Communication, no doubt, is one of those activities in human and animal communities that keep the communities going. The importance of communication becomes more prominent in a learning environment, especially at the tertiary level where it is assumed that there is no more educational ‘spoon feeding’. The emphasis placed on communication skills in English at the tertiary level by the designers of the university curriculum (tagged Minimum standards), is therefore justified. The undergraduate is expected to be very skillful in his/her use of the four language skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing.
The challenges brought from the secondary school level by the freshmen are so enormous that only a perfectly packaged communication skills programme can initiate them properly, and empower them sufficiently for the communication skills required to succeed at the university level. If one is not very careful in selecting the topics to be covered in a book of this nature, the tendency might be for one to overload the text with all the conceivable solutions to all the challenges brought from the lower level. Unfortunately, such a bumper text may not be a realistic solution. Beautiful enough, the National Universities Commission of Nigeria has done the selection.
The present book opens with a chapter stressing the importance and the uses of the English language in the university. This is necessary so that the freshmen would appreciate the great task ahead.
One of the most required skills at this level is reading extensively. The second chapter therefore initiates the freshmen into the task of reading by drawing their attention to the causes of bad reading and guiding them through the ways of solving the problems. One limitation created by the anticipated cost of production, is our inability to bring in various examples of reading passages from all the discipline in the university. This would turn out to be unrealistic and unaffordable. Communication skills lecturers are therefore requested to select passages relevant to the field of studies of students in their different groups.
Chapters three and four pay adequate background attention to grammar. Beginning with a discussion of what sentences in English look like and their functions, the next discussion moves on to verbs, an aspect of grammar requiring a serious attention of students for correct and effective communication in English.
Learners of English as a second language are often face with problems that can be traced to mother tongue interference. This situation occurs at lexical and syntactic levels. Chapter five pays some attention to this problem.
Chapters six and seven are carefully devoted to writing, another major skill in communication. While chapter six revises the rudiments of essay writing which the students are expected to have mastered at the secondary school level, chapter seven goes into more technical details involved in carrying out a writing task.
At one time or the other the need could arise for writing a speech or for delivering a speech publicly. The students need to be taught the techniques involved formally in the class. Chapter eight gives adequate attention to this need.
Students might be required at various stages of their studies, but more importantly towards the end of their programme to undertake researches and report on them. This task demands some skills to be learnt. Chapter nine gives the required attention to this demand. Effective language learning can never be achieved without a very strong support from literature. Hence, chapter ten shows how communication can be strongly enhanced through the contribution of literature. Chapter eleven rounds it off with a detailed analysis of the language of literacy texts as it contributes to the enrichment of communication skills. In conclusion, it must be emphasized that the selection of coverage in this book has been determined by three main factors; the needs of the students; the prescription of the Minimum Standards, and the probable size of the text. It is hoped that the staff, students and the general reading public would find the text very useful.