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READING (Website articles) ………...………...

Unit 22
Non-publication websites …………………..... 2
Overview exercise ……………………………. 4
Website article …………………….……… 5
Close study exercise ……………………. 6

WRITING (Causal analysis) …………….......... 8


Vocabulary & sentences …....………………. 8
Composition ………………….............… 11
Model texts ............................................. 15
Model composition ……………………. 18
Writing tips …………………………….. 21
Paragraphing ............................................. 21
The writing process ................................. 27
Using a marking checklist ..................... 30
Marking checklists ................................. 32

REMEDIAL WORK ………………………... 34


Subject-verb agreement ……………............. 34
Pronoun-antecedent ................................. 35

VOCABULARY ………………………............ 38
Academic Word List (AWL) 2 ..…............... 38
Academic Word List (AWL) 3 ..................... 39

PRESENTATIONS ……………………...… 40
Causal analysis …………………..........… 40
Oral checklist .......................................... 41
READING: Website articles
Websites are pages on the World Wide
Web that offer visitors a variety of content.
For example, there are personal websites,
such as blogs, which are set up by
individuals to provide a showcase for their
daily activities and their opinions. There
are company websites whose main purpose
is to market and sell their products.
Governments also set up websites to
inform citizens about the services they
provide. Most organizations and special-
interest groups also have their own
websites to keep the public informed and
to publicize their particular point of view;
examples include news organizations like
the BBC, environmentalist groups such as
WWF (opposite) and charity organizations
like Oxfam.

There is a growing trend towards community-based websites like Facebook, file-sharing


websites such as Flickr, and knowledge websites like Wikipedia. Most publications, like
newspapers, magazines and journals, also have their own websites in addition to the print
media they are better known for.

In this unit, we are concerned with non-publication websites, especially those set up by
special-interest organizations to fulfil their various aims. (Unit 3 will deal with periodical
publications.)

Given the huge variety of websites, it is difficult to describe a set of features that applies to
all of them—one might expect the BBC’s website to have a polished and professional
appearance whereas a website set up by a small group of activist protesters could have
numerous weaknesses.

Websites can be well-constructed or badly constructed. The former can be as accessible,


reliable and informative as the encyclopedia articles you encountered in the last unit. They
are often characterized by a neat, attractive layout of information, short paragraphs, and well-
written English. Illustrations are there to help readers rather than to distract them with
irrelevant pictures. The content is constantly updated so that readers are only given
information that is current. Poorly made websites, by contrast, are often unattractive,
cluttered and difficult to navigate. Their information could be out of date, disorganized, full
of spelling and grammar errors, and littered with advertisements that are indistinguishable
from the website content.

In practice, the quality of most non-publication websites lies somewhere between the two
extremes. A typical website seldom undergoes the rigorous proofreading that an encyclopedia
or journal article would get so it may have the occasional grammatical or spelling error; its

An Introduction to Academic Discourse 4th edition T131 & 132 Page 2


writing style is often quite conversational, characterized by the use of idioms and humour,
and occasionally sarcasm. People are often the focus of website articles and so direct
quotations are common. The overall tone is often one of informality unlike the cool, objective
and authoritative tone of an encyclopedia or journal article. Unsurprisingly, bias is also a
feature of many special-interest websites, meaning that visitors cannot always rely on the
truth and objectivity of the information they are reading. You should be aware of these
potential weaknesses whenever you visit a website, especially in English 102 and 214,
courses in which you must write reports based on articles you find in the Library and on the
Internet.

Our example website article on the next page is on a site set up to publicize the deep-sea
exploration of the Mariana Trench, which is the deepest point on the Earth’s surface.

As you did with the encyclopedia article in unit 1, you should adopt a two-step approach to
the reading of website articles. First, think what you already know about the subject of the
article and skim and scan it quickly to understand its main ideas and its basic structure.
Second, read the article carefully for specific details.

Exercise 1: Overview
Answer the following questions:

What do you already know about the topic of the article?

1. What do you know about different kinds of underwater diving?


2. What problems do divers experience as they go deeper? Why?
3. What other problems might a deep-sea diver face?
4. What devices can help divers to survive under water for long
periods?
5. Have you heard of James Cameron?
What about The Terminator, Aliens, Titanic, and Avatar?
6. What is the highest point on Earth? What do you think is the lowest point?

Now skim and scan the article looking for answers to the following questions:

7. The page has seven links. What do you think you will get if you click on “THE SUB”?
8. What are: Deepsea Challenge, Deepsea Challenger, and Challenger Deep?
9. What is the title of the article? What sort of subjects will the article deal with?
10. What is the purpose of the “Editor’s note” (under the title)?
11. Who spoke the words (in quotation marks) just above the article?
12. According to the introductory paragraph, what attitude should divers have to deep-sea
exploration?
13. “There are a lot of ways to die” (introduction). How many are mentioned in the article?
14. In which ocean is the Mariana Trench located?
15. Compare the depth of the Mariana Trench with the height of Mount Everest.
16. How are the last three dangers different from the ones described earlier in the article?
17. What is a hydrothermal vent?
18. What do you think James Cameron is best known for?
19. When was this article written—before or after Cameron’s deep-sea dive?

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20. Who is the article written for?

Editor’s note: On March 26, 2012, James


Cameron made a record-breaking solo dive Deepsea Challenger (DCV 1) is
to the Earth’s deepest point, successfully a 7.3-metre (24ft) deep-diving
piloting the DEEPSEA CHALLENGER submersible designed to reach the
bottom of Challenger Deep, the
nearly 7 seven miles (11 kilometres) to the deepest known point on Earth. On
Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench. March 26, 2012, Canadian film
director James Cameron piloted
DEEPSEA CHALLENGE is now in its the craft to accomplish this goal,
second phase—scientific analysis of the becoming the first person to reach
Challenger Deep in a one-man
expedition’s findings. Click here for news craft
about the historic dive, an exclusive post-
Figure 1 The Deepsea Challenger
dive interview with Cameron, and submersible.
information about the next phase of the
expedition.

“Worry is a good thing when you’re an explorer. It’s when you’re cavalier, when you take
risk for granted, that’s when you’re gonna get bit.” — James Cameron

Exploration is inherently dangerous. The DEEPSEA CHALLENGE team is cognizant of the


risk of traveling to the ocean’s deepest point and does everything possible to mitigate the
many hazards. Under the leadership of James Cameron and Ron Allum, each and every
member of the team is encouraged, even required, to be explicit about the risks that are
simply part of their work. The expedition philosophy follows the thinking that the only way
to protect against risk is by anticipating, understanding, and addressing it outright. There is a
great deal to be gained if DEEPSEA CHALLENGE is successful, but all members of the
expedition acknowledge that lives are at stake and that, as Cameron himself has written,
“there are a lot of ways to die.”

Cameron outlines some of these ways, in his own words, below.

An Introduction to Academic Discourse 4th edition T131 & 132 Page 4


IMPLOSION the interior of the penetrator, allowing
The obvious one. You’ve miscalculated seawater to blast inside, at 16,000 psi.
the design of your sphere. As you
approach the bottom, with barely a
warning groan, the sphere buckles
suddenly. Faster than you can scream,
you’re smashed into jam.

PENETRATOR FAILURE
There’s a dead short someplace and one of
the pins in your electrical penetrator—the
device that feeds power and control signals
through the sphere wall—melts, causing
the penetrator to fail. The water jet erodes

Figure 2 The location of the Mariana Trench

FREEZING
If you get stuck on the bottom your weights don’t drop, and it’s a race between your life
support running out and freezing to death. But you’ve got 60 hours of scrubber and O2, so
freezing wins. Because the water outside is just above 0°C … ice water.

FIRE
Electrical fires can break out among all of the sub’s gadgets, and with O2 pumping into the
pilot sphere, fires can grow quickly. Although a fire extinguisher is stored in the sphere, it
may not be enough to extinguish a sizable fire.

VIEWPORT FAILURE
You’re looking out the viewport
when suddenly you see cracks
developing. The cracks quickly
web throughout the thick volume
of the acrylic, and it starts to give
way. Then BANG! The cork pops
and the sea hammers in like a
supersonic piston.

ADRIFT
Only one ascent weight drops
instead of both. So you ascend
close to the surface but not all the
way. Over the next ten hours a
two-knot midwater current takes
you 20 miles away, and the surface
crew has no idea where you are,
Figure 3 A comparison of heights because you’re not at the surface.

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Three Unexpected Dangers of Deep-Ocean Exploration

The “behind the scenes” information posted on the DEEPSEA CHALLENGE website
provides incredible insight into the types of challenges—and logistics—that go into planning
and executing an expedition of this size and scope. There are surprises everywhere—things
one might never have thought to consider on their own and the planning for which there are
few, if any, precedents. The work of the DEEPSEA CHALLENGE is an exercise for mystery-
and puzzle-loving minds. Three expedition risks that the DEEPSEA CHALLENGE team has
anticipated and addressed that might take non-divers by surprise are listed below.

HYDROTHERMAL VENT-INDUCED MELTDOWN


As first reported in expedition blogger Dr.
Joe MacInnis’s March 18 entry, several of
the expedition’s members, including the
legendary Captain Don Walsh, one of two
people ever to have been to the Challenger
Deep prior to this expedition, discussed
the risks of “flying a research sub too
close to a hydrothermal vent,” where they
“casually mention[ed]” that the water
temperature approached 700 degrees and
would melt a sub’s viewport.
Figure 4. Hydrothermal vent. It is a crack in the Earth’s surface
through which geothermally heated water flows.

