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English in Twos: Episode 7

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 four segments: quotations and their explanation, proverbs, correct and incorrect English, 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.
“A man who pays respect to the great, paves the way for his own greatness.” ─Chinua Achebe
Explanation: Chinua Achebe (1930 – 2013), was the foremost Nigerian novelist, poet, professor, and critic. He is best known for his first novel Things Fall Apart (1958) which is the most widely read book in modern African literature. According to Wikipedia, Achebe has been called “the father of modern African writing”. Well, respect to many people doesn’t have to come naturally, it is something you learn. It means to accept somebody for who they are, even when they’re different from you or you don’t agree with them. The great people have wisdom and experience one can learn, and that, can be of a great help for them to be great in the future. With their wisdom and experience come lessons that can be handed down, indeed!
Nobody can teach me who I am. You can describe parts of me, but who I am – and what I need – is something I have to find out myself.” –Chinua Achebe
Explanation: This, says a lot about how some people always try to define who you are. Don’t let them! What you think of yourself is what matters all the time.
Proverbs and Their Meanings
There is a proverb for almost any situation. It a wise saying that gives some advice about life.
Birds of a feather(flock together).
Meaning: used to say two or more people who have similar attitude, beliefs etc. are often found in company with one another (ko wacce kwarya da abokiyar burminta).
Warning: do not say “birds of the same feathers flock together”.
Don’t bite the hand that feeds you
Meaning: used to say that you should not make someone angry or hurt them because they help or pay for you, e.g. You want to fight with your boss? No, please, don’t bite the hand that feeds you.
Correct and Incorrect English
We all make mistakes when we are learning English as a Second Language, along the way. Of course, it is inevitable. The important thing is to learn from the mistakes so you become a more confident, capable speaker and writer. Here are some mistakes that should be avoided:
Incorrect: You must do the work at all cost.
Correct: You must do the work at all costs.
Note: “at all costs” with the “-s” is an idiom, meaning, whatever happens, something must be done or avoided. It is very similar in meaning with “at any cost”, but here, “cost” has no “-s”.
Incorrect: I want to talk to you in regards to the meeting.
Correct: I want to talk to you in regard to the meeting.
Note: the proper phrase is “in/with regard to” without the “-s”, means relating to a particular subject. Though, some people prefer to use “concerning,” “about,” “regarding”. But “regards” with the “-s”, on the other hand, is used when you are sending your greetings or asking someone to pass your good wishes to someone or when ending a short message or letter. So, you say, “send/give my regards to your family” ─ and not “send/give my regard to your family”.

Words and Their Meanings and Examples in Sentences
Words are of paramount importance to our lives. 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.
highbrow/‘haibrau/ (adjective)
someone who is interested in complicated or serious ideas and subjects (=intellectual).
* He is a highbrow person!
highbrow also means a book, film etc that is very serious and may be difficult to understand.
* I like reading highbrow books.
prohibitive/pra‘hibitiv/ (adjective)
So high that stops people from buying or doing something.
* The cost of a house in Abuja is prohibitive.
A rule that is prohibitive, prevents people from doing things.
* Many people hate prohibitive regulations.

Tips to Improve Your English ─ Hester
* You will always find a word easier to remember if you try to remember an example sentence using that word rather the word on its own.
* Ask someone, like a friend, to give you a test. You’ll find that you work harder when you need to study for something.

Thank you for reading and remember ─ practice is key!
Bashir Shu’aibu Jammaje


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