Listen to this post: pronounshifts
Huge problems with point of view shifts in my TOEFL and in my college composition classes warrant a thorough discussion of why consciously choosing an appropriate point of view BEFORE you start writing or speaking will dramatically reduce the number of errors in your TOEFL iBT independent and integrated speaking and writing tasks.
you you (all)
he, she, it they
you you (all)
him, her, it them
his, her, its their
his, hers theirs
himself, herself, itself themselves
First of all, that you deliberately choose a point of view and stay consistent with that point of view indicates to TOEFL iBT human raters a rhetorical awareness of your speaking and writing. Second of all, you will score higher on the TOEFL iBT speaking and writing tasks since having a rhetorical awareness indicates advanced grammar knowledge and since you will have fewer errors with pronouns shifts, the act of randomly shifting pronouns.
Many speakers and writers, native and non-native speakers alike, have remarkable problems in this area. Consider the following sentence taken from my college composition class. The purpose of this part of the writing assignment is to summarize a writer named Deborah Tannen:
In “Talk in the Intimate Relationship: His and Hers,” you will learn about Tannen’s concept of meta-messages and the cultural differences between males and females.
Since the purpose of the “you” point of view is to give direct instruction to the reader, it is odd to use that point of view in a summary whose purpose is to condense a large amount of text into a smaller version. A summary focuses on the content not on directly instructing the audience. Therefore, the above sentence should be written more formally:
In “Talk in the Intimate Relationship: His and Hers,” Tannen discusses the concept of meta-messages and the cultural differences between males and females.
To conclude this blog post, consider the following tips as they apply to your TOEFL iBT speaking and writing:
1. Choose a point of view that matches the purpose of the TOEFL iBT speaking or writing task.
2. Do not randomly shift your pronouns during a TOEFL iBT speaking or writing task.
3. Record your voice regularly as you practice TOEFL iBT speaking tasks and pay particular attention to problems with pronouns. Make the necessary adjustments so that you minimize the errors you make in this area.
4. As you practice your TOEFL iBT writing tasks, you should also pay close attention to any problems with any point of view shifts.
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