Aristotle and the Philosophy of Friendship: A Critical Evaluation

Purissima Egbekpalu, sjs PhD

Dept. of Philosophy

Madonna University, Nigeria



Aristotle enjoyed the credit of being referred to as one of the most famous and influential philosophers of his time, the ancient Greek era. His monumental Nichomachean Ethics (NE) was considered as the first classical systematic ethical literature to which most subsequent writers are indebted to. In chapters eight and nine of the book, he discussed extensively the issues regarding friendship and affections in various degrees of relationship. The great philosopher asserts that all human actions aim at some ends but the ultimate end of all human actions is happiness (eudaimonia). However, he hints that the attainment of true happiness is impossible without moral virtue since happiness is an activity in accordance with virtue[i]. In his understanding, friendship is a virtue. It is a prime necessity of life for no one would want to live alone. Sharing ourselves with others is the highest degree of happiness and it should be highly valued. Everyone is involved in friendship but in various categories. He distinguished three objects of liking that correspond to three major forms of friendship, namely; friendships of utility, pleasure and goodness. According to him, having and maintaining good and enduring friendship style is one of those moral traits that produce moral excellence. The hallmark of good friendship is the reciprocal disposition of 'good will' (eunoia). Aristotle is convinced that friendship binds the human community together. "Friendship holds cities together and law makers seem to take it more seriously than justice".[ii] Friendship is so highly valued that it supersedes justice. Where there is friendship, justice is no longer necessary because those involved are already just men but where there is justice, there is still need to establish friendships. "...indeed friendliness is considered to be justice in the fullest sense. It is not only a necessary thing but a splendid one."[iii] The love in friendship is higher than honour. He would say, to be is to co-exist (esse est co esse). Despite his genuine efforts, a critical assessment of his work reveals that his explication of friendship is not an all-encompassing theory as it pays less attention to certain factors especially with regard to our dynamic and changing society.

Key Words: Ethics, Friendship, Utility, Pleasure, Goodness, Happiness, Affection, Moral virtue.


Together with Socrates and Plato, Aristotle enjoyed the credit of being one of the most famous and influential philosophers of their time, the ancient Greek era. Though dead, his works and writings keep him alive in the minds of many scholars worldwide because of the invaluable inputs he made in the field of knowledge. In the area of philosophy, he made plausible imparts in the aspects of logic, politics, metaphysics, psychology and ethics. History reiterates that the first classical systematic ethical literature known as Nichomachean Ethics (NE) to which subsequent writers are indebted to, was written by the great Aristotle.

Friendship is an outstanding topic of moral philosophy that was much discussed by the Greek philosophers. In his Nichomachean Ethics (NE), Aristotle devotes books eight and nine to the explication of friendship. According to him, friendship is "a kind of virtue it implies virtues, and it is also most necessary for living."[iv] It is seen as an enlargement of the self for a good person relates to his friend in the same way that he relates to himself since his friend is his other self.

Many sayings and different opinions that ensue among men about friendship and attractions of interpersonal relationships are matters of debate, anyway.

Some uphold the views that:

  • Like aims at like
  • Like is drawn to like
  • Birds of the same feather flock together

Others assume contrary positions and argue that:

  • Opposites attract
  • Opposites unite
  • Likes repel
  • Two of a trade never agree
  • From the differences comes the fairest harmony
  • The earth like a lover longs for rain
  • All things come from strife[v]

In his laudable NE, Aristotle gives us different but interesting reasons why people establish relationships with others; the three objects of liking that correspond to three major kinds of friendship. This article will give a general but brief meaning of ethics and Aristotelian particular concept of it. With the clear notion of what ethics is all about and our author's understanding of it, it will explicate his theory of friendship and the various forms of it with particular references to books eight and nine of the Nichomachean Ethics.

Ethics in General

Philosophically, ethics and moral philosophy are synonymous terms and are often used interchangeably. Etymologically, moral is derived from the Latin mos [pl. mores] which means custom or mode of behaviour and which has the Greek equivalent of Ethos (ἦθος) that has also conduct, character, custom, disposition, manners, and the like as its meaning. Hence, ethics is considered as a study of voluntary human actions with the purpose of determining what types of activities are good, right and to be done and what actions are bad, wrong and to be eschewed so that man may live well. Ethical studies imply investigations into the ways of life, rules of conduct and what man ought to do. Consequently, the subject matter of ethics is voluntary human actions. Ethical concepts encapsulate good, bad, right, wrong, justice, virtue, vice, choice, freedom, responsibility, will, volition, etc.

Ethics defined:

Ethics can be defined as "a practical normative science of the rightness and wrongness of human conduct as known by natural reason."[vi] It is a practical normative science and an art of proper behaviour; a systematic study of human conducts as known by natural reason from the point of view of their rightness or wrongness whereby right actions are executed, while the wrong ones are circumvented. It is a science that discovers, explains and demonstrates the rules of right conduct.

Purpose of Philosophical Ethics

Philosophy is a man-oriented discipline. The scope of philosophical ethics has the practical objective of helping man to translate knowledge into good actions. It guides life for a just pursuit of good that leads to man's well being and his upliftment. Accordingly, it has the sacred duty of considering how best to order man's free acts for a happy living by analyzing and clarifying moral concepts.

  • As a practical science, ethics directs man to live and act rightly.
  • As a normative science, ethics lays down norms for rightful living.
  • As an Art, ethics applies the rules to the conduct of man for a good life.

As already mentioned, the subject matter of ethics is 'Human Conduct' (Voluntary responsible actions). Hence, the central questions about ethics are:

  • What should man do to live in conformity to his nature?
  • What are the right standards of judgment that determine good and bad actions?

Consequently, Ethical theories study systematically the fundamental principles of morality.

Aristotelian Ethics

The Aristotelian NE presents ethics as having a teleological nature. Our author chiefly concerned himself with human actions as they are conducive to man's good. He asserts that those actions that lead man to the attainment of his good or end are right actions, while those that oppose the attainment of his end are wrong actions. The great philosopher asserts that all human actions tend to some ends. He clearly pointed out that the end to which all human actions tend is an endless chain. Thus, one acts in order to attain at something which in turn aims at another thing and so the chain continues. But the ultimate end of all human actions is happiness (eudaimonia)whose attainment is impossible without moral virtue since happiness is an activity in accordance with virtue. So, he declared, "every art and every investigation, and similarly every action and pursuit, is considered to aim at some good. Hence, the Good has been rightly defined as 'that at which all things aim'."[vii] He therefore concluded that the goal of every man is to realize himself to the fullest through the realization of his talents and abilities. For our philosopher, self-realization is the highest good as man's realization of himself lies in his full use of his reason which brings about his happiness. Man's rational attitude again consists in Golden Mean. The Aristotelian concept of golden mean denotes a happy medium characterized by the avoidance of extremes in one's actions. Hence, a good life for him is the ability to strike a middle balance. The capacity to achieve this lies in the constant practice of virtuous acts because virtue lies in the middle (virtu in medio stat).

Aristotle strongly asserts that ethics provides the means for the achievement of an ultimate happiness; an acquired habit of the human intellect enabling its possessor to reason to true conclusions about the kind of human actions that are calculated to bring man to the attainment of true happiness. At this juncture, it becomes ripe to discuss the virtue of friendship according to the virtuous philosopher.

Friendship and its Forms

In the eighth and ninth books of his NE, Aristotle discussed the notion of friendship and its various forms. In his explications, he strives to prove that every man needs friends at various spheres of life meant for different purposes; the reasons for their occurrences. Let us now discuss his understanding of friendship and the various forms it takes.

What view has Aristotle about Friendship?

Who is a friend for Aristotle? Our philosopher understands a friend to be one who possesses goodwill for another. Friend so conceived, friendship becomes a noble and a splendid phenomenon of life. As a virtuous and one of the finest acts of life, friendship remains a necessity for the rich, the poor, the young as well as the old. He clearly stated that the rich men who are in possession of office and dominating powers have more need of friendship, arguing that prosperity cannot be celebrated, safeguarded or preserved without friends. For what need, he continues is the possession of wealth and posterity if they are not exercised towards others by allowing them the benefit of those? The poor on the other hand take refuge in their friends in times of misfortune. The youths who are in their prime of life are stimulated by their friends to discharge noble actions, avoid mistakes and attain laudable achievements, while the old have their friends care for them and minister to their needs especially when they are unable to help themselves any longer due to natural frailty and weakness. In our author's thought therefore, friendship is the bond that holds a community and state together. With friends, men are spurred to good and noble actions. He however, admonishes that man's relationship to his friend should be as good as his relationship to himself, since his friend is his second self. In other words, the hallmark of a good relationship is the goodwill. Although, he reiterated that the goodwill builds into friendship only when it is reciprocated. So he writes, "...friends must be well disposed towards each other and recognize as wishing each other's good."[viii] Consequently, the friendship meant here bears upon the feelings and affections for animate objects for the simple fact that only animate objects can return affection and reciprocate goodwill. He strongly upholds that friendship is a virtue; a prime necessity of life for no one would want to live alone. Sharing ourselves with others is the highest degree of happiness and it should be highly valued. Everyone is involved in friendship but in various categories. In his explications, he discussed extensively the issues regarding friendship and affections in various degrees of relationships. In his view, friendship differs from affection in that the latter is a feeling while the former is a trained habit of the mind.

