ACADEMIC ENGLISH

A PROCESS
(page 1)


DESCRIBING A PROCESS
You are going to read a text about the process of recycling fluorescent lamps.
First, look at the diagram. Can you understand it? What would you write about it?
Next, read the text.

There are two things to notice in the text.

1. We often use passive voice when we are desribing a process.

PASSIVE: The cake was eaten.
ACTIVE: Marion ate the cake.

Why do you think we use passive voice? Read the text to see if you can guess.

2. The other thing to notice is the use of sequence words.
First, second and third are sequence words. Read the text and note the other sequence words used.


 

xxxxx RECYCLING FLUORESCENT LAMPS

 

 

The diagram illustrates the process of recycling waste fluorescent lamps. It is a five or six step process which begins with collecting waste lamps and ends with the waste material being ready to be reused.

First, waste fluorescent lamps are collected. Then they are put into a lamp crushing device. The next step in the process involves the components being divided into three separate waste products which are powder (or Hg), metal or (Al) and glass. At that point the metal and glass are ready for recycling and go to the recycling area. However, the powder still has to undergo an additional treatment. A thermal process is applied to the powder. After this, the resulting product, calcium phosphate, is sent along with the metal and glass to the recycling area.

In just a few steps the original waste product is processed and changed to a form that can be re-used.

(150 words)

 


1. PASSIVE - We often use passive voice when we are talking about processes because usually we are not so interested in who does an action. We are more interested in the process itself.

Note the difference:
PASSIVE: Fluorescent lamps are collected.
ACTIVE: Workers collect the fluorescent lamps.

PASSIVE: they are put into
ACTIVE: workers put them into

PASSIVE: A thermal process is applied
ACTIVE: Workers apply a thermal process

PASSIVE: product is processed
ACTIVE: workers process the product


2. SEQUENCE WORDS - The sequence words used were, first, then, and after this. Clearly we can only use first at the start, but it doesn't matter in what order we use then, next and after that.

We can repeat one word if we like. We could use then all the time after the first action, but we usually use other words to add a bit of variety to our writing.