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Feb 10, 2018

The difference between BALANCE and CHANGE (in monetary terms)

The difference between BALANCE and CHANGE (in monetary terms)

I have heard and seen some English teachers correct their students for saying "Give me my change." Their argument is that "balance" should be used instead of "change" for reasons best known to them. As a result, they advise their students to say "Give me my balance". Do you agree with this?
The difference between BALANCE and CHANGE (in monetary terms)
Well, no matter how convincing their reason may sound, I think they are wrong if not ignorant. It is never wrong to say "Give me my change." In monetary terms, a ​change​ is the "money given back when a customer hands over more than the exact price of an item." Simply put, change is the amount you receive  ​for paying in excess (that is, more than required amount). However, a ​balance​ is the amount you ​pay​ in addition to what has already been paid in order to clear your debt. It is the difference between an amount due and an amount paid. Before I proceed, check out some definitions of these terms on some online English dictionaries.
Definition of change by

English App

Check out the third definition.

Oxford dictionary
For example, if a bag costs #500, and you give the seller #1000, you have a change of #500 to receive because you paid more than the required amount. On the other hand, if a bag cost #100, but you could only pay #50, you have a ​balance​ of #50 to give the seller in order to clear your debt.

Sentence examples
1. Driver, you are supposed to give me a ​change​ of #50.
2. I still had a ​balance​ of 500 dollars to add up after making the first payment.

In a nutshell, both balance and change are very correct but not used in the same context. You receive​ a change (from a seller) but ​pay​ a balance (to a seller). Use these words appropriately.

Feb 8, 2018

Reasons why English teachers shouldn't always correct their students' mistakes

Reasons why English teachers shouldn't always correct their students' mistakes

Some teachers of English as a Second Language (henceforth ESL) are yet to realise that learning a language like English poses a whole lot problems even among native speakers let alone second learners of the language. Consequently, they always expect their students to speak flawlessly and will never hesitate to correct them if they do otherwise. On the other hand, there are ESL teachers who rarely or never correct their students' mistakes for reasons best known to them. Which category do you fall into, or which approach do you adopt?
Reasons why English teachers shouldn't always correct their students' mistakes 
Well, in my point of view, both approaches have serious weaknesses hence shouldn't be adopted by ESL teachers. The attitude of the first category of teachers will make the students nervous; thus, they won't be able to communicate effectively and fluently. Students may even lose motivation and shy away from using the language. The attitude of the second category of teachers will produce students who are very outspoken and fluent in ungrammatical sentences.

Therefore, ESL teachers should adopt a middle or balanced approach – an approach that neither gives room to incessant nor zero correction of students' mistakes. This approach will help both the teacher and the students.

The cruxes of the middle approach
1. In this approach, the students are allowed to speak freely while the teacher takes note of the mistakes made by the students in course of speaking.

2. The teacher groups these mistakes in topics, makes a note of each topic and plans an activity for a later lesson. In course of the lesson, the students take note of their mistakes and learn to avoid them when speaking or writing.

3. The teacher corrects the students only when it is necessary. The question is, "When is it necessary to correct students' mistakes?"

When should an English teacher correct students' mistake?
1. English teachers should correct students when they lack the right word or phrase to use. When students get stuck in their speech due to their inability to get the appropriate word or phrase, the teacher can help them out by mentioning the word or phrase. This will not only enhance communication but will also motivate the students.

2. English teachers should correct students if their speech will lead to misunderstanding. If a student is explaining a past event using present verb forms, he/she should be corrected in order not to confuse the listener(s).

How to correct ESL students when they make mistakes
In order to make your students not to repeat a corrected mistake, you have to take these points into consideration when correcting their mistakes:

1. You should explain to the students why it is a mistake. Pointing out a student's mistake to him/her without explaining why it is a mistake is like giving that student a test on what you didn't teach him/her. Unfortunately, this is the attitude of most ESL teachers. Students are more motivated to understand correct English when they understand why the wrong English is wrong.
2. Never hesitate to show the students a better way of saying it after telling them why it is wrong. You can as well give more examples that are similar to the mistake(s) being corrected, stating their forms and usage.