Affection resembles a feeling, but friendship is a state. For affection can be felt equally well for inanimate objects but mutual affection involves choice, and choice proceeds from a [moral] state. Also when people wish what is good for those whom they love, for their sake, it is not from a feeling but in accordance with a [moral] state.[ix]

He distinguished three objects of liking that correspond to three major forms of friendship, namely; friendships of utility, pleasure and goodness. According to him, having and maintaining good and enduring friendship style is one of those moral traits that produce moral excellence. The hallmark of good friendship is the reciprocal disposition of 'good will' (eunoia). "Friendship in the truest sense, then, is friendship between good men."[x] Explaining further he states,

"But each one of them applies to the good man in relation to himself (and applies to others in so far as they suppose themselves to be good; in every case as we have said, the standard seems to be [moral] goodness or the good man) for he is completely integrated and desires the same things with every part of his soul. Also he wishes and effects the things that are or seem to be good for him (for it is the mark of a good man to direct its energies to what is good) and he does it for his own sake (for he does it on account of the intellectual part of him, which is held to be the self of the individual).[xi]

Continuing, he elucidates, thus goodwill seems to be the beginning of friendship, just as the pleasure is the beginning of love; for no one falls in love without first feeling pleasure at the person's appearance...goodwill is undeveloped friendship, which in course of time, when it attains to intimacy becomes friendship- but not friendship based on utility or pleasure for these never in fact arouse goodwill."[xii] With the above lines, Aristotle brings us once more to the consciousness of the purpose of our human life and existence; to be good, think and perform noble acts. As Lawhead remarks, "...a morally good person is not simply one who performs morally right actions but one who has developed a habit or disposition to do what is right which manifests itself not only in what we do but in our motives, desires, our likes and dislikes."[xiii] Friendship is so highly valued that it supersedes justice. Where there is friendship, justice is no longer necessary because those involved are already just men but where there is justice, there is still need to establish friendships. "...indeed friendliness is considered to be justice in the fullest sense. It is not only a necessary thing but a splendid one."[xiv] Having learnt that Aristotelian friendship is a mutual recognition of goodwill, a discussion on its various forms would naturally follow.

Forms of Friendship

Aristotle distinguished three major forms of friendship, namely; friendships of utility, pleasure and goodness. The formation of any of these relationships is determined by the reason of the affection stimulated. According to him, different reasons arouse various states of emotional qualities vis-à-vis different forms of friendship.

  • Utility (Nuetzlich) Friendship

The sort of friendship that is based on the ground of benefit is what Aristotle termed utility or useful friendship. Utility friends are commercially minded people who build a business form of relationship based on what they derive from each other. Examples of such relationship are found among state alliances, foreigners, business men and even more among elderly men. As Aristotle observes,

Utility is an impermanent thing: It changes according to circumstances...Friendships of this kind seem to occur more frequently, between the elderly (because at their age what they want is not pleasure but utility) and those in middle or early life who are pursuing their own advantage.[xv]

According to him, this is the lowest form of friendship where friends relate to one another specifically for the sake of profit they gain and not for their personal qualities. Unfortunately, this type of friendship vanishes as long as the occasions for benefits cease to be.

  • Pleasurable (Lust) Friendship

Pleasure kind of friendship is grounded on the pleasures derived from one another. Aristotle establishes that pleasurable friends find themselves pleasant and they are mostly youths who are chiefly regulated by their feelings and momentary satisfactions. "Friendship between the young is thought to be grounded on pleasure, because the lives of the young are regulated by their feelings, and their chief interest is in their own pleasure and the opportunity of the moment.[xvi] The amorous youths quickly fall in and out of love. Ordinarily, this type of relationship is known by the common folk as an erotic one. Friends are hereby desired as objects to be used and gratified. Of course, this sort of friendship does not so much endure. It dissolves easily when the reasons for such relationship fall apart. Our author also relates that as the youths advance in age, their interests change their affections. Consequently, things that please them begin to dissipate giving way to another form.

At this juncture, it is important to note that Aristotle considers both useful and pleasurable forms of friendship as accidental in nature simply because they possess less enduring characteristics. Resultantly, they are easily formed and dissolved for they are built on non-essential grounds.

  • Friendship of Goodness (Wohlwollen)

Aristotle illustrates that friendship of goodness is established by those who wish each other good. Hence, it exists between those who are good in themselves and wish others good as well. Effectively, it is built on reciprocal goodness, good qua good. In other words, people love themselves for what qualitatively they are.

For these people each alike wish good for the other qua good, and they are good in themselves. And it is those who desire the good of their friends for the friend's sake that are more truly friends, because each loves the other for what he is, and not for any incidental quality...such men last so long as they remain good and goodness is an enduring quality. Friendship of this kind is permanent, reasonably enough; because in it are united all the attributes that friends ought to possess.[xvii]

Unfortunately, it is noted that this category of people is rare to come by. The Greek philosopher assures us that this type of friendship endures because it has a characteristic of true and perfect intention of 'goodwill' which is the hallmark of an ideal relationship. It harbours all good qualities of good relationship and it is at the same time reasonably useful and pleasant. Hence, it is called a perfect friendship- good qua good. In this state of friendship, each feels that the other will not purposely do wrong. Augustine of Hippo would say, love and do whatever you wish.

Other Forms of Friendship

Apart from the three major types of friendship discussed above, Aristotle recognized also other forms of relationships. These are the copulate friendship between couples, filial relationship between parents and their children, fraternal relationship between siblings, that of master-servant relationship, etc. Interestingly, our philosopher distinguished the major three friendship styles from other ones with the reason that the former relationships are built on equal planes, while the later ones are found among unequal persons. The unequal friends he argues, do not and should not expect equal benefits from each other. As a result, the better person must be loved more, so do the more pleasant and the more useful persons in order to achieve a state of proportionality.

Aristotelian Friendship: A Critical Evaluation

It is not to be disputed that the Greek philosopher, Aristotle did contribute invaluably to ethical studies and exerted his influence on many scholars, especially as he was one of the earliest philosophers who dealt with ethical matters. In spite of the fame and plausibility of his theory, it is still found lacking in some good features that make it susceptible to criticisms, just as every other good theory, anyway.

In the first instance, it is interesting to note that Aristotle made less effort to clearly distinguish between friendship and love as he relates one to the other. It is observed that he uses both terms interchangeably. His indeterminate use of friendship and love makes it difficult to understand the degrees of commitments in the relationship at various spheres of life. Naturally, there is a significant difference between friendship and love. The later has a stronger feeling of and consequently deeper level of dedication than the former. For simply defined, friendship is a relationship between two or more persons and a friend is one who is well known and liked, usually not a member of the family.[xviii] Whereas love is an affection, a primary impulse by which our power of willing is set in motion, the impulse by which we are drawn towards persons and objects which we perceive as good for us. No wonder, St. Augustine whose burning heart of theology is love, regarded as the greatest gift of the spirit that determines human existence so aptly describes it as a gravity when he points out, "My love is my weight (pondus meum, amor meus), it takes me everywhere."[xix] It is clear that both friendship and love acknowledge a certain relationship between A+B, but then the concept of friendship makes sense only within the ambient of man and animal, while love can be used not only to refer to man and animal but also to objects. For example, I love Jane. I love eating garri, etc. Besides, love possesses a stronger wish and feeling for somebody or something.

Again, one is tempted to ask, is there any relationship without certain benefits, pleasure and goodness attached to it? For Aristotle to have clearly separated the three factors does not give him much credit. His concept of friendship recognizes no dynamism. Further more; his idea of perfect friendship seems utopia, for how can imperfect beings have perfect relationships. I would rather suggest a change of that term to ideal, good or likely concepts. Nevertheless, his view of a perfect relationship implies that life is static and that good friends remain so and can never change no matter any given circumstance. However, Aristotle did neither clearly explain his qualifications of goodness nor make attempt to give forces that keep or sustain this goodness within the realm of friendship.

If in our philosopher's opinion, a good relationship should last forever, he seems to justify the expression that old time friends are as comfortable as old shoes. But are they really so? I wonder what he will say of this other idiomatic expressions that 'familiarity brings contempt, monotony kills interest and variety promotes life'. More so, our author limited the determinants of friendships specifically to three factors, namely; usefulness, gratification and goodness. I should think that he made a great mistake of not considering natural human factors like the needs for affiliation, protection and even intimacy where sharing and disclosure of personal information occur. Other elements as physical attractiveness, proximity, loneliness, complementarity, etc. were not also taken into account as roots of interpersonal attractions.

Lastly, Aristotle stated categorically that there must be equity in relationships. Equity theory states that partners will be comfortable in relationship only when the ratio between their perceived contributions and benefits is equal. In other words, partners give and receive in equal proportion. The equity theory can be summarized as:

Perceived Contribution of X Perceived Contribution of Y

_______________________ = ______________________

Perceived Benefit of X Perceived Benefit of Y

Quite well, it is comprehensible that a return of love demands certain relationship of equality, sharing and concern for one another but then, the question remains whether equity can really be achieved among friends in the sense that Aristotle emphasized it? The answer to this question might be a research step further into the ethical theory of Aristotelian friendship.


Aristotle made us to understand that three forms of friendship exist for the three reasons of utility, gratification and goodness. In this way, bad and good men alike can be friends. Although, friendships established for the sole purpose of the usefulness or because one finds the other pleasant do not endure because they are based on momentary and impermanent interests. On the other hand, friendship built on the ground of goodness of each other's quality is an ideal form of friendship which is the characteristic of endurance.

Our philosopher also demonstrated that friendship is a state, an activity and a feeling that are not ascribed to lifeless objects because they do not possess the capacity of reciprocity. For example, one cannot say that he wishes wine well because the wine cannot wish himself or another well in return. For this reason, friends qua friends exist only among human beings and only when the feelings of goodwill are reciprocated, that is, a mutual recognition of goodwill. However, he called those who reciprocally wish each other well but do not live together well-disposed, arguing that although distance cannot break a relationship, it can interrupt its activities. Where silence ensues, it can cut the bond of friendship.

Although Aristotle did a recognizable contribution to ethical philosophy, his theory pays less attention to certain factors especially to our dynamic and changing society. Despite his genuine efforts, his explication of friendship is not an all-encompassing theory in that regard. Well, one can understand his predicament considering a few factors such as, his background and the period of writing.


