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Session 6

How long should you wash your hands? In today’s episode we will be discussing handwashing and hygiene.
Yeroo hangami harka dhiqachuu qabna? Kutaa qophii har’aan waa’ee harka dhiqachuufi qulqullinaa mari’anna.

Session 6 score

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    Activity 1

Activity 1

How long should you wash your hands?

Look at the Session Vocabulary – make sure you know what these words mean:

  • hygiene
  • viruses
  • to waste


How long can cold viruses and bacteria survive outside of our body and on our hands? 
a. more than a few minutes
b. more than an hour
c. more than a week

Listen to Sam, Kee and Ammayyuu discussing hygiene and handwashing and find out the answer.

Listen to find the answers. Then check them on the transcript below.

Show transcript Hide transcript

Yooyyaa, gara English Together Afaan Inglizii waliwajjinii mata duree tibbanaa irratti mari’annutti qooqa barachuun si barbaachisuu si qoodinutti baga nagana dhufte.
Ani Amayyudha, har’as Saam akkasumas Kiim nawaliin jiru.

Hello, I’m Sam.

And I’m Kee. Welcome to the programme!

Har’a harka sirriitti dhiqachuun tamsa’ina vaayirasiifi baakteeriyaa ittisuun danda’urratti dubbachuuf jirra. Kun nu ajaaibeera: vaayirasiiwwanii fi baakteeriyaan qaama keenyaarraa fi harka keenyarra yeroo hangamiif lubbuun turu danda’a? Vaayirasiiwwan utaallo qabsiisan irratti qofa xiyyeeffanna- Akka Tajaajilli Fayyaa Biyyaalessaa Biritish jedhutti, harka keenya hindhiqamne irratti yeroo hangamiif lubbuun jiraachuu danda’u sitti fakkaata?

a. Daqiiqaawwan muraasaa ol
b. Sa’aa tokkoo ol
c. Torban tokkoo ol

Those are very different lengths of time!

Yes! A week seems too long, don’t you think?

Marii gochuu keenya dura odeeffannoo BBCn bu’aa qo’annoo dhiheenya waa’ee dhiqannaa harkaarratti baase haacaqasnu. Gaafiwwaniif booda deebi sii kennina.

News insert
Do you know how long you should take to wash your hands? The time it takes to sing Happy Birthday – twice. Or, in other words, around 20 seconds. A recent survey in the UK suggests 84% of adults don’t wash their hands for long enough. This means people are not washing away possibly harmful germs which can cause infection and lead to colds or flu. Handwashing can have a big effect on the public health of a country. Proper handwashing would, for example, prevent nearly a third of diarrhoea cases each year.


20 seconds? Really?

Yeah, I didn’t realise the length of time was so important.

But that’s a good tip that they give – to sing Happy Birthday twice as you’re washing your hands.

Come on, Sam. Are you really going to start singing to yourself in the bathroom now?

If it helps me wash harmful germs away, sure!

Sam sings all the time anyway! ‘Harmful germs’ jechuun jermiiwwan dhukkuba fidan.

It’s true, Sam, you’re always singing. So what do these harmful germs do, exactly?

Didn’t you hear what they said? They can cause infection.

Yes, they said they can ‘cause infection’ infekshinii/dhukkuba fidu, and ‘lead to colds or flu’ qufaa ykn utaallootti nama qabsiisu.

So, if not washing my hands properly can cause infection and lead to colds and flu, it can basically make me ill?

Yes, Kee!

And what did they say about how we can prevent illnesses?

Ah, so you were listening, Kee. ‘Prevent’ jechuun ittisuudha.

They said that proper handwashing could prevent more than 30% of diarrhoea cases each year. That’s quite a lot, don’t you think?

Yes it is! Deebiiwwan gaafii armaan dura si gaafanne haa’ilaallu. Vaayirasiiwwan qufaa harka keenya hindhiqamnerra hanga hammamiif lubbuun turu danda’u?
a. Daqiiqaawwan muraasaa ol
b. Sa’aa tokkoo ol
c. Torban tokkoo ol
Deeiinsaa (a)dha. Vaayirasiiwwan heddu kan qufaa fidan harkawwan keenyarratti daqiiqaawwan muraasaaf qofa lubbuun jiraachuu danda’u.

