SMASH IELTS: Things To Do Before You Write I

 

Writing is hard or easy, depending on how you approach it. If you approach it with dread and disdain you will find it hard and you won’t get the best out of yourself. If you approach it with interest and a genuine desire to improve, you will find it easy. You will enjoy writing and enjoy learning how to write better.

 

IELTS writing is different from regular academic or general writing. It is designed to fail you and designed to make sure you are unsure about the requirements. In this class we how to equip you with the skills and knowledge about the requirements of the IELTS writing test (and other parts) and support you to use that to get excellent grades.

 

As earlier said, writing can be hard or easy. Today I want to share down things that can help boost your scores in IELTS writing even before you pick a pencil. (Note, the exam is written in pencil, for best results).

 

1. Read

Every writer knows this but I have to state it again: the quality of your writing can not be better than the quality of your reading.

What should you read?
That depends on how soon your exam is. If your exam is in 4-6 months or more then read widely. Visit foreign news/literary sites like the NewYorker, CNN,BBC and Time and read any articles you find interesting. Read them with the IELTS marking scheme in mind. Read them to learn new words and how to use old ones. Read them to learn idioms and expressions and figures of speech. Read.

If your exam is in less than three months, then read model essays. Before you write an essay, read a model essay. Don’t write more essays than you have read. Read.

 

2. Research

When you see a practice essay, don’t rush into writing it. Do some reasearch on the topic.
You won’t have that luxury in the exam but this will build your vocabulary and creative expression faster than trying to cram dictionaries and reference texts. Highlight new words and ideas and practice making them more coherent. Don’t write from empty as long as you can help it. Fill your head with ideas so you can use them to write brilliant essays. Remember, many essay questions and topics get repeated. The harder you work, the luckier you are likely to be.

3. Reason

When you have an essay to write, don’t rush into it. Of course you will write an introduction, a body and a conclusion; but IELTS writing is more than that. IELTS writing has to satisfy the requirements. And the first step to doing this is to

A. Understand the question.

Ask yourself what kind of essay or letter type is needed here. What are the essentials, what is the frame work? Are there subheadings I need to include to make sure I achieve the task?

 

B. Plan Your Answer

Draft what you want to write before you write it.

How many paragraphs are you going to write?

What will their topic sentences be?

How many idioms can you use, reasonably?

Where are you going to use them?

What deliberate efforts can you make to improve your essay?

C. Plan your revision process.

We will discuss this more later, but all writers know that good essays don’t happen the first time. They often go through 2-100 drafts.

You don’t have the time or resources for multiple drafts in an examination, but you can still apply the principles. Plan to polish your essay till you have a better version than the one you started with. Plan to excel.

 

I hope this short note has been helpful. I will appreciate some feedback. A show of emojis, a comment, anything to show you read this.

Thank you.

To register for classes and for consultation send an email to stnaija@gmail.com

 

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Compensation For Wives Causes TwitterNg Storm

TwitterNg is the home of  Twitter drama, it also famous for perennial gender wars; it was still unprepared for the Storm following the thread by Ozzyetomi asking men to pay their wives, this one was huge.

In a series of tweets–a thread, of you will– Ozzyetomi explained how unfair it was for women to sacrifice for the home for years and have nothing to show for it at the end, especially when married to relatively well off men.

 

After that, the battle began.

Responses were sharp and silly, affirmative and scornful, dissenting and supportive

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As usual, there was no consensus on the matter at the end of the day. Many people felt it was an absurd patronising idea.

 

While many other felt it was not even enough and asserted that every partner should have equal access to all family funds.

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While the term ‘salary’ has been an object of debate and ridicule, (Ozzyetomi later recanted the term), most people agree that women have historically been under compensated for their roles in the home. This was especially poignant in the light of a study by Welch’s that showed being a full time house wife was the equivalent of two full time jobs. Of course there was snark about that, someone asked which jobs allow you to be in pyjamas and stay on the phone all day. That, was swiftly rebuffed with a long list of jobs one can do that don’t care what you wear or how long you are on the phone.

So the science shows that being a housewife is work and most people agree they should be compensated but many men are still resistant to the idea and many women too.

Questions have been raised about ‘salary structure’ ‘promotions’ ‘hiring additional hands’ and so on. But while many quibble over the terminology–upkeep, salary, allowance, pay– it is undeniable that many women deserve more from their well off husbands. Any woman ( or human for that matter) who sacrifices for the home should be compensated from income that comes to the family. Even in the midst of the ruckus, one thing that cannot be denied is that women have traditionally and historically cheated and this should change. Marriages should be a union of two people to be stronger, better, and happier not a means to oppress and kill people’s dreams. Even if your partner works, if you are better off, you should contribute to make them comfortable too. And if you are a full time caree for your home, you need to plan for your welfare.

