How to keep up with your English during the Holidays

The English language is permanently evolving and developing constantly as new words are created or adopted from other languages. New expressions and words are coined and existing words change their meanings as society, culture and technology progresses.  Words also become fashionable to use and like clothes go in and out of fashion. Keeping up with all the changes can be fun but challenging.

  1. Oral Practice – The best way of keeping up with your English is by practising it often, talking to those you know who speak  good English is one way of improving your own. Practising with your friends (while gisting) who speak well is also another way of improving your knowledge of English.
  2. Reading Widely – WASSCE examiners often remark that they can tell who the best candidates are : they are clearly those whose use of language has improved because they have developed the habit of reading widely. So keep reading!!! Use your leisure time to read, read stories, literature novels, newspapers e.t.c. Read publications meant for teenagers. Often new, hip words appear first in print dedicated to young audiences. As their usage becomes more established, the words will appear in more generally targeted media. Check out magazines or internet sites on topics which interest you and have a focus toward young readers. Read technology-related stories and publications. A large number of new words start as words to describe a new technology or capability. Staying abreast of trends and developments in the areas of computers, electronics, and science will keep your English on the cutting edge.
  3. Poetry – Looking at some of the poems in your English text and how interesting they are, you would be forgiven for doubting the idea that poetry is supposed to be enjoyable. It is true that many poems are very difficult to understand and that their potential for enjoyment is limited. Indeed, this applies to many of the poems on the literature syllabus. We urge you to see poetry as a source of enjoyment. In the holidays, why not look at some poetry anthologies, and find a poem you really like – and bring it to the next school term for others to share your enjoyment. Why not try writing a poem or two yourself? Any incident, large or small – a kolanut, meeting a friend, an accident, starting or ending a relationship – can trigger a poem.
  4. Visit Dictionary Sites –  Most dictionary sites include sections addressing words which were recently added to the dictionary. Check out Internet sites which track new words. Use search terms like “new English words” or “new words” to find words being added to the English language.
  5. English Quiz: Take English tests and quizzes. They can be fun and can also improve you.

Common errors

These verbs are frequently misused.

Request: Do not use ‘for’ after the verb request.

Example: She requested them to stop drinking

Make: The pattern after ‘make’ is object + infinitive, without to.

Example: She made them stop talking

Enable: The pattern is object + to + infinitive

Example: The flight enabled them to get to Lagos early.