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English in Twos: Episode 6

by Bashir Jammaje

Education is the most powerful weapon, Nelson Mandela says, which we can use to change the world.
This article helps and inspires students to improve their English and encourage their interest in achieving their goals without needing to go off the course syllabus, however strict it might be. It is divided into five segments: quotations and their explanation, proverbs and their meanings, correct and incorrect English, vocabulary learning and some tips to improve your English. All the segments are presented in twos.

Quotations and Their Explanation
Life without motivation is like sitting in a dark room with lots of fear inside. Here are two quotes that can motivate you in life:
The thing you fear most has no power. Your fear of it is what has the power. ” ─Oprah Winfrey
Explanation: Oprah Winfrey (1954 ─ {66-years}), is an American talk show host, actress, television producer, media executive, and philanthropist. She was called “arguably the world’s most powerful woman” by CNN and, “arguably the most influential woman in the world” by the American Spectators, “one of the 100 people who most influenced the 20th Century” and “one of the most influential people” from 2004 to 2011 by TIME. Winfrey is the only person in the world to have appeared in the latter list on all eight occasions. When we allow fear to stop our forward progress in life, we are likely to miss some great opportunities along the way. It is always the fear of failing that cause us to do nothing, and therefore resist moving forward. You should know that failure is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s actually inevitable part of life and even necessary step toward success and innovating things. Remember, Steve Jobs was fired from the company he founded, Michael Jordan was cut from the varsity basketball team his sophomore year, and Winfrey too was fired once from her job as a television news anchor.
You don’t become what you want, you become what you believe.” –Oprah Winfrey
Explanation: We often stop ourselves from achieving our dreams because we don’t believe in our ability to make them happen ─ we just want them to happen soon. What we forget is that it takes time to achieve a big goal. Plainly, when one creates a dream or vision for the life they want, they give themselves something to aim for. But, that dream or vision can only be achieved when they deeply believe in themselves!

Proverbs and Their Meanings
There is a proverb for almost any situation. It is a wise saying that gives some advice about life. Almost every culture has its own unique proverbs. However, some proverbs exist in more than one language; people borrow them from other languages and cultures similar to theirs.
It takes two to tango
Meaning: this is used to say that if a problem involves two people, then both people are equally responsible (=in bera da sata…).
God helps those who help themselves.
Meaning: don’t just wait for good things to happen to you. Work hard to make them happen (Allah y ace tashi na taimake ka in Hausa).

Correct and Incorrect English
Grammatical errors come in many forms and can easily confuse and obscure meaning. Absolutely, no one is immune to errors when it comes to the English language. Of course, it is inevitable. The important thing is to learn from the mistakes so you become a more confident, capable speaker and writer. Prepositions are tricky(difficult to deal with), confusing(unclear and difficult to understand) and significant in sentence construction. Here are some mistakes that should be avoided:
Incorrect: Do/would you mind to turn down the volume, please?
Incorrect: Do/would you mind turning down the volume, please?
Note: Here, we use “would you mind” or “do you mind” with “-ing forms” to ask people politely to do things – and not with “to-infinitive”. But when we want to ask for permission politely, we can use “would you mind if I + “past form” or “do you mind if I + present form” – as in: “would you mind if I switched off the light?” or “do you mind if I close the door?”
What’s more, sometimes, I hear people give the wrong answer to the question “would/do you mind” ─ if they don’t mind.
A: Do you mind if I use your biro?
Some people would answer “yes”, but the “yes” here, means “Yes I do mind(=you can’t use my biro)”. But, the correct answer is “No”. The “No” means “No I don’t mind if you use my biro”.
Incorrect: The ticket will be given on a first come, first serve basis.
Correct: The ticket will be given on a first come, first served basis.
Note: if you say “first come, first serve” without the “d,” you are saying that whoever ‘comes first will serve first’. But, the “d” is always necessary when you mean that a group of people or things will be attended to or given something first in the order in which they arrive.
Vocabulary Learning
There are some verbs that are used with particles. Examples are sit down, get up, go out, etc. The verbs are sit, get, go, and the particles are down, up, out. These kind of combinations are called phrasal verbs. In many cases the meaning of the phrasal verbs cannot be deduced from its elements and some are polysemous (have two or more different meanings). Moreover, phrasal verbs are very important because they are so prevalent(common) in every spoken or written English. Voltaire once said, “Language is a very difficult to put into words.” What is the best way to learn new words? Sound them out, The Seattle Time reported. Researchers found sounding words slowly helps people memorize new words easier. Here are some expression:
* Isa likes to play his cards close to his chest.
“Play/hold/keep your card close to your chest” means to keep your ideas, plans, etc. secret
* He said that he still loved the president, but I suspect it was tongue in cheek.
If you say something “tongue in cheek” or “with your tongue in your cheek”, you are not being serious and mean it as a joke.

Tips to Improve Your English ─ Hester
* Memorization of lists is one of the most common ways of learning vocabulary for a test.
* Use your body clock. If you’re not a morning person, study in the afternoon.

Thanks copiously for reading and remember ─ practice is key!
Bashir Shu’aibu Jammaje
Twitter: @Mrbashjam


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