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New book on English unveiled, as better funding for education canvassed


Worried by the constant mistakes and grammatical blunders many Nigerians make everyday in their speech and written communication, a lecturer of English Language, Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro, Ogun State, Obiageli Okafor has launched a book to help the citizens sharpen their communication skills and use the language more effectively.

Speaking at the launch and public presentation of the book titled English Language Usage and Communication Skills, held in Lagos recently, the author observed that decline in reading culture, particularly among the youth contributed significantly to the growing inappropriate use of the language in the country.

She said: “Our students don’t read anymore. Give them assignment, they don’t want to go to the library. Rather, they prefer to open their phones and get information as quickly as possible. Without starting from the beginning, they just want to get to the root, and get the answer”.

Okafor noted that Nigerians have to go back to the basis and reignite the joy of reading among the youth pointing out that in the past people visit libraries to read and improve themselves.

Stressing that there are rules governing the use of the English language and those rules must be adhered to strictly to get a better environment, Okafor deplored the use of abbreviation in texts saying it is a problem associated with the emergence of the internet and social media that have degraded the uses of the language in the country.

She said: “The social media is the reason why we have all these abbreviations and it is slowing people down in their reading culture. It is not allowing them to read or speak the way they should do.”

Describing the book as tailored to address usage of English language and communication skills in the country, the author promised that it is here to teach the average Nigerians how use the language to communicate more effectively.

Okafor however called for better funding for the education sector saying school materials are hardly enough to go round.
The author also emphasized training for teachers saying government has to invest more in the teachers so that the school system would turn out well-educated and not half-baked graduates.

At the event, Okafor paid tribute to her mother, Pat Okafor who co-author the book with her describing her as educationalist and a retired journalist that she look up to as a role model.

She said the book is meant for those in secondary schools and universities.

The book reviewer, Dr. Lucky Aikabeli said the book diverged content is the author’s way of breaking the trite norm of separating the use of English from the practice of communication skills.

“It is the authors’ effort at showing, while contributing intellectually both to the fields of language and of communication; the fundamental, symbiotic relationship between language and communication”, he said.
According to him, the book is divided into fifteen chapters, which may be categorised into two parts of nine and six chapters respectively.

He said the first part discusses topics in language, its total concept and history; grammar; comprehension and essay writing; literature; and the requisite study skills for the reader’s active competence.

The second part, he said, discussed topics in communication and its forms, as realised in oral presentations, correspondence and report writing – the last two of which are primarily guided by the adequate knowledge of registers and the expression of meaning such as denotation and connotation.

Aikabeli described the book as primarily a traditional approach to the teaching of the use of English and communication.
He said the advantage of traditional grammar as a model that states definitive rules for the effective use of language and its practical result, which is communication, makes the book comprehensible to its target readers.

Deputy Commissioner of Police, Olawale Olokode represented the Lagos State Commissioner of Police at the event.

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