The Internet TESL Journal

Global Warming: A Cause and Effect Writing Lesson

Amy Ogasawara
Miyazaki International College (Miyazaki, Japan)


College freshmen in an EFL classroom with TOFEL scores ranging from 375 to 450.

Teaching Objective:

To practice cause and effect writing skills on environmental topics.


The teacher needs to supply articles for students to read BEFORE beginning this lesson. The topic suggested here is global warming, but any topic can easily be substituted.


Reading and speaking will be practiced, but the focus of this lesson is cause and effect writing practice.


At least one lesson needs to be devoted to reading, and then this lesson requires one to two class periods.


Preparing to write: gathering information

The teacher should provide students with several articles about global warming. (Articles can be found in the English newspapers, textbooks, and from the internet.) Included with these articles should be a note-taking worksheet to help students identify the main points and in particular, all causes and effects discussed in the articles. A sample format might include a vocabulary list followed by a vocabulary exercise, a paragraph by paragraph breakdown identifying the main point (guided by comprehension questions or key words), and then a chart or grid where students can write key words related to a) causes or b) effects (again guided by comprehension questions or key words).

2. Preparing to write: making sentences

Cause and Effect Worksheet #1

Cause and effect shows the relationship between two things when one thing makes the other thing happen. If you can put the two things into a sentence using "if.... then...", then you have the requirements for cause and effect. For example: If you throw a ball up, then it will fall back down. In this case, throwing the ball up is the cause for it to fall down.

Here are some examples of cause and effect relationships.
save money -------> travel abroad
eat too much -------> get fat
study politics -------> become a lawyer
stay out in the sun too much -------> get a sun burn

Exercise One

Using your notes and worksheet from the reading(s), write as many cause and effect relationships as you can think of regarding global warming and the greenhouse effect.
When we write cause and effect statements, we use words and phrases that are called connectors of result.

Connectors of result:

so, therefore, consequently, as a result, for this (these) reason(s)


She saved her money for more than one year, so now she is planning to travel abroad.

Last year, MIC students in England ate too much greasy food. As a result, they got fat.

He studied politics; therefore, he became a lawyer.

Exercise Two

Connect your ideas from exercize one with complete sentences. Use all the connectors of result at least once.

3. Preparing to write: brainstorming and organizing

Cause and Effect Worksheet #2

Cause and effect writing usually asks why , and then answers it. Remember to include both the question and the answer in your essay.


There are two main ways to organize cause and effect compositions. One way is the group approach. In this way, you talk first about all the causes together as a group, then you talk about all the effects as a group. The other way to organize cause and effect writing is the alternating chain approach. In this way, you first discuss a cause and its effect. Then you discuss another cause and its effect, and so on.

Which is best?

At first, you might not know which approach is best for your topic. In general, if it is difficult to make a clear distinction between cause and effect, the group approach is probably best. On the other hand, if there is a direct relationship between cause and effect, each cause has a clear effect, then the alternating chain approach might be better. In many cases, you might want to combine both types at different times. First you must get your ideas down on paper and then you will see which approach seems best for you.

Exercise One: Brainstorming

Look again at your notes and sentences about Global warming and the Greenhouse effect. In our last class, you already separated the causes and the effects of Global warming. This time, we are going to group them so they are easier to work with. Using the group approach, think first of all the causes of global warming, and then think of the effects. To do this, ask yourself why? as you list the causes. Then ask yourself what is the result of this? as you list the effects.

Global Warming and the Greenhouse Effect

A. Causes (Why do we have the Greenhouse effect?)

B. Effects (What is the result of the above causes?)

Exercise Two: Organization

Group approach

Look at the lists above. Think about the relationship of the items in your lists and arrange them in a reasonable order. Do some causes or effects happen before others? Put each cause and each effect in some kind of order by replacing numbers in your list.

Ask yourself:

Does each cause have a corresponding effect? If not, you should organize using the group approach. If so, then you are ready to begin thinking of the alternating chain approach.

Alternating chain approach

Match each cause with its coordinating effect. Again arrange them in a reasonable order.

Exercise Three: Writing more sentences

When you make a statement such as if global temperatures rise, the level of the sea will rise and this will cause disaster, then you must include examples to support your claim. The connectors listed below will help you connect statements with supporting examples. Using your lists above, write cause and effect sentences supported by examples. Use as many of the following connectors as you can.


for example, for instance, such as, one example of this is, as an illustration, take the case of

4. Writing: putting it all together

At this point, students should have enough ideas, words, and sentences listed on their worksheet and in their notes to begin writing well organized paragraphs. The teacher should remind them to include examples to support each of their cause and effect relationships. Once the first draft is completed, the teacher may opt to do peer editing in the next class before students rewrite their second drafts.

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The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. II, No. 11, November 1996