SEAFLOOR COMMUNICATIONS CABLE ENTANGLEMENT


Submarine communications cables are cables that traverse the seafloor between land-based
stations to extend telecommunication signals across stretches of ocean. Were the sub to
become entangled in these cables, it might prevent it from returning to the surface.

HYPOTHERMIA AND HYPERTHERMIA


The DEEPSEA CHALLENGER submersible is a state-of-the-art vehicle—but it is not
equipped with a thermostat that can adjust internal temperatures for comfort. The temperature
range for a dive borders on the extreme. As the National Geographic expedition website
reports, “the temperature will drop from sauna-like at the surface to meat-locker cold at the
bottom.” Cameron will dive wearing many layers but the risk of overheating or freezing is
significant.

James Francis Cameron (born August 16, 1954) is filming and remote vehicle technologies. On March 26, 2012,
a Canadian film director, film producer, deep-sea Cameron reached the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the deepest part
explorer, screenwriter, visual artist and editor. His writing and of the ocean, in the Deepsea Challenger submersible
directing work includes Piranha II: The Spawning (1981), The
Terminator (1984), Aliens (1986), The Abyss (1989), Terminator 2:
Judgment Day (1991), True Lies (1994), Titanic (1997), Dark Angel
(2000–02), and Avatar (2009). In the time between making Titanic
and Avatar, Cameron spent several years creating many documentary
films (specifically underwater documentaries) and co-developed the
digital 3D Fusion Camera System. Described by a biographer as part-
scientist and part-artist, Cameron has also contributed to underwater

An Introduction to Academic Discourse 4th edition T131 & 132 Page 6


Exercise 2: Close study
Read the text carefully to answer the following questions:

1. What does each of the two expedition phases involve?


2. In what sense was Cameron’s dive “record-breaking”?
3. What message is Cameron trying to send in his quotation? What does “gonna”
mean? What does he mean by “bit”? What sort of English are these words?
4. Dictionary work. What does Cameron mean by “cavalier”? See below.

www.dictionary.com

5. “Exploration is inherently dangerous.” Is this true for all kinds of exploration?


Think of some examples of exploration in other fields.
6. What does the expedition team believe is the best way to reduce the risks involved
in deep-sea exploration?
7. What part of the submersible do you think the “sphere” is?
8. Explain how a design miscalculation can lead to “implosion.”
9. Who or what is giving the “warning groan”?
10. How would you describe Cameron’s use of language in his descriptions?
11. Describe the causal chain (“chain reaction”) that occurs in penetrator failure.
12. Identify the term, class and specific differences in the definition in this paragraph.
13. What is meant by “If you get stuck on the bottom, your weights don’t drop”?
14. Why does Cameron say “freezing wins”?
15. What might cause an on-board fire to grow rapidly?
16. What can the submersible pilot do to put out a fire?
17. What is the “viewport” used for?
18. What does “the cork pops” mean?
19. How many ascent weights does the submersible have? What is their purpose?
20. How can the failure of an ascent weight cause the submersible to become lost?
21. Why does the writer say that the expedition’s work is for “mystery- and puzzle-
loving minds”?
22. Using the prefix and the root of the word, what do you think “hydrothermal”
means?
23. Explain how a hydrothermal vent can cause serious problems for a diver.
24. Before Cameron, how many divers had visited Challenger Deep?
25. Describe how telecommunications cables could be hazardous to deep-sea
explorers. Were they ever likely to cause Cameron any problems?
26. What is the difference between hyperthermia and hypothermia? Which of these is
likely to be the main risk for a deep-sea diver?
27. Cameron has been described as “part-scientist and part-artist.” Is this accurate?

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T131 & 132 page 7


Writing: Causal analysis
Causal analysis is a form of reasoning which we use to analyze the problems and
situations encountered every day in all aspects of our lives. It can be used to
investigate causes. For example, a student might ask himself why he got a grade D for
an assignment that he had worked very hard on; a sales manager might investigate
why sales have suddenly declined in the third quarter; a scientist might want to
explain why a substance behaves as it does, and so on. Causal analysis is also used to
investigate effects, such as what will happen if a student's cumulative GPA drops
below 2.00; what effect acid rain has on the environment; what changes resulted from
the discovery of oil in Saudi Arabia; or how new road signs affected the number of
accidents at a particular intersection.

Because causal analysis is fundamental to scientific inquiry, it is very important to be


able to express causal relationships clearly and logically, and to be able to organize
longer pieces of writing in which causal analysis is the dominant pattern of
development.

Causal Analysis: Vocabulary and sentences


In many writing assignments, causal analysis may contribute only a sentence or two to
the discussion. For example, an extended definition of nuclear fission might include a
sentence that identifies why fission is superior to fusion. A composition that describes
the process of ozone depletion might conclude with a sentence or two about the main
effect of this problem on the environment, and so on.

There are a number of vocabulary items which explicitly express a causal relationship
between two or more items. This vocabulary includes nouns (such as cause, result,
effect, consequence), verbs (such as lead to, bring about, affect), and conjunctive
adverbs such as so, therefore, consequently). It should be remembered, however, that
these items are not interchangeable in every context; also, causal relationships can
often be expressed without explicit causal vocabulary.

Examples
•Antibiotics can sometimes cause unpleasant or dangerous side effects.

•Changes in temperature can bring about marked variations in relative


humidity.
•The rising and subsequent cooling of moist air results in the formation of
clouds.
•It is still not clear if long exposure to power lines will adversely affect
human health. [NB: not: affect “on”]
•Warm air rises because it is lighter than cool air.

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T131 & 132 page 8


•On account of its smaller size and greater fuel economy, the internal
combustion engine rapidly replaced the steam engine.
•The earth is hotter nearer the equator as the angle of inclination of the
sun’s rays is close to 90 degrees at noon.
•Energy cannot be created or destroyed, but it can be changed to another
form. Thus, the chemical energy stored in fuel oil can be changed into
thermal energy.
•In fusion, the nuclei of two atoms are forced together. The result is a new
nucleus and the release of a huge amount of energy.
•Large wind-powered generators are noisy and can interfere with TV
signals. For these reasons, they are located away from residential areas.
•Steel is a very strong material. As a result, it is commonly used by the
construction industry for buildings and bridges…

Exercise 1 Causal Analysis: Sentences


Write full sentences using a variety of causal analysis vocabulary. You may
have to research some topics using an encyclopedia, dictionary, or the
Internet.

1. Why do people in hot countries often wear white clothes?


2. Why is helium used in air balloons?
3. Why is hydrogen no longer used in air balloons?
4. Why does Saudi Arabia desalinate much of its drinking water?
5. Why are electrical wires often made of copper?
6. Why do oil and water not mix?
7. Why do objects fall to the ground?
8. Why are the north and south poles the coldest places on earth?
9. Why does uranium have the atomic number 92?
10. Why are four-wheel drive vehicles effective over harsh terrain?
11. Why is there an ebb and flow of tides?

Exercise 2 Causal Analysis: Sentences


Rewrite the following sentences using the words in parentheses. Where there
are two sets of parentheses, make two different sentences.

1. Because electrons have a negative charge, they are attracted to the positively
charged nucleus of the atom. (so)
2. It is easy to compress a gas owing to the wide distances separating gas molecules.
(a. for this reason) (b. because)
3. Plastic and rubber are used as insulators since they resist the flow of electricity.
(consequently)
4. Great climatic changes may have brought about the extinction of the dinosaurs.
(a. reason for) (b. result from)
5. The use of steel as a construction material is due to its high tensile strength. (since)
6. The weather was bad so the field trip was postponed. (due to)

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T131 & 132 page 9


Exercise 3: Causal Analysis: sentences
Complete the sentences below with suitable causal analysis vocabulary.
You may need more than one word—sometimes, several words— to fill a blank.

SUBORDINATORS: because + S + V; Since + S + V; As + S + V.


NOUN PHRASES: because of + N; as a result of + N; as a consequence of + N;
on account of + N; due to + N; owing to + N.
ADVERBS: As a result, …; Consequently, …; Therefore, …; … so …
NOUNS: Cause of; effect on; result of; reason for; consequence of; outcome;
factor in;
VERBS: cause; affect; result in; result from; lead to; bring about

1. _______________ the bad weather, the football match was called off.
2. Man’s activities in the Amazon have _________________ the destruction of the
rainforest.
3. The sand storm badly ____________________ driving conditions on the highway.
4. Road accidents are often the ___________________ speeding.
5. Road accidents are often _______________ speeding.
6. We missed the flight __________________ we had got stuck in a traffic jam.
7. Success in exams usually _____________________ studying hard.
8. Ali overslept. That was the _____________________ his missing the 7am class.
9. Many drivers reported problems with the brakes. _________________, over
200,000 new Toyota cars had to be checked.
10. Ali spent 3 months in the UK, which _______________ a big improvement in his
English.
11. The Moon has a big ____________________ the tides here on Earth.
12. There may be serious ___________________ for Earth ________________ global
warming.
13. He had to go back home for his textbook _______________ he was late for class.
14. _________________ he forgot his textbook, he was late for class.
15. Malaria is ___________________ by a mosquito bite.
16. A lack of effort __________________ the employee to lose his job.
17. Increased police patrols had the desired _________________: there were fewer
accidents.
18. ___________________ the investigation, three main problems were identified.
19. Eating fresh fruit and vegetables will have a positive _________________ your
health.
20. An accident _________________the discovery of penicillin about 100 years ago.
21. Fitness and good health ________________ regular exercise and a balanced diet.
22. The ___________________ his lateness was never explained.
23. Undersea earthquakes are the main _________________ tsunamis.

