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English in Twos: Episode 12

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:

“I congratulate the candidates of the other political parties. I regard them not as opponents but as partners. ” ─Goodluck Jonathen

Explanation:  Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (1957 ─ {62-years}), is a Nigerian politician who served as the President of Nigeria from 2010 to 2015. He lost the 2015 presidential election to former military head of state General Muhammadu Buhari, marking the first time in the history of Nigeria that an incumbent president lost re-election and conceded defeat. Prior to that, he served as Vice President of Nigeria from 2007 to 2010; and in oil-rich Bayelsa State as Governor of Bayelsa State from 2005 to 2007. Well, it happens, that, if someone has a tunnel vision, we try to offer a different perspective that has a more complete view. Sometimes, two perspectives may be completely opposite – but each is yet completely valid in different ways, much like the views from opposite sides of a room. A win-win situation is sometimes not possible. Naturally, one will try to find out more about the opponent to predict or pre-empt his action. The purpose is to strategise and win in a zero-sum game. If you ask me, what the former president Jonathan did deserves a Nobel Peace Prize!

“I was not born rich and in my youth, I never imagined that I would be where I am today, but not once did I ever give up.” –Goodluck Jonathan

Explanation: Many times struggle happens to help teach us a lesson. We can either learn from that lesson or deny it. When you read successful people, you see that, they stand tall and show the world what they are made of. When the world beats them down, they find a reason to get back up again. They never give up on their dreams. It doesn’t matter, to them, what family they come from.

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.

Honesty is the best policy

Meaning:  this is used to say that it is always better to tell the truth than it is to lie(=gaskiya dokin qarfe in Hausa)

Out of the frying pan into the fire

Meaning: From a bad situation to one that is worse. (Anyi gudun gara… 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: Why are you shouting on me as if I as deaf?

Incorrect: Why are you shouting at me as if I was deaf?

Note: Here, “shout” is normally used with “at” – never with “on”. But, it’s sometimes used with “to” if it means shouting a particular message to someone. As in: Ali shouted to Isa stop: the car was approaching.

Incorrect: I don’t mind to do the work if you are tired.

Correct: I don’t mind doing the work if you are tired.

Note:”Mind” here is a verb and it means “oppose”. But when it is used a noun in some idioms, it is followed by ‘to’ plus verb, e.g. You should make up your mind to ask for their help.

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:

+ What is eating Isa? I aked him how was his weekend and he just glared at me.

“What is eating (someone)”, means what is bothering them or why are they in a bad mood?

+You have to pull your socks up if you want to stay in the team.

If you “pull your socks up”, you make an effort to improve your work or behaviour because it is not good enough.

Tips to Improve Your English ─ Hester

  • Review and review and review! Make sure that ypu have the time to review things you have studied in the past.
  • It is not a good idea to always study on your own for more than 30 minutes at a time.

Thanks copiously for reading and remember ─ practice is key!

Bashir Shu’aibu Jammaje


Twitter: @Mrbashjam


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