TOEFL Speaking and Writing Point of View: Soring high on the speaking and writing sections involve a number of factors. Among those are how well you control your grammar and vocabulary. In addition, you need to choose the appropriate tone. The TOEFL lesson and practice that you see here will help you to be more consistent in your TOEFL Speaking and Writing Point of View.
TOEFL Point of View in Speaking and Writing: Background for point of view
Simply put point of view is the perspective from which someone speaks or writes.
First person: I, we
The “I” point of view works well when you want focus on yourself as either an author or speaker. This point of view creates a more personal, less formal tone.
I believe that studying in groups is much better than studying alone because I can get answers to my questions about the class content. For instance, last year in my biology class I was having trouble learning cell division. Before the test, I decided to attend a group study. During that session, I was able to ask other students in the class about two terms that I did not quite understand: meiosis and mitosis, two forms of cell division. Others in the group answered my questions about these two terms, which better prepared me for the upcoming test. As a result of getting answers to my questions about cell division, I scored a 91% on that test.
Second person: you
The “you” point of view directly addresses the reader. As such, this tone works well when you are instructing your audience to take certain steps or measures. The instructional “you” point of view, therefore, creates an instructional or impersonal tone. In either case, the second person point of view is NOT needed during the writing or speaking sections of the TOEFL iBT.
In order to improve your reading, you should engage in five important activities. 1) You should be reading books, magazines, or articles for about 45 minutes every day. 2) You should be actively studying vocabulary with the aim of learning 1,700 college-level words. 3) It is also important that you improve your reading speed to at least 350 words per minute with 60%-80% comprehension. 4) Furthermore, you should get familiar with the TOEFL iBT reading question types and the strategies for answering them. 5) Finally, once you have completed steps 1-4 for an extended period, you should complete TOEFL-level practice tests so that you can monitor your comprehension.
The “you” point of view is appropriate since the writer is instructing his audience on how to improve their reading comprehension.
Third person: he, she, it, they
The third person point of view focuses more on the information and less on the writer or the audience. Thus, this point of view creates a more formal, factual, and explanatory tone to your speaking or writing tasks.
First of all, the reading passage reports that the critical period theory explains how children learn language from about 0 – 12 or 13 years, within which the cognitive affective filters of the brain remain open. Once children get past 12-13 years of age, they will find it significantly more difficult to learn a new language. Conversely, the speaker in the lecture casts doubt on the critical period theory. Children who are past the critical period, according to the speaker, may have difficulties learning the language not because they are past a certain period but because their attitudes, stress, or limited exposure make it more difficult to learn.
In this case, the writer wants to objectively focus on the most important points in the reading and listening passages. Therefore, the third person point of view works better.
TOEFL Point of View in Speaking and Writing: Point of view for independent speaking task
During this speaking task, use the first or third person points of view. Do not use the second person point of view.
Prompt: Some like vacationing at the beach, whereas others prefer to vacation in the desert. Discuss the advantages of vacationing at the beach.
Vacationing at the beach offers more entertainment options. For instance, when I went to Huntington Beach during the summer, we swam in the ocean for a few hours. Then on the beach we built a 5 x 6 foot sand castle as a family. Once we tired of the water and the sand, my family and I walked to a beach road, along which there was a series of quaint shops. In one of the shops, we saw some unique beach tourist items that we decided to buy. Therefore, my experience proves that the beach offers multiple entertainment options for those who want to vacation there.
The writer’s purpose is to argue from his own perspective; therefore, the first and third person points of view work well.
TOEFL Point of View in Speaking and Writing: Point of view for integrated speaking tasks 2-4
During the integrated speaking tasks, your purpose is to summarize the main points of the reading and listening passages. In addition, you are not trying to argue anything, so you need an objective, formal tone. Hence, the third person point of view gives you the most appropriate tone. Notice in the below mock response the absence of any personal pronouns such “we” or “I.”
The reading passage explains an economic principle called the survival of the fittest, and the speaker in the lecture gives an example to further illustrate the concept.
First of all, according to the author, survival of the fittest explains that only the strongest of a species will survive and that subsequent variations of that species will evolve, hence making future generations more likely to adapt certain physical characteristics to ensure their survival.