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T131 & 132 page 10


Causal Analysis: Composition

Sometimes, an analysis consisting of just a sentence or two is insufficient to express


complex causal relationships. The writer needs to make a thorough analysis of his
topic. In particular, he must gather sufficient supporting evidence relating to the
particular cause or effect under discussion. This evidence must then be expressed in a
piece of writing whose length could range from a single paragraph to a five-paragraph
composition or a report consisting of many sections. Causal analysis provides the
underlying structure of this writing.

Analysing the causes


One common structure involves the
analysis of the causes of a particular Cause 1
situation, often a problem. In this
case, the writer tries to answer the
question why? Why did the Situation Cause 2
earthquake cause so little damage?
Why is the car engine burning so
much oil? Why did the dinosaurs Cause 3
become extinct? There could be one
or several causes.

Analysing the effects

Another common approach is to


investigate the effects of a situation.
Effect 1 This kind of approach tries to answer
the question What effect? What
effect will the ozone hole have on
Situation Effect 2 human health? What effect on
learning will a substantial increase
in section sizes have? What effect
will the use of wireless technology
Effect 3 have on communications?

Causal Chains
In the examples above, the researcher took a particular situation and examined its
causes or its effects. Often, however, causal relationships are more complex. For
example, a particular situation may have a certain effect which is itself the cause of a
different effect. This effect may also be the cause of another effect. The primary cause
is still related to the ultimate effect, but indirectly. Relationships such as these can be
described as causal chains.

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T131 & 132 page 11


When the causal analysis involves a chain, the writer must be careful not to omit any
important link connecting the primary cause with the ultimate effect.

Effect Effect Effect


Cause & & & Effect
Cause Cause Cause

An example of a causal chain is the effect of falling petroleum prices on inflation in


the industrialized world:

• Cheaper petroleum (Cause) means that industries can produce their goods
more cheaply (Effect).
• These cheaper production costs (Cause) result in lower consumer prices for the
goods produced (Effect).
• If consumer prices are low, and remain so (Cause), then inflation will also be
low (Effect).

A causal analysis can be extended almost indefinitely. The writer, for example, might
examine the cause of the "primary" cause (Why are petroleum prices falling?) and the
effects of the "last" effect (What is the effect of low inflation?).

Clearly, the writer must decide where to begin and where to end his analysis—these
decisions depend on his purpose in analyzing the subject and on the needs of his
readers. In a causal chain, the analysis can trace a primary cause to its ultimate effect,
and vice versa. It is also possible to start an analysis at a significant point in the
middle of the chain, and then investigate both its causes and its effects. For instance,
in the example above, the writer could choose to start his analysis with "low
production costs"; he could then explain why production costs are low and what the
effects of low production costs are.

LOW
Causes PRODUCTION Effects
COSTS

Causal Circles
Most causes eventually lead to one final effect, at which point the analysis stops. In
some cases, however, the final effect is the cause of the primary cause: the causal
chain becomes a causal circle. When the overall effect is a negative one, this kind of
causal relationship is generally referred to as a vicious circle.

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T131 & 132 page 12


An example of a vicious circle is the
causal relationship between wages and
Effect prices. For example, higher wages for
& workers (Cause) result in higher
Cause production costs (Effect). Higher
production costs (C) lead to higher
prices for the products (E). Higher
prices (C) mean that people must pay
more for the products (E). This
Cause Effect increased expenditure by people (C)
& & encourages them to demand higher
Effect Cause wages (E). The circle is thus closed,
and the process continues, until a
solution is found.

Parts of a Causal Analysis composition


Introduction

A paragraph-length causal analysis can begin


satisfactorily with a single topic sentence that
identifies the cause or effect under discussion. Background:
Definition, description, etc.
However, a more detailed analysis consisting of Thought-provoking fact
several paragraphs is best introduced with a
separate introductory paragraph. In formal Thesis statement
academic writing, it is appropriate to open this It states the main idea of the
composition.
paragraph with some general background
information about the subject, before ending with
the thesis statement which specifies the main idea of the composition. If the topic
allows, you may begin with a thought-provoking opening which arouses the reader's
curiosity about the causes or effects that you are going to discuss.

Body
The writer discusses his topic in the body of
Topic sentence:
It introduces the main idea of the the composition. Always read the composition
paragraph. question carefully as it may specify how many
causes or affects you should discuss, and
therefore how many paragraphs the body
Support: should consist of. For example, if the question
About 3 to 5 sentences that support requires you to discuss two reasons why
and explain the topic sentence. students withdraw from their courses, the
Definition, description, comparison,
classification, and so on.
body is likely to consist of two separate
paragraphs, each introduced by its own topic
sentence.

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T131 & 132 page 13


After the causes or effects have been identified in the topic sentence, the writer must
provide supporting details for each of them. As with all other expository methods, a
causal analysis can be developed with a variety of patterns in addition to causal
analysis itself. Examples include definition, classification, description,
exemplification, comparison and contrast. For example, a composition that discusses
the effects of acid rain on forests might include a description of how acid rain is
formed, examples of areas affected by acid rain, a comparison of the effects in these
different areas, and so on.

Having gathered sufficient evidence to support the causes and effects, the writer must
then arrange the information logically. There are a number of possible
arrangements. For example, when a particular situation has several causes, it is
appropriate to order them according to their importance. Other common strategies
include arranging the causes from possible to probable or from simple to complex.
When causal chains are involved, it is appropriate to use chronological order, starting
with the primary cause and proceeding step by step to the ultimate effect.

To be effective, an analysis must be coherent. The writer should make frequent use of
explicit causal analysis vocabulary: subordinators such as "because," "as" and "since"
are often used to connect clauses, while sentences and paragraphs can be connected
with adverbs such as "consequently," "therefore" and "thus." Other adverbs like "in
addition," "first" and "finally" are also commonly used to list the points of the
discussion.

Conclusion

Compositions involving causal analysis do not


always require a conclusion. Examples include Formal ending:
many straightforward technical descriptions such
Look to the future
as what causes the wind to blow or how Advice / recommendation
mountains affect climate. Although a formal Warning
ending may not always be essential, these Most likely cause
compositions should still be complete: on Possible solution(s)
reaching the end of the discussion, the reader
should feel satisfied that everything necessary
has been explained

However, many causal analysis compositions do require a formal ending of some


kind. This is particularly true of those compositions which analyze a particular
problem, such as the cause of the greenhouse effect or the effects of ozone depletion;
or those which analyze a controversial issue such as the likely effects on society of
genetic engineering.

In these cases, there are a number of meaningful ways to conclude the analysis. One
possibility is to look to the future; this would be suitable for a composition that, for
example, discusses the present effects of a problem. Another possibility is to advise
the reader on a course of action. A composition that analyzes possible (rather than
actual) causes of a problem could end by choosing the most likely cause. Another
particularly strong way to end is with a warning about future consequences or with a
possible solution to the problem whose causes or effects have been analyzed.

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T131 & 132 page 14


Exercise 4 Model Texts
Study the following texts, and answer the questions
following each one.

Example 1

The Causes of the Increase in Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide


The rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) is caused by human
activities, and the increased consumption of fossil fuels is mainly
responsible. Every gram of fossil fuel burned releases about three
grams of CO2 into the atmosphere. Part of this CO2 is used by plants in
photosynthesis or is absorbed by the oceans, but at least half of it
remains. Extensive land clearing, which reduces the amount of CO2
consumed by photosynthesis, is also a factor in raising the CO2 content
of the atmosphere. This is one of the adverse effects of the destruction
of tropical rain forests for agricultural purposes.

1. Is the paragraph analyzing causes or effects?


2. How has the order of information been determined?
3. Identify cause-effect vocabulary.

Example 2

The Consequences of Electrical Shock


Electrical shock can have serious consequences, although the actual
degree of damage caused to the body depends on several factors, such
as the magnitude of the current. Currents of 5 mA (milliampère) or less
can cause a sensation of shock, but usually result in little or no
damage. Currents larger than about 10 mA can make the hand muscles
contract with the result that the person affected may be unable to
release the live wire he is holding. Currents of about 100 mA, even
when passing through the body for only a few seconds, can have fatal
consequences because such large currents paralyze the respiratory
muscles and prevent breathing. In practice, no contact with live wires
should be regarded as safe.

1. Is the paragraph analyzing causes or effects?


2. How has the order of information been determined?
3. Identify cause-effect vocabulary.

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T131 & 132 page 15


Example 3

Why Graphite is Useful


A number of factors explain why the mineral graphite is so useful.
First, it conducts electricity and is difficult to burn. For these reasons,
electrodes made of graphite work under conditions that would destroy
most electrodes. Second, graphite conducts heat and does not combine
with other chemicals except at very high temperatures. Therefore,
many crucibles (melting pots for metals) are made from graphite.
Third, graphite is not easily dissolved, and so it is built into tanks that
hold strong acids. Fourth, graphite's slipperiness makes it a good
lubricant for clocks, door locks, and other machines with small parts.
Finally, graphite is able to slow down neutrons in atomic reactions. As
a result, the cores of some nuclear reactors are formed from graphite
bricks.

1. Is the title a question?


2. Is the paragraph analyzing causes or effects?
3. How many reasons are given to support the topic sentence?
4. Identify cause-effect vocabulary.

