Skip to main content

You don't learn by merely speaking. ..
By chukwudi Anagbogu

The use of the English Language had been inevitable in Nigeria, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.  Apart from the fact that it is our lingua francs, the heterogeneous nature of Nigeria has made it imperative that we continue to place its mastery at the helm of teaching and learning, right from the cradle of education to its apex.  The most important reason, perhaps why the use of the English Language is inevitable, at least for now, is that it is the language of formal education, as well as its role in inter-ethnic communication. Thus, everyone strives to master the use of the English Language, and today, every parent derives glee and ecstasy seeing one's child communicate freely in the English Language, relegating to the background our indigenous language.

One of the most controversial topics on the teaching and learning of the English Language is  "the best way to achieve competence in the speaking and writing of the English Language. "  A lot of linguists and academics have proffered ways of doing this.  The commonest way, which had never worked, but which is widely believed to work is the theory of relegating our indigenous languages to the background, while using the English Language in our day to day lives. This, according to the adherents of this belief will ensure a mastery of the language. Thus, you see parents placing a prime on the use of the English Language in their homes. They force their wards to dispel the thought of using their mother tongues in any form or by any means. This can mostly be found among the so-called 'city children.'  As a teacher of the English Language with over a decade experience, I can authoritatively state that this method has made children worse speakers of the English Language than intended. Most good users of the English Language are equally proficient in their mother tongues. Great scholars like Wole Soyinka, the late Chinua Achebe, Chukwuemeka Ike, etc are as good in English as they are in their respective mother tongues. In fact, someone like Achebe was able to plough his competence in his native language into his literary works to great perfection!

The much maligned  "transliteration" is more inherent on children who had no basic knowledge of their mother tongues, except for those who were born and bred outside the shores of the country. Statements like   "I will first you to come ",  "use your hand and do it,"  "I carry your name in the head, " to mention but a few are hallmarks of the English Language usage among the  "township children."  Watch out for them during the yuletide. They will always say,  "I don't hear Igbo /Yoruba /Hausa " as the case may be. Funny enough most of these children attend the Montessori schools, where their parents pay through their noses to make sure they  "speak like the white."  You don't want your children to speak vernacular at all, even at home, yet you are not proficient yourself. Have you forgotten that whatever and however you speak, so will your children do.

To be proficient in the English Language, you must be a good reader of books, both literary and non-literary. Through this means, you acquire as much vocabulary as possible. The more you read, the richer your vocabulary, and the more it rubs off on your use of English. Even as you read, avoid hungry authors . Go for renowned and proven writers. Make reading a hobby, a habit and a point of duty. Endeavor to Look up new words in the dictionary. At the same time, read up dailies (newspapers, magazines, etc) . Remember, a reader is a leader. Being rich in vocabulary would even aid students in reading notes, text books and exam questions.

Again, it is important to communicate in the English Language, without sidelining the mother tongue. The two should be used when appropriate. When you speak and commit errors, do not feel deterred. Accept corrections with courtesy. It is he who likes you that corrects you. Your enemy will mock and make a jest of you when you make a mistake.

To be continued. ...


Popular posts from this blog

My Grandma series 1 (Chukwudi Anagbogu)

 I was among the few privileged ones to have lived with my grandmother during my childhood. My grandma had visited us for the “omugwo” of my younger sibling. At the ‘expiration` of three months, she had opted to stay longer because as she would always say, “anywhere one stays is one's home.”  My siblings and I received news of her “extension” with mixed feelings. Our concerns were borne out of her strictness. She was so strict that sometimes you wondered how my mother-her daughter survived childhood under her watch. It was during her stay that my immediate elder brother and I stopped bedwetting. Hitherto, my parents had employed all manner of tactics to stop us from betwetting, all to to avail. First, my mum had tried reducing our water intake, especially at nights. According to her, not taking enough water would reduce the urge to urinate at night. The strategy seemed to work initially, as we did not bed wet for three consecutive days. On the fourth day however, the unthinkable ha


   Full Book Summary In the late winter months of 1801, a man named Lockwood rents a manor house called Thrushcross Grange in the isolated moor country of England. Here, he meets his dour landlord, Heathcliff, a wealthy man who lives in the ancient manor of Wuthering Heights, four miles away from the Grange. In this wild, stormy countryside, Lockwood asks his housekeeper, Nelly Dean, to tell him the story of Heathcliff and the strange denizens of Wuthering Heights. Nelly consents, and Lockwood writes down his recollections of her tale in his diary; these written recollections form the main part of Wuthering Heights. Nelly remembers her childhood. As a young girl, she works as a servant at Wuthering Heights for the owner of the manor, Mr. Earnshaw, and his family. One day, Mr. Earnshaw goes to Liverpool and returns home with an orphan boy whom he will raise with his own children. At first, the Earnshaw children—a boy named Hindley and his younger sister Catherine—detest the dark-skinned


 Questions And Answers On The Life Changer  Chapter 7 How much did Dr Kabir demand from Salma? Dr. Kibir demanded a bribe of two hundred thousand naira from Salma but she declined his request and said she didn’t have that amount. How did Habib assist Salma? Habib gave Salma the money she needed to bribe the Chairman of the Exams Malpractice and Ethics Committee. How did Salma plan to save herself from getting expelled? Salma suggested Habib should help her speak with the Chairman of the Exams Malpractice and Ethics Committee. Why was Salma shocked when she finally presented herself to the committee for questioning? Salma was surprised when she noticed that Dr. Kabir was not a member of the Exams Malpractice and Ethics Committee. Why did Salma reject Habib’s suggestion of seeking help from Proffessor Dabo? Salma rejected Habib’s suggestion because she previously had issues with Professor Dabo. Why did Salma visit Habib in his office? Salma visited Habib at his office hoping he would be