The ability to speak and write well in English language will continue to be a source of headache for many . This is made worse in a second language environment like Nigeria, with the numerous interferences, not least among them are poor attitude of users to the language and badly trained teachers. It is then the duty of language experts to point out the possible pitfalls and suggest workable ways to overcome the challenges of language proficiency, both for formal and informal uses.
So, rather than merely bemoan these challenges, serious-minded Nigerian academics have been wielding their pens to write books designed to resolve the numerous problems many Nigerian users of English face, both at elementary and higher levels that range from university students to users of the language in workplace environments.
One of such academics, Dr. Uche Oboko, an English language specialist at Madona University, Okija, Anambra State, has written a remarkable and practical book that will help many overcome problems with their use of English. It will also help many others trained in English to reinforce what they already know. It is titled Communicating Right in English: A Hands-On Guide to Good English Usage (Patrobas Nigeria Ltd, Awka; 2018).
Oboko’s book has 17 significant chapters that deal with the various elements that constitute effective use of English language. The mastery of any language, especially a second language, takes time and much practice. It also means being properly equipped with the right learning tools. This is what Oboko has done to help those still struggling with how to grasp the rudiments of the language have a proper handle to it and achieve success. Like any true academic, Oboko has written the book with wide consultation with other experts on the subject to give validity to her work.
The primary aim of any language is communication. And this is the take-off point for Oboko’s book. She discusses the seven elements of communication to include ‘sender,’ ‘message,’ ‘mode,’ ‘channel,’ ‘receiver,’ ‘feedback’ and ‘barrier.’
She dwells on the barriers to communication to range from the ‘physical’,’ physiological,’ ‘psychological,’ ‘phonological’ to the ‘semantic.’ She also provides guidelines for effective communication to include, ‘clarity of purpose,’ ‘choice of words,’ selection of ‘suitable channel,’ ‘appropriate timing of the message,’ avoiding ‘unnecessary details,’ and ‘using simple language’ as against the complex.
Oboko’s book is designed for readers across all spectrums of society. Students will find it invaluable for the purpose of passing their examinations, as it serves as a preparatory text that deals with all aspects of grammar, diction formation, comprehension, essay and letter writing, and spoken or oral English for proper elocution.
Communicating Right in English will also serve the general reader, who wants to have a firm grasp and better use of English, as it provides him or her some of the common mistakes in the language that rob them the chance of communicating effectively.
The creative writer is not left out in Oboko’s discourse. The creative writer, particularly the prose stylist, essayist and non-fiction writer, will find chapter two most valuable. Here, Oboko deals effectively with the concept of ‘Effective Writing’ and warns the writer of certain pitfalls that may mar his or her composition. These shortcomings include ‘repeating words,’ avoiding use of ‘redundancy,’ using ‘simple words,’ ‘avoiding clichés,’ ‘preferring active over passive voice or verbs,’ ‘avoiding ambiguity,’ and selecting ‘appropriate tone.’
Particularly for students at all levels and other category of individuals, who may find themselves in a classroom for a seminar or conference, chapter three is most apt. Titled ‘Developing Effective Listening Skill,’ Oboko takes time to distinguish between ‘hearing’ and ‘listening’ as being the sole of the learning process. Whereas many tend to hear, a few actually listen.
According Oboko, “it is often said that the best communicators are those who spend more time listening than speaking. So, the best way to be a good listener is to practice active listening. This is where you make conscious efforts to hear not only the words that another person is saying, but most importantly, to understand the complete message being sent out.”
Students will also benefit immensely from chapter four of Communicating Right in English titled ‘Developing Good Reading and Study Skills.’ Indeed, chapters four through 12 are devoted to students still grappling with the basics and mastery of English language. Chapter 13 and 14, however, provide guidelines for the corporate executive and other senior persons who may be confronted with the prospect of having to give a speech or make a report or take the minutes of meetings.
These chapters spell out helpful, workable outlines to follow for achieving successes in such corporate endeavours. Samples of speeches are also provided as guides.In the last chapter, ‘A Guide to Good English Usage,’ Oboko provides common mistakes often made in sentence construction, especially by students and other beginners.
What will also endear students and other readers to this book is that at the end of each chapter, Oboko provides useful questions that will aid the reader to evaluate his or her understanding of concepts he or she has read. This is a useful addition that will greatly aid students’ comprehension of concepts.
In Communicating Right in English, Oboko has distinguished herself as a scholar of note in the complex area of explicating a second language in a lucid manner for laymen and experts alike. This is an invaluable companion for anyone desirous of mastering the basics of English and then proceeding to its more complex areas of usage for spoken and written purposes. This is a book for all purposes and Oboko is deserving of commendation for her scholarly efforts.