English Language SS1

Week 1

Contents:

Oral English: Voiced and Unvoiced Sounds

Reading Skills

Vocabulary

A. Introduction

Many sounds in English go in pairs. This means that they are the same but one is “voiced” while the other is “unvoiced” (voiceless).  When a sound is voiced, the vocal cords vibrate. When a sound is unvoiced, the vocal cords do not vibrate.

Why not put this to test? Put your hand to your larynx (the protruding part of your throat below your chin). Then make a long ‘mmmm’ sound. Can you feel the vibration? This is because ‘mmmm’ is a voiced sound.

Then still with your hand on your larynx, make a ‘ssss’ sound. There is no vibration. This because ‘ssss’ is an unvoiced or voiceless sound.

The pairs of unvoiced and voiced sounds in English are listed below.

Unvoiced Voiced
/s/ /z/
/k/ /g/
/p/ /b/
/f/ /v/
/t/ /d/
/θ/ /ð/
/ʃ/ /Ʒ/
/t ʃ/ /dƷ/

The /θ/ and /ð/

These are two different sounds, both represented in spelling by ‘th’. Many Nigerians find them difficult because they are not found in Nigerian languages.

Examples of  the /θ/ sound

think, thank, thief, thirty, bath, breath, pathway

Examples of the /ð/ sound

northern, that, there, the, smooth, breathe, bathe

Test

From the words lettered A to D, choose the word that has the same sound

1. health

a. their

b. threaten

c. father

d. further

2. rather

a. seventh

b. enthusiasm

c. southern

d. path

Solution

1. b. threaten

2. c. southern

B. Reading Skills

Are you an efficient reader? As you continue your secondary education, your reading load is going to get heavier and heavier.

This means that you are going to have to learn to be an efficient reader if you wish to survive. Below are some useful hints to help you to read more efficiently.

  1. Let your reading speed depend on the purpose for which you are reading. Many students read everything at the same speed slowly. In class, they often read even more slowly, as though they were trying to impress their teacher with their conscientiousness! In fact, you only need to read more slowly when it is important to extract every bit of meaning from the text. Often, this is not necessary – a basic understanding of the text is all that is needed.
  2. Avoid the following bad habits which may slow you down: a. Pointing at the words as you read. b. Moving your head as you read. c. Moving your lips or whispering the words as you read. d. ‘Silent Speech’: Don’t even say the words to yourself as you read. e. Reading each word one at a time.
  3. Read the words in their natural groups. That way they will mean more and be easier to understand.

Try the above skills while reading this comprehension:

THE  BROWN’S FAMILY

It is amazing how members of the same family can be different in character and interests. Take Taiwo and Kehinde for example. Taiwo is the first born and he is very different from his sister Kehinde.

Their father Mr Tola Brown is a very popular psycho-analyst with a great understanding of young people, their problems and behaviors both inside and outside the classroom and their homes. Their Mother Tunmi is a nurse at a local hospital.

Mr Brown is the youngest of four – he has two older sisters and one older brother. Each of his brother and sisters followed a completely different career path, indicating deep differences in character and interest.

The eldest in the family Teniola married a doctor, Dr Olulana and they live in Ibadan. She is a very good event organiser who also works as a secretary in a local high school.

Her younger sister, Tade deals in clothing. She sells both cloth and clothes, and has a good business sense. She is also very creative and recently started her own fashion line. She has sales outlets in Lagos, Abuja and Kano and she is working on exporting some of her designs to New York and London.

The next person in the family, Mr Tunde is an entrepreneur with interest in computer innovations and technology. He specializes in computer software. He travels a great day, both in Nigeria  and abroad. Based in Abuja, he frequently visits Ikeja and Porthacourt.

They are all completely different, yet if you meet them at a family gathering, you could easily see that they are a closely-knit family and they are similar both in looks and mannerism.

C. Vocabulary

Vocabulary means the total number of words a learner (student) knows in a peculiar language.

TYPES OF VOCABULARY

  • Active Vocabulary
  • Passive Vocabulary

Active Vocabulary refers to the number of words a learner knows and uses it both in speech and writing

Examples of vocabulary

  ENGLISH YORUBA HAUSA IGBO FRENCH
Miracle 4000 1000 100 5000 20
Active 2800 25 2 2000 5
Passive 1200 975 98 3000 15

 

Vocabulary: Eng + Yor + Hausa + Igbo + French – 10, 120

Positive  vocabulary refers to the number of words a learner knows but hardly use them in a speech writing.

  ENGLISH YORUBA HAUSA IGBO FRENCH
Goodnews 10,800 1200 4,800 980 1200
Active 6200 68 4,120 300 420
Passive 4,600 1,135 680 680 780

 

Calculate

  1. The vocabulary = 18,980
  2. The active vocabulary = 11,105
  3. The passive vocabulary = 7, 875

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