Example 4

Fossil Fuel Consumption and Coastal Flooding


Many of man's activities today may have serious consequences in the future.
The burning of fossil fuels, for example, may ultimately lead to coastal flooding
in large areas of the northern hemisphere. How are these two apparently
unconnected events related?
The burning of fossil fuels is responsible for much of the carbon dioxide in the
atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is a "greenhouse gas," that is, it absorbs infrared
radiation given off by the earth and prevents it from escaping into space. This
leads to the global warming known as "the greenhouse effect." If worldwide
fossil fuel consumption continues into the middle of this century (2050) at the
present rate, there will be twice as much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as
now. This will cause the mean global temperature to increase by 2˚C–3˚C, and
by more in the heavily polluted northern hemisphere.
What effect would the higher temperature have? Such an increase would have a
serious effect on the polar ice caps, which would start to melt. As a result, the
level of the oceans would start to rise, perhaps by as much as five meters. The
inevitable result of the rising oceans would be the flooding of many coastal
areas: it has been suggested that the rising oceans could submerge half of the
state of Florida in the USA.
Therefore, there is a clear link between burning fossil fuels and coastal
flooding. Fortunately, there is still time to avoid the worst consequences.
However, action must be taken now—not only by governments working
together, but also by individuals showing consideration for their environment.
Refer to the questions on the next page.

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T131 & 132 page 16


1. Trace the chain reaction from fossil fuel
burning to coastal flooding.
2. Identify cause-effect vocabulary.
3. What is the purpose of the conclusion?

Example 5

Why the Dinosaurs Died Out


For almost 140 million years, dinosaurs were masters of the land, sea and sky. Then,
about 65 million years ago, these huge reptiles suddenly died out, and mammals
took over the earth. Scientists are still unable to explain with certainty why these
creatures became extinct. Nevertheless, a number of plausible theories have been
suggested.
The most logical cause of the death of the dinosaurs involves great climatic changes.
There is abundant evidence to show that the earth's climate cooled noticeably toward
the end of the Cretaceous Period. Dinosaurs, unlike mammals and birds, had no fur
or feathers for protection and, as a result, were unable to withstand the long cold
period. In addition, dinosaurs were much too large to find shelter and hibernate in
the same way that much smaller animals could.
Another strong theory also involves changes in climate. A number of scientists
believe that the extinction of the dinosaurs was due to a gigantic asteroid hitting the
earth at the end of the Cretaceous Period. According to this theory, the impact of the
asteroid threw billions of tons of dust into the atmosphere which blocked out the
sunlight for three to six months. Although the seeds and roots of plants survived the
resulting cold and darkness, the plants themselves stopped growing. This brought
about the death of the herbivorous dinosaurs and, consequently, of the carnivorous
dinosaurs which preyed on them. In contrast, mammals and birds were largely
unaffected for the reasons given above and because they could survive on a much
smaller supply of food.

Finally, a third theory involves the dinosaurs' food supply. During the Cretaceous
Period, new kinds of plants appeared which herbivorous dinosaurs could not eat.
These animals eventually starved to death, and their gradual reduction in numbers
led directly to the death of the meat-eating dinosaurs which fed on them. This theory
is generally considered to be less probable than the other two.

Many scientists believe that no single theory completely explains why dinosaurs
died out. They suggest that a combination of events coincided to cause the eventual
extinction of these creatures, thus bringing to an end the Age of the Reptiles.

1. Is the title a question?


2. Is the composition analyzing causes or effects?
3. Identify the two parts of the introduction.
4. Identify any topic sentences.
5. Identify cause-effect vocabulary.
6. How have the paragraphs been arranged?
7. What is the writer doing in the conclusion?

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T131 & 132 page 17


MODEL CAUSAL ANALYSIS COMPOSITION

QUESTION:
Every semester a number of KFUPM students drop
one or more of their courses. Discuss two reasons why.

1. Read the question carefully so you understand what is required.

2. Spend a few minutes brainstorming the question noting down any ideas that occur
to you. The branching technique (below) is a useful method. Write the question in the
middle of your page and then jot down your ideas around it. Keep in mind all the time
that you are looking for two main reasons for dropping courses.

Illness; misses too many classes


Family problems
Too many credit hours
REASONS
FOR
Fails in midterm exam DROPPING
COURSES Homesick

Course is too difficult


Doesn’t like teacher or schedule

Wastes time; doesn’t take course seriously

3. Having noted as many ideas as possible, study them carefully to see if you can
gather the ideas into two main groups (since the question calls for TWO reasons).
Delete any points that may be irrelevant or repeated. Then highlight the remaining
ideas using two colours to indicate the two main causes. In the example above, the
different ideas point to academic and personal reasons for dropping.

4. You must now think about arrangement. You have your two main ideas but which
should come first? Is one more important than the other? Does it matter which comes
first? Having decided on which reason to take first, in what order will you write the
supporting sentences? Is there an order of importance?

5. Next, write the composition. It should be between 250 and 300 words. Be sure to
have an introduction, a body consisting of two paragraphs (for the above question),
and an interesting conclusion. You must not only answer the question but clearly
address it, too, in the thesis statement, in your topic sentences and in key question
vocabulary. For other important considerations, refer again to the Revision Checklist
in unit 1. Finally, try and finish your composition at least five minutes before the end
of the class in order to give yourself some time to proofread your writing.

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T131 & 132 page 18


You will find a model answer for this question below.
A possible answer to the question:

Reasons for Dropping Courses at KFUPM Don’t forget the title. It should clearly
describe the main idea of the
There are around 10,000 students at KFUPM and the composition. Note the capitalization.
vast majority of them complete their studies every
semester with few problems. However, a small number
of students are forced to withdraw early from one or Your introductory paragraph must
more courses. Their reasons for doing this tend to be have some relevant background and a
either academic or personal. clear thesis statement.

Academic reasons for dropping are the most common.


For example, a bad midterm exam result often causes Note the short general topic sentence
students to drop and try again the following semester. at the start of both body paragraphs.
This is due to the fear of getting a low final grade. In There should be between 3 and 5
addition, some students take on too many credit hours sentences supporting the topic
at the start, cannot manage all their work and so end up sentence.
dropping one of the courses. Finally, some courses are Paragraphs require unity.
simply too hard for students and continuing with them Try and use causal analysis
will lead to an F grade. In this case, dropping the course vocabulary if appropriate.
will give students more time to prepare.

In addition, students drop courses for personal reasons.


Some of these reasons are serious. For instance, they Leave a blank line between para-
may get sick, miss several weeks of classes and find it graphs. Your teacher may also require
impossible to catch up. Occasionally, family problems you to indent the first sentence. Try
back at home cause students to drop not only one to link between paragraphs and
course but often the whole semester. Other reasons are between sentences within paragraphs.
weak. A student, for example, may drop because he Do not simply write your information
doesn’t like his teacher or his schedule or he simply in any order. Always think of a
may have played around and fallen too far behind. reason to arrange them in a certain

Dropping courses can delay a student’s graduation and


Do you end in an interesting way?
increase the size of sections. Good study skills and time
For causal analysis compositions,
management will help. Students also need to attend
good ways to end include warnings,
classes and visit their teachers if they have problems.
recommendations, solutions and a
However, some reasons for dropping, such as illness,
look to the future.
cannot be solved easily. In such cases, the University
must show understanding and help the student on his
return. Count the words you have used
289 words (excluding the title). In-class
compositions are expected to be
between 250 and 300 words long.

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T131 & 132 page 19


Exercise 5 Causal Analysis: Compositions
Write multi-paragraph compositions on any of the
following topics.

1. Why do people start smoking? What are some of the adverse effects?
2. Why have so many people signed up to social networking sites such as
Facebook and Twitter?
3. Explain why you chose your major.
4. Discuss reasons why English is the medium of instruction at KFUPM, and
give your opinion about this.
5. Explain why the University has a strict absence policy, and give your opinion
about it.
6. What do you consider to be the greatest invention or discovery of the twentieth
or twenty-first centuries? Discuss two reasons for your choice.
7. After leaving high school, some people choose to work and some choose to
continue studying. Give reasons for these choices.
8. What beneficial or adverse effects does television have?
9. Some teachers give lots of homework; some give little. Which do you prefer?
Give reasons for your answer.
10. Every year some students are caught cheating in exams or course work. Why
do they do it, and what should the consequences be?
11. Which would you prefer: a highly paid job with little free time or a low-paid
job with lots of free time? Give reasons for your choice.
12. You have now been at KFUPM for over a year. If you could make two
changes, what would they be? Explain your choices.
13. After graduating, some students prefer to go abroad to study for a Master’s.
Explain the good and bad effects of doing this.
14. Why are people living longer? Are there any bad effects of this for the
individual or society?
15. How would suddenly becoming very rich affect your life?

Questions requiring prior research in an encyclopedia or the Internet.


16. Why is mathematics important for science, engineering, and management?
17. What have been some beneficial effects of the American space program?
18. Explain why animals are kept in zoos. Give your opinion.
19. Explain a vicious circle that you are familiar with.
20. Explain a causal chain that you are familiar with.

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T131 & 132 page 20


Writing Tips: Paragraphing, the writing process
Paragraphing
The compositions you will write
in English 101 from now on will INTRODUCTION
generally consist of three basic
parts, namely a one-paragraph BODY
introduction, a body consisting
of two or three paragraphs, and a
CONCLUSION
one-paragraph conclusion.

Introduction
A composition introduction typically
Background:
Description, definition, historical or
consists of a single paragraph. In this
theoretical detail, interesting or paragraph, the writer aims to do two
surprising fact, and so on. things: firstly, to provide the reader with
some brief interesting background about
the topic and, secondly, to state clearly
Thesis statement: and concisely the main idea of the
Precise, concise stating of the main idea.
composition; this is the thesis statement.