In sum, making mistakes, errors and corrections are part of the learning process of a language. However, the way one corrects the mistakes or errors made by a language learner greatly determines the learner's attitude towards that language. Therefore, ESL teachers should always adopt an approach that will instill in the minds of their students a positive attitude towards the language. If I must suggest, the middle or balanced approach is much more appropriate for teaching a language like English.

Jan 29, 2018

Reasons why Nigerians and indeed Africans should celebrate Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Reasons why Nigerians and indeed Africans should celebrate Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

We had always thought that the African identity was only battered in literary texts maybe because we were among "the doubting Thomases" of our time and weren't born into any of the societies these writers project in their literary works. However, with the recent happenings across the world, it is an undeniable fact that literary texts reflect the society we live in. Apart from our kids and the unborn generation(s), we no longer need literary texts like Athol Fugard's Sizwe Bansi is Dead, Lorraine Hansberry's A Raising in the Sun, Richard Wright's Native Son and Black Boy, and Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness to expose the deliberate attempts of the West to batter the identity of anything that is African either by birth or skin colour as the drama is now on REPLAY on a daily basis.
Reasons why Nigerians and indeed Africans should celebrate Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 
Westerners had always seen Africans as savage beings since time immemorial, and the present generation of the West is not thinking of wiping this ill perception of Africa off her mind yet. Joseph Conrad, in his classic tale, Heart of Darkness, describes Africa as a wild "dark" and "uncivilized" continent. In one of his writings, John Locke, a merchant who sailed to West Africa in 1561, describes Africans as "...people without heads having their mouth and eyes in their breast." As if that wasn't enough, few weeks ago, the President of the United States of America, Donald Trump, referred to all African countries as "shithole countries". The recent attack on the Nigerian personality, and by extension, the African identity by a French journalist, Caroline Broué, cannot be swept under the carpet. During an on-stage interview with the Nigerian-born writer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, at the launch of the "La Nuit Des Idees" (The night of ideas) in Paris, Caroline Broué indirectly but intentionally debased the Nigerian identity when she asked the writer whether or not Nigeria has bookshops. This question of the French journalist suggests nothing other than portraying Nigeria as a country of illiterates with no reading culture. By extension, according to Adichie, the question "...was about giving legitimacy to a deliberate, entitled, tiresome, sweeping, base ignorance about Africa." It was obvious that Adichie had no patience for such arrant nonsense hence her savage reply, "I think it reflects poorly on France that you asked that question."

The West's continual projection of Africa as barbaric, uncultured, ever-backward and a continent whose inhabitants are animals in human form despite her noticeable achievements in the international community shares striking similarities with Adichie's definition of a single story. According to Adichie, a single story "shows a people as one thing, as only one thing over and over again, and that thing is what they become." The single story creates a stereotype and makes one story to become the only story of a people. It is, therefore, obvious that Caroline Broué has a single story about Nigeria by stating that the French knew nothing about Nigeria aside Boko Haram and the insecurity problems caressing the nation. Caroline Broué's claim is not only a sheer display of hypocrisy but a validation of the claim that Westerners deliberately demean the African identity.

As regards this issue, African writers have never remained mute; through their pens, they have countered the ill perception of Africa by their Western counterparts. Prominent among them was Chinua Achebe who used his first novel, Things Fall Apart, to counter Joseph Conrad's uncouth perception of Africans and Africa. The most prolific writer of her generation, Adichie, is not left out in this fierce battle. She has fought tooth and nail to preserve anything that is African. Her recent peaceful quarrel with the French journalist, Caroline Broué, is a clear indication that Adichie is one of those Africans who will never trade the African heritage for anything, not even a good treat. Adichie's savage response to the interviewer's debasing question about Nigeria has won her precious places in the hearts of many individuals across the globe, the French inclusive. If you are looking for any reason to love Adichie, or triple your love for her, either of these reasons should end your search.

On the occasion of the "questionable question" asked by the French journalist, Adichie brilliantly divested intellectual battle from bloodshed. She made a firm and clear statement which spared Nigeria grave debasement and international ridicule, delivering it with so masterly a calm that wouldn't call for any French retaliation nor reflect any ulterior motive or intention. She has shown that Nigeria does not only have bookshops but also has sound thinkers and scholars.