[i] Cited in Copleston, F., A History of Philosophy, Newman Bookshop Westminster, 1946, P.348, Vol.1.

[ii] Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics, trans. Thomson J.A.K, Penguin Books, 1976, Bk. 8:1

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] Ibid.

[v] Cf. Ibid.

[vi] Fagothey, A., Right and Reason: Ethics in Theory Based on the Teachings of Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas. Tan Books and Publishers Inc., Illinois, 2nd Ed., 2000, P. 28.

[vii] Aristotle, NE 1:1.

[viii] Ibid. 8:2

[ix] Ibid. 8:5

[x] Loc. Cit

[xi] NE, 9:4

[xii] Ibid. 9:5

[xiii] Lawhead, W.F., The Voyage of Discovery: A Historical Introduction to Philosophy, Thomson learning, Belmont, USA, 2002, P. 82, 2nd Ed.

[xiv] NE, 8:1

[xv] Ibid. 8:3

[xvi] Loc. Cit

[xvii] Loc. Cit.

[xviii] Cf. Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary

[xix] The Confessions of St. Augustine, Trans. And annotated by Borruso, S., Kolbe Press, Kenya, 2003. Bk. 13:9.

A Linguistic Stylistic Study of Wole Soyinka's Night And Death in The Dawn

Nneoma Udeze

Department of Linguistics

Nnamdi Azikiwe University,Awka


Dr. Mrs.Chinenye Udeze

Department of Nigerian languages

Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education, Owerri


Linguistic stylistics explores the linguistic features of a text; it is primarily concerned with the use of language and its effect in a text. This study is aimed at analyzing the language structure/system of Wole Soyinka's 'Night' and 'Death in the Dawn' to render a linguistic description, that is, identifying the linguistic deviant features of Soyinka's poems and describing how they deviated from the known rules to create effect. Some aspects of Niazi & Gautam's (2010) framework, as well as Onwukwe's (2012) concept of foregrounded irregularities at the lexical, syntactic and semantic levels were adopted in the analysis of the data collected from a selection of deviant words and structures in the poems. Findings reveal that the syntactic level has the most deviant structures while the lexical level has the least deviant lexemes and that the language system of Wole Soyinka's poems deviated in ways that make words: violate the class to which they originally belong, inflect words which do not require inflections, create compounds not seen in the lexicon of the language, make structures violate the selectional restriction and category rule and give rise to figurative language. In conclusion, the choice of words in a literary work is very important as it creates certain effects on the readers of that work which is what Soyinka accomplished by deviating from the known linguistic norms. This research hopes to contribute to the understanding of Soyinka's poems and serve as a reference point for scholars who wish to carry out a similar research.


Style is the basic thing which gives uniqueness to every writer. Stylistics is derived from style and could be said to be a combination of style and linguistics. It is the scientific study of style; it is also the study of variations in language use. Stylistics according to Syal & Jindal (2010) is that branch of linguistics which takes the language of literary texts as its object of study. Stylistics is very important in literature because each literary text represents an individual's use of language which reflects his unique personality, thoughts and style. It helps to identify how and why a text has deviated. 'The goal of most stylistics is not simply to describe the formal features of texts for their own sake, but in order to show their functional significance for the interpretation of the text; or in order to relate literary effects to linguistic 'causes' where these are felt to be relevant' (Nordquist, 2015).

Linguistic stylistics explores the linguistic features of a text. It is primarily concerned with the use of language and its effect in a text. It has to do with a stylistic study that relies heavily on the scientific rules of language in its analysis.

About the poems

Soyinka's (1976: 119) 'Night' is a poem written in triplets with the first and third lines of each stanza rhyming. It has five stanzas and fifteen lines. The poet describes nightfall and its effect on him. Soyinka's (1967: 64) 'Death in the Dawn', on the other hand, is a free-verse poem in seven stanzas and thirty-five lines of variable length. It is a poem that presents itself in a monologue, and addresses the reader as a "traveler", and a narrative account of life as a journey and a form of passage. Although it sounds like a form of lyric, the title "death" might be expected to take place in the evening but announces the contradictory concepts the poem will explore.

Review of literature


Concepts like style, stylistics and linguistic stylistics, related to the topic under discussion reviewed here.


Style is a difficult concept to define accurately because of the different views people have about it. That is to say that style as a concept has no single accurate definition and as such is defined differently by different scholars. Adejare (1992) makes this clear when he said that style is an ambiguous term. An author decides to choose a particular way of writing a text because of certain ideas in mind which the author will want the readers of that text to understand; so, for every style in writing which creates an effect on a reader, there is a particular purpose to it. Lawal (1997) describes style as an aspect of language that deals with choices of diction, phrases, sentences, and linguistic materials that are consistent and harmonious with the subject matter. He added that it involves the narrative technique of a writer in terms of choice and distribution of words and character. Leech & Short (2007: 9) view style as the way in which language is used in a given context to portray a particular idea.

Therefore style is the basic thing which gives uniqueness to every writer. The language of poetry is different from the language of other literary genres. Style is involved in both, spoken and written, literary and non-literary types of language but it is particularly associated with written form of the literary texts. The definitions on style given by these different authors have the same meaning in that an author's style greatly depends on the idea he/she has in mind which he/she is trying to pass across and this is achieved through a selection of certain words, phrases and sentences.


The word stylistics is derived from style. The study of the term stylistics has long been associated with literary criticism, and stylistics has been considered as a branch of literary criticism. Later on, focus moved from the study of the author's style to how meanings and effects are produced by literary texts. Thus, there was a critical need to change the field from a branch of literary criticism into a field on its own (UKEssays, 2015).

Stylistics is defined as the linguistic study of literary appreciation (Anagbogu, Mbah & Eme, 2010). To further elaborate, Finch (2000: 189), says that stylistics is concerned with using linguistic methods to study the concept of style in a language. Carter (1988) is of the view that stylistics is a bridge (link) discipline between linguistics and literature. "It is a branch of linguistics which studies the features of situationally distinctive uses (varieties) of language, and tries to establish principles capable of accounting for the particular choices made by individual and social groups in their use of language", (Crystal, 2008: 460).

Stylistics aims to account for how texts project meaning, how readers construct meaning and why readers respond to texts the way that they do. It studies how individuals make language choices in different situations for different purposes. It also tries to point out the rules guiding such choices made by individuals and describe them.

In Seboek (1964), stylistics is defined as a concept that relies on linguistics in some way since style cannot be clearly defined without reference to grammar. It is the study of style used in literary and verbal language, and the effect the writer/speaker wishes to communicate to the reader/hearer; it tries to explain why individuals make particular choices in their use of language, such as socialization and the production and reception of meaning (Niazi & Gautam, 2010: 3).

"Every time we use language we necessarily adopt a style of some sort: we make a selection from a range of syntactic and lexical possibilities according to the purpose of the communication" (Finch, 2000: 189). "The study of style has traditionally been the preserve of literary criticism, but since the rise of linguistics there has been a more systematic attempt to provide a 'linguistic' foundation for literary effects", (Finch, 2000: 189). This means that the study of style has always been restricted to the literary aspects, but with the evolution of time, style can be studied through a linguistic perspective and this is what this work tries to achieve.

Linguistic Stylistics

Linguistic stylistics focuses on linguistic theory. "It is about doing stylistic analysis in order to test or refine a linguistic model- in effect, to contribute to linguistic theory", (Jeffries & Mclntyre, 2010 in UKEssays, 2015). Linguistic stylistics was introduced as a complementary approach to literary criticism where the linguistic study of texts was absent. It is different from literary criticism in that while literary criticism rests solely on the subjective interpretation of texts, linguistic stylistics concentrates on the 'linguistic frameworks operative in the text' (Ayeomoni, 2003: 177). This gives the critic a pattern to follow, what to look out for in a text, and his point of view can be verified statistically.


Wordsworth (nd) in Abrams (1981: 115) sees good poetry as "... the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings" and strong "emotion recollected in tranquility." "Poetry communicates human emotion; it is the voice of the heart", (Robbins, 1997). Poetry is used to express how we feel about particular situations in life. "In poetry, aesthetic effect cannot be separated from the creative manipulation of the linguistic code", (Leech & Short, 2007: 2). Ike (2005: 110) asserts that the poet's choice of words (vocabulary) reflects his mood which could either be one reflecting harsh or short words, sad or light-hearted denotative or connotative words. By denotative, we mean the exact/specific meaning of a text, and by connotative, we mean that which is implied by the text, i.e., a text suggesting something else which is not overtly written.

In Malmkjӕr (2002: 513), literary language and the language of poetry in particular is different from ordinary language for day to day use because of its highly patterned nature and the fact that it violates the rules of grammar and lexis.

Theoretical framework

For the linguistic stylistic analysis of Soyinka's (1976: 119) 'Night' and (1967: 64) 'Death in the Dawn' in this study, the foregrounding theory, using the devices of deviation only, is employed.

foregrounding theory

According to Niazi & Gautam (2010: 107), the Prague School of linguists has termed "foregrounding" the differentiating factor between poetic and non-poetic language; its function being to attract the reader's attention towards the subject matter of the poem. Linguistic deviations are easily noticeable and so have a very important psychological effect on the reader. Those parts of the text which are heavily foregrounded have to be taken into account when interpreting a poem. We can understand a word, phrase or sentence, which is linguistically deviant by comparing it with the normal paradigm. This means that a poet violates the rules of a language in order to create effect and this effect can be understood by comparing it with the normal norms of that language.

