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Update: IB Language and Literature Guide

In February 2019 the IB published a new guide on Language A: Language and Literature for the Diploma Programme, and in October of 2019 an even newer version replaced this document. As IB teachers know, changes to the guide come with changes to assessment and methods of course delivery. So what are the major changes and how can teachers adapt their teaching methods to ensure for successful results?

First of all, gone are the days of ‘parts’ that correspond to assessment components. Instead the IB has provided teachers and students with 3 ‘areas of exploration’ (AOEs) which are essentially 3 sets of questions for engaging with literary works and non-literary bodies of work (BOWs). Students are expected to record their engagement with these works in a learner portfolio, showing connections to various fields of inquiry and seven concepts. Furthermore, the portfolio is a place for students to develop the skills that are needed for paper 1, paper 2, the individual oral and (for higher level students) the higher level essay.

At SL Paper 1 is an analysis of a single, unseen, non-literary text written in one and a half hours. At HL, Paper 1 consists of two separate analyses of both nonliterary texts from the same exam booklet in 2 hours and 15 minutes.

Paper 2, shared by SL and HL students of Literature and Language and Literature, consists of 4 unseen questions that ask students to compare and contrast 2 literary works.

The HL Essay is a 1,200-1,500-word essay in which students explore a ‘line of inquiry’ of choice, in relation to a BOW or literary work.

The individual oral is a 10-minute talk, followed by a 5-minute discussion, in which students explore an extract from a non-literary BOW, the BOW, an extract from a literary work, the literary work and a common ‘global issue’.

The assessment criteria for all 4 components are similar, asking students to show: A) understanding and interpretation, B) analysis and evaluation, C) organization and D) effective use of language.

With this new guide, the IB has created opportunities for students and teachers to explore texts in meaningful ways. For further understanding of this guide, check out ‘English A: Language and Literature for the IB Diploma’ by Brad Philpot (Cambridge University Press) or Philpot Education’s Support Site for English A: Language and Literature.

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