women are playing an almost equal role to men in terms of work. This has had significant consequences, both in terms of the family, for example by improving quality of life and increasing children's sense of independence, and also for society itself with greater gender equality.
The main reasons behind the increase of women in the workplace are women's liberation and feminism. The women's liberation movement originated in the 1960s and was popularised by authors such as Simone de Beauvoir. As a consequence of this, new legislation emerged, granting women equal rights to men in many fields, in particular employment. Because of feminist ideas, men have taken up roles which were previously seen as being for women only, most importantly those related to child rearing. As a result of this, women have more time to pursue their own careers and interests.
These have led to some significant effects, both to family life and to society as a whole.
Although the earning capacity of a woman in her lifetime is generally much less than that of a man, she can nevertheless make a significant contribution to the family income. The most important consequence of this is an improved quality of life. By helping to maintain a steady income for the family, the pressure on the husband is considerably reduced, hence improving both the husband's and the wife's emotional wellbeing. Additionally, the purchasing power of the family will also be raised. This means that the family can afford more luxuries such as foreign travel and a family car.
A further effect on the family is the promotion of independence in the children. Some might argue that having both parents working might be damaging to the children because of a lack of parental attention. However, such children have to learn to look after themselves at an earlier age, and their parents often rely on them to help with the housework. This therefore teaches them important life skills.
As regards society, the most significant impact of women going to work is greater gender equality. There are an increasing number of women who are becoming politicians, lawyers, and even CEOs and company managers. This in turn has led to greater equality for women in all areas of life, not just employment. For example, women today have much stronger legal rights to protect themselves against domestic violence and sexual discrimination in the workplace.
In conclusion, the increasing number of women at work has brought about some important changes to family life, including improved quality of life and increased independence for children, as well as affecting society itself. It is clear that the sexes are still a long way from being equal in all areas of life, however, and perhaps the challenge for the present century is to ensure that this takes place.
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Below is a checklist for the main body of an essay. Use it to check your own writing, or get a peer (another student) to help you.