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VOCABULARY LEVEL 1 – Package 8 – Causes and Effects

Learning Outcomes

By the end of VOCABULARY LEVEL 1 you should be able to
✔ study vocabulary independently
✔ use different strategies to expand and record vocabulary

Introduction to Independent Learning

Independent learning gives you more choice about what, when and how fast to study. It also prepares you to learn after complete full time education.

In order to study independently you need to be able to set your own aims, choose how you want to study and reflect on the usefulness of studying that you do and on your overall progress.

Since you have chosen to study VOCABULARY LEVEL 1, we can assume that you want to learn more about how to expand and remember words more effectively. The online activities are designed to help you to develop and build the bank of words and expressions that you have at your disposal.

To begin with, there is a vocabulary quiz which will give you some idea of where you strengths and weaknesses lie.

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Package 8 - Causes and Effects

Causes and effects

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this unit, you should be able to
✔ use a variety of ways to talk about cause and effect
✔ brainstorm and present the causes and effects of problems.


During your studies, you will often have to discuss causes and effects in your spoken and written assignments. You already know the basic ways of doing this in English (i.e. by using reason and result clauses). Your teachers, however, will expect you to use a much wider range of vocabulary when discussing causes and effects in your reports and presentations. This part of the course will help you to build up your vocabulary in this key area.

Activity 1a 

Read the following essay on increasing life expectancy and the problems associated with it China.


      The increase in life expectancy is causing problems in many countries. This problem is particularly serious in China because of the government’s inconsistent population policies and the changing attitudes of young couples towards having children. Combatting this problem requires immediate measures by the government as well as the co-operation of the public.

      The major cause of this problem is the government’s inconsistency in its population policies since 1949. Responding to the call to have children, women in the 1950s gave birth to large numbers of children (Moody, Ramson, & Roberts, 2010). These children are now becoming a major sector of the senior population. This situation could trigger a surge in the demand for services by the elderly, such as homes and health centres for the aged. In the mid-1970s, however, the government began to realise the serious impact the policy was having on society and in 1979 decided to adopt a completely different policy: the family planning policy (Moody et al. 2010). This policy, which continues to this day, requires that each married couple have only one child. While the implementation of the regulation has dramatically reduced the birthrate, the consequences of this policy could cause a significant labour shortage in the near future.

      In addition to the population policies, the changing attitude towards family life among young Chinese couples is another major factor contributing to this problem.  Due to a rise in the cost of living and education expenses, many couples choose to maintain their high standard of living by not having children. Wang et al. (2009) observe that such behaviour has resulted in an increasing number of DINK (double income, no kid) couples. The rising number of DINK couples has further led to a reduction in the birthrate in China and is pushing China towards a population imbalance in which there are “more pensioners than workers” (Lu, & Kan, 2009, p. 66). 

      To face these challenges, the Chinese government should take some immediate measures. To address the issue of labour shortage, the government should consider both short and long-term strategies. In the short term, the government could consider extending the retirement age to encourage those over 60 years of age, who have the ability and are willing to work, to remain in the workforce. This could help to maintain the existing labour pool. In the long run, however, Moody et al. (2010) suggest that the government might have to relax the one-child policy in order to enable parents with sufficient means and motivation to have larger families. Zhou (2011) believes that tax breaks to reduce the costs of parenthood are necessary in some big cities to encourage young couples to have children.  This long term strategy will offset the population imbalance and increase the amount of productive labour available for the country in the future.

      Regarding the increasing demand for services for the greying population, the government and local communities should collaborate to provide more effective services. The central government should, first of all, adopt policies to ensure the life quality of the elderly. One way to achieve this, according to Davis (2011), is to increase the elderly’s financial independence through the promotion of private pension funds and health insurance.  Rod (2010) proposes that money for these funds could be collected both compulsorily and voluntarily. This could help to relieve the economic burden of caring for the old in the future. Meanwhile, the government should provide more homes and centres for the elderly. To operate these homes and centres effectively, the participation of the public, including charity organisations, will also be vital. The upshot of their participation would not only help to collect funds but also provide manpower to support elderly homes and centres.

      The ageing population in China has created looming labour shortages and a surge in demand for care services for the elderly. To alleviate these problems, both the government and the public should take immediate action. Only when the government and society act in concert can this serious problem be dealt with effectively.


Davis, K. (2011). Private pension penetration in China. Journal of Financial Product Promoters, 12(7), 35-44.

Lu, J., & Kan, F. (2009). China’s Population Policies. Hong Kong: Blackstone Publishing.

Moody, G., Ramson, K., & Roberts, M. (2010). The socio-economic impacts of China’s Population Control Laws. Liverpool: Liverpool John Moores University Press.

Rod, P. (2010). Modern Chinese Attitudes to Parenting. Journal of Chinese Population Studies, 12(8), 101-164.

Wang, K., Aitken, L. W., Smith, A., Tung, P. M., Wong, K. P., & Evans, S. (2009). Black future for China’s grey heads. Asian Journal of Aging, 12(4), 13-22.

Zhou, W. (2011). Dealing with the grey menace. Sino Octogenarian Quarterly, 47(3), 12-18.

Activity 1b

Now read the text again and type any expressions related to expressing ‘causes’ or ‘effects’ in the boxes below.

Activity 2

For each of the sentences below, write a new sentence as similar as possible to the original sentence, but using the word given. This word must not be altered in any way.

Example: There have been several changes in education as a result of the new law.

Answer: The new law has led to several changes in education.

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