She sets our nation Nigeria conspicuously on the world map. Adichie apparently takes a backpack of Nigeria with her as she tours the nations of the world. She has attained lofty heights and has managed to maintain relevance within the international space. She continually brings glory to Nigeria and is unrelenting in her defence of the nation as well as the portrayal of its image in positive light.

She has remained indigenously African in lifestyle, art and values despite the major part of her life spent abroad. She has not been swallowed up by the lifestyle, philosophy and mundane activities of the Western world but continually projects the African ideals in her works. The Nigerian setting and particularly the Igbo culture and the language remain familiar materials in her works.

She is a testimony of intellectual success at a time when majority think education should be relegated to the background as it doesn't really make anyone great nor achieve resounding feats. She has proven beyond every reasonable doubt that knowledge is great power. Describing Adichie in the wake of her writing career in his lifetime, the Late Chinua Achebe said: "Here is a new writer endowed with the gift of ancient storytellers...Adichie came almost fully made". Sustaining the good legacy of Late Achebe, she successfully paves a contemporary pathway for young Nigerian scholars to thrive. She is a national role model who has earned her spot, fitting in snugly.

It seems to be that there is a gargantuan African tongue that has been deployed by the eternally remarkable Chinua Achebe of blessed memory, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and few others. Adichie has cut a big portion of this continental tongue with which she has successfully filled her mouth. Tamuno Aribibia Reuben and Boma Batubo think it is expedient that all genuine Africans through whose veins the beautiful black blood flows pick up intellectual knives and cut off portions of this massive tongue for themselves if our identity must be defended and the precious image of our continent salvaged.

Co-author: Boma Batubo
Common English Errors you ignorantly make: A compilation of Tammy's online English tutorials

Common English Errors you ignorantly make: A compilation of Tammy's online English tutorials

Below are some common English errors you ignorantly make. Make sure you avoid using them after reading this article.
Common English Errors you ignorantly make: A compilation of Tammy's online English tutorials 
1. Don't Say: You're taking it personal.
Say: You're taking it personally.

Reason: "Personal" is an adjective, so it can't qualify or modify the verb "taking" in the sentence. "Personally" is in the right position to do so since it is an adverb. An adverb modifies a verbs, adjectives and fellow adverbs.

2. Don't Say: The reason is because...
Say: The reason is that...
Say: It is because... (depending on the sentence structure).

Reason: "Because" is used to state a reason or cause. Therefore, placing both words together is somewhat tautological.

3. Don't Say: Get my stuffs ready.
Say: Get my stuff ready (regardless of the number).

Reason: Like "luggage", the word "stuff" does not take a plural marker. It remains "stuff" irrespective of the number.

4. Don't Say: Free gift
Say: Gift or freebie.

Reason: A gift is something that is given for free, so adding "free" to the word makes it tautologous.

5. Don't ever use "severally" to mean "several times" because both words are semantically different. Whereas several times means "many times", severally means "individually" or "separately".

6. Don't say: My names are...
Say: My name is...

Reason: The number of words in your name collectively projects your identity. Whether your name  has three words or more words, e.g., "Tammy Trust Reuben", they all sum up to give you an identity. You can't be "Tammy" in one occasion, and be "Reuben" in other occasion. "Tammy Trust Reuben" is what we refer to as your "full name".  However, you might decide to give your name in parts depending on the environment you find yourself, but that does not make you a different individual.

Again, if you can't say, the titles of the book ARE "The English language in Nigeria", you shouldn't say, my names ARE "Tammy Trust Reuben". Just like the name of a person, the title of a book consists of several words, but we don't pluralize the title of a book because of the number of words it is made up of. We usually say, "The title of the book is..."

Professionally, we say it is a singular noun phrase or a collective noun hence doesn't need a plural verb.

Here is another way to look at its usage. Can you say, "Tammy Trust Reuben ARE the owner of the car"? No! This is because Tammy Trust Reuben refers to one person despite the number of words that make up the name. But you can confidently say, "Tammy Trust Reuben IS the owner of the car".

Therefore, it should be "my name is...", and not otherwise.

