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English in Twos: Episode 16

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:

“Education truly can change a person’s story, it gave me everything. Whatever happens, get an education. ” ─Atiku Abubakar

Explanation:  Atiku Abubakar (1946 — {73}), is a Nigerian politician and businessman who served as the Vice President of Nigeria from 1999 to 2007 during the presidency of Olusegun Obasanjo. Since the return to democracy, Abubakar has contested in all the elections. Yes, as the saying goes, if you can dream it, you can achieve it. An education is the most powerful weapon you can possibly have, and with it, you can make all of your dreams come true. There are of course certain exceptions, depending on what you’re aiming for, but generally an education will take you as far as you’re willing to go. His father was opposed to the idea of Western education and tried to keep Atiku Abubakar out of the traditional school system. When the government discovered that Abubakar was not attending mandatory schooling, his father spent a few days in jail. Now, he’s one of the richest people in Africa!

“People exaggerate corruption in Nigeria. It is not even our first or second problem, maybe the third.” –Atiku Abubakar

Explanation: This reminds me of a quote from “The Trouble with Nigeria”, by Chinua Achebe, “The trouble with Nigeria is simply a failure of leadership…Nigerians are what they are only because their leaders are not what they should be.”

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.

The die is cast

Meaning:  used to say that a decision or a course of action has been determined and cannot be changed. (= bakin alqalami ya riga ya bushe in Hausa), e.g. The die is cast because he’s already announced his resignation.

                     Fortune favours the bold

Meaning: this refers to people who face problems with determination and courage are the ones who attain massive levels of success(Allah ya ce tashi in taimakeka 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 Isa insisted to see the manager today?

Incorrect: Why Isa insisted on seeing the manager today?

Note: Here, we “insist on/upon doing something” – and don’t “insist to…”! What’s more, we also use “insist (that)”, as in: “Isa insisted that I should do the work.”

Incorrect: I have before seen a car like that!

Correct: I have seen a car like that before!

 Note: When the word, “before” comes as an adverb of time, it appears in the end of the sentence.

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:

+ I think Isa can put a figure on the new car.

When you “put a figure on sth” you say exactly how much that thing is worth, or how much or how many of it you are talking about.

+ The reference is the missing link in the assignment.

“Missing link”, means a thing that is needed in order to make something complete.

Tips to Improve Your English ─ Hester

  • Newspapers are a good place to find passive constructs. Read through an article and see if you can find passive sentences.
  • Read for the general meaning first. Don’t worry about understanding every word, then go back and look up new words.

Thanks copiously for reading and remember ─ practice is key!

Bashir Shu’aibu Jammaje

08168757065 Twitter: @Mrbashjam


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