Background

Writers want their writing to be read and appreciated. They understand that the
introduction is an important part of any text because it is the part that the reader reads
first. A badly written, vague or dull opening will have a negative effect on the reader;
it may even deter him from reading further. Consequently, writers try to make the
opening of their introductions as clear and as interesting as the subject allows. The
principal aim of your writing is to inform your reader. However, always try to
communicate your information not only clearly but also in an interesting way.

The most suitable opening for an introduction is background information. The aim
of background information is to prepare the reader for the specific thesis statement
that follows immediately after it. It does this by providing a context into which the
thesis statement can be placed. For example, background information can provide a
definition if the topic is new to the reader or if the term has several different
meanings. It could also consist of a brief description, classification or partition of the
topic. Sometimes, it may be appropriate to give the reader some historical or
theoretical information or to provide him with an interesting or surprising fact that
will arouse his curiosity. The example below is the background part of an introduction
for a composition about the likely effects on the earth of increased atmospheric carbon
dioxide. It gives some brief historical and statistical background and a prediction:

A century ago, carbon dioxide concentration in the earth's


atmosphere was less than 300 parts per million (ppm). Currently, it

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T131 & 132 page 21


is 340 ppm, and this figure is expected to double within the next 50
years if the current rate of fossil fuel consumption continues.
The Thesis Statement
The second part of the introduction, the thesis statement, is a sentence whose aim is
to state clearly and concisely the specific purpose of the composition. The thesis
statement consists of two distinct parts: the subject of the composition and the specific
focus (or controlling idea) of the composition. In the following examples of thesis
statements, the subject is in italics and the focus is in boldface:

University and high school are different in three main ways.


Speeding and ignoring road signs have been identified as the
principal causes of road accidents.
Electrical energy is produced by an ordinary dry cell battery in a
very simple way.
A tsunami is a gigantic sea wave produced by earthquakes or
erupting volcanoes under the oceans.
Although zoos perform some useful functions, they are cruel to
animals and should be closed down.

These examples show how thesis statements tell the reader what the composition is
about and reflect the basic pattern of development that will be used in the
composition. For example, the first thesis statement above indicates a contrast-based
composition while the second is cause-based. The third indicates a process
description, the fourth is an extended definition and the last one reveals that the writer
is going to argue for his point of view on the topic of zoos. The thesis statement may
also indicate how many body paragraphs there will be. For example, the first thesis
statement above indicates three body paragraphs while the second one suggests two.

The thesis statement has four important features. First, it is concise, often consisting
of a single, short sentence. It is specific, dealing with a single, well-defined topic. It
has a limited scope, indicating a focus which can be dealt with adequately in the time
allowed. Finally, the thesis statement is precise, accurately identifying the main idea
that is discussed in the body of the composition.

The thesis statement is placed immediately after the background at the end of the
introduction. These two parts of the introduction are often connected in some way,
either grammatically or by the repetition of key words. The two introductory
paragraphs below have both background and a thesis statement. How have these two
elements been connected?

•A century ago, CO2 concentration in Such an increase will have serious


the earth's atmosphere was less than adverse effects on the global climate.
300 parts per million (ppm). •Natural resources can be defined as
Currently, it is 340 ppm, and this supplies that are obtained from the
figure is expected to double within the earth and which are put to use by man.
next 50 years if the current rate of Examples include water, minerals,
fossil fuel consumption continues. crops and forests. This type of
resource is generally classified into

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T131 & 132 page 22


two basic types: renewable and nonrenewable natural resources.
The Body
Most body paragraphs consist of at least
Topic sentence: two basic parts: a topic sentence and
It identifies the main idea of the
paragraph. support. The purpose of the topic sentence
is to specify clearly and concisely the main
Support sentences: idea of the paragraph. (It is comparable to
About 3 to 5 sentences. the introduction’s thesis statement, which
They provide details that expand
specifies the main idea of the whole
and explain the topic sentence.
They have unity (one main idea). composition.) The support provides the
They are ordered according to a plan. specific detail required by the topic
They are linked in a variety of ways sentence and typically consists of roughly
Based on the topic sentence, they two to five sentences which could describe,
could define, compare, contrast,
define, compare, contrast, classify, argue,
describe causal relations, argue, etc.
and so on.

Writers usually vary the length of their paragraphs, within certain limits. Paragraphs
consisting of a single sentence are unusual; a well-formed paragraph should have a
topic sentence and at least one other sentence in order to provide adequate support for
the main idea. By contrast, extremely long paragraphs (200+ words) often have no
single clear idea or are irrelevant in parts.

Paragraphs make reading easier by breaking up the text into shorter, more manageable
chunks, each with its own separate main idea. To emphasize the fact that a paragraph
is a distinct unit, additional spacing is often included between them or the first
sentence of the paragraph is indented several spaces. Another important feature of a
paragraph is unity: every sentence must be relevant to the topic sentence given at the
start. The support sentences should also be ordered logically according to a plan.
Finally, writers try to link the sentences in a paragraph—and between paragraphs—
using a variety of methods such as pronoun reference, transition words and the
repetition of key vocabulary. (This is dealt with in unit 3.)

Two complete body paragraphs:

Smoke alarms are one of the commonest commercial


applications of radioactive isotopes. Most smoke alarms use the
isotope known as Americum–241. A tiny amount of this isotope is What cohesive
placed in a small ionization chamber; decay of Am–241 then ionizes devices have been
air molecules within the chamber. Under the influence of a potential used to link the
applied by a battery, these ions move across the chamber, producing sentences?
an electric current. However, if smoke particles get into the chamber,
the flow of ions is blocked and the current drops. This drop is
detected by electronic circuitry and an alarm then sounds.

Another commercial application of radioactive isotopes is in food


How have the two
preservation. In this process, gamma rays from the radioactive paragraphs been
isotopes Cobalt–60 and Cesium–137 are used to irradiate food such linked?
as fresh fruit and vegetables. As a result, it has been found that the
shelf life of certain foods can be extended for weeks or even months.
Many chemicals currently used to preserve foods have been shown

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T131 & 132 page 23


to have adverse health effects so radiation seems to be an attractive
alternative for the future.
Conclusion
A conclusion is the formal ending of
Formal ending: a composition. However, not all
look to the future pieces of writing need a conclusion.
warning For example, a process description
solution could end quite naturally with the last
recommendation step in the process; the description of
deduction a mechanism could end simply with
echo of the introduction the last part of the mechanism to be
an opinion described; the classification of matter
a summary of key points could end with the last type, and so
on. More important than the presence
No formal ending or absence of a formal ending is a
A sense of completeness sense of completeness: when the
reader reaches the end of the
composition.

However, most, if not all, of the compositions you write from now on will probably
require a formal ending of some kind. Sometimes, a single sentence is sufficient but,
on most occasions, you need to write a paragraph. As a general rule, the length of the
conclusion should balance the length of the introduction, and it should never be longer
than the body of the composition.

Conclusions are just as important as introductions. The conclusion is the last thing
that the reader sees and so it can strongly influence his impression of the entire
composition. However, the conclusion is seldom given the attention it deserves. Too
often, students pressed for time at the end of the composition are pressured into
writing the conclusion without considering either what it should contain or how it
should be expressed. The result is often repetitious, ungrammatical, irrelevant, and
boring; and it can spoil much of the good writing that has preceded it.

There are a number of ways to write a strong, meaningful conclusion which leaves the
reader with a positive impression. For example, compositions which discuss a
problem can end strongly with a possible solution to the problem or with a warning
about possible consequences if action is not taken. Many compositions which analyze
past or present developments can be ended satisfactorily with a look to the future.
Compositions which compare or contrast two systems or two procedures can be
concluded with a logical deduction about which is the better system or procedure. A
variety of compositions can be ended with a recommendation to the reader to follow
a certain course of action. In some kinds of argument, the writer can use the
conclusion to express his own opinion about the subject. Finally, many compositions
can be concluded quite satisfactorily by returning to something that was said in the
introduction (an echo); however, in such cases, care must be taken to avoid simple
repetition.

You can help to strengthen your conclusion by avoiding several weaknesses. First,
never introduce a new idea into the conclusion: all your main ideas should be
discussed in the body. Avoid concluding only with a simple summary of main ideas;

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T131 & 132 page 24


summaries are usually more appropriate for longer pieces of writing such as reports.
Avoid weak endings such as "This composition has discussed some information about
..." Finally, never use "finally" to introduce a conclusion: the use of this word should
be restricted to your last main point in the body of the composition.

Below are two formal endings to two different compositions. One example below is
taken from a composition about the effect of increased atmospheric CO2; the other is
from a comparison between solar power and fossil fuel energy:

Action must be taken at once. For Solar power is clearly superior


example, governments must prevent to energy obtained from fossil
the cutting down of forests. Also, new fuels. Consequently, more money
technology should be found to reduce should be spent to develop solar
car and factory smoke. If no action is power which will give future
taken, the consequences for the global generations cleaner, cheaper,
environment will be terrible. and more efficient energy.

Exercise 1 Paragraphing
The four paragraphs below are in the
wrong order. Number them 1, 2, 3 and 4,
and answer the questions below.

Two Commercial Uses of Radioactive Isotopes

Another commercial application of radioactive isotopes is in food preservation. In this


process, gamma rays from the radioactive isotopes Cobalt–60 and Cesium–137 are used to
irradiate food such as fresh fruit and vegetables. As a result, it has been found that the shelf
life of certain foods can be extended for weeks or even months. Many chemicals currently
used to preserve foods have been shown to have adverse health effects so radiation would
seem to be an attractive alternative in the future.

Radiation from nuclear processes can of course be harmful to humans, but it can also bring
great benefits. As research into the applications of nuclear science and technology continues,
the world can expect to benefit even more in the future from radioactive isotopes.