Following what Niazi & Gautam (2010) and Onwukwe (2012) stated, deviations at the different levels of linguistic organization were selected. These selections which form the framework of this study are as follows:

1. Lexical level- Lexis deals with the words/vocabulary of a language. Being able to recognize the different word classes, and their associations, and identifying the word patterns, idiomatic phrases, collocations, and so on, can be useful in interpreting the meaning of the text. Poetic diction refers to a distinct tendency of restricting the language of poetry to a specific kind of vocabulary. They (poetic vocabulary) are the words that form the foundation of every literary work. Violations of the rules of word formation to create new words give rise to lexical deviation. The significance of the words, their semantic possibilities, irony, emotional associations and other effects has to be deeply analyzed. The evocative power of words is determined by the particular connection between diction and imagery and context of usage (Niazi & Gautam, 2010: 109).

2. Syntactic level- Syntax is the study of the structure of phrases, clauses and sentences. Grammatical (syntactical) deviation is a phrase containing a word whose grammatical class violates the expectations created by the surrounding words (Niazi & Gautam, 2010: 107). Put simply, they are deviant sentences and structures, that is, sentences and structures that do not conform to the normal syntactic rules of their constructions in a particular language (Onwukwe, 2012: 14).

As Onwukwe (2012: 50) stated, Category rule violation and collocational violation or selectional restriction rule are instances of syntactic deviation. Linguistic items are meant to function in their categories in a sentence. Category rule violation occurs when a word in a particular category (example, a noun or a verb) begins to function as a word belonging to another entirely different category (example, a pronoun or a noun). Collocation is used "to refer to the habitual co-occurrence of individual lexical items". Some lexical items exhibit a natural tendency to co-occur. When this habitual company is broken, we have collocational violation. For instance, when a lexical item that is [+animate], [+human] co-occurs with a lexical item that is [-animate], a breach of collocation rule has taken place.

3. Semantic level- Semantics is the study of the meaning of morphemes, words, phrases and sentences. Meaning gets foregrounded through the selection of lexical items that do not usually go together in a context. Semantic deviations occur when the meaning of words violates the expectations created by the surrounding words. They usually violate the rules of selectional restrictions which are the semantic restrictions that a word imposes on the environment in which it occurs (Niazi & Gautam, 2010: 107). According to Onwukwe (2012: 53), they are deviant because the meaning in them is not conveyed through literal meaningfulness. Semantic deviations are the figures of speech that abound in the language of literature (Onwukwe, 2012: 53) like;

a. Personification- This is giving a human quality to objects and things. For example, 'the cloud clapped in the sky' (Onwukwe, 2012: 21).

b. Simile- Here, two unlike things are compared using 'like' or 'as' to point out their similarity. For example, 'I wandered lonely as a cloud' (Onwukwe, 2012: 21).

c. Oxymoron- According to Crystal (1997) in Onwukwe (2012: 21), oxymoron is when two semantically incompatible expressions are placed side by side, thus forming a non-literal interpretation. For example, 'delicious torment', 'living death', etc.


The data illustrate cases of linguistic deviation in two poems, Soyinka's (1976: 119) 'Night' and 'Death in the Dawn' (1967: 64). The data are organized according to the linguistic levels they represent; lexical, syntactic and semantic levels. For 'Night', the notation 'N' is used while for 'Death in the Dawn', 'DD' is used. It should be noted that features at one level may reinforce or explain features at another level. By 'features', is meant those words, lines, or structures in the poem that immediately set apart a particular style. Such features are said to be stylistically significant features of the text. All the data are analyzed descriptively. Data are presented by writing down deviant lexical items and structures present in the poems; and they are analyzed using some aspects of Niazi & Gautam's (2010) framework, as well as Onwukwe's (2012) concept of foregrounded irregularities at the lexical, syntactic and semantic levels discussed in the theoretical framework. The data presentation at each level is followed by an analysis.

1a. Data presentation of lexical deviation

The following are examples of lexically deviant words from the poems. They illustrate deviated use and meaning from the known norm.

(1) sands (N, stanza 3, line 8)

(2) misted (N, stanza 5, line 14)

(3) dog-nose (DD, stanza 1, line 3)

(4) Cottoned (DD, stanza 2, line 6)

The poet lexically deviated from the two poems equally. There are two instances of lexical items deviating from the known rules by violating the class to which they belong. The other two are instances of deviation from word formation: inflection and compounding.

1b. Data analysis

(1) is conventionally supposed to be an uncount noun with no inflection, but instead, the poet attached a suffix (the plural suffix-s) to the word possibly to create emphasis, making it a count noun. This also is not seen in the vocabulary of the language. (2) is a lexical item of the language which violates its class; it is a verb used as an adjective of the noun 'calls' in the poem possibly to relate to an unclear concept. (3) is a word (compound) formed from compounding two nouns; may be non-existent in the vocabulary of the language and it is created by the poet to create a relationship between the moisture of the earth and that of a dog's nose. (4) is a lexical item present in the lexicon of the language, but it violates the class to which it belongs. It is a verb used as an adjective of the noun 'feet' and it is likened to the noun 'cotton' in terms of meaning, probably to show how soft the feet is.

2a. Data presentation of syntactic deviation

The following are examples of syntactically deviated structures from the poem. They illustrate cases of category rule violation and selectional restriction rule (collocational violation). There is also an instance of ungrammaticality.

(5) Your hand is heavy, Night, upon my brow. (N, stanza 1, line 1)

(6) I saw your jealous eye quench the sea's

Fluorescence (N, stanza 2, line 5-6)

(7) Dance on the pulse incessant

of the waves. (N, stanza 2-3, line 6-7)

(8) Night, you rained

Serrated shadows through dank leaves. (N, stanza 3-4, line 9-10)

(9) Sensations pained me, faceless, silent as night thieves. (N, stanza 4, line 12)

(10) These misted calls will yet

Undo me; naked, unbidden, at Night's muted birth (N, stanza 5, line 14-15)

(11) Let sunrise quench your lamps. (DD, stanza 2, line 4)

(12) Not twilight's death and sad prostration. (DD, stanza 2, line 8)

(13) Racing joys and apprehensions (DD, stanza 2, line 10)

(14) A naked day. (DD, stanza 2, line 11)

(15) To wake the silent markets (DD, stanza 2, line 13)

(16) When the road waits, famished. (DD, stanza 3, line 25)

(17) The wrathful wings of man's progression... (DD, stanza 4, line 31)

(18) Silenced in the startled hug of

Your invention (DD, stanza 5, line 33-34)

There are more instances of syntactically deviant structures got from 'Death in the Dawn'. They whole data under syntactic deviation were instances of selectional restriction (collocational violation) except one which is an instance of category rule violation. There is also an instance of ungrammaticality. The way the structures violated the selectional restriction rule was explained using the [+animate] and [-animate] feature.

2b. Data analysis

(5), (6) and (7), gives 'Night', which has the feature [-animate], the feature [+animate] [+human] and these are instances of instances of selectional restriction (collocational violation). (5) sees 'Night' as something that possess a feature only humans do, 'hand'. (6) sees 'Night as something that possess the feature of an 'eye' and as something that is able to get jealous. (7) sees 'Night' as something that can dance. In (8), the verb 'rained' doesn't go with the noun 'shadows' but rather goes with 'water', and 'Night' cannot perform the action 'rained'; these are instances of selectional restriction. (9) is an ill-formation of the sentence and it can be seen as ungrammatical. Also, 'sensations' is given the [+animate] feature when it is seen as something that could be silent; instance of selectional restriction. (10) is another instance of selectional restriction as can be seen with the verb 'misted', which has moisture attached to it, selecting the lexical item 'calls'. 'Misted' is also a word which portrays an instance of category rule violation as it violates the class to which it belongs; it is a verb functioning as an adjective in the poem. Also, 'Night' is seen as [+animate] that can be given birth to. In (11), 'sunrise' which has the feature [-animate] is viewed as one with the feature [+animate] which can perform the verb 'quench', an example of selectional restriction. In (12), 'twilight' which has the feature [-animate] is seen as one with the feature [+animate] which can die and assume the position of a sad prostration, an instance of selectional restriction. In (13), 'joys' and 'apprehensions' which are also [-animate] are seen as ones with the feature [+animate] which can race, an example of selectional restriction. In (14), 'day' [-animate] is given the attribute [+animate] because it selects the lexical item 'naked', an instance of selectional restriction. In (15), 'markets', [-animate], is given the attribute, [+animate], when in the poem, it can awaken, an example of selectional restriction. In (16), the road, [-animate], which selects the lexical item, 'famished', is now regarded as one with the feature [+animate] because it can be seen as something that can be very hungry, an instance of selectional restriction. In (17), 'man's progression' [-animate], which selects the lexical item, 'wings', is now perceived as [+animate], an example of selectional restriction. In (18), an 'invention' [-animate], takes up the feature [+animate] when it is seen as something that can perform the action 'hug'; an instance of selectional restriction.

3a. Data presentation of semantic deviation

The following are examples of semantically deviant structures in the poems. They illustrate deviant meanings which give rise to figures of speech.

(19) Your hand is heavy, Night, upon my brow. (N, stanza 1, line 1)

(20) l bear no heart mercuric like the clouds (N, stanza 1, line 2)

(21) Woman as clam (N, stanza 2, line 4)

(22) I saw your jealous eye quench the sea's

Flourescence (N, stanza 2, line 5-6)

(23) dance on the pulse incessant

Of the waves. (N, stanza 2, line 6-7)

(24) And I stood, drained

Submitting like the sands (N, stanza 3, line 7-8)

(25) Sensations pained me, faceless, silent as night thieves. (N, stanza 4, line 12)

(26) Let sunrise quench your lamps. (DD, stanza 2, line 4)

(27) Racing joys and apprehensions (DD, stanza 2, line 10)

(28) A naked day. (DD, stanza 2, line 11)

(29) To wake the silent markets - (DD, stanza 2, line 13)

(30) When the road waits, famished. (DD, stanza 3, line 25)

(31) The wrathful wings of man's progression... (DD, stanza 4, line 31)

There are more instances of semantically deviant structures gotten from 'Night'. Most of the structures give rise to personification. The others give rise to simile and one gave rise to oxymoron.