7. Don't Say: There is no two ways about it.
Say: There are no two ways about it.

Reason: A plural noun should take a plural verb. Therefore, "two ways" should take "are" and not "is".

8. When travelling by bus,
Say: I'm on the bus.
Don't Say: I'm in the bus.

Reason: Click here to read the reason.

9. Don't Say She delivered a baby boy.
Say: She was delivered of a baby boy.

Reason: "she delivered a baby boy" is non standard and also ambiguous in the Nigerian context.

10. Don't Say: Lacking behind.
Say: Lagging behind.

Reason: "lacking behind" is the Nigerian version of the standard expression, "lagging behind".

11. Don't say: Crack your brain.
Say: Wrack/Rack your brain.

Reason: Your brain is not a wall.

12. Don't say: Don't repeat that again.
Say: Don't repeat that.

Reason: The use of "repeat" and "again" makes the sentence tautologous.

13. Don't say: The book comprises of three chapters.
Say: The book comprises three chapters.
Say: The book is comprised of three chapters.

Reason: unlike "consist", "comprise" does not collocate with the preposition "of". However, there is an exception to this rule. When "comprise" takes its past participle form with the help of a "be" verb preceding it, it can collocate with the preposition "of".

The "be" verb has eight variants: be, am, is, are, was, were, being, been. Therefore, we can also say, "The books are comprised of...", "The books were comprised of...", and so on. Once you take any of these eight variants and place it before the verb, "comprise", you get "comprised", which can collocate with "of", thereby giving you "comprised of". This is the only exception.

14. Don't say: I forgot my phone at home.
Say: I left my phone at home.

Reason: When you use the verb "forget", you don't state the place where you left the item.

15. Don't say: Letterhead paper.
Say: Letterhead.

Reason: One of the definitions of "letterhead" is "a paper marked with letterhead". Therefore, heading "paper" to the word "letterhead" is a needless repetition.

16. Don't say: I have a running nose.
Say: I have a runny nose.

Reason: As regards this, "runny" is the correct adjective and not "running". Moreover, your nose is not an athlete. Lol!

17. Don't Say: I have a running stomach.
Don't Say: I have a runny stomach.
Say: I have an upset stomach.

Reason: This is a case of collocation, and in this regard, "upset" collocates with "stomach".

18. Did you know that the word, "copious" has nothing to do with "copy"?. "Copious" means vast in quantity, e.g., copious examples. English can be crazy at times.

19. Don't Say: ATM Machine, GTB Bank, PIN Number, BVN Number etc.
Say: ATM, GTB, PIN, BVN etc.

Reason: The last word in each of these abbreviations is a reduplication of the final letter in each of the abbreviation. For example, "ATM Machine" can be rewritten as "Automated Teller Machine Machine".

20. The principal invited my friend and ...... to his office.
(a) I
(b) ME

Reason: You use "me" if the nouns/pronouns can be replaced with "us" whereas you use "I" if they can be replaced with "we".

Now let's analyse the sentence:

"The principal invited my friend and ME to his office."

The above sentence can as well be written as:
"The principal invited US to his office."

You can see that "my friend" and "me" have been replaced with "us" without altering the grammaticality or meaning of the sentence.

You can't say, "The principal invited WE to his office" because "we" cannot replace "my friend or me"; it can only replace "my friend" and "I".

Below is a sentence example where "we" can correctly replace "my friend" and "I", and this will be the passive voice of our sentence of analysis:

"My friend and I were invited by the principal."

The above sentence can be rewritten as "We were invited by the principal", and not "Us were invited by the principal." This is because "my friend and I" can only be replaced with "we".

Therefore, use "me" if it can be replaced with "us" and use "I" if it can be replaced with "we".


You can also get the right pronoun to use by using this method. In other words, you can as well look at the sentence from this angle.
Can you say, "The principal invited I to his office" if you remove "my friend and" from the sentence? The answer is NO. But you can say, "The principal invited ME to his office" if you delete "my friend and" from the sentence.

Therefore, "me" is the correct option!

This page will be updated on a daily basis. Therefore, it is important you bookmark it, revisit it daily or download our android app. Should you have any English word that is wrongly used by learners of English, kindly use the comment box to state it. 

