Academic Group 2 Subjects Uncategorized

Overview: English B SL/HL

Note: First assessment 2020

Language acquisition, also known as Group 2, aims to develop students’ ability in the use of languages other than their preferred language. It is a requirement for the IB diploma programme that students must study at least one language from Group 2. As a student who is doing IB English B, I will be doing an overview on this subject to help you have a better understanding of the course!

What will you learn?

The Language B curriculum framework compared to other subject groups is a bit more flexible. With the Language B guide providing specific guidance on topics or skills required for students. Students will mainly build their language ability (reading, writing, listening, and speaking) through exploring 5 different prescribed themes. These include identities, experiences, human ingenuity, social organisation, and sharing the planet. 

Assessment outline 

Paper 1: Writing 

Students will be required to complete one of three writing tasks, with different prescribed themes for each choice. SL students have to write 250-400 words within 1 hour and 15 minutes.HL students on the other hand have to write 450-600 words within 1 hour and 30 minutes. Paper 1 is out of 30 marks and it counts for 25% of your overall grade for both levels.

Paper 2: Reading and Listening 

Paper 2 has two sections, one for reading and the other for listening. Students will complete a listening comprehension consisting of 3 audio passages that is out of 25 marks. The listening exam lasts 45 minutes for SL and 1 hour for HL.

The reading comprehension consists of three written texts that is out of 40 marks and it is an 1 hour exam for both SL and HL.

Individual Oral (IO)

The IO is internally assessed by your subject teacher and externally moderated by the IB. There is however a slight differences between SL and HL. In SL, the assessment consists of a conversation with the teacher based on a visual stimulus. following this is a discussion based on an additional theme.

Meanwhile, in HL, the assessment consists of a conversation with the teacher based on an extract from one of the literary works studied in class, followed by a discussion based on one or more of the themes from the syllabus.

SL or HL?

There isn’t really a major main difference between English B SL and HL, except for the assessment structure that is outlined above. Both SL and HL students will learn the same prescribed themes, text types, and conceptual understandings within the course.

The choice between SL and HL really depends on your interest in English. For me, I found it enjoyable to explore different global issues through the prescribed themes and to express myself by writing different text types, although it’s sometimes a bit challenging! I think another factor to keep in mind is how important your subject is for the universities or degrees you’re applying for university.

English B provides you opportunities to not only develop your language skills, but also to explore different global issues and cultures. You may find the course overwhelming at first because of the challenging assessment structur. In the end, however, everything will work out just fine and you will find the course rewarding.

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1 comment

  1. Hi, great post about English B, detailing the assessments and the general overview of the course. However, I’d like to correct the HL/SL distinction. Choosing HL or SL heavily depends on the language competence of the student, as SL caps at B2 level of CEFR, while HL caps at C1.

    This difference is reflected also in the assessments. For one, the assessment criteria for the IO and Paper 1 for HL are more demanding than those for SL. HL students are also required to study 2 literary works for their IO. Understanding and simple analysis and interpretation of the literary works are more suitable for HL students, as SL students might not have the reading competence for it.

    Therefore, an A2-level student in English will defijitely struggle to follow along the HL course, while a B1+/B2-level student will find the SL course too easy and not challenging enough.

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