3b. Data analysis

In the above sentences, meaning is foregrounded and this brings about figurative language. In (19), 'Night' is perceived as [+animate] and this gives rise to personification. From the meaning of the structure, the poet possibly tries to say that when night comes, the reader feels sleepy, his/her eyes begin to close. In (20), there is a comparison made between 'heart' and 'the clouds' using 'like' and this gives rise to simile. In (21), there is a comparison made between 'woman' and 'clam' (a large shellfish that can be eaten) using 'as' possibly to state that a woman behaves like a clam in some way. This gives rise to simile. In (22), 'Night' is given a human attribute whose 'jealous eye' can 'quench' the sea's flourescence. This gives rise to personification. This structure may be used to mean how 'Night' comes with the passing of the sun which lights up the sea and makes it sparkly. In (23), 'Night' is also given a human attribute that can 'dance'. This also gives rise to personification. This may also be used to mean how the waves of the sea are dark. In (24), there is a comparison made between the readers' 'way of submission' and 'the sands' using 'like' which may be one of total submission possibly with the way sand submits to the wind. This gives rise to simile. In (25), there is a comparison made between 'faceless and silent sensations' and 'night thieves' using 'as' which may mean how we have unexpected feelings and this gives rise to simile. In (26), 'sunrise' is given the attribute of a human who can 'quench' something and this gives rise to personification. This structure may stand to mean that with the coming of the sun, lamps which are used in the dark are no longer needed. In (27), 'joys' and 'apprehensions' assume the feature of a human who can 'race' and thus gives rise to personification. This structure may be used to mean how the reader's mind is thinking fast and is not certain about how the day ahead will be. In (28), 'a day' is seen as a human who can be 'naked', thus, gives rise to personification. This may stand to mean a new day that has not yet had any events recorded in it or that hasn't been clothed with any events yet. In (29), the 'markets' can be seen as an entity bearing the feature [+animate] which can be awoken and this gives rise to personification. It can also be seen as an instance of oxymoron with the two semantically incompatible expressions, 'silent market', placed side by side. They are semantically incompatible because in the real world, a market is usually very noisy. The whole structure may entail the beginning of activities in the market with the start of a new day. In (30), 'the road' is seen as an entity with the [+animate] feature which can get 'famished' and this gives rise to personification. The structure may mean that the road hasn't had any record of an accident that cost people their lives for the day and may possibly be waiting for one to occur. In (31), 'man's progression' can be seen as an animate entity that has 'wings' and this gives rise to personification. The structure may mean that man can go to any length and do anything, good or bad, to progress in life.

Conclusion and Recommendation

This work has handled the linguistic study of Wole Soyinka's 'Night' and 'Death in the Dawn'. It has buttressed the fact that Soyinka's works are creative although his use of language can be complex sometimes. Soyinka in his quest for style deviated from the known linguistic norms at the levels discussed to create effect as can be seen. The choice of words is very important and is capable of expressing effectively the thoughts, feelings and emotions of the poet and passing across the intended message of the writer to the reader of the work. This work has shown that there is a distinction between a linguistic stylistic analysis and a stylistic analysis, poetic and non-poetic language as a means of defining literature. The language used in the two poems discussed in this study is manipulated in ways that signal it as different from 'ordinary language'. The product of this manipulation should not be seen as errors but as the writers' style.


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Your hand is heavy, Night, upon my brow,

I bear no heart mercuric like the clouds, to dare

Exacerbation from your subtle plough.

Woman as a clam, on the sea's crescent

5 I saw your jealous eye quench the sea's

Flourescence, dance on the pulse incessant

Of the waves. And I stood, drained

Submitting like the sands, blood and brine

Coursing to the roots. Night, you rained

10 Serrated shadows through dank leaves

Till, bathed in warm suffusion of your dappled cells

Sensations pained me, faceless, silent as night thieves.

Hide me now, when night children haunt the earth

I must hear none! These misted calls will yet

15 Undo me; naked, unbidden, at Night's muted birth.

Death in the Dawn

Traveller, you must set out

At dawn. And wipe your feet upon

The dog-nose wetness of the earth.

Let sunrise quench your lamps. And watch

5 Faint brush prickling in the sky light

Cottoned feet to break the early earthworm

On the hoe. And shadows stretch with sap

Not twilight's death and sad prostration.

This soft kindling, soft receding breeds

10 Racing joys and apprehensions for

A naked day. Burdened hulks retract,

Stoop to the mist in faceless throng

To wake the silent markets - swift, mute

Processions on grey byways....

15 On this

Counterpane, it was -

Sudden winter at the death

Of dawn's lone trumpeter. Cascades

Of white feather-flakes ... but it proved

20 A futile rite. Propitiation sped

Grimly on, before

The right foot for joy, the left, dread

And the mother prayed, Child

May you never walk

25 When the road waits, famished.

Traveller, you must set forth

At dawn

I promise marvels of the holy hour

Presages as the white cock's flapped

30 Perverse impalement - as who would dare

The wrathful wings of man's Progression ...

But such another Wraith! Brother,

Silenced in the startled hug of

Your invention - is this mocked grimace

35 This closed contortion - I?







GSM: 08035048088



This article examines the need for peace in Nigeria because the complex nature of Nigeria seems to compound the moral fibre, attitude to economic and social issues in life. Due to moral decadence of the country it becomes imperative for religious functionaries to urgently exercise their prophetic functions. This paper adopts functional approach as a plant form for understanding the message of repentance and the quest for peace in Nigeria John the Baptist's message of repentance if critically examined unfolds strong and effective teaching on socio-economic challenges that call for deeper insight and application of non-violence to societal problems. This qualitative study employs secondary source to examine the quest for peace in the light of John the Baptist message of repentance. It is observed that without peace no meaningful and sustainable development based on justice, equity and peaceful co-existence can take place in Nigeria. Therefore, peace is a collective responsibility that calls for all hands on deck.

Key words: John the Baptists message, repentance, quest, peace


Nigeria is going through hard and perilous times. Nigeria is not alone in these challenges but it is a sad pity to observe according to Folaranmi (2012) that:

Mention anything negative; corruption, violation of human rights, fallen standard of education, electoral malpractices, epileptic power outage, incessant strikes, lack of security of lives and properties, unemployment, fraud, greed and the rest, Nigeria is in the forefront. (p.vii).

The above situations have been blamed on the leaders, law enforcement agents and the populace. They portray image, attitude and moral disposition of Nigeria in a bad light. Our political leaders cannot be exonerated from Nigeria's woes. It is no longer news that Nigeria was ranked among the most corrupt nations of the old. Nigeria seems to be going back ward everyday in all aspects of life. Hence Lawal (2012) says that:

While corruption is on the increase our life expectancy seems to be decreasing, poverty and powerlessness are the order of the day. People's life are being disposed of cheaply through different means such as armed robbers, hired assassins, kidnappers and pot holes on most of our high ways. (p.ix)

The implication of the above statement is that corruption breeds poverty and insecurity in Nigeria. They are roots of sin which should not be compromised but needed a frontal attack in pulling down this stronghold.

Nigeria is more complex than Palestine in which John the Baptist addressed. His message extends towards the Judeo-Christian world in particular and humanity in general. In Nigeria, there are also the three categories John the Baptist addressed. The crowd, the tax collectors and the soldiers were the principal actors whose activities were characterized by corruption, exploitation, degradation, avarice, selfishness, and other forms of bad image which had to dangerously deteriorated the moral life..

The above moral dilemma is no exception in Nigeria with over 180,000,000 people, more than 800 languages and dialects. Nigeria's pluralism is compounded by long military rule or effective occupation which explained avarice, corruption, armed robbery, kidnapping, bad leadership, drug-pushing, fake drugs and other vices which had cast aspersion on Nigerians as indecent, notorious and disgraceful.

There is a saying that for evil to triumph, every God fearing person has maintained mute indifference and cold complexity. John the Baptist message of repentance is imperative not only to launder the damaged image of Nigerians, but to re-interpret John's message from Nigerian perspective. It is significantly observed that the anti-snake poisons we need, therefore, is a regeneration, a spiritual rebirth and a national repentance. The same God who called John's audience to repentance through his message is calling on Nigerians to get back on the right track. This response would advance moral and spiritual development and character molding of Nigerians by subscribing to a system of prohibitions to limit the range of the people.

Conceptual Clarification

The concepts used in this study need to be clearely understood. They are John the Baptist message, repentance, quest and peace. Their improved understanding will offer deeper insight into the functional quest for peace in Nigeria.

John the Baptist Message

John the Baptist message is the message of repentance or forgiveness of sins. He points out that Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost. John the Baptist proclaimed Jesus as Redeemer, Lord and the divine savior in a universal sense. John's message portrayed Jesus as offering forgiveness, redemption and salvation freely to all irrespective• of race, sex and merit.


Repentance is turning away from sin to God. It is to turn to the Lord with all the heart, soul and might. It means turning from the fierceness of God's anger. Repentance consists according to Douglas (1963) of a radical transformation of thought, attitude, Outlook and direction.


Main (1998) defames quest as a search or hunt, a journey especially one undertaken by someone in order to bring about some forms of self-improvement or self-discovery.


Peace is a term with variant meaning with the family and religious circles. Peace therefore signifies completeness, wellbeing and welfare of others. Similarly, peace is also associated with harmony, material prosperity, physical safety, spiritual wellbeing, righteousness and truth. Peaàe is God's gift to man.

Mairi (1998) says is that peace freedom from or absence of war, a treaty or agreement ending in war, a freedom from or absence of noise, disturbance or disorder, quietness or calm, freedom from mental agitation, serenity". (p.1014). This definition appears literary and fits into social spheres of life. It does not being out the Christian ethical symbol which promotes or compliments the responsible citizenship in Nigeria.

