The English IO is often considered to be a very stressful part of the IB English curriculum. But I am here to hopefully calm some of your nerves by sharing thorough tips and my takeaways as I completed my oral earlier this year.
I am by no means an expert. I am simply an IB graduate who performed well on their IO and would like to share tips to help others be successful. My 2 part article will be based on specific steps and tips. These 2 articles will cover steps in a chronological manner – starting from initial planning, organizing, to executing your oral! For Part 2, I will delve into more content based insight and how to execute your IO.
1. Skillfully incorporating device and literary analysis
Do not forget that ultimately this is an English Oral. Sometimes, students get too focused on talking about the global issue or they end up trying to fit too much vague content into the 10 minute time slot. Remember that the emphasis is on how the author of your texts relays the message and purpose using stylistic or persuasive devices to their respective target readers.
In your oral, if you are analysing text by text, it is recommended that you dissect and explain 2-3 quotes per text, and how the author uses devices to convey their message. A useful tip is to analyse 2-3 devices per quote.
Here is how I would analyse a quote. For example, if you have a quote that states that: “The UN estimates that 200 million women and girls have undergone female genital mutilation in 31 countries (Salih 2020),” what could be some devices you can extract and talk about? Well, there are numbers provided, so there is statistical evidence in this quote. The statistical evidence builds on the logos (which is when there is logical evidence such as scientific data or numbers provided) for the readers. The statistical evidence also allows the readers to visualize the large extent of this problem. Other than statistical evidence, you can also talk about ethos (which emphasizes ethics and credibility) because the United Nations is a credible established organization. The ethos helps the readers understand this situation from the perspective of the UN. So from my own mini analysis here, you can see that I identified 2 devices from this quote and talked about how the impact of the device on the readers and how it pushes forward the global issue.
Remember to spend a good amount of time annotating and finding key devices and relevant quotes from both texts!
2. Incorporating a “compare and contrast” section
As mentioned earlier, it is not required to have a compare and contrast part in your oral. However it is highly encouraged and you can sprinkle it throughout your IO, use it as a basis to structure your IO, or mention it along with your conclusion. I personally included compare and contrast bits along with my conclusion. I talked about the difference in point of view, intended audience, and literary devices.
Some basic factors of comparison include the genre of your text, the audience, the purpose, the literary devices, the format, and more. So pick any of these that are meaningful and talk in detail about how they differ between your texts. For example, if the genre of one text is a graphic novel and your other text is an informative column, you can talk about the differences in tone and mood of the language. Do not spend too much time on this part but it is great to include some bits of comparison to develop your analysis!
3. Ending it right!
The conclusion is very important but it is also often the part where students are running short on time. Therefore, it is best to prepare carefully beforehand and have a simple yet effective conclusion. The conclusion should be around 1 minute or less. In this part, summarize your main analysis from each text one at a time. Then combine your analysis within your perfect fit common global issue statement.
A tip to take your conclusion beyond the requirements is to tie your global issue or contextual background into relevance to the world today. Another tip would be to briefly mention other works by your author if you have not already. For example, if I was analyzing the song “Alright,” by Kendrick Lamar, I could briefly talk about his other songs. I could say something like, “Lamar also draws on his experiences with racism in Compton, California by using anecdotal evidence and taboo language in his other songs like, ‘M.A.A.D city’.” It is a simple but good way to show the examiners that you are well read and versed with the author of your texts.
Do not forget to clearly summarize all your ideas and finish your oral by restating your theme and global issue statement in more depth and tie it into the effect on the intended audience.
4. Responding well in the Q&A section
After your 10 minute oral, there is a 5 minute question and answer session with your teacher. This is a part where you can add on to your oral or have a chance to say elements you might have missed. Your teachers will ask you questions based on factors they want you to clarify or develop on. For example, they might ask you, “who would be another target audience for this text?” or “what is the mood of Text A versus Text B?.”
In my oral, I was asked to highlight another quote from your text that showed the conflict and global issue. I was also asked about the difference in the point of view of the authors of each of the texts. You may be asked general questions about which author was more effective in their use of stylistic and persuasive devices. Stay calm and answer to the best of your ability!
I hope you found this article and the previous one helpful! I have full faith in all of you that you will come out successful! Remember to take your time planning and writing out your scripts and outlines. Solid planning and making use of your resources will help you feel confident and well prepared! Talk to your teachers often to be clear on the guidelines and your content. Finally, choose texts you like so you can really enjoy and learn from this assignment! Good luck!