Some ways to do this include:

1. Talk finance with your fiancé. Know what you both earn now and are looking to earn in future. Agree on who will be the primary source of income and how the family finances will be structured. If you want a salary, talk about it.
2. Be very aware of the wording in documents. For example, don’t allow an agreement state Mr and Mrs Obasanjo. There may be a million Mr Obasanjo’s, make sure your first (and possibly second name is reflected).
3. If you earn much more than your spouse and they spend most of their time taking care of the home, endeavour to split your pay with them.
4. If you feel unfairly treated, speak up.
5. If you are at home, explore ways to improve your financial intelligence and stability (study, savings, investments, remote jobs, training).
6. Always keep an eye on the future: if you can’t work, maybe you can study; if not at a full time program, maybe distance learning or online.
7. Keep looking out for yourself, don’t give up on yourself, take good care of you, always.
Cheers🍸

Where is Nnamdi Kanu?

In a flamboyant show of force the Nigerian government crushed Nnamdi Kanu’s budding Biafran uprising. Operation Python, was the name given to the army exercise that invaded Abia state to squelch the uprising of the Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB) movement on September 14th, 2017.

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Members of IPOB have since been arraigned before the Federal High Court Abuja on charges of treason but Nnamdi Kanu seems to have disappeared.

Reports in the media have said he was seen in Ghana, but many people think that is just a ruse. Some Nigerians have declared that an unthinkable atrocity was committed and Nnamdi Kanu’s lawyer has called on the army to produce his client. In a statement, the Nigerian army said they do not have Mr Kanu in their custody and they are unaware of his whereabouts.

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Even though, according to Nigerian Law, Nnamdi Kanu is being charged, many people are still concerned about his welfare. It is a fundamental human right that every life be protected. Was Nnamdi Kanu’s life protected? Was he killed? Was he seen in Ghana?

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If he is alive, where are the pictures? If he is alive, why hasn’t he made any statement to allay the fears of his supporters?

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If he is dead, why isn’t there any outcry by his family in social and mainstream media?

So many questions, not enough answers, but one question remains: where is Nnamdi Kanu?

 

Why Reading Isn’t A Good CV Hobby & 20 More Suitable Options

Everyone in the job market has written an curriculum vitae or a CV. The aim is simple: to sell yourself to potential employers and convince them that you are the best person for the job. While most people understand the rudiments of bio data, education, work history and skills, many struggle with hobbies.

Hobbies may not be the first thing an employer looks at but they can be used as

• A tie break between equally skilled and qualified people

• A discussion starter to gauge communication skills (if you can’t speak well about your interests, then what hope does my company have?)

.• As a cultural fit and personality indicator

.• An indication that you can offer extra value

• As a measure of your versatility

 

So, why can’t you add reading?
First, everyone (in the modern employment world) reads. Listing it as a hobby can make you look boring, clueless or dull. “But I am none of those things!” You say. “I am interesting, innovative and intelligent. And READING IS MY HOBBY” Okay, point taken, but in that case you will have to be more specific and creative when expressing that.

For instance, you could specify the kind of material you read, think historical fiction, contemporary African fiction and/or classic literature. Or you could list it as literature (but make sure you know what that means: genres, figures of speech, etc). You could also frame it as volunteer work, for example being a first reader for a publication. And if the job is in the book industry (libraries, agencies, publishing) maybe you can write it just the way it is: reading.

To be honest, I never thought about reading as a hobby that was CV unworthy. I knew web-surfing was a no but it took a personal experience for me to realize reading wasn’t that great either.

I was interviewing new staff and I asked one of them what her hobbies were.

“I don’t have hobbies,” she said.

“Really? How? Everyone has a hobby.” I replied

“Reading,” she responded. And it was clear that was something she made up on the spot.

Maybe if she had mentioned that first and gone on to impress me with her vast knowledge of books (any type), we wouldn’t be here. But she didn’t and here we are.

So, reading and web-surfing are out. What else should you leave out of your CV? Witchcraft or any weird practices, any religious practices, eating/killing animals and treasure hunting, ‘socializing’,watching TV, and extreme or ‘dangerous’ sports.

What should you include? Hobbies that reflect on you positively and can (potentially) be useful to your employer. Consider activities in areas like

Games/Sport/Fitness

This is a beloved area for all employers. It portrays you as healthy, competitive, able to work on goals and fun. For many employers it also means you can bring them glory, for example during industry games (most sectors have them: Oil & Gas, Banking, Medicine etc).