Smoke alarms are one of the commonest commercial applications of radioactive isotopes.
Most smoke alarms use the isotope known as Americum–241. A tiny amount of this isotope
is placed in a small ionization chamber; decay of Am–241 then ionizes air molecules within
the chamber. Under the influence of a potential applied by a battery, these ions move across
the chamber, producing an electric current. However, if smoke particles get into the
chamber, the flow of ions is blocked and the current drops. This drop is detected by
electronic circuitry and an alarm then sounds.

Many elements have isotopes, which can be defined as nuclei that have the same number of
protons but a different number of neutrons. Some isotopes are unstable and give off
dangerous radioactivity. However, the radioactivity they give off can be used commercially
to benefit people. Two such commercial uses are in smoke alarms and food preservation.

1. Put the paragraphs in the correct order.


2. In the introduction, identify the background and the thesis statement.
3. How have the background and the thesis statement been connected?
4. Identify the topic sentences of the two body paragraphs.
5. Explain how the composition has unity and how each body paragraph has unity.
6. What is the writer doing in the conclusion?

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T131 & 132 page 25


Exercise 2 Paragraphing
Read the two body paragraphs carefully and then answer the
questions below.

Expert Systems and Human Experts

Expert systems can outperform a single human expert in many problem


situations. For example, an expert system is faster and more consistent
than a human. Also, it can have the knowledge of several experts, and does
not get tired or distracted by overwork or stress. In addition, expert
systems help to preserve and reproduce the knowledge of experts before
they leave the company. With this knowledge, new employees can be
trained and supported as if by a human expert.

However, expert systems have limitations. First, they cost a great deal of
money to develop and maintain properly. Also, they are unable to learn in
the same way that a human expert could. Instead, they need to be
constantly updated and "taught" as new knowledge becomes available.
Finally, while they are good at analyzing and solving specific problems
within a limited field, they are less effective than human experts in solving
problems that require either broad knowledge or subjective assessment.

1. Identify the topic sentence in the first paragraph.


2. What is the main idea of this paragraph?
3. Identify the topic sentence in the second paragraph.
4. What is the main idea of the second paragraph?
5. Think about a suitable introduction:
What could the background be about?
Suggest a possible thesis statement for the introduction.
6. There is no formal ending. What could a possible conclusion talk about?

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T131 & 132 page 26


The 101 Writing Process

Most of the writing you do in English 101 is likely to follow the five steps set out
below.

1. READ the QUESTION


2. DISCOVER
3. PLAN
4. WRITE
5. REVISE

For compositions written in class under exam conditions, you will typically have
about 45 minutes to complete the first four steps above and so you could divide up
your time as follows:
• studying the question: about 2 to 3 minutes;
• discovering your information: about 5 minutes
• arranging the information (planning): about 2 to 3 minutes;
• writing your composition and proofreading it: about 30 minutes.

These are of course just recommendations as the precise allocation of time will vary
according to the task set. The fifth and final stage of the procedure—revision—could
be done out of class and submitted as either a hard or soft copy, according to your
teacher’s instructions.

1. READ the QUESTION

Your teacher will assign you a question to answer in a composition that will probably
consist of four or five paragraphs: an introduction, two or three body paragraphs and a
conclusion.

Composition questions tend to be of two kinds: a direct question or a prompt.


Examples of the former are “Why do students withdraw from their courses?”, “What
are the effects of smoking?”and “How does speeding cause road accidents?” Basic
prompts requiring full answers tend to be verbs such as “discuss,” “explain,”
“describe,” and “evaluate”. Examples of such questions are “Discuss why you chose
to study at KFUPM,” “Explain two main differences between KSA now and KSA
before the discovery of oil,” and “Discuss the steps in preparing for an important
exam.”

Both direct questions and prompts may consist of more than one element such as
“Why do people start smoking and how can they stop?” or “Briefly describe the
symptoms of dyslexia and discuss how the disease can affect the sufferer’s life.” In
the last example, note how the word “briefly” indicates how much time you should
spend on this part of the question. Other questions may also stipulate how many

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T131 & 132 page 27


points you have to discuss: “Discuss how diet and exercise can improve a person’s
health,” where the question indicates two main ideas.
Always read the question carefully several times so you fully understand what is
required. Your next step is to gather the information needed to answer the question.

2. DISCOVER

There are two basic ways to discover the information you need: (a) from your own
knowledge and experience or (b) from a source provided by your teacher. In English
101, the former method, known as brainstorming, is the more likely one.

When brainstorming a topic, it is advisable to jot down the ideas as they occur to you.
There are many ways to do this but one common method is known as branching. With
this method you write your question, or questions, in the middle of your page and use
branching lines to record the ideas you think of. See the example below:

Diet choices:
eating too much fatty food
not enough fruit and vegetables
Background: increasing eating more than you need
global problem. eating out in restaurants, esp. fast food
Develops over a long snacking, comfort eating
period often learned in families when growing up

Discuss the main


causes of obesity.

Lack of exercise: Genetic causes:


Jobs that require sitting all day Obesity runs in some families
e.g. office work, driving. Some people eat a lot, never put on
At home: sit & watch TV weight; other people eat little but
Energy is not used up so the have weight problem.
calories turn to body fat.

Depending on the composition question you get, it is possible that you may be able to
discover your ideas in a few minutes of concentrated thought. On other occasions,
especially for more difficult topics, the ideas may have been discussed in a previous
class. At this stage, it is enough just to get your ideas down on paper, but always keep
an eye on the clock for classroom writing.

3. PLAN

Having noted down the points which answer the question you have been set, you
should now spend a couple of minutes arranging them into a logical order. For
classroom compositions, time is short so you will almost certainly not have time to

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T131 & 132 page 28


write out a formal topic outline. A simple scratch outline is usually enough. The
important thing is that you know what points you are going to discuss, and you know
the order you are going to discuss them in, before you start writing the composition.
(Note that formal topic outlines will be discussed in detail in English 102 but your
teacher may want to briefly mention them now.)

4. WRITE

Having carefully read the question, gathered the information needed to answer it and
spent some time considering the order in which you will present it, it is time to
commit your ideas to paper. Written under examination conditions in the classroom,
this piece of writing is essentially a first draft, and your teacher will take this into
consideration when assigning a grade to it. (You will have time later to revise your
work with the help of your teacher’s feedback.)

While writing your composition, it is important to keep in mind that you must achieve
two goals: answer the question and address the question. Answering the question
involves constant reference to the question wording itself to make sure you are
providing information that is both relevant and in sufficient detail.

Addressing the question means you must refer specifically to the given question in the
composition itself. This is done initially in the introduction’s thesis statement and then
in the topic sentences of each body paragraph. For example, if a composition question
says, “Discuss three ways in which individuals can help reduce global warming,” a
thesis statement could address the question with “Three ways that ordinary people can
make a positive impact on global warming are by their choice of car, turning off
electrical appliances and planting as many trees as they can.” Each of these points is
then addressed specifically in turn in a topic sentence such as “Energy-efficient
vehicles such as electric or hybrid cars are the best choice for the environment.” The
rest of the paragraph provides the support.

Writing compositions in class requires concentration and discipline to complete the


task in the limited time available. You are expected to write a four- or five-paragraph
composition of between 250 and 300 words. Because it is a first draft, perfection is
not required to earn an A+ grade. However, carelessness will be penalised so you
should always leave yourself a few minutes at the end to proofread what you have
written. There will be little time to make major changes to your composition but you
should at least be able to discover some spelling, grammar and sentence structure
errors, particularly common major errors such as subject-verb disagreement and
sentence fragments.

5. REVISE

After collecting your composition, your teacher will grade it, add some helpful
comments (perhaps using a Marking Checklist), and return it to you so you can revise
it. Revisions are generally done at home and may be submitted to your teacher either
as a hard copy or online through Blackboard. At the teacher’s discretion, a small part
of the overall composition grade may be assigned to the revision.

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T131 & 132 page 29


"Revising" literally means "seeing again." When you revise a composition, you look
at it again with the intention of making improvements. It is more thorough than
"proofreading." Proofreading tends to focus on smaller, though important, aspects of
the writing such as grammar and mechanics. As mentioned above, when writing in-
class compositions, you should always reserve a few minutes at the end to proofread
your work.

By contrast, revising is a major stage in the writing process. It gives the writer the
opportunity to rethink all aspects of his first draft and to make big changes if needed.
Your teacher will have indicated on your script a number of areas that need
improvement. Apart from basic language use and mechanical errors like spelling, his
comments may also reveal more serious problems such as an incomplete or irrelevant
answer, faulty organization and weak or missing topic sentences. It is your
responsibility to correct these errors as well as any other errors you spot that your
teacher has not marked. He will not have identified every single error for you.

Using a Marking Checklist


After returning the first draft to you, your instructor will allow you some time to make
the revision. To help you revise, he may have identified your errors using a Marking
Checklist (which your teacher should have provided you with). Your first task is to
familiarize yourself with the notation he uses. If you do not understand what error has
been made, make an appointment to see your teacher before you start the revision. See
below for two versions of a marking checklist.

Writing the Revision


If you are able, and your teacher allows you, use your word-processing skills to write
your revision. Apart from producing a neat, professional-looking page, the computer
also offers a writer a number of useful aids such as spelling and grammar checkers.
These have their limitations, but they can also help you locate errors that you may
otherwise miss. If a computer is not available, then use ink (blue or black) rather than
pencil.

