Model Essay #1 + Explanation
Model Cause, Effect, and Solution Research Essay
Grammar and Writing Tips
Prompt: What are some causes and effects of illiteracy?
Title: Understanding and Solving the Problem of Illiteracy
If we can send a people to the moon, should not every person on earth have the ability and opportunity to read and write well?
[This first sentence asks a question as a hook. A hook is a way to capture the reader’s interest and add coherence to your essay.]
The main hooks to begin an essay with are
1. posing a question or two,
2. quoting a relevant proverb or saying,
3. mentioning a startling statistic or fact, or
4. telling a short story
Knowing how to read and write, or being literate, is a prerequisite for succeeding in today’s technologically advanced and quickly evolving global society.
[‘Knowing’ and ‘being’ are both gerunds, and they act like nouns. The subject of the sentence is ‘Knowing how to read and write, or being literate,’ and both commas are needed. If one comma is omitted it would be a comma splice, effectively separating the subject from the verb ‘is’. ]
[‘technologically advanced' and 'quickly evolving’ are both adjectives with adverb modifiers, so they are parallel in construction].
Every person needs to acquire literacy in his/her early development, because reading and writing are useful skills in so many daily activities, from reading newspapers, medicine bottles, and product warning labels, to writing letters, emails, and reports.
[‘Every person’ is a noun and this is preferable to ‘you’, as in “you need to acquire literacy in your early development”. It is more academic to use nouns rather than pronouns when writing essays for school.]
[Use examples to support and bolster your claims, as in ‘from reading newspapers, medicine bottles, and product warning labels, to writing letters, emails, and reports’]
Being literate also develops the mind, imagination, and critical thinking skills. However, many people in the world are not literate, and many do not even have the opportunity to become literate in their lifetime.
[The transition word ‘However’ in the introduction sets up the argument]
In fact, UNESCO Institute for Statistics, the international organization that collects data for the United Nations, estimated in 2004 that 800 million people (nearly 1 in 6 people in the world) are illiterate, and more than 65% of that number are women.
[‘In fact’ proves the previous statement, usually with a quantifiable fact.]
[ ‘international organization that collects data for the United Nations,’ is an appositive, which is a reduced adjective clause. Appositives modify the just mentioned noun, in this case UNESCO. Appositives are important to use after people or organizations that you quote, in order to explain to the reader why the quote is credible.]
This number is increasing as well, due to the high birth rates in illiterate societies.
[‘due to’ is a synonym for ‘because of’. ]
Therefore, in order to understand more about this significant phenomenon, a few of the causes, effects, and solutions to illiteracy will be discussed.
[This is the thesis statement, and ‘causes, effects, and solutions’ have parallel construction. ‘in order to understand’ shows the purpose of the essay, and ‘this significant phenomenon’ shows the importance of the topic.]
BODY PARAGRAPH 1
One of the major causes of illiteracy is poverty and the subsequent lack of access to reading and writing materials.
[‘One of the major causes of illiteracy’ is a transition phrase, and another way to say it is, ‘First, one major cause of illiteracy is …’. For more information on transition words, check out this list of transition words. ]
Realistically, students who may have gone on to continue their education past the 5th year sometimes quit school in order to work on the farm or in a factory in order to assist with the family income. Also if a family is poor, food and the basic necessities of life take precedence before books can be purchased. Related to this issue is Maslow’s theory on the hierarchy of needs. Maslow, a well-known psychologist, wrote that people deprived of basic needs, such as shelter, food, clothes, and basic safety, are less likely to develop themselves with higher education (Simons, 1987). In other words, economic instability can affect the ability of a population to become literate.
[‘Realistically’, ‘Also’, ‘Related to this issue’ and ‘in other words' are all transitions to guide the reader along.]
[An appositive, or extra information to modify someone, is given for Maslow, ‘a well-known psychologist’, to establish credibility or the validity of an authority. ]
[‘(Simons, 1987)’ is an example of internal citation. For internal citation and bibliography assistance, refer to the Research Guide]
BODY PARAGRAPH 2
The effects of illiteracy often negatively impact a nation’s ability to develop its human resources.