Games like Scrabble and Chess show a love for critical thinking, calculated risk, hardworking and problem-solving.

Solo sports like running, yoga, cycling and swimming imply you are fit, motivated and healthy.

Team sports like basketball, football and volleyball show you can work on a team and are goal-oriented.

Every hobby says something. Choose wisely.

Creative Arts
Creative arts are also hobby gold. Most ‘non-creativea’ are in awe of creatives and fellow creatives usually have a sense of kin for their community. So creative writing, performing art, fine arts, craft-work are all excellent choices. Photography and Videography are also great choices who doesn’t want a great photographer for free?

Gardening/Pets/Agriculture
This is also welcome by most employers. It implies stewardship, patience, altruism and diligence. For bonus marks make it something exotic, think: Venetian roses, Pangolins, Miracle berry trees.

Exotic Interests
Pole dancing, stamp/coin collecting, bird watching, making perfumes and other unconventional hobbies are great too. They make you stand out. And they can make you memorable.

 

Finally, keep these tips in mind:

2-3 hobbies max

No lies

Keep hobbies towards the end of the CV

Make sure the rest of the CV is awesome.

And remember to share the good news when the offer comes. To your happiness, health, wealth and continued success, cheers. 🍷

 

 

 

 

Seven Reasons To Read Bolaji Abdullahi’s On A Platter Of Gold

On A Platter Of Gold, How Jonathan Won And Lost Nigeria, is Bolaji Abdullahi’s account of President Goodluck Jonathan’s rise to power and his failed re-election bid. The historical non-fiction book doubles as a political thriller with razor sharp suspense, mad twists and an unrelenting pace. I approached the book with equal parts scorn and boredom; what more did I have to learn about President Jonathan’s failed election? Hadn’t I witnessed it in real time? And how was I to endure 300 pages of historical non-fiction, without falling asleep?

The reality was a pleasant surprise.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading On A Platter Of Gold. It was an entertaining, informative, transformative experience I can recommend. I pushed it into the hand of another sceptical reader and they were hooked right way!

Here are seven reasons to read the book:

 

Read it for the content

On A Platter Of Gold covers events within recent memory that form part of the lived experience of most students of Nigerian history. There is therefore no need to concern oneself with this book, right? Wrong.

Although most people followed the events of President Jonathan’s rise to power in real time, it would be erroneous to think that was enough. A hackneyed collection of newspaper clippings, social media memes and Internet videos might give glimpses into the events but they can’t replace this vivid, painstaking, insider account.

On A Platter of Gold assembles the data, and organises it to tell a story that leaves the reader satisfied. It goes to the origins of Nigerian democracy and the struggles of present day.  Have you ever wondered how Goodluck Jonathan was chosen to be the PDP flag bearer? Have you ever wanted to know why the PDP imploded? Read this book.

 

Read It For The Experience

There is a joy-grief feeling every reader has at the end of a good book. It is like being filled with your favourite meal, you want to eat it again, but there is no space. That is the experience this book delivers. By using an omniscient point of view the writer is able to take you on an electric train ride from the creeks of Otukpo to the deserts of Kastina, the Abuja metropolis to the Sambisa forest without letting you lose interest or fall asleep. In twelve chapters, you get a masterclass in political party building, a handbook for succession planning and the post-mortem of an incumbent president’s failure at the polls.

It is hard to tell you more without giving too much away but this book makes you believe in time travel, makes you love history, makes you think about who is ruling/leading you and why.

Read It For The Humour

One thing that shocked me about On A Platter Of Gold was how funny it was. My hard copy (you should get one by the way) is full of scribbled ‘hehe’ notes and emojis. The book is full of things to laugh about. From the dashed hopes of politicians to the fickleness of rented protesters and the eternal praying president, there is so much that will have laughing out loud. Or smiling to yourself. Or scribbling in the margins. I never thought history could be humorous, this book changed my mind.

 

Read It For The Drama

Nigeria is the home to Nollywood; of one of the greatest home movie industries on the planet. We are drama, drama is us. And there is no better place to see our drama at work than in politics. On A Platter Of Gold offers generous helpings of drama in all forms. From characters whose skin erupt in Koranic verse to terrorists with ninety-nine lives and plots to steal an election that sound like a fantasy movie script, On A Platter Of Gold has it all.