Okere (1974) defines peace as the resultant effect of the acknowledgement and harmonious living, truth, justice, love and freedom from sin and its enslaving burden on man. It should be noted that these are social values which have led man to the reign of peace. This is made possible if man submits to the rule of law.

Iwe (1991) on the other hand notes that "peace is the resultant effect of balance and harmony among the constituent elements and forces of an organism for man as an individual moral being, it is the price of righteous and goodwill". (p.95). The above explanation seems descriptive rather than definitive. The environment and socio-political setting of man may colour his meaning of peace. Given the above, peace could mean the highest political good which tends to consist the harmonious operation of the forces of his social life. The spiritual life seems ignored. Peace should rest upon that order that is founded on truth, built upon justice, nurtured and given life by charity and brought into functional effect under the auspices of freedom.

Uche (2009) states that "peace is not given to fighting or quarreling but connotes calm, quiet, untroubled, undisturbed especially by noise, worry, fear or anxieties". (p.113). There is substance that peace proceeds conflict and it is the natural state of being. The New Webster's Dictionary (1991) describes peace as:

The condition that exists when nations or other groups are not fighting, the ending of a state of war, the treaty that marks the end of a war, friendly relations between individuals untroubled by disputes, freedom from noise, worries, fears, public order and security. (382).

The peace of God which passes all understanding is investigated, in this paper. It is above all other states of peace, hence pleasing to God. It is on this peace the message of John the Baptist anchored.

Nigeria is a country in dire need of Peace. However, incessant communal and religious conflicts have made the quest for peace more imperative in Nigeria. Peace has been defined by Chambers 2lst century Dictionary among other derivatives to mean; freedom from or absence of war, a treaty or agreement ending a war, freedom from or absence of noise, disturbance, or disorder, quietness or clam, friendship.(p.1015).

Other derivative meanings include: restfulness, tranquility, serenity and placidity. Gregory (1976) observes that the concept of peace implies:

Cessation of hostilities between nations, the absence of civil or ecclesiastical, disorder, and freedom from dissension between individuals through positive situations which an individual has prospered materially, or is healthy or possesses a tranquil freedom from mental or spiritual perturbation, to condition where there is a minimum of noise or activity (p.666). Ibeanu (2006), states that "peace is a state of perfection, an earthly expression of God's Kingdom that is yet uncorrupted" (p.5).

Theoretical Background

Several theoretical approaches have been extended to the message of repentance and the quest for peace in Nigeria. These range from functionalism to internationalism and anomie. However, our main focus on this article shall be restricted to functionalism with emphasis on the function and interaction it renders to moral in Nigeria in spite of the anomic tendencies in Nigerian leadership and following.

Functionalism also known as functional theory was propounded by Emilie Durkliein (1856-1917). The theory explains that all aspects of the society or social institution serve a social function and are necessary for the survival of that society. Functionalism pinpoints the functions of social structure in John's message of repentance. Haralambos, Holborn and Heald (2008) say that:

Societies have certain basic needs or requirements that must be met if they are to survive. How the social structure functions reoccupies the minds of functionalists. Functionalism examines the social relationship between the different parts of the structure and their relationship to society as a whole. (p.7)

When the above point is anchored on John the Baptist message of repentance, the theory reveals the functions or its effects on people, institutions and relationships in Nigeria. John's message of repentance appeals to Nigerians to sit-up in the quest for peace in Nigeria. The central idea of functionalism according to Henslin (2010) is that "society is a whole unit, made up of inter-related parts that work together" (p.25). If we must look at both structure: or how the parts of a society like Nigeria fit together to make the whole and function or what each part does or how it contributes to Nigeria, the message of repentance is functional in Nigeria's quest for peace.

Interactionism is a social theory propounded by Blummer on focuses on small-scale interaction rather than society as a whole. As the name implies it means action which as considered meaningful between two individuals involved and interaction of the meanings that the actors give to their activities. Interactionism is anchored on the interaction between John the Baptist as a fore-runner of Jesus Christ and his audience exemplified in the crowd, the tax-collectors and the law enforcement officers. The lessons of the message helps in the interaction of the stake holders in peace initiatives that are capable of controlling the tide of anomie in Nigeria

Anomie as a social theory was put forward by Robert K. Merton. It refers to normiessnes or a situation where any thing goes, or norms no longer direct behaviour and deviance is encouraged. Haraiambos, Holbon and Heald (2008) say: "Anomie can result from changes in society which disrupt existing relationships and bring existing values into question". (p.667).

Durlthein (1951) notes that anomie describes the loss of direction felt in a society when social control of individual behaviour has become ineffective. This purported state of normlessness that typically occurs during a period of profound social change and disorder. It is a plate forum explaining which as the economic exploitation, alienation and corruption that characterized Palestine and relevant to Nigeria situation. The word of God by John Baptist which is based on repentance, spiritual transformation and moral rebirth will bring about the desired change.

Palestine before John the Baptist Message

The historical background of Palestine is significant in understanding its relationship to Nigeria, John's message of repentance and the quest for peace in Palestine and Nigeria. There are observed similarities according to Aborgunrin (2012) "between the situation in Nigeria today and that of the first century Palestine". (p.xv). Similarly, Omotoye (2012) says "John the Baptist teaching could be interpreted as rebranding of the old order for a better society. This act took place over two thousand years ago. It is believed that the "rebranding" message of John the Baptist is still relevant in Nigeria in the 21st century, considering the political manipulations, social decadence like bribery and corruption etc (p.31).

Palestine underwent pains of thirty year rule of Herod the king. He was a despot and embarked on massive spending on his building projects which were of little benefits to the masses who were mercilessly and heavily taxed. Tax fanning was introduced and paid off to the Roman authority. Roman soldiers were drifted to enforce the collection of taxes and other levies. They were ruthless in collecting the exorbitant taxes. This impoverished the masses who, according to Aborgunrin (2012) were already very poor.

The economic and financial predicaments did not improve during the early Christian era. Huge debts incurred by Herod which had no bearing weakened the need of the masses. Similarly, it greatly weakened their sense of morality and demoralized the people who were forced to resign themselves to oppression and abject poverty.

The death of Herod did not improve the situation, rather taxes as a major source of revenue remained exorbitantly high, nation wide bribery and corruption especially among the officials of government and the law enforcement agents became the order of the day. Poor agricultural yield or produce did not help. There was severe famine which drew a gap between the rich and the poor who were hopelessly wretched. The above situation was compounded by the priestly aristocracy which supported the Hçrod against the Jews. Jerusalem and a few other cities became the heaven of beggers. Some of these beggers pretended to be blind, dump, lame, deaf and handicapped. They hanged around places of worship, pilgrimage, festival and special celebrations by the rich. Outside the city gates were not left out of such attractions.

Those who were unable to settle the heavy taxes forfeited their lands and were forced to sell them to the tax farmers or their agents at a lower price. These the law enforcement agents sold to the Herod. The tax farmers and the law enforcement officers became agents to Herod. Aborgunrin (2012) succinctly says: "The family of Herod owned more than half of the land by purchase and acquisition". (p.xvi). There were others who did genuine business and were rich. Children whose parents could not pay the heavy taxes were enslaved. This explains the large presence of slaves, the widespread of unemployment and the large scale exploitation of the poor.

The rich priestly aristocracy in Jerusalem constituted a political class with internal wrangling among them. The Jewish-Gentile dichotomy gathered momentum. The acrimony that arose when the Sadducees accepted political appointments with Roman government did not go down well with the Pharisees. The terrorist's activities of the zealots became a source of worry in Palestine. The expectation of Davidic Kingdom was very high but the society was polluted with different forms of sacrifices, immoralities and teaching.

It was under the above situation that John the Baptist is message of repentance was launched. Spiritual activities seemed to have shifted to the wilderness, mountains and deserts. The Essence were foremost in articulating spiritual renewal. People from different walks of life came to be spiritually renewed. In Nigeria, the above socio-economic and political challenges existed and then exacted much pressure on the available resources. It was to a people so helpless in such a pathetic situation that John the Baptist as a fore-runner of Jesus Christ declared a moral revolution of the oppressed. Similarly, the attitude of the rich and those who controlled the political power is almost the same as the Nigerian situation. John's reaction to the valleys, rough edges, roads was understandable. His warning about the futility of life of disobedience, earthly wealth and exploitation is important in exploring John as a fore-runner.

John the Baptist as a forerunner

John the Baptist was called to be a prophet. He was ordained by God to this office. Prophet Isaiah testified to this divine vocation. He wore camel's hair, leather girdle round his waist and his food was locusts and wild honey. Forerunner is a title which John the Baptist held because in him, the idea of preparing the way through preaching and going before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways found its fulfilment. A forerunner is of less importance than the person or persons for whose coming he is paving the way. John expects his audience to follow him in due course. A forerunner prepares a place for them in the many dwelling places of his father's house. Forerunner offers the assurance that one day audience would enter the heavenly bliss as Christ has did and would enjoy the glory which is now His. The forerunner is also the way by which after long following, the whole church would reach at last the father's house.

John as a forerunner gave a new impulse that sent him forth to make ready a people prepared for the Lord" (Lk 1:1). Douglas (1963) says after the spirit of prophecy came upon him, he quickly gained widespread fame as a preacher calling for national repentance. Crowds flocked to hear him, and many of his hearers were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.

John the Baptist's attitude to the established order in Israel was one of the radical commendations; nobody was bold and courageous enough to state that the axe is laid unto the roof of the trees. He denounced the religious leaders of the people as a broad of vipers, and denied that there was any value in the bare fact of descent from Abraham. This radical departure gave rise to the question: what shall we do?

A new beginning was necessary; the time had come to call out from the nation as a whole a loyal remnant who would be ready for the imminent arrival of the Coming One and the judgment which He would execute. John the Baptist's aim at giving the loyal remnant a distant and recognizable existence is suggested by the statement in Josephus that John was a good man who bade the Jews to practice virtue, be just to one another, and pious toward God, and come together by means of baptism. Repentance preceeds baptism and regeneration of life.