Second of all, the speaker in the lecture explains how the duckbilled platypus has evolved. For instance, biologists believe that this small mammal at one point did not have webbed feet. However, in order for the platypus to avoid being eaten by larger prey, asserts the speaker, it adapted by learning how to swim. As the species spent more and more time in the water, the platypus developed webbed feet so that it could move through the water more efficiently, concludes the speaker.
Point of view for independent writing task
Similar to the independent speaking task, your point of view during the independent writing task should be the first and third person. Writing from these two perspectives helps you to focus on your own personal experiences and also the experiences of others. Do NOT use the “you” point of view during this task.
Vacationing in the desert is favored by those who have motorcycles, quads, dune buggies, and motor homes. These so-called desert rats , or weekend warriors as they are so affectionately called, typically go to the desert on Friday and stay there until Sunday afternoon. To illustrate, my family and I own a recreation vehicle along with a few motorcycles and quads. Typically, we go to a spot in the Mojave Desert just outside of Victorville, California to enjoy our weekend getaway while we ride our motorized vehicles in the hot desert sand. Our neighbors sometimes go with us, so we have a micro-community in which we eat by the fire pit and talk about how our lives are going while we drink a few beers.
Point of View Quiz for Independent Speaking Task
This short quiz will be based on the following speaking prompt:
Some people prefer to live in a city, while others prefer to live in the country. Which option is the better choice for you? Use specific examples from your personal experiences.
As you read each answer, choose the most appropriate point of view for this type of speaking task. Also, consider which answer best addresses the requirements of the speaking task.
A. Living in the city offers more employment opportunities.
B. You will find more employment opportunities if you live in the city.
A. For instance, when one moves to a big city, he/she will be able to find work since the larger cities have more companies.
B. For instance, my brother moved to Houston, Texas, which has a population of 3 million people. It only took him three weeks to find a high-paying job there.
A. If you choose to live in the country, your job prospects will be dramatically restricted.
B. Living in the country will greatly limit a person’s job prospects.
A. For example, small towns typically do not have a lot of jobs since the population is so limited. As a result, if you move there, you will have a difficult time finding employment. So, if you are trying to save money to pay your bills, do not move to a small town unless you already have a job offer before going there.
B. To illustrate, I moved to a small town called Statesboro, Georgia. I was attending the university there, and I wanted to work part time so I could save up money to pay my tuition. However, after a few weeks of searching for a job, I came up empty handed. There were no jobs in the town at all.
A. I like larger cities because I will have more entertainment options. To illustrate, when I lived in Las Vegas, Nevada, if I was hungry, I could go to the South Point Casino and get steak and eggs anytime after midnight until 5:00am. In addition, most casinos, such as the MGM Grand and New York, New York, are open 24 hours a day, and they have movie theatres, bowling, roller coasters, and Ferris wheels that I can enjoy.
B. Larger cities provide more entertainment options. In Las Vegas, for instance, one can eat food at almost any time of the day or night. The casinos do not close so you will have access to whatever attractions are provided. A variety of attractions will give you many options to entertain yourself whether you like watching movies or riding Ferris wheels.
Point of View Quiz for Integrated Speaking Tasks 2-4
Imagine that you are reading a passage explaining a concept called survival of the fittest. Then you listen to a lecture that gives an example of a mammal called a platypus that further illustrates the concept. Then you see the following speaking prompt:
Explain how the information in the lecture supplements the information in the reading passage.
Choose which answer uses the most appropriate point of view.
A. The reading passage defines an academic concept called survival of the fittest, and the speaker gives the example of a small mammal to further discuss the concept.
B. In this reading passage, we read a definition about an academic concept called survival of the fittest, and the speaker gives us the example of a small mammal to further the concept.
A. To sum up, I learned that the platypus has made adaptations to its feet so that it can more easily swim through the water, so I think this information expands on the definition mentioned by the author in the reading passage.
B. To sum up, the platypus has made adaptations to its feet, as the speaker asserts, so that it can more easily swim through the water, so this information expands on the definition of the survival of the fittest mentioned by the author in the reading passage.
A. The speaker explains that you may not even recognize at first glance a platypus because it is one of the most oddly formed creatures on the planet: a duck-billed mouth, an otter-like body, and a beaver-like tail.