[‘illiteracy’ is the noun form of illiterate. We know to use the noun form because illiteracy follows the preposition ‘of’. Only nouns follow prepositions. Check out the Quizzes for more word form practice.]
Countries with a high illiteracy rate are more likely to be disadvantaged in the global economy. If a populace is not literate, it cannot be as involved in high tech jobs.
[‘If a populace is not literate’ uses conditional grammar.]
New careers in the sciences, mathematics, and technology are primarily established in countries that have literate populations. Another major effect of illiteracy is not having access to basic information that could be distributed via books, newspapers, or the Internet.
[countries that have literate populations and information that could be distributed via books, newspapers, or the Internet are adjective clauses that do not use commas. The words that follow the ‘that’ limit or define the nouns, ‘countries’ and ‘information’. Check out the Quizzes for more adjective clause comma practice.]
This type of information could include practical advice to increase the quality of life, such as how to participate in microfinance projects.
[‘such as how to participate in microfinance projects’ gives a specific example to support the statement]
In short, illiteracy does not encourage positive social change, personal growth, or the preservation and development of language and culture.
BODY PARAGRAPH 3
How can illiteracy, especially among the female population, be overcome?
[Starting a paragraph with a question, especially when the main idea of the paragraph is a solution, is a good strategy. However, questions should not be overused in an essay.]
One of the best solutions to solving the stubborn problem of literacy is to teach parents to read, so that they can in turn teach their children. In a document published by the Departments of Education of Colorado, Iowa, Nebraska, and others, Judith Schickendanz explains that “Children learn about written language in a … socially mediated way…. Children also learn about the functions of written language as they observe and help parents make lists, write letter to family members or friends, or read menus in a restaurant” (1999).
[‘…’ 3 periods mean words were deleted in the middle of sentence, while, ‘….’ 4 periods mean words or sentences were deleted at the end of that sentence. The author’s name, Schickendanz, is not included before the date (1999) because she is cited in the sentence.]
If the adult women are educated first, each generation will be able to read and write, since mothers are the first educators of children.
[‘If the adult women are educated first (adverb clause), each generation will be able to read and write (main or independent clause), since mothers are the first educators of children (adverb clause)’. This is a complex sentence with 2 adverb clauses. For more practice with clauses and sentence types, Check out the Quizzes.]
The women will teach their children, both male and female, who will in turn teach their children. Once more people in a society are literate, that society tends to develop further capacities, and further value literacy.
In conclusion, illiteracy has many interrelated causes and effects. In many countries literacy rates are increasing, notably in India, due to literacy campaigns (EFA, 2000). Economic development of many of these countries is also increasing in a similar fashion. Thus, one could easily argue that the increase in literacy is directly correlated with positive economic growth. In the past, education was not required, but in this day, universal education is becoming a necessity. Therefore, innovative solutions should be implemented to take advantage of this unique time in history.
[‘In conclusion’, ‘In many countries’, ‘Thus’, ‘In the past’, ‘Therefore’ are all transition words and phrases to guide the reader.]
[For more information on making a reference page, check out the Research Guide.]
The EFA 2000 Assessment: Country Reports (2000). India. Retrieved August 25, 2006 from the UNESCO Web site: http://www2.unesco.org/wef/countryreports/india/rapport_2_2_1.html
Schickedanz, J. (1999). Myths About Literacy Development. Retrieved August 24, 2006 from the
National Association of Early Childhood Specialist in the State Departments of Education Web site:
Simons, J., Irwin D. and Drinnien, B. (1987) Psychology - The Search for Understanding New York: West Publishing Company. Retrieved August 25, 2006 from the Faculty Development at the Honolulu Community College Web site: http://honolulu.hawaii.edu/intranet/committees/FacDevCom/guidebk/teachtip/maslow.htm
UNESCO Education. (2005) Literacy and skills development. Retrieved August 24, 2006 from the EFA Global Monitoring Report Web site: http://portal.unesco.org/education/en/ev.php-URL_ID=35964&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html