A religious community is entered by baptism. John the Baptist, therefore, preached a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. John's baptism was of deliberate turning away from the Jewish religious beliefs and practice which blinded the spirited reality expected of true worship of God. His teaching was characteristic of the age of restoration of au the devil had taken from the people and offers hope in the saving grace of God.

Lessons from John the Baptist Message of Repentance and the Quest for Peace in Nigeria

John's message of repentance is a message of hope by shading light in the redeeming work which John the Baptist heralded to the world. He made it clear that Jesus whom he prepared the way for came to seek and to save not Jews alone or adherents of Judeo-Christian religion, but those who were lost. In the same vein, he offered forgiveness, redemption and salvation freely to all who willingly, obediently and graciously receive him.

This u-turn is essential in the message of John the Baptist which Nigerians need to embrace. John's message of repentance remains a message of change from evil, weakness, exploitation, alienation, degradation and corruption to a spiritual inner renewal which encourages Nigerians to practice what is considered loving, ideal, noble and trustworthy.

Nigeria political leaders cannot be exonerated from the national woes. They seem cold, complacent and insensitive to the social, economic, political and spiritual decay of the day. Hence, there is lack of the political will, moral fibre and inability to pursue the sworn prophetic verdict. This weakness has a negative effect on the spiritual life of Nigerians and has weakened the quest for peace.

The oppressed Nigerians need liberation from their oppressors. They may not be political actors but the devil. For an effective moral revolution, repentance must be embarked upon. This is a renunciation of the agents of darkness in its entirety. The quest for peace is based on this reality. Nigerians need to learn that peace is linked with grace, life, righteousness and comes as a gift from God. The quest for peace in Nigeria is practical in establishing completeness, soundness, well-being and harmony. For effective quest for peace in Nigeria, one seeks the face of God through the word of God, prayer, material prosperity and spiritual wellbeing of others.

God is still interested in the welfare of Nigerians and does not leave Nigerians without a word, message and prophecy aimed at social transformation. John the Baptist message of repentance shows that God counts on Nigerian religious leaders to bring people to God.

Okanlawon (2012), states that John's baptism was called baptism of repentance and his message was centred on repentance and the forgiveness of sins. By implication, Nigeria needs a repentance that leads to a change of attitude and righteous lifestyle. This as a change Nigeria needs for positive transformation.

Nigerians especially the masses, the business class, the law makers and the armed forces are to hold their nation in high esteem. John the Baptist was salt and light of his people, so should men of God in Nigeria. As agent of reformation, men of God should bring hope, loyalty, obedience and should not place loyalty above truth. The message of repentance should bring out true humanity in the masses, business class and political actors. The conscience and true humanity of their audience and hearers should be appealed to for a better result and improved quest for peace in Nigeria. John the Baptist's message of repentance is the hallmark for peace in Nigeria. The choice is ours either to bear good fruits or the reverse. The reward depends on our choice. In Luke 3:8, he says, bear fruits that befit repentance. The blessings of Abrahams are for those not with stony hearts but a generation that bears good fruit. They are not cut down and thrown into the fire. The message of repentance is good news because of the love and selfless sacrifice, charity and compassionate concern it displayed. If Nigerians are at peace with themselves and with God, the challenges to peace as contained in Luke 3:3-6 would not affect them. They make their paths straight, filled every valley and mountains and hill brought low, crooked made strength the rough ways made smooth and all flesh shall see the salvation of God. Peace is a choice, let Nigerians give peace a chance.

The message of repentance if well articulated is capable of reducing political unrest, insecurity, ethnic clashes, threat by armed bandits, ritual killing, religious intolerance and immoral behaviours. Folaranmi (2012) is of the view that:

We are also living in the hot climate of economic hardship. There is no nutrient in our bodies because of the above. The things we used to cherish are no longer there. Honesty, faithfulness and godliness are no longer considered as necessary and valuable good names, honesty, faithfulness and godliness. (p.viii).

There is a strong indication from the above reality that Christian values especially the ones indicated above are hallmarks in Nigeria's quest for peace. The inability to accept this fact probably explains the reason, why our lawmakers fight physically in public over trivial matters. They have by this show of shame become law breakers.

The message of repentance by John the Baptist has made Christians in particular and Nigerians in general different if we must trek the path of honour. The systematic and expository message has either made us or brought out the light and salt in Nigerians. The quest for peace in Nigeria starts with the word of life which has the power to penetrate even on stone or rock. Christians as salt must permeate and penetrate every sphere of life. John has taught Nigerians to cherish peace in their efforts to have a healthy and stable Nigerian society.

John the Baptist's message of repentance calls for justice in the family, church, government and the society. There is substance in holding that without justice, fair play and the fear of God, the quest for peace is meaningless and may elude Nigeria. Religious leaders should not be used and developed by political leaders. John the Baptist as a forerunner had compassion and had to inject salt into the society. Christian leaders ought to do the same without compromising their vocation at the alter of materialism and other worldly pleasures. Christian godly character such as filial devotion, good conduct, and compassionate love for mankind, filial piety and fear of God must penetrate Nigerian society as was the case in Palestine. Adherence to the above lesson will reduce criticism, insensitivity to Nigeria's perilous time and improve understanding that it is only God that is good and perfects.

All hope is not lost in being architects of our problems. John the Baptist has given us ways to reconnect to help Nigeria in her quest for peace. The gospel of John 14:27 says: "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you, not as the word giveth, I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. The word of God sooths preserves and liberates people irrespective of tribe, colour and creed from all oppressions of the devil. The Bible holds the key to Nigerian's quest for peace. Reformation, regeneration and compassion need to start within.

It is evident that there are different types of Peace as articulated by scholars. Ibeanu (2006) refers to St. Augustine of Hippo who distinguished two cities namely, the city of God which is founded on perfect heavenly peace and spiritual salvation and the earthly city of man, which is founded on appetitive and oppressive impulses, is corrupt and torn by strife (p.5).

In a related distinction, Kaigama (2010) made two distinctions between negative and positive peace thus:-

Today people talk of what is termed "negative peace", that is the peace that springs from an absence of direct or systematic violence, but which does not mean that weapons are not easily available or social conditions of life have improved to the extent that hunger, ignorance and diseases have been drastically reduced "Negative peace" to my mind is the sort of peace enjoyed by Nigerians today. "Positive peace" however, is what we years for and should work for. Positive peace springs from the presence of instance throughout society with opportunities for all, a fair distribution of power and resources, protection from harm and impartial enforcement by law. Positive peace means the elimination of the root causes of war, violence and injustice.

Nigeria is in need of peace

The imperative of peace in Nigeria is focused on peace, justice, forgiveness and reconciliation which are inextricably linked to each other in buttressing the significance of reflecting on the communalities between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria. Chapman (1995) says that "one way to break out of the dead lock created by centuries of controversy between Muslims and Christians is to start with basic convictions that are common to both faiths and from there move to explore differences". (p.77). There is substance in holding strongly that peace, justice, forgiveness and reconciliation are ingredients of non-violence which Nigeria needs in order to chart a pathway towards inter-religious peace.

Christian-Muslim dialogue contains strong and effective teachings on themes that call for deeper understanding and application of non-violence approach to insurgency in Nigeria. The Christian-Muslim relations show that Nigeria has experienced religious tensions conflicts, insurgency, insecurity and violence because non-violent approach has not been appropriated in insurgency in Nigeria.

The scriptures provide enough resources to seek peace in the world. "Shalom" is used in the Old Testament to describe prosperity of a material sort.

Another lesson is in becoming giants of the kingdom of God. The message of repentance calls us to make u-turn. It requires working in obedience to the Kingdom's demands and heritage. Solomon loved the Lord and worked in obedience in the status of David his father only (lKg.3:3). Abraham worked for God in love and obedience. Another kingdom giant was David who was glad when asked to be in the presence of God. Joseph was obedient to God and feared God. If Nigerians love God, they must obey is word. The word of God does not only renew a right spirit within Nigerians, but it revives the souls of Nigerians, makes wise simple, encourages testimonies and enlightens the eyes. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Psalm 19:11 says they have great reward. Keeping away from the sin leads to righteousness which exalts a nation like Nigeria.


The word of God as contained in John the Baptist message of repentance remains an index for measuring the lessons of peace in Nigeria. A listening ear would appreciate that sin is a reproach to Nigeria. Uche (2008) succinctly states that:

Corruption has remained one of the oldest, most perplexing, dysfunctional concepts because of man's grace for absolute power which corrupts absolutely, giving rise to incurable cancerous body politics, public exploitation and abuse of public office. Corruption points to the transience of the present world• order which is subject to decay as contrasted the incorruptible inheritance reserved for believers. (p. 141).

The weight of corruption goes beyond the above reality. It reduces the overall wealth in Nigeria by discouraging business to operate in such corrupt setting and average income is more than three times lower. There are poor funding of education, lack of equipments, poor research grants, disease, hunger, unemployment which also account youth violence in Nigeria. It may be observed that a collective will of the Nigerians, institutions and functional relationships may not stamp out corruption which is the bane of Nigeria's woe.

Peace of God which is linked with grace removes sin's enmity through the sacrifice of Christ. This inward peace is built on the word of faith which John the Baptist preached to the crowd, the tax collectors and law enforcement agents which are relevant to the contemporary Nigeria situation. John the Baptist is message ushered in the messiah whose birth, ministry, death and resurrection are not in vain. Inward peace is built and sustained by the word of God and flows unhindered. Nigerians have learnt that they must be active to promote peace not merely as the elimination of discord but as the harmony and true functioning of the body of Christ.


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Okanlawon, S.O. (2012). John the Baptist's Message of Repentance: A model for the Rebranding Nigerian Campaign: In 13.0. Akintunde (Ed.) Biblical Studies and Rebranding Nigeria Campaign. Ibadan: Textlinks Publishers. Pp. 269 - 282.