If your first draft was particularly good—so that only a few minor changes to the first
draft are necessary—your teacher may allow you to write the few necessary
corrections on the first draft itself. In all other cases, you should always make the
revision on a new sheet of paper. When you have finished revising, staple the
revision, the original corrected draft and the question together, and submit everything
to your instructor on or before the appointed day. If he only requires a soft copy
revision, then submit it online through Blackboard.

Do not rush to make your revision as soon as the first draft is returned to you. By
waiting a couple of days before looking at the first draft, you will approach the task of
revising in a more detached and more objective frame of mind. This should make it
easier to spot weaknesses and make a fresh approach.
Do not focus only on sentence-level and mechanical errors. A thorough revision
requires you to look at all aspects of the first draft including major ones such as
unity, overall relevance, and adequate support for main ideas. If your first draft was

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T131 & 132 page 30


good, you may not need to make major changes; if it was poor, you may have to
rewrite the whole composition. As with the first draft, spend time proofreading the
revision before submitting it to your instructor. For most writers, writing the revision
takes significantly longer than writing the first draft. After all, the revision is the
finished product; the first draft was merely a first attempt.
Finally, learn from your mistakes. Keep a note book to record the errors made in the
first drafts and the subsequent corrections that you made in the revisions. Try to
eliminate recurring errors.

When revising, it may help you to refer to the Revision Checklist below. Ask your
teacher if you are unsure about any of these revision points.

A Revision Checklist
Composition
• Does the composition as a whole answer the question that you were given?
• Is the question that you were given clearly addressed in the composition?
• Is the composition appropriate to your audience? (e.g. level of information?)
• Have you used an appropriate method of development, such as "comparison"
or “definition”?
• Does the composition "feel" complete?
• Is the composition neat and well-formatted?

Paragraphs
• Does the introductory paragraph have appropriate background information?
• Does the introductory paragraph contain a specific thesis statement that clearly and
concisely expresses the purpose (main idea) of the composition?
• Does every paragraph in the body have a topic sentence and support?
• Is every paragraph in the body relevant to the purpose of the composition, as
expressed in the thesis statement?
• Is the supporting information in every paragraph relevant and sufficient?
• Is the flow of information between paragraphs smooth and logical?
• Does the concluding paragraph, if there is one, contribute something useful?

Sentences
• Is there sentence variety? (sentence lengths, sentence openers, sentence types)
• Is the flow of information between sentences smooth and logical?
• Have you proofread the composition for such major errors as faulty subject–verb
agreement, sentence fragments, and fused sentences?
• Have you proofread the composition for minor errors involving spelling,
punctuation, prepositions and parallel structure?

Diction
• Do the words you use show an appropriate level of formality?
• Have you defined technical terms when necessary?
• Have you avoided wordiness and needless repetition?
• Have you used specific, concrete vocabulary when appropriate?
• Have you used your own words and avoided source wording (if a source was used)?

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T131 & 132 page 31


Two different marking checklists are shown below. Your teacher may use either of
these or his own version. The checklist identifies the errors that have been made
without correcting them. See the example below.

pr3 Ag1
The reason of the failure of both experiments were unclear but
N1
scientists believe it was due to faulty equipments.

MARKING CHECKLIST (version 1)


SENTENCES (S)
S1: Sentence/clause fragment: The Japanese make many cars. For example, Toyota and Nissan.
S2: Run-on and comma splice: Ali went to Jeddah we went to Riyadh. He didn’t like the car, it was too small.
S3: Awkward phrasing, unclear: Heart disease is caused by food and cholesterol.

AGREEMENT (Ag)
Ag1: Subject - Verb: Only one of the experiments were successful.
Ag2: Pronoun-antecedent: We were given three choices but nobody liked any of it.

VERBS (V)
V1: Wrong tense: Man first land on the moon in 1969.
V2: Wrong form: The new equipment was took immediately to the lab.
V3: Wrong/missing helper: They are just arrived. This is the letter which sent yesterday.
V4: Active <—>Passive: The newspaper publishes every day.
V5: Missing verb: The reason he got A+ because of all his hard work.

NOUNS (N)
N1: Make singular / uncountable:: We needed some informations before deciding.
N2: Make plural / countable: Several device were used in the experiment.

VOCABULARY (voc)
voc1: Wrong word: The plane flows from Dammam airport every Friday.
voc2: Missing word: In spite the bad weather, they went out for a walk.
voc3: Omit word: The exam was more easier than expected.
voc4: Wrong form: He worked as hardly as he could. His speak lasted 25 minutes.

ARTICLES (A)
A1: Use an article: The bad weather was other cause of the cancellation.
A2: Don’t use an article: The hard work is the key to success.
A3: Use a different article: That’s a main reason he took the job.

PUNCTUATION (P)
P1: Use punctuation: An atom usually consists of three elements protons, neutrons and electrons.
P2: Don’t use punctuation: He turned off the light; and went home.
P3: Use different punctuation: He asked if the student had done his homework?

PREPOSITIONS (pr)
pr1: Use a preposition: They walked the town centre.
pr2: Don’t use a preposition: His illness affected on his exam results.
pr3: Use a different preposition: The distance was short so we all went by foot.

SPELLING (sp) There are tow resons for the error.

WO: Word order: They conducted quickly the experiment.

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T131 & 132 page 32


Here is another checklist.

ww SV
The reason of the failure of both experiments were unclear but
C/UN
scientists believe it was due to faulty equipments.

MARKING CHECKLIST (version 2)


SENTENCES
SF: Sentence/clause fragment: The Japanese make many cars. For example, Toyota and Nissan.
RO: Run-on and comma splice: Ali went to Jeddah we went to Riyadh. He didn’t like the car, it was too small.

AGREEMENT
SV: Subject - Verb: Ali drive to work. There was ten students in the class.
PR: Pronoun-referent: We were given three choices but nobody liked any of it.

VERBS
t: Wrong tense: Man first land on the moon in 1969.
wfv: Wrong form verb: The new equipment was took immediately to the lab.

NOUNS
C/UN: Make singular / uncountable: We needed some informations before deciding.
S/P: Make plural / countable: Several device were used in the experiment.

VOCABULARY
ww: Wrong word: The plane flows from Dammam airport every Friday.
˄: Missing word: They want spend next summer in Europe. It was more expensive the Toyota.
[ ]: Omit word: The exam was more easier than expected.
wwf: Wrong word form: He worked as hardly as he could. His speak lasted 25 minutes.

PUNCTUATION
p An atom usually consists of three elements protons, neutrons and electrons.

SPELLING
sp: Spelling mistake: There are tow resons for the error.

WO: Word order:


They conducted quickly the experiment.

Clarity
?? Not clear/rewrite Heart disease is caused by food and cholesterol.

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T131 & 132 page 33


REMEDIAL WORK: Agreement errors
1. Subject–Verb Agreement
One very common grammar problem is the Subject–Verb Agreement error, yet there
are only two basic rules to remember. First, a verb must agree in number with its
subject: compare "A proton is positive" with "Protons are positive." Second, a verb
must agree in person with its subject: compare "I drive" with "He drives." For the
most part, these basic rules apply only to the third person of the present simple tense
(speak/speaks, do/does).

For nonnative speakers, the most common subject–verb agreement error involves
omitting the "s" ending on the third-person singular of the present simple tense.
Careful proofreading can usually eliminate this error. However, there are occasions
when the choice of a verb form to agree with the subject may require some thought,
even for native speakers. The following examples illustrate four problem areas.

Words between the subject and the verb. Words, phrases and clauses that come
between the subject and its verb do not have any effect on subject–verb agreement.
However, they do sometimes make it harder for the writer to identify the real subject
of the verb:

•Such factors as operator error, an inadequate safety


procedure, and outdated technology were responsible for
the accident.
•Electricity, one of our most important discoveries,
influences all aspects of our daily lives.
•Only one of the three laboratory experiments which were
carried out with the new chemicals was successful.

Collective nouns. Nouns such as "team," "committee," "group," "family," and


"government" can be either singular or plural. They are singular when considered as
one unit, but plural when considered as a number of individual members. In the first
two examples below, note how other parts of the sentence—"their" and "its"—must
also agree. (See pronoun–antecedent agreement below.) A special case is the
collective noun "number." The phrase "the number of" requires a singular verb while
"a number of" takes a plural verb.

•The committee is holding its meeting next week.


•The committee are holding their meeting next week.
•The audience waved their arms and stamped their feet.
•The team selected its captain from a list of ten candidates.
•The number of students joining KFUPM is increasing
every year.
•A number of pollutants are responsible for ozone
depletion.

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T131 & 132 page 34


Indefinite pronouns are a class of words requiring particular care. Some indefinite
pronouns, such as "everyone," "each," and "either" are always singular while others,
such as "both," "few" and "several" are always plural. The rest, exemplified by "all,"
"none," and "some," are singular or plural depending on the noun that they refer to:

•Scientists have classified all known elements. Each


has been assigned a place in the periodic table
according to its particular characteristics.
•What happens to nuclear waste? Some is stored in
repositories; some is buried deep underground.
•Wide area networks are becoming increasingly
widespread. Some, for example, now cover an entire
country.

Verbs that end with an “s” or “z” sound. Verbs such as "decrease," "reduce" and
"devise" are a special case. The presence of the “s” or “z” sound at the end of the base
form often traps learners into omitting the third-person singular "s" ending in the
present tense. Special care is needed when proofreading to ensure that the necessary
"s" ending is present:
The temperature rises in summer and decreases in winter.
Irradiation produces food that is free of bacteria, yeast, and molds.