 

Read It For The Questions

Before they had a chance to read the book some folk had already condemned it as lacking objectivity and being ‘full of lies.’
While author bias is real, this book appears to have been written to spur discourse rather than to take sides. There are points in the book that need closer scrutiny, further discussion. This can only happen once the book is read. I think the book raises questions of interest to the Nigerians from the South-Eastern Zone, The US government, The UK, PDP leadership, Nigerian feminists, Global security operatives and every student of history.

What are the lessons the South-East can leverage on to have a successful Presidential bid?

Is it true that the Us frustrated the Nigerian government’s anti-terrorist offensive? If so, why?

Why did the UK not provide more support?

What is needed for the PDP to rebuild, reform, resurrect?

Women are not portrayed in flatteringly in the book: Dezianni seems dishonest and pompous, the First Lady ignorant and loquacious, even Dora Akunyili looks naive and erratic. Is the writer to blame? Or are Nigerian women in politics just disappointing?

What should have been the global anti-terror response to Boko Haram? How does the response influence policies on handling similar cases when they arise?

Where do we go from here?

 

Read It For The Lessons
A wise man learns from the mistakes of others. And in On A Platter Of Gold, there are many mistakes.

For me, these mistakes were lessons: How Not To Choose Leaders, The Importance Of Consultation, Why Mentors Matter, The Best Time To Kill A Monster Is In The Craddle etc

Every reader will have their own deductions, this book is filled with teachable moments.

 

Read It For Posterity

We live in a fast changing world. But one thing that hasn’t changed is people’s love for stories. In a few years much of what is common knowledge (and keyboard outrage) will be forgotten. Reading a book like On A Platter of Gold will position you to offer sage counsel with historical accuracy (and hopefully modern use).

In any case you don’t want to be scratching your head when your grandkids read the book and want to know all about the Occupy Nigeria Protests, the Smuggled/Bungled South African arms deal and the Chibok Girls. I don’t. That is why I have read my copy, made my notes and stowed it safely in my library.

Have you read the book? Did you like it? Why would you recommend it? Why? Why not?

 

 

Your Complete Guide To Twitter Abbreviations

So. You joined Twitter. Changed your avi from an egg, wrote a bio, followed a bunch of celebrities in your fields of interest, followed some other normal folk, got followed back.

You are having a great time: reading tweets and laughing, giving some tackles here and there, just enjoying the space then you get hit by some vele, bona hakuna matata (deftly inserted Afrikaans, usually placed at the end of a very interesting tweet that began in English). You survive that. But then you find that you are being hit by abbreviations at every turn. Lol. LWKMD. LWFMD. SMH. KMT. SOML. NGL. IDK. IDC. HMU. LMK. OTP. IKR. MYB. FR.

Now the real panic sets in. And if you are like me, hours and hours later your brain ins still playing the game, a giant scrabble like puzzle where you keep trying words to make sense of it. Sometimes after a minute or two, light dawns and you realize that SOML was Story Of My Life, Idc was I don’t care and Ngl was Not gonna lie.

Other times, you aren’t so lucky. What next?

For on, you can ignore the abbreviation and its writer. This is Twitter not semester finals. If they wanted to be understood they could be clearer, adede abehe amo.*

For another, you can go on a fact-finding mission. Ask Google. Ask the Urban dictionary. DM that nerdy/hip friend on the TL that always knows what’s going on. Seek and you shall find.

You can take it a step further and ask in the thread, below the tweet, display your dated, old-fangled self for all to see. Get ready though, this can be embarrassing drawing the trolls like blood. You have been warned.

You could send the writer a DM, politely asking what the abbreviation meant. This is discrete and usually effective if you follow them and have DM access. If you don’t follow/don’t have access, don’t bother.

Ladies and gentlefolk, that it for getting through the landline of Twitter Abbreviations. Ignore, explore, inquire or not. Keep having a good time and don’t forget to share.

Love you all.

 

*Annang, means: that is their business
SMH: Shake My Head
KMT: Kiss My Teeth
HMU: Hit Me Up
LMK: Let Me Know
LWFMD:Laugh Wan Fall Me Down
LWKMD: Laugh Wan Kill Me Die
IDK: I don’t Know

OTP: On The Phone

MYB: Mind Your Business

IKR: I Know Right

FR: For Real

For Leah Sharibu, A Hero

There is a wall
in my mind where thoughts of you should be.

I can’t imagine the horror,
pain or the insults you have received.

What I do know is: you are a hero
A general of the faith, an Icon of your time

Young kids will grow up hearing your exploits, your faith and your fearlessness in the face of evil

Everyday we pray for you and one day will see you again

Till then you are on our prayers
on our lips, on our phones
in our hearts
Till we meet again.