Wait a minute! If the viruses only survive for a few minutes, then I don’t need to wash my hands for 20 seconds. Hygiene is important, yes, but what about all the water?

‘Hygiene’ jechuun qulqullina . You’re right, Kee. Washing your hands for 20 seconds does mean using a lot of water.

You can still have good hygiene without wasting water. You can use a bowl, for example!

A ‘bowl’ qodaa golboo harka keessatti dhiqatan or a ‘bucket’ gabateen bishaaniis ni ta’a.

Ok, so let me see if I understand correctly. You want me to wash my hands in a bowl or a bucket, for 20 seconds, while singing Happy Birthday? Here? At work?

Ha ha! Yes. I’d love to see that.

I’d rather get a cold, thanks.

We’ll remind you of that next time you’re ill, Kee.
Atihoo? Turtii hangamiin harkakee dhiqata? Dhukkubsachuurra otuu ‘prevent’ si godhuu beekta ta’ee, wayita harka dhiqatu sirba guyyaa dhalootaa sirbitaa? Waa’een ‘hygiene’ waanta sidhiphisuudhaa? Barnoota torban kanaa goolabuun dura, jechoota har’a dubbachaa turre haa’ilaallu - hundisaanii dhukkubsachuutti hidhata qabu. ‘Harmful germ’ jarmiiwwan dhukkuba qabsiisan; ‘cause infection’ dhukkuba fidu; ‘lead to colds or flu’ qofaa/utaalloottu nama qabata; ‘prevent’ ittisuu; akkasumas ‘hygiene’ qulqullina. Waan nu waliin turteef galatoomi. English Together Afaan Inglizii dabalataaf turban dhufu wal agarra.

Meaning & Use 

harmful germs (adjective + noun)

harmful means 'to cause damage'.
 You should wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from the harmful rays of the sun.

germs are microorganisms that cause disease or illness.
 Cover your mouth when you sneeze! I don't want your germs!

They can be used separately or together.
 I always wash my hands after I get off the bus. With so many people taking public transport, I'm worried I could pick up lots of harmful germs.

to cause (an) infection (verb + noun)

to cause means 'to make something - usually something bad - happen'.
 Diabetes can cause blindness.

an infection is a type of illness.
 I had a terrible tooth infection so I went to the dentist's.

They can be used separately or together.
 Harmful germs on people's unwashed hands can cause infection.

to lead to colds and flu (verb + noun)

to lead to means 'to connect one thing to another' or 'to cause something to happen'. It can be physical or not.
 A path through the park leads to the beach. (physical)
 The decision to cut pay will lead to many people being very unhappy. (not physical)

a cold is a common infection. It is a countable noun.
 I have a terrible cold. Don't come near me!

flu is short for 'influenza'. We can use 'the' or no article before it.
 Susie is in bed with the flu. She can't come to work today.

to prevent (verb)

to prevent means 'to stop or keep something from happening'.
 Please wear your seatbelt in the car. It will help prevent injury if we have an accident.

hygiene (noun)

good hygiene involves keeping things clean to stop disease or illness.
 We were sick after we ate at that restaurant because it has poor food hygiene.


How long should you wash your hands?

4 Questions

Choose the correct answer.
Deebii sirrii ta’e fili.

Congratulations you completed the Quiz
Excellent! Great job! Bad luck! You scored:
x / y

Over to you!

Do you think about how long you wash your hands? Would you sing Happy Birthday while washing your hands if you knew it could prevent you getting ill? Is good hygiene something you worry about? Tell us on our Facebook group.

Join us for our next episode of English Together when we will learn more useful language and practise your listening skills.
Barnoota English Together ittaanu kan dandeettii caqasuukee ittiin shaakaltuufi qooqa barbaachisoo barannutti walitti deebina.

Session Vocabulary

  • harmful germs
    jarmiiwwan dhukkuba fidan

    to cause infection
    infeekshinii/dhukkuba fidan

    to lead to colds or flu
    qufaa yookiin utaalloo fidu

    to prevent




    to waste