2. Pronoun–Antecedent Agreement (Ag 2)


A pronoun is a word such as "it," "he," and "they" which stands for a noun. The
antecedent of a pronoun is the noun to which the pronoun refers. For example, in the
first sentence below, "it" is the pronoun and "radiation" is its antecedent: “Radiation”
is also the antecedent for the possessive adjective “its” in the second sentence.
• Radiation can be harmful to humans, but it is also beneficial.
• Its main benefit is in cancer treatment.

Just as the subject must always agree with its verb in number and person (“I go” but
“He goes”), so must the pronoun always agree with its antecedent in number, person,
and gender.

• Marie Curie was the first person to win two Nobel Prizes for her
work in both physics and chemistry.
• Volta invented the battery in 1800. The original device he invented
consisted of alternate disks of silver and zinc.
• A gas molecule moves about in a random fashion colliding with the
walls of its container and with other molecules.
• There will be adverse effects of ozone depletion, but scientists
cannot predict them yet with certainty.

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T131 & 132 page 35


In the sentences above, the antecedent always comes before the pronoun but it can
also follow it as in the example below:

• By the time he was 16, Ali could already run 100m in 12 seconds.

Because expository writing on technical and scientific topics generally deals with the
objective rather than the subjective world, the pronouns and adjectives used tend to be
third-person ("it," "its," "they," "their," and so on.) rather than first- or second-person
("I," "my," "we," "us," "you," etc.). When proofreading, writers need to pay particular
attention to pronoun–antecedent agreement in the third person, where the commonest
error is to use a singular instead of a plural pronoun, or vice versa, as exemplified in
the incorrect sentences below:

* Gases behave differently from liquids and solids because its molecules
are much farther apart.
* One problem with coal is the adverse effect that their combustion has
on both people and the environment.
* Active solar heating systems are available, but consumers seldom
choose it because of its high cost.

Exercise Agreement Errors


Find the errors in the sentences below. Some are subject – verb agreement
errors and some are pronoun – antecedent errors.

1. The number of people using the internet are increasing every day.
2. The committee was asked to give their decision immediately but it refused.
3. The increased presence in the atmosphere of pollutant gases like CO2 are closely
connected with the increasing number of cars on the road.
4. Although Antoine Becquerel invented the first photovoltaic cell, they were
never used in his lifetime.
5. The scientific community has to establish clear guidelines about how their
scientific discoveries should be used by society.
6. Every member of the club, including the manager and all the administrators, were
asked to give their opinion about the new plans.
7. The twin rotor-blades of a helicopter rotate in opposite directions allowing them
to fly smoothly in any kind of flying conditions.
8. Each of the radioactive substances was placed in a special container to prevent
their harmful radiation from leaking out into the environment.
9. One of the latest developments for helping deaf people to speak are computers
which display sounds as colored shapes of varying sizes.
10. We all know that the sun rise in the east and sets in the west but not everyone
know why.
11. Because of its tiny size, protons can only be viewed through an electron
microscope.

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T131 & 132 page 36


GLOSSARY of TERMS
NOUN: It can represent a person, thing, place or quality. Examples are man, chair, USA, joy.
Because of the bad weather the family decided to stay in their hotel.
PRONOUN: It stands in place of a noun. Examples are he, it, they, them.
Ali bought several books. He bought them for his computer studies.
ANTECEDENT: The word or group of words that a pronoun refers to.
Hybrid cars are fuel-efficient because they have electric and petrol engines.
INDEFINITE PRONOUN: An indefinite pronoun refers to people or things that are not
specified. It can be singular (like anyone, each and either), plural (like both,
few and several) or both singular and plural (like all, some and most).
Everybody likes ice cream.
Malta and Bahrain have small populations and both are islands.
COLLECTIVE NOUN: A noun that names a collection of people, animals or things. The verb
of a collective noun can often be singular or plural depending on whether the noun is
considered as a single unit or a as a group of individual members.
A flock of birds arrive every spring and make their nests in every available tree.
A flock of birds arrives in spring and stays until the weather gets cold.

The table below might help you choose the correct pronoun or adjective form:

PRONOUNS ADJECTIVES
Personal Personal Possessive
Singular subject object
1st person I me mine my
2nd person you you yours your
3rd person he, she, it him, her, it his, hers, its his, her, its
Plural
st
1 person we us ours our
2nd person you you yours your
3rd person they them theirs their

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T131 & 132 page 37


VOCABULARY: AWL 2

61. achieve 96. normal


62. acquisition 97. obtained
63. administration 98. participation
64. affect 99. perceived
65. appropriate 100. positive
66. aspects 101. potential
67. assistance 102. previous
68. categories 103. primary
69. chapter 104. purchase
70. commission 105. range
71. community 106. region
72. complex 107. regulations
73. computer 108. relevant
74. conclusion 109. resident
75. conduct 110. resources
76. consequences 111. restricted
77. construction 112. security
78. consumer 113. sought
79. credit 114. select
80. cultural 115. site
81. design 116. strategies
82. distinction 117. survey
83. elements 118. text
84. equation 119. traditional
85. evaluation 120. transfer
86. features
87. final
Tip: Check out any of the following websites for help
88. focus with the Academic Word List:
89. impact
http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/~alzsh3/acvoca
90. injury b/wordlists.htm#awl
91. institute http://www.uefap.com/vocab/vocfram.htm
http://www.englishvocabularyexercises.com/A
92. investment WL/id21.htm
93. items http://www.lextutor.ca/cloze/vp/

94. journal
95. maintenance

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T131 & 132 page 38


VOCABULARY: AWL 3
121. alternative 156. maximum
122. circumstances 157. minorities
123. comments 158. negative
124. compensation 159. outcomes
125. components 160. partnership
126. consent 161. philosophy
127. considerable 162. physical
128. constant 163. proportion
129. constraints 164. published
130. contribution 165. reaction
131. convention 166. registered
132. coordination 167. reliance
133. core 168. removed
134. corporate 169. scheme
135. corresponding 170. sequence
136. criteria 171. sex
137. deduction 172. shift
138. demonstrate 173. specified
139. document 174. sufficient
140. dominant 175. task
141. emphasis 176. technical
142. ensure 177. techniques
143. excluded 178. technology
144. framework 179. validity
145. funds 180. volume
146. illustrated
147. immigration Tip: Find the meanings of the words on the list together
148. implies with the different forms of the words. Put the words
into a context that shows their meaning:
149. initial
Example
150. instance reliance (n): dependence, confidence, trust (+ on)
151. interaction Our reliance on technology increases every day.
rely (v): The poor must rely on the government for help.
152. justification reliant (adj): While he’s a student, Ali is still reliant on
his father for money.
153. layer reliable (adj): Ali won’t let you down; he’s very reliable.
154. link
155. location

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T. Dale page 39


PRESENTATIONS: Causal analysis
During the semester, students will give one or more presentations
of around 3 to 4 minutes using only note cards as a memory aid.
PowerPoint, the blackboard, or other visual aids should not be
used. Teachers should schedule roughly a half dozen
presentations for the end of each of the four core units with the
topics being connected to the particular rhetorical mode of the
writing component. For example, in unit 2, about half a dozen
students will speak about problems and solutions or causes and
effects. As mentioned above, if time allows, students can give
more than one presentation during the semester.

Order of speakers

As a general rule, it is advisable not to follow ID number order when drawing up the schedule
of speakers so students should be allowed to draw lots and leave it to chance. Speakers need
at least a week’s notice to prepare their presentation. Presentations can be done individually,
in pairs, or in groups as long as the students all do an equal amount of preparation and speak
for roughly the same amount of time.

Causal analysis topics: pair work

There is some scope for pair or group work with causal analysis. Two students, for example,
could be assigned a problem for which they must discuss the causes and the effects; where
feasible, a third student could discuss the solutions. A natural disaster such as a tsunami
would be suitable for all three aspects. It is not necessary for students to speak on the theme.

Organization

In their presentations, students should first of all identify themselves and then identify the
topic they are going to speak about. Presentations that deal with causal analysis can closely
follow the structure of a written composition with, for example, the discussion of causes, then
effects, then possibly solutions (if a particular problem is involved).

Delivery

Students are not allowed to use PowerPoint or other


visual aids so one of the key features is their
delivery. They must not read out their presentation
but can refer to brief notes written on note cards.
The tone is relaxed, informal and conversational.
The delivery should be authoritative with students
speaking slowly and clearly, moving and making
appropriate gestures, and maintaining eye contact
with the audience.

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T. Dale page 40


Refer to the checklist below:

Checklist for English 101 oral presentations

Does the student give his presentation within the set time limits?
Does he introduce himself and identify the topic?
Does he show clear divisions between different parts of his speech?
Does he speak loudly, slowly and clearly enough to be easily understood?
Does he pronounce his words, especially key words, correctly?
Does he use grammar correctly?
Does his voice sound natural and relaxed?
Does he sound interested and enthusiastic?
Is his delivery confident and authoritative?
Does he occasionally use Arabic without realising it (shismuh)?
Does he have any voice mannerisms that need eliminating (coughs, “okay?”, “errr”, “right”)?
Is he dependent on reading his presentation?
Does any memorisation sound unnatural?
Does he position himself correctly at the front of the class?
Does he move and make appropriate gestures that support his speech?
Does he maintain eye contact with his audience?
Does he end his speech effectively?

A marking sheet

A simple marking sheet is given below. Teachers are free to modify it or use their own.

English 101 Oral Presentation Marking Form

Name: ID#: SEC/SN:

Presentation topic:

1. Delivery:

2. Body language:

3. Content:

4. Organization:

5. Overall impression:

Additional comments: Grade:

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T. Dale page 41