Jan 20, 2018

What is the actual meaning of the "RSVP" on a wedding (invitation) card? Find out!

What is the actual meaning of the "RSVP" on a wedding (invitation) card? Find out!

The term RSVP comes from the French phrase, “Respondez, s'il vous plait", which means “Please respond". However, its use, over the years, has changed, especially in countries where English is taught and learnt as a second language. This is one reason you shouldn't be lost in amazement when a Nigerian tells you that RSVP means "Rice and Stew Very Plenty", which means there will be abundance of food in the wedding for guests' consumption. LOL! I can't really tell where this strange meaning emanated from, but I'm sure it is a way of making most persons attend the wedding since food is one of the basic needs of man. Or can it be attributed to ignorance?
What is the actual meaning of the "RSVP" on a wedding (invitation) card? Find out!
Originally, when a couple sent you a wedding invitation, it was expected that you indicate in writing or call whether you would be able to honour the invitation. The number or address given at the RSVP section was the "recipient address" to direct your reply. This was to help them in making arrangements for food and other things. Unlike in the Nigerian setting where total strangers attend weddings, then, weddings were strictly by invitation and foods were served according to the number of people who responded that they would be able to make it. 

However, in today's usage, there is a twist in the actual meaning of RSVP. Apart from the strange and hilarious meaning given to it in Nigeria, most persons have mistaken RSVP for officiating minister, so they put their pastor's name and number there. I first realized this when I saw a member of church seriously questioning a couple for not including a pastor's name in the RSVP section as one of the officiating ministers. "Could this be a joke?", I asked myself, but later realized that the supposed joke is a common practice in this part of the world when my friend showed me numerous wedding cards with the names and phone numbers of officiating ministers in the RSVP section. I have seen very few wedding cards without this new usage ever since. 

Again, It will interest you to know that most persons also call on the numbers in the RSVP section to verify the wedding location, the wedding colours,  and perhaps the choice of gift to present. This is, indeed, a new tread; it wasn't like this. The real thing was that a guest who wanted to know the choicest gift to give the couple usually called the mother of the bride because it was believed that she knew the best choices of her daughter. This is a clear indication that attending a wedding was strictly by invitation.

With the current use of RSVP in this part of the world, it is obvious that the table has been turned around, and from all indications, the use of the term (RSVP) today has come to stay. The question is, "Should we continue using it (RSVP) the way we've understood it or subscribe to its actual usage?" After all, language is dynamic.

Jan 15, 2018

ENGLISH LANGUAGE: Second term's scheme of work for JSS 1 - 3

ENGLISH LANGUAGE: Second term's scheme of work for JSS 1 - 3

All junior secondary school teachers and students of English should have this for proper prior preparation.
ENGLISH LANGUAGE: Second term's scheme of work for JSS 1 - 3


Resumption Test (It can also be used for revision of last term's work).

i. Reading comprehension.
ii. Letter writing (formal and informal).
iii. Conjunction.
iv. Consonant cluster; e.g., respect, sprinkle, attacked, string etc.

i. Reading comprehension on contemporary issues highlighting knowledge levels.
ii. Elements of composition.
iii. Reading of selected passages for highlighting prepositions.
iv. Consonant cluster; e.g., splash, spread, struggle, streams, strong, scream etc.

i. Reading comprehension.
ii. Importance of composition writing: communication, information, record keeping, entertainment.
iii. Reading of selected passages for highlighting adverbs, conjunctions and prepositions.
iv. Diphthong: /ei/-- Mary, day, grey, they, pain etc.

i. Reading to understand the Author's mood: Anger, happiness, doubt.
ii. Writing: Arrangement of ideas in logical sequence.
iii. Selected passages for highlighting prepositions, verbs and conjunctions.
iv. Diphthongs: /ou/ --- /әu/, e.g., so, go, comb etc.

i. Reading comprehension to understand Author's mood.
ii. Writing in full the points (of an essay) in sequential order.
iii. Adjectives.
iv. Diphthongs: /ᴐi/, /әu/

i. Reading comprehension.
ii. Identifying features of Adverbials from a passage in peace and dialogue.
iii. Weak forms --- often, after, listen, sister, above, away, later, alone, abound, about etc.