B. The speaker explains that observers may not even recognize at first glance a platypus because it is one of the most oddly formed creatures on the planet: a duck-billed mouth, an otter-like body, and a beaver-like tail.
A. According to the lecture, the platypus has evolved by developing webbed feet to help it swim more quickly through the water. This adaptation, according to the speaker, has two benefits: 1) the webbed feet make it easier to escape predators. 2) the webbed feet make it easier for the small mammal to catch fish and other animal life in the water.
B. You learn from lecture that the platypus has evolved by developing webbed feet to help it swim more quickly through the water. We also learn that this adaptation, according to the speaker, has two benefits: 1) the webbed feet make it easier to escape predators. 2) the webbed feet make it easier for the small mammal to catch fish and other animal life in the water.
A. Overall, it is learned from both the reading and the listening passage that evolution is a key factor that ensures that survival of a species.
B. Overall, we can get a sense from both the reading and the listening passage that evolution is a key factor that ensures that survival of a species.
Independent Writing Task Quiz
This quiz will be based on the following writing prompt:
Some workers prefer to work for one company all of their lives, whereas other workers like to change jobs frequently. Discuss which view you prefer and why. Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.
A. Changing jobs is the best option inasmuch as it gives me more opportunities for promotions.
B. Changing jobs is the best option inasmuch as it gives you more opportunities for promotions.
A. For instance, I used to work for Hewlett Packard for three years as a marketing manager. After two years and no pay raises, I began looking elsewhere and ended up changing to Microsoft Inc, in which I was hired as one of 10 vice presidents for the company. My pay at my new job was 40% higher than that of my previous job.
B. For instance, workers who leave jobs can go to another job and perhaps get a better position and better pay. Sometimes, if you are working at Home Depot and you are only barely getting a living wage, you can start interviewing at other jobs until you find another position that will give you a higher position and more pay.
A. In addition, I can have more opportunities to learn if I change jobs frequently.
B. Further, more opportunities can be learned by changing jobs a lot.
A. Others who stay at the same job will not get your pay increased as often.
B. If I stay at one job for most of my life, I will not get as many pay increases.
A. For instance, my cousin Scott used to work at an engineering firm and then he changed his job after two years. Now he works for the state of California with a 35% pay increase.
B. To illustrate, if you change jobs more, you will more likely find another job that will pay you more than the previous one.
Integrated Writing Task Quiz
Imagine that you are reading a passage about what to do in case of a bear attack. The reading explains three important ways to defend yourself. However, the lecture disagrees with the method of defense and explains alternative steps to take if you are attacked by a bear. Then you see the following question:
How does the information in the listening passage cast doubt on the information mentioned by the author in the reading passage.
Choose which answer uses the most appropriate point of view and tone.
A. I learned from the reading passage that a hiker should always run from the bear if it appears to attack you.
B. The reading passage explains that hikers should always run from the bear if it appears to be attacking them.
A. The reading passage explains three things that hikers should do if a bear attacks, and the speaker in the lecture casts doubt on each of those claims.
B. Although the reading passage explains three things that hikers should do if a bear attacks, the speaker in the lecture casts doubt on each of those claims.
A. If a bear approaches, hikers should run to the nearest tree and climb it as quickly as possible.
B. If a bear approaches, according to the author, hikers should run to the nearest tree and climb it as quickly as possible.
A. Certain that the bear is attacking, hikers should shoot the bear as many times as they can, asserts the author in the reading passage. On the other hand, the speaker recommends that bear spray, not a gun, is the best possible deterrent in a bear attack.
B. Certain that the bear is attacking, you should shoot the bear as many times as they can, asserts the author in the reading passage. On the other hand, the speaker recommends that bear spray, not a gun, is the best possible deterrent that we should use in a bear attack.
A. When you see a bear standing on its hind legs, according to the author, the large mammal is getting ready to a attack.
B. When a bear stands on its hind legs, according to the author, the large mammal is getting ready to a attack.
At my TOEFL Speaking and Writing Service, during TOEFL Skype Lessons, and at Online TOEFL Course, I have graded 1000’s and 1000’s of TOEFL speaking and writing practice tests. Point of view shifts/inconsistencies and inappropriate tone are common language use errors among my online TOEFL students. These frequently occurring problems motivated me to create this lesson you are reading right now.
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