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Communication is one of the basic skills in language learning. It is the first activity a child engages in the process of learning or acquiring a language. This goes to show that communication plays an important role in the formation of speech habit of a child in later life. As such, children should be encouraged to develop and cultivate the habit of being good communicators early in life. It is a well known fact that ability to communicate well will usually reflect in the quality of response a person gives when asked questions or for information. Since the main essence of language is to achieve communication through articulation, it becomes necessary to make such communication effective in order to achieve the intended meaning. The paper aims at giving answers for the following questions: What is communication, types of communication, importance of communication, how to develop effective communication skills in students and impediments to effective communication. It will also suggest strategies that could be used to teach effective communication skills to students. Suggestions on how to attain effective communication in the classroom were made.


The word communication is understood in many ways. To some, it means feeling or simple exchange of words, message and ideas between two or more persons. Some include the written form in which information is written on paper by means of signs and symbols. Some others include signs and body language as part of communication. Yet some conceive it as involving instruments used in the process of disseminating messages. All these interpretations represent the basic concept of communication. That of conveying our thought and feelings to other people through various means. Communication is not limited to human beings alone but essentially we are concerned with human communication which is the form of communication by which people interact and perpetuate social relations. This involves human language or the meaningful processing and interpretation of speech sounds, signs and symbols produced by human beings. To be effective, communication demands dissemination of ideas or knowledge. The disseminator must posses the ability to put across the ideas intelligently, lucidly, and convincingly. The recipient on the other hand must have what it takes to comprehend and assimilate the ideas for obvious reasons, the Igbo language is precisely the chosen language medium in this work hence it enhances effective communication among its speakers. However language generally is the primary agency or medium through which communication is affected. For interaction and communication among individuals to be effective, language must be maintained and sustained and transmitted from one generation to the other. Since the main essence of language is to achieve communication through articulation, it becomes necessary to make such communication effective in order to achieve the intended meaning.

What is Communication?

The word communication is understood in different ways by different people. Some see it as a message and ideas between two or more person's. Some see it as symbols and signs. Others see it as anything that can get message across, be it radio, television, newspapers etc.

In this paper we are talking about communication as a tool in all facets of life. Communication has been defined by different scholars. According to Berko (2010:9-12) communication is "the activity of conveying information through the exchange of thoughts, message or information either by speech, visual, signals, writing or behaviours. Jayaweera (2004) defined communication as an interaction process through which persons or group relate to each other and share information experience and culture.

In this case we are talking about communication as it affects language intoto. Communicating in this work is defined as the act of conveying our thought and feelings to other people and receiving in return their actions in accordance of the act. We are saying that in everything one does in life there must be communication act. A teacher teaches well because he is able to communicate well with the students. A student does well in the class because he is able to be a good listener in the class.

Effective communication is the glue that helps you deepen your connections to others and improve teamwork, decision making and problem solving. It enables you to communicate even negative or difficult messages without creating conflict or destroying trust.

Effective communication is also a two way street. Its not only how you convey a message so that it is received and understood by someone in exactly the way you intended, its also how you listen to gain the full meaning of what's being said and to make the other person feel heard and understood.

Types of Communication

Aliu (2001) outline the four main types of communications as follows:

a) Written Communication: Written communication includes email, letters, magazines, books and anything else transcribed into typed or handwritten words.

b) Verbal Communication: This includes speaking, music, sounds and language. It is theorized that language developed from sounds and gestures.

c) Non-Verbal Communication: This include signs, eye contact, sign language, sculpture, body movement, dancing, facial expressions, body posture and physical contact, the tone of your voice, the way you look, listen, move and react to another person tells them more about your feeling than words alone ever can.

d) Visual Communication: This type of communication involves a visual display, such as pictures, illustrations, charts, graphs, topography, television and other teaching aids (instructional materials).

Elements of Communication

According to Ahmad (2004), there are six elements or components of communication. They are:

a) Source (sender, encoder): The source is the person, who originates or initiates the action of speaking nor writing. In our case, the teacher is therefore the encoder who wants to convey a message to his students.

b) The Message: It is the information which has been carefully appropriated by the source for transmission. If be without a message there will be no communication.

c) Channel (Medium): This is medium through which the message is sent to its target. It could be verbal or non-verbal or in written form.

d) Receiver (Decoder, target Audience): It is the person who receives the message and decodes it, reacts to it and sends a feedback where necessary. In our case, the students are the decoder.

e) The Response: It is an initial reaction exhibited by the receiver of the message. It is also described as a change in behaviour. Response occurs before feedback. It may be positive or negative and may give rise to favourable or infavourable feedback (reply).

f) Feedback: This is the reply that comes after response. After receiving the message, the decoder interprets it from the codes or symbols used. Feedback initiates further communication processes such that the receiver now becomes a sender of a new message (i.e. the reply) and the former sender now comes the new receiver and so on till the message or communication act is terminated. Feedback thus makes communication a two-way process of reaching mutual understanding.

Importance of Communication

The importance of communication cannot be over emphasized because it is very important in learning a language and other subjects generally. For a learner to be able to exchange views and communication effectively, he must be a good communicator. Effective communication is an important life skill that enables us to better understand and connect with the people. Communication plays a fundamental role in all facets of life. The art of communication involves listening and speaking as well as reading and writing. Teachers make excellent teachers because they are able to transmit knowledge skills and values at the same time they communicate their caring for the students. Word Bank (2003:4) commenting on the significance of communication in the classroom, states that "...since language is the medium in which thinking takes place, effective communication aids thinking and understanding in the classroom."

Impediments to Effective Communication

There are many hindrances to effective communication. One of them is lack of agreement or dissonance. When a teacher does not agree with the students or the students do not agree with the teacher. It is not easy to pass the message. A language could be used to communicate when there is mutual agreement between the speaker and the listener.

Another important factor is the environment. If the teacher and the students are in a noisy environment, the voice of the speaker may be drowned in the noisy atmosphere. In that case, it does not reach the target audience.

Another setback in communication lies in illiteracy or level of the understanding of the listeners. Again, a message may be overloaded thereby making it difficult for the audience to catch up. In language, every speaker is expected to choose the right word or words for his message. It is only when this is done that the problem of speech redundancy will be reduced. Every language makes meaning when the speaker uses the right word and the listeners are ready for the message. No meaningful learning transaction takes place where there is breakdown in communication

How to Develop Effective Communication skills in Students

A classroom environment relies heavily on the quality of communication taking place within it. As a teacher, taking steps towards improving the communication skills of your students will contribute positively towards your classroom climate. Students with effective communication skills will be more likely to contribute to class discussions, will be more productive members in group projects, and will ultimately gain more from their experience in class. The following steps can be implemented to improve your students' communication skills with the intent to strengthening the classroom experience.

Steps for Improving Students Communication Skills

  • Encourage all students to participate in class discussion. Avoid focusing on the students that are always willing to answer. Look for responses from the entire classroom, and be willing to take the time for them to emerge.
  • Assign frequent opportunities for small group discussion. The more often students work together in order to contribute to the larger discussion, the more comfortable they will become within the classroom environment, increasing their willingness to communicate.
  • Establish the ground rules and norms for class discussion early on specific elements, such as when a speaker should raise their hand, and more intangible aspects such as the tone for the classroom environment you establish, will help your students understand how communication works within the classroom.
  • Adopt a policy of openness with your students. When you make a change to the class structure, or give an assignment, be open with your students about your intentions and seek their feedback. By treating them with respect and openness, you will help foster an environment of trust with your students, increasing their likelihood of open communication.

Strategies for Effective Communication

Communication is both receptive and expressive. Teachers must be skilled at listening to their students as well as explaining things clearly. Teachers need clarity of thought to present the material.

The teachers must be able to breakdown complex ideas into simpler parts and smaller steps to transmit to their students. The teachers must be able to adopt their methods of communication to all students regardless of the ability or learning style.

The teachers are able to "read" their students and adapt to the needs of the individual.

Effective communication includes transforming the boring into the interesting and having good presentation skills. Good teachers care about their students' progress and let their students know it at all times.

The teachers learn their students' names early in the school year and use their names when addressing them.

Good teachers get to know their students' hopes, fears and preferences and communicate this knowledge to their students.

The teachers communicate their appreciation for what their students do by celebrating their successes and constantly encouraging them. This helps students feel recognized and validated.


  • A conducive environment should be provided for learners.
  • Teachers of communication skills should be good models
  • The teacher of Igbo must be very knowledgeable in the language. He should have a good command of both the spoken and written forms of the language.
  • The teacher makes use of visual displays, such as pictures, illustration, charts, graphs and other appropriate teaching aids (instructional materials).
  • The teacher should become an engaged listener, avoid dominating the discussion, allow your students to say their mind - good listening skills and showing a genuine interest are attributes of a successful communication.
  • Teacher should ensure that his students are interested in the topic/discussion. Students learn faster if the lesson is interesting, challenging and relevant to their needs.
  • Teacher should appreciate their students by celebrating their successes and constantly encouraging them. This helps students feel recognized and validated.
  • Teachers must be able to breakdown complex ideas into simpler parts and smaller steps to transmit to their students.
  • Teacher should ensure that they "read" their students and adapt to the needs of the individual.
  • Teachers should care about their students' progress and let their students know it.


Since language is the medium in which thinking takes place, effective communication aids thinking and understanding in the classroom. Teachers of Igbo should therefore, endeavour to create channels of communication between them and their students in the teaching - learning process. The teachers should be able to employ the above mentioned techniques and strategies in his teaching. He should not hold on to only one method, but use a variety of methods to avoid monotony and boredom. The teacher should be able to satisfy the interest and abilities of the different pupils in the class. This will go a long way in their students to derive benefit from what has been taught thereby resulting in improved performances in students in the subject.


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