i. Reading comprehension.
ii. Informal letter.
iii. Features of Adverbials from a passage on human rights.
iv. Listening and speaking: Main ideas from the family.

i. Reading: A passage on market.
ii. Adverbial features from a passage on "Value orientation".
iii. Listening/speaking: Drug Abuse.

i. Reading comprehension.
ii. Identifying features of tenses from passage on "Peace and Dialogue".
iii. Listening/speaking: Child labour and trafficking.

i. Reading comprehension.
ii. Writing: Transport and travelling (road transport).
iii. Tenses (present).
iv. Listening/speaking: Global warming.

WEEK 12/13


Resumption Test.

i. Reading to identify meanings of words in context.
ii. Writing: An Application for Employment.
iii. Diphthong: /ei/.
iv. Correlative conjunction.

i. Reading for speed.
ii. Elements of composition.
iii. Diphthong: /ai/.
iv. Preposition with time and date; e.g., on Christmas day, In August 1981 etc.

i. Reading for speed.
ii. Elements of composition --- The body.
iii. Stress pattern
iv. Two syllabic words with stress on the first syllable; e.g., lawyer, tailor, speaker, etc.
v. Active and passive verbs.

i. Reading to identify the intention of the Author.
ii. Elements of composition --- The conclusion.
iii. Three syllabic words with stress on the first syllable.
iv. Adverbial phrases.

i. Reading comprehension.
ii. Writing an outline.
iii. Stress pattern: Number stress.
iv. Adjectives --- Comparative forms.

i. Reading for critical evaluation: Identifying facts presented by the Author.
ii. Formal letter.
iii. Diphthong: /ᴐi/ --- boy, boil, coin, etc.
iv. Active and passive voice.

i. Reading comprehension.
ii. Writing: Composition on "Poverty and hunger", "Day I will never forget".
iii. Rhymes: Two words that end with the same sound.
iv. Future tense (will, shall).

i. Reading to increase vocabulary.
ii. Informal letter.
iii. More on stress pattern.
iv. Adverbs, conjunctions and prepositions in selected passages.

i. Reading for speed.
ii. Narrative essay.
iii. Introduction to intonation.
iv. Nouns forming regular plurals; e.g., kiss --- kisses, boy --- boys etc.

WEEK 11/12


Resumption Test.

i. Intonation.
ii. Stress and Rhythm.
iii. Listening to speeches on the following: Human Right, Gender issues etc.
iv. Composition (types).
v. Adverbial: Adverbial of manner, purpose, frequency, etc.
vi. Tenses.
vii. Reading for speed and accuracy.

i. Long and short vowels /i/, /i:/.
ii. Summary writing --- Identification of topic sentences.
iii. Identification of weak forms: above, alone, abound, etc.
iv. Reading for critical evaluation.

i. Phrases and Question tags.
ii. Summary writing.
iii. Modifiers (Adjectives and adverbs).
iv. Reading comprehension to grasp meaning.

i. Reading a descriptive composition,
ii. Narrative composition: Write a composition on "The fight I witnessed recently".
iii. Introduction to synonyms.
iv. Reading: Chanting a poem.

i. Speaking skills (conversation among students).
ii. Summary writing.
iii. Modal verbs and adverbials: Using modal verbs and adverbials to express willingness and unwillingness.

i. Listening/speaking: Asking and answering questions.
ii. Letter writing: Informal letter.
iii. Reading to analyse, judge and give opinion.

i. Consonant sound /h/ in h-occurring and non-occurring words; e.g., home (hour), house (honour), etc.
ii. Informal letter (its features).
iii. The use of conjunctions, prepositions and interjections.
iv. Summarising in number of sentences.

i. Intonation.
ii. Letter writing: Letter of Application, complaint.
iii. Reading comprehension.

i. Listening/speaking: Contrasting the voiceless /θ/ and the voiced /ᵭ/
ii. Formal letter (types): Letter to business organisation, letter of application for employment etc.
iii. Modal verbs.
iv. Reading comprehension.

WEEK 11/12