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TOEFL Tip #209: Compare The English in Different News Stories on the Same Topic

by Strictly English TOEFL Tutors on June 22, 2013

 

Strictly English is a strong proponent of using news sources to improve your English. You can improve your listening and reading skills by reading the news. The more you immerse yourself in English, the more thoroughly English will become your second language.

 

This post expands on an idea mentioned in our discussion of using 360 Research to improve your English. As you read about one news story in a variety of sources, observe the level of formality for the English used in each source. A story in The New York Times, for example, will use formal English, but someone’s blog post will likely more causal. Twitter or Facebook are even more causal.

 

How can you know if a writer or speaker is using English formally or informally?

 Look at the grammar and word choice. Formal English doesn’t use contractions or slang expressions; sentences are always complete, and the vocabulary is sophisticated. Informal English often uses contractions, text-speak abbreviations (LOL), and other slang phrases. Sentences may not be complete, and vocabulary is often simple.

 

Also, context is often useful for understanding how formally or informally someone is speaking or writing. Writing a blog that your friends will read is different from writing a newspaper story for the general public. The blog might make jokes, or exaggerate a particular aspect of the story, or use colorful vocabulary; the newspaper story doesn’t. Understanding the differences between those two audiences will help you to notice the different levels of English.

 

This is important for the TOEFL exam because you should be using a fairly formal level of English in your written and spoken answers. This shows stronger mastery of English, and an ability to choose the right level of English for the right audience.

 

So, as you are reading and listening to various sources of English, be sure to take note of how the writers and speakers differ from each other.


Categories: Listening,Reading,Speaking,TOEFL for Pharmacy,TOEFL for University,TOEFL Preparation,